Using Two Way Radios In Construction

Next to security uses, one of the most popular two way radio industry uses is for construction. Two way radios in construction can be a valuable tool for your construction operatives. Effective communication is essential for good health and safety practices and for on-site security.

There are many two way radios in warehousing, manufacturing and distribution that are as robust as you need for your construction site. It is unusual to find a two way radio that has been designed specifically for construction site use. Mainly two way radios are designed to suit a range of different industries but some are better suited to the construction industry.

  • Analogue two way radios provide instant communication between users
  • Digital two way radios provide near-instant communication between users
  • Helps organise large numbers of personnel efficiently
  • Improve time management
  • Maximises productivity
  • New digital technology allows on-site GPS tracking and call logging
  • Improves on-site security
  • improves on-site management

These are some of the benefits that two way radios in construction can offer.

Two Way Radios In Construction

Using Construction Two Way Radios On-site

The Health and safety and efficient organisation of construction site operatives are paramount. Using two way radios in construction can allow you to comply with health and safety standards and ensure personnel are operating efficiently.

With two way radios you can:

  • Build an efficient communication network for your site
  • Communicate quickly with operatives
  • Speak to everyone with a two way radio on site at once, such as in an emergency
  • Use dedicated channels or frequencies to communicate with individuals or groups of users
  • Provide instant communication to i.e crane driver and banks-man which is especially important during large lifting operations

Which Two Way Radios Should I Use for My Construction Site?

For all construction sites, the cost can be a factor to consider, however, the cost can be mitigated if it improves the time efficiency of your project.

Let's look at some factors to consider:

  • How much do the two way radios cost
  • How many users require a two way radio
  • Are the two-way radios going to be used in an area where there is a high chance of the radio becoming damaged
  • Who are going to be using the two way radios
  • What features do each user require
  • How large is the area of the construction site
  • What type of structure is being built
  • How high is the structure that is being built
  • What health and safety requirements are there for emergency procedures
  • Do you require private communication channels so no outside listeners can eavesdrop

Now that we have considered some of the queries related to two way radios in construction we can start to consider the type of two-way radio to use on your construction site.

Licence-free or Licenced Two Way Radios

Licence Free Two Way Radios In Construction

Licence-free two way radios offer a very cost-effective solution for small construction site projects such as house building projects. Licence-free radios have a power output of 0 .5 watts and come pre-programmed on the 446MHZ frequency range. The frequency is then split across typically eight channels using the 446MHZ frequency and a unique CTCSS tone. Each manufacturer programmes the radios with the 446MHZ frequency and their own designated CTCSS tone.

What Does This Mean?

Simply put, any person or business who wishes to purchase licence-free two way radios from the same manufacturer as your own licence-free radios and happen to select the same channel and same CTCSS tone that you are using. And if they are within range they could listen in to your conversation or interfere with your on-site communications. This is particularly significant in high-population areas. More users of two way radios equals more interference or poor intermittent communications.

Should You Use Licence-Free Two Way Radios?

On a construction site where the communication is simply to relay messages quicker. Where they are not used for the health and safety of site operatives. Provided the licence-free two way radios can communicate over the site area, then licence-free radios could be a good option for your construction site.

Naturally where health and safety can be at risk from other non-site radio interference then we would advise not to use licence-free radios.

Licenced Two Way Radios in Construction

Licenced two way radios for construction sites offer a more effective solution due to the power output. UHF (Ultra High Frequency) can have a maximum power output of 4 watts and VHF (Very High Frequency) a maximum power output of 5 watts. A greater power output equals improved site coverage.

Additionally, for larger construction sites you can add multiple repeater base stations, together with the licenced two way radios for increased site coverage.

Digital vs Analogue Two Way Radios In Construction

Digital two way radios offer a multitude of benefits but in some instances, analogue two-way radios are still the preferred choice. In simple terms, when programming a digital radio you can split the frequency into two parts, so effectively providing 2 channels from 1 frequency for either just voice or voice and data. An analogue radio uses 1 frequency for 1 voice channel. It is worth noting that digital radios can be operated in both digital and analogue modes.

Analogue Two Way Radios In Construction

The best example of when an analogue two way radio is the best choice on a construction site is when a crane operator and a banksman are conducting a lift. Analogue radios provide instant communications which when conducting a lift is vital and any millisecond delay can be disastrous.  By comparison, a digital radio transmission has a millisecond delay as the voice of the operator is converted to a digital audio signal. While a millisecond delay may seem inconsequential, it has been shown in this scenario to be a health and safety risk.

Digital Two Way Radios in Construction

For all other uses except for scenarios like the above, digital two way radios can be a bit of a game-changer. Digital radios offer a better battery life, better voice quality and increased use of frequencies to name a few. In addition and depending on the model of digital radios, they can be integrated into systems such as TRBOnet which offer the ability to track the radios via GPS and location beacons, record voice conversations (useful for analysing incidents), send and receive messages and more.

Ofcom Business Radio Licence

Licenced two way radios will require an Ofcom Business Radio Licence per channel. If you are unfamiliar with two way radio licencing requirements we recommend you learn more about Ofcom Business Radio Licencing here.

There are many licencing options available to you to enhance your on-site communications but unless you have extensive experience we would recommend that you contact a two way radio supplier to assist with your application to ensure you choose the best option.

Our Thoughts

Smaller construction site who just need a quick and easy communication tool and do not have any safety concerns when using two way radios will be fine with licence-free two way radios. If you are on a larger site then digital two way radios can offer the flexibility you may require. Always note the banksman and crane driver scenario especially with any blind lifts.