Fern Communications' Radio Repeater Performs for Technip

Fern Communications, a leading provider of two-way radio communications systems to the international upstream oil and gas industries, announced that for the first time its FRX-1 radio repeater underwent field trials in the Gulf of Mexico.

Keen to provide more reliable communications and an even safer working environment for its crew members, Technip chose to trial the FRX-1 to test its effectiveness. For four weeks, Technip crews used the FRX-1 onboard the company's flagship vessel, the Deep Blue. The vessel, which is capable of installing flexible pipe at depths to 2,950 m, is the world's largest deep sea underwater pipe lay and construction vessel. Technip crews experienced uninterrupted radio communications while working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Throughout the trial, the FRX-1 performed very well, supplying continuous radio signals and uninterrupted radio communication, so we were pleased with the outcome," said Patrick Kelly, Instrument Technician for Technip. Because the FRX-1 effectively bends a radio signal around solid structures found onboard large vessels that oftentimes block a signal, the outgoing signal is capable of reaching its target destination: the receiving radio located on the other side of the structure.

Impressed by the performance of the radio repeater onboard the Deep Blue, Technip is currently in discussions with Fern Communications about making its waterproof radio repeater known as the FRW-1, a standard component of its onboard communications equipment.

Reliable Radio Communications

The first portable radio repeater in the oil industry, the FRX-1 fills a gap in the market for a system that provides consistent, uninterrupted radio communication. Reliable radio communications are critical to the safe and efficient delivery of well services, especially offshore.

Unfortunately, standard radio systems are extremely vulnerable to 'black spots.' Typically, these are solid structures that make up the platform and block radio signals, making it impossible for the targeted receiving radio to receive the signal. The upshot is that radio communications consistently break down in certain areas. In an effort to solve this problem, Fern Communications developed the FRX-1 radio repeater. Today, it is the only system of its kind that effectively bends the radio signal around a solid structure so that it reaches its target destination: the receiving radio located on the other side of the structure. For the first time, two-way radio communication is truly reliable, which bodes well for improving productivity, and enhancing health and safety standards.

To ensure that the FRX-1 can be used in a broad range of environments, the system is approved for use by the European Union in hazardous Zones 1 and 2, gas group 11C and temperature-rated to T5, all in accordance with ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, the set of rigorous
standards aimed at preventing explosions, and protecting people in the event of an explosion. Because the RF section of the FRX-1 has both EU and FCC approval, it can be used in North America, Europe and most oil-producing regions. It is also ingress-protected to IP66, which makes it dust-tight and protected against powerful water jets and water dispersed by heavy seas.

Lightweight System Highly Compatible

The portable FRX-1 operates on VHF, marine and UHF frequencies, meaning that it is fully compatible with existing radio communications systems currently in use offshore. The four-position channel switch makes it possible to select one of four frequencies, which is very useful at busy sites where frequencies are often shared. Using CTCSS and DCS, users can also share frequencies with other radio users in privacy. The output power can be set to between one and five watts, depending on the country and site owner’s specifications.

Weighing just 14kg, the FRX-1 is lightweight and extremely compact so that it can be easily used and positioned on platforms, rigs and FPSOs. The system's high capacity Li-lon battery means that the FRX-1 can operate for more than 18 hours before it must be charged. For continual use, auxiliary batteries are available.