dBD Communications were delighted to be invited to be a part of the new M6 Smart Motorway scheme designed to turn the M6 motorway between Junction 16 (Crewe) and Junction 19 (Knutsford) into an “all lane running” Smart Motorway.

The company were asked to look at the use of new communication methods for use in highway construction, and to improve safety in the workplace.  Using extensive experience gained working closely with the rail industry, dBD Communications worked with the Carillion and Kier JV, to evaluate the suitability of duplex communications.  Various scenarios were assessed, allowing dBD to apply innovative changes to a number of areas, resulting in a highly successful operating system for use around the work area and machines.  

Safety Gate to Safety Gate was a total of 300m with comms. being achieved throughout. The key challenge was to ensure all personnel were all able to simultaneously communicate using full duplex communications i.e the ability to talk and listen at the same time. This significantly reduces the delays that traditional back to back radio systems create, helping to reduce safety hazards to ALARP levels.

During the trials clear multi user bi-directional communication was achieved and site background noise reduced using noise suppression techniques whilst allowing speech to continue. 

The main advantage from an operational stand point is the risks that are eliminated around the plant specifically reducing the need to enter in the danger zones.  By having a communication capability that is open mic. all the time between all users and the machine, instructions are known throughout the team so therefore danger zones are personnel free during tasks. The constant segregation of people and operating plant considerably reduces risks

A number of different headset options were evaluated in order to find an optimal bespoke solution for each user application, including the “Freedom” headset, noise reducing headsets and totally hands-free system.

Nick Hirst from Carillion Managed Plant, who arranged the trial with dBD Communications and the Project said “the trial was a great success which significantly improved communications between banksmen, supervisors etc. and the machine operators, removing the need for hand signals.  At the same time it made the segregation of machine and worker much easier to achieve by removing much of the need for workers to be anywhere near the plant.  We envisage this system being utilised in the future across road projects, in much the same way it is mandated for use on the UK Rail infrastructure.

This major road improvement scheme is due for completion in March 2019 and will be executed in various stages to relieve excessive congestion and unreliable journey times.

dBD Communications are proud to be a part of this scheme and to be able to help to improve the safety in the workplace using our specialized and trusted communications equipment.