Using RadioSync™ & Free Demo Program to Make Wastewater Treatment Plant Safer

Pennsylvania American Water is one of the largest wastewater treatment firms in the country and they rely on RCA professional grade two-way radios to get the job done.

Recently one of the nation’s largest water and wastewater treatment utility firms came to Discount Two-Way Radio (DTWR) to help improve their safety and communications. Read how DTWR introduced the RCA Intrinsically Safe RDR4360 to help them improve the overall efficiency for their wastewater treatment operations.

Industry: Water Treatment

Customer: Pennsylvania American Water

Product: RCA RDR4360 Intrinsically Safe 2-way radio

Problem: The company needed an affordable but powerful intrinsically safe two-way radios to communicate between crew members who need to inspect, repair or clean sewage storage tanks.

Solution: Exclusive Discount Two-Way Radio Free Demo-Program that allowed the company to “test drive” heavy-duty intrinsically safe two-way radios to determine if they would be powerful enough to penetrate super thick concrete containers. In addition, RCA’s RadioSync™ proprietary programming system allowed RCA radios to perfectly integrate into the company’s existing two-way radio models.

Happy Customer: Pennsylvania American Water

The Pennsylvania American Water relies on its RCA Intrinsically Safe two-way radios to keep safe and work efficiently.

The Pennsylvania American Water Company is one of the largest investor owned water utility firms in the nation, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.4 million people. According to the company’s website, Pennsylvania American Water invests approximately $300 million-$350 million to upgrade its water and wastewater systems including improving treatment facilities, storage tanks, wells and pumping to meet all federal, state, and local regulatory standards. In addition, the company is responsible for replacing aging pipes, valves, service lines and other parts of its more than 11,000-mile network of water and sewer systems. The company is incredibly important to the state of Pennsylvania because they:

  • Serve more than 408 communities in 36 counties
  • Provide high quality water service to 666,000 customers
  • Provide wastewater service to 74,000 customers
  • Employ approximately 1,100 employees
  • Operate 37 water treatment plants with an average daily delivery of 193 million gallons
  • Operate 20 wastewater wastewater treatment plants with a combined daily capacity of 59 million gallons
  • Maintain 11,300 miles of water and sewer pipeline
  • Maintain 265 water storage facilities
  • Maintain 367 water and wastewater pumping stations

The Challenge: Affordable and Powerful Intrinsically Safe Portable Radios for Working in Thick Concrete Tanks

Rocco Yanora is a Field Operations Supervisor for Pennsylvania American Water’s wastewater treatment division and needed professional grade 2-way radios to establish immediate and reliable communication among his crew members who descend into confined storage tanks in order to conduct inspections, repairs, or cleaning.

“We have mobile radios on our crew trucks, but they don’t work for confined spaces. The company we bought them through tried to get us to into a long-term contract and said that mobile radios are the only way to do it. But then I talked with you guys, and he was very clear in his explanation of what we needed, how different your company was, and how to not even waste our money on big box consumer radios,” explained Rocco.

The Solution: RadioSync™, Demo Program, and Intrinsically Safe RCA Radios

Free 2-Way Radio Demo Program

Intrinsically Safe two-way radios are critical for all wastewater treatment facilities because of the potential for explosive gasses. After the Field Operations Supervisor contacted DTWR’s sales department and explained his predicament, our phone-based account executives immediately understood his dilemma and recommended that Pennsylvania American Water take advantage of the Discount Two-Way Radio’s Free 2-Way Radio Demo Program. This Program allows qualified clients to test RCA’s two-way radios at no cost. Discount Two-Way Radio sent Pennsylvania American Water company several samples of intrinsically safe radios to experience the quality of the radio equipment and DTWR’s VIP customer support. After just a couple days, Rocco ordered a new supply of RCA intrinsically safe two-way radios for his crew.

“When I spoke to your sales guy about what we were looking for, he sent me some demo radios to try out. They worked really well, and now we’re operating safer and more efficiently. You have to understand that when my guys go down to clean the sewage storage tanks, they have to be able to communicate through really thick concrete. The tops of the tanks are so strong they are rated to park a tractor trailer on top of them. So, without the radios, communications were really challenging. We don’t have that challenge anymore,” said Rocco.

Discount Two-Way Radio is the only two-way radio dealer in the country that provides the free, easy, and guaranteed RadioSync, a proprietary programming system that guarantees your existing two-way radios will talk perfectly with RCA two-way radios.

Because Discount Two-Way Radio is the only dealer that includes RadioSync with every RCA radio purchase, we were able to program the water treatment company’s new RCA radios to perfectly talk with their existing radios from another brand. We provided them a prepaid shipping label, and they sent us one of their existing radios so that we could measure the exact frequencies and channels they use. We returned the radio along with two new RCA radios so that they were all synced perfectly.

Intrinsically Safe Two-Way Walkie Talkies

According to Rocco, having Intrinsically Safe radios was paramount, and the RCA Intrinsically Safe radios were a fraction of the cost of Motorola’s Intrinsically Safe Radios.

“For we do, everything we use that electronic – even a flashlight or something like that – has to be Class 1 Div 1 rated because of all the gasses that can be in a sewer line. The RCA Intrinsically Safe Radios work great,” said Rocco.

What Are Intrinsically Safe Two-Way Radios?

If you look up the word “intrinsic” on the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, you will find that the word means the essential nature or constitution of a thing. When talking about two-way radios, electricity is the “intrinsic” element that makes two-way radios work. Like all electrical devices, two-way radios have the potential to ignite an electrical spark which could be very dangerous in the right situation. Remember, there are just three elements that need to come together to create an explosion:

1) Fuel (like flammable gasses or vapors)

2) Oxygen which mixes with the fuel in the correct ratio.

3) Ignition or heat.

According to a 2018 study by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 37,500 fires or explosions occur in work environments each year. Even more devastating, these fires result in an average of 20 deaths, 285 injuries, and more than $1 billion in direct property damages. The top three causes of these explosions and fires?

  • Combustible dust
  • Heat or spark
  • Flammable liquids and gasses

Intrinsically Safe radios are specifically designed to operate safely in explosive environments where a spark or heat could contribute to a fire or explosion. People working around wastewater treatment facilities, oil rigs, coal mines, lumber yards and grain mills must use radios that are Intrinsically Safe in order to avoid an accidental explosion.

Two-way radios have become an indispensable tool for many of today’s water treatment plant operators. From operations and maintenance support to security, fire safety and cleaning, reliable two-way radio coverage is critical to maintain plant performance, help plan and supervise day-to-day activities, and be better prepared for the unexpected.

Professional grade two-way radios are essential for water treatment facilities for the following reasons:

  • Cost effective. Two-way radios are generally more cost effective than cell phones. For example, cell phones require monthly fees and various usage fees and roaming charges that quickly add up as well. With two-way radios, there’s the cost of the radio and that’s it.
  • Ability to communicate from every corner of a plant facility. With so much steel, concrete, and glass, water treatment facilities require radios with enough power and the right frequency to allow workers to communicate from every nook and cranny in any plant or facility. Many water treatment plant operators prefer ultra-high frequency (UHF) radios with at least 4 watts of power for maximum signal penetration.
  • Rugged design. Anyone who works in the water treatment industry knows full well that those environments are full of hard surfaces, lots of opportunity for water damage, and challenging environments for any piece of electronic equipment. Professional grade two-way radios are incredibly rugged, often built to exacting military specifications for resistance to shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, dust, and even water.
  • Emergency alert features. Sometimes water treatment operators need a way to communicate an emergency in a blink of an eye. Many industrial radios have an emergency alert call button that is clearly marked and easily available when workers are unable to voice transmit via the microphone. This feature also can provide GPS location coordinates for managers or directors. Additionally, two-way radios also have another safety feature referred to as a man down alert option. This feature allows multiple radios to receive an alert when it senses the radio has fallen down and not recovered within a specified period of time. Only professional-grade two-way radios can be certified as intrinsically safe or protected from creating heat or sparks in potentially flammable environments.

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