We all know the situation: you’re in the middle of the Med and radio operations start to deplete. Upgrading and replacing the technology isn’t urgent, but you notice a lack of functionality that starts to grate. The crew are irritated, and you make a note to get it fixed as soon as you return to shore. But with so many companies flogging what they claim to be the best radio tech, it can be hard to know which to go for.
As we approach Re-fit season, here’s what to look for when choosing this year’s two-way-radio provider.
It is easy to agree to a great-sounding deal only to realise that the small print reveals you have to travel to their HQ on the other side of Europe, or that the company has very limited availability to offer surveys for the Winter Re-fit. Companies that will travel to your boat are a big bonus. If your survey can be done in under two weeks even during peak times, this speaks volumes about the efficiency and organisation of the company. For example, market leader DCRS estimates seven to ten days to undertake its in-depth survey.
It will make it easier for you if the company’s services expand beyond simply installing radios. Try to find a business which does more; upgrading and replacing infrastructure such as Cabling, DAS and Antennae for example. This will mean less time wasted searching through contact numbers for different businesses when something needs doing. It also highlights a deeper level of knowledge within the radio industry.
A company you can trust to tell you honestly what the issue is and not upsell you is obviously a big money saver. If the issue is something small like a cable which needs replacing then this should be done quickly and at little cost. If every time the support team come on board it is a battle to talk them down from a major re-fit, this may be a sign the business doesn’t have your best interests at heart. But how do you judge this at first sight? This leads us to the next two points.
Testimonials and Case studies
TOP HINT: Sometimes good testimonials can become white noise if you are reviewing a lot of them. In this case, it can be helpful to look for those who have similar sounding projects to your own to evaluate whether they might be a good fit for you.
This is the first thing we advise looking at when considering working with any two-way radio company. What experience do they have, do they come recommended from sources you trust, and are they willing for you to contact testimonial authors if you wish? The small and tight-knit nature of the superyacht industry can be beneficial here – most of the time you will recognise a name or boat that you can contact to get a better feel of the company.
For example, DCRS is open to sharing its work they carried out with M.Y. Pelorus, a 115m custom-built motor yacht. In 2017 the company was tasked with re-assessing the superyacht’s radio communication solution. To reach all areas both inside and outside/on and off shore, they chose a 3 Repeater Motorola Solutions MOTOTRBO™ Capacity Plus System. On the DCRS website this is all explained clearly, along with how the system worked to suit the crew. “The system works through the waterproof MOTOTRBO™ DP3441e IP68 hand portables whilst the MOTOTRBO™ DP4401Ex IP67 Atex hand portables support the teams who work in the Engine Rooms,” it says.
This also provides good insight into what the company’s strengths and values are, from which you can judge if they match your needs. Look closely at the accreditations & certifications they have received. Are they still relevant today? Do they cover areas which are a priority for you?
Check if they are partners of any of the major radio producers; if so, to what level? Motorola is a good example. Companies can only become Motorola Platinum Channel Partners if they have met the stringent goals which Motorola sets, such as training of staff, understanding of the products and demonstrating a high level of engineering and support capability. So, accredited radio suppliers should be able to provide you with an in-depth knowledge of all the products the brand has to offer, and easily identify the best product/s for your needs.
When looking for radios to use in shipyards where there may be a higher risk of danger, health and safety certification is extremely valuable. The SSIP SafeContractor accreditation demonstrates a company’s commitment to achieving excellence in company procedures focusing mainly on health and safety. SafeContractor-approved dealers should prioritise safe and reliable communication.
In 2017, the superyacht world demands ultimate ease of use. The rapid evolvement of the digital radio market has allowed for this to happen; radios are no longer just a push to talk device thanks to the apps which have been developed. The more systems you can pull together through app integration, the easier life can be for you and your crew. So choosing a two-way radio provider that understands apps is important.
DCRS are renowned for offering a wide range of business-specific applications that integrate with their radios; most notably Crew Call, Vessel Watch and Alarm Monitoring. Business-specific applications like these increase the level of efficiency, safety, and productivity on your yacht. For example, when fitting the 63.5m Lioness V, the DCRS team recommended a Motorola Radio Solution which was capable of communicating across its multiple levels. This worked alongside a Motorola Solutions MOTOTRBO™ Repeater and the company’s Unigateway to control and monitor Alarms on board. This integration meant crew were kept aware of the alarm system almost effortlessly, giving them more time to focus on other tasks.
These are our top qualities to look for when selecting a two-way radio provider for your Winter Re-fit. If your current provider cannot give you all of these traits, find one that can: your superyacht team deserve it.