(Advertorial) Andrew Gill, managing director Tait EMEA, speaks to editor Sam Fenwick about the importance of values, focus and agility as the key assets of medium-sized businesses like Tait operating in highly competitive global markets

What does Tait Communications do?

We have been redefining the boundaries of critical communications for nearly 50 years. Technology changes incredibly quickly and we always ask ourselves how our customers can benefit from these technological developments. Traditionally we have built the toughest radios in the market which helped our customers fulfilling their jobs. Today we still build those world class devices, but we have also created a whole portfolio of solutions around the radio. For our customers we deliver, what we like to call the “backbone” of their critical communications infrastructure.

What are the company’s core values?

There are three core values that help define our business: Commitment to Listen, Courage to Act, and Integrity to Deliver what we promise. These are guidelines that set how we should interact with our people, our customers, and the communities in which we are operating.

We are a relatively small company but we operate globally ¬– and we have an incredibly high level of cultural and linguistic diversity. Therefore, we are very good at listening carefully to our customers and we have found that this is an asset which really makes a difference.

Secondly, we give our people the authority to act. This is something that clearly differentiates us from the big tankers. Our decision paths are short and the most frequently used sentence by a manager to a member of his team is usually “Go ahead” rather than “is there a certain procedure we have to follow?”.

The third value is integrity to deliver, which is clear and easily measured, but sometimes hard to achieve. In most of the projects we undertake, there are a high number of influencing factors, mutual influence and interdependencies – in short: there is enormous complexity which needs to be managed. Delivering what we have promised sometimes means not sticking to just our contractual role if there are issues that need to be solved before we are able to deliver what we promised.

Can you tell us about a situation in which you went beyond your contracted role to solve one of your customer’s problems?

Such a situation happened with the Jim Wells regional County in Southern Texas, USA where a new public safety communications network was neededand our job was to replace their outdated analogue radio communications system which was unreliable and didn’t cover the whole county. At the end of the project their team faced problems with the microwave network which wasn’t our issue. But we didn’t leave them – we pitched in and worked with the team to give them our technical expertise, to help solve this issue and at the end we delivered a reliable and safe system, which was exactly what we had promised to deliver. What did the customer say about us after this?“We never knew who Tait Communications was before. I can assure you now that they’re hand-in-hand partners with us in Jim Wells County.” I think that says it all!

What critical communications technologies does Tait provide and what are the main sectors it supports?

Tait offers a range of analogue radio systems in conventional mode, like simulcast over IP (AS-IP) and in trunked mode, like MPT1327. And of course, we have a proven and successful track record in digital radio systems. Tait Communications was among the first to offer a DMR Tier III mission-critical solution and besides this we also offer DMR Tier II and P25. Tait DMR includes integrated location services, over-the-air programming, network management, encryption and security features – with a stress-free, seamless migration pathway. Our devices support multimodal use which means that they can be operated with analogue or digital systems.

We offer one of the most flexible and efficient migration paths in the industry, which protects our customers’ investments. Most of them can be found in the transport, public safety and in the utilities sector. These are the main industries we are focusing at the moment because we have gathered an extensive in-depth knowledge of the way they work – their challenges, processes and operations. We have proven that our Unify solution portfolio is adding value to their critical communications infrastructure and have lighthouse customers of every size in all of those segments and more.

Focussing on where we can deliver the most added value is our key for successful projects.

What is Tait doing to help PMR users integrate their existing networks and equipment with mobile broadband and what are the benefits of this approach?

What we’re doing is we’re taking lots of available technologies like Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth, Ethernet and PMR technologies and combining them into something new that helps solve people’s problems, to make their lives easier and safer. That’s exactly what our Unify solutions portfolio is doing.

With UnifyVoice we bring together radio, WiFi and cellular with Push-to-Talk (PTT) and connect radio and smartphone users into a unified critical communication system. The advantage is better coverage (in buildings, tunnels and in wide areas) and the use of devices which correspond to the user’s job profiles. For example, admin people often aren’t familiar with radios but they are with smartphones. UnifyVoice turns their smartphone into a radio so that they are easily connected to the people on the ground who are using radios.

UnifyVehicle is integrated into the Tait mobile radio unit and the first advantage is that our customers can leverage their investments in their existing radio networks. They just need to add the UnifyVehicle unit to transform their vehicle into a powerful communications platform that combines the latest connectivity options with good old analogue and digital radio and with different applications, such as telemetry applications to monitor fuel consumption, vehicle temperature or the like. So, we transform the radio into the critical communications backbone of a unified vehicle system which ensures that voice and data calls always get through, everybody can talk with everybody and just as importantly, everything can talk with everything.

You’ve recently won the tender to migrate Transport for London (TfL) from MPT1327 to DMR Tier III. How will you ensure that the migration goes smoothly and why did TfL select you for this project?

Yes, we are more than happy and proud that we have won the Transport for London tender and that we can continue our partnership for the next years.

Tait Communications will manufacture and replace both the communications infrastructure which provides coverage across Greater London and the terminal equipment on London’s fleet of almost 10,000 buses. We have already done several migration projects and possess a lot of experience about the involved challenges and needs. Our new infrastructure can support both MPT1327 and DMR Tier III, the new base stations can replace the old ones in such a way that the change will not have an impact on the MPT1327 mobile terminals on the buses, and then the users can then migrate across to the DMR mobile radios. So, we have a clear project plan in hand, we have added talented resources to our dedicated Transport for London project team and we will work closely with the TfL team in an open and collaborative way. I believe that our proven expertise, a talented and dedicated project team, a spirit of collaboration between customer and supplier, together with our customer-oriented mindset will be the ingredients for a successful transition.

There are multiple reasons why TfL selected Tait for delivering a future-proof intelligent communications system. We will deliver the “backbone” of TfL’s intelligent transport system of the future. One reason was that TfL was looking for a solution that provides a low risk transition from the existing analogue technology, and also corresponds with their future vision of open standards-based technology and further developments based on 5G in the future. We offered a convincing, clear and cost-saving transition path from analogue to digital. In addition, with our UnifyVehicle platform we are able to respond to TfL’s future and changing needs and last but not least, our products are based on open standards and we work together with other transport companies in the ITxPT initiative to develop open standard-based solutions for the transport of the future.

Can you explain why you’re involved with the ITxPT initiative and how are you contributing to it?

The ITxPT initiative is working on the standardisation and cost-effective deployment of intelligent public transport systems to allow operators to reduce, for example, the number of user interfaces in the driver’s cab so rather than having a display for the ticketing system, an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system or a CCTV they will be able to combine them all into one aggregated mobile data terminal. Open standards and interoperability are a core aspect of the solutions and services we offer so there is a clear common understanding and consensus on the objective. As urban transport is one of our core market we have a very good understanding of how to unify transport systems and this is what we’re bringing to the project.

Turning to utilities, could you tell me about the work you’re doing for Enel, a multinational energy company?

Enel is a multinational power company and a leading integrated player in the world’s power and gas markets with a particular focus on Europe and Latin America. Tait won the Enel project in 2015 together with our Spanish partner Sistelec. Our job is to deliver a DMR Tier III network to its operations in Spain as well as those in Southern American markets (Chile, Peru, Brazil, Columbia and Argentina). This is a lighthouse project for Tait with a high level of complexity. The overall objective is to protect Enel against the risk and cost of service disruption to its customers, provide reliable data, voice and location services.

With Tait DMR Tier III and Tait GridLink Enel is boosting the reliability of its power grids. Tait GridLink delivers remote fault management which is reducing Enel’s operating costs. It diagnoses where damage has occurred, which means a vastly reduced need to dispatch trucks and crews to find, investigate and report back. Enel is of major importance to us and strengthens our position in the utilities target market.

How are public safety organisations using your technology to improve their operations? Can you provide us with some examples?

Tait has a long tradition and history of serving public safety organisations all around the world with reliable, robust critical communications systems. Our clients operate in some of the world’s most dangerous environments like bushfires, vehicle fires, road crash rescue, hazardous material spills, terrorist attacks, evacuations and the like. In moments where every second counts the last thing you need to worry about is the functionality of your radio. Tait products are built to be as tough as the extreme environments they’re used in, and are packed with enhanced features like lone worker, man down or location services to keep officers, firefighters and first responders connected when they need it most.

Mission critical organisations rely on coverage. No firefighter wants to be caught inside a burning building without communications, and no police officer wants to be involved in a pursuit without a working radio either. We offer resilient unified networks with features such as a built-in redundancy in our base stations which ensures that the network does not fail.

With our UnifyVehicle platform we’ve made the unified fireground a reality. Currently we are realising the unified fireground for our Swiss based customer ECA, which is responsible for the training and supervision of Fire and Rescue Services in the canton of Jura in Switzerland. The data and connectivity features of UnifyVehicle offer clear benefits for firefighting teams. Users at the command centre can monitor the remote fireground communications. Teams on the fireground can connect mobile devices like tablets or laptops by WiFi to access critical information over LTE networks. Officers can connect Bluetooth headsets for easy, hands free communication. UnifyVehicle provides a simple WiFi connection to LTE networks, improving access to the outside world. Software applications and telemetry enable significant worker safety benefits, for example real-time recording of all communications is another feature which UnifyVehicle offers. Simplex radio calls on the fireground are not usually recorded like radio calls over the network. UnifyVehicle can store audited, time-stamped recordings of all communications and captures the whole situation, giving clear information for post-incident analysis.

UnifyVehicle is the ideal communications platform to connect the systems we use today and the solutions we’ll use tomorrow.

Contact us
If you would like more information about Tait’s products and services visit http://www.taitradio.com/ or contact us at: info@taitradio.com.

Author: Tait Communications