Digital radio on the docks

Digital radio on the docks

Hytera digital radios are keeping operations safe on New Zealand’s waterfront.

ISO Limited (ISO) is one of New Zealand’s largest nationwide, waterfront cargo logistics companies. The firm has worked hard over the past decade to ensure that health and safety remains a core company value, taking a comprehensive systems approach to manage key risk areas within the business.

And it is a risky business. The company handles over 700,000 tonnes per year of log exports out of almost every port facility in the country, as well as bulk materials, containerised transport and New Zealand’s famous kiwifruit. These activities require staff to work with heavy, dangerous machinery, usually within tight time and space constraints.

Customer requirements

Log marshalling and loading is an unforgiving business. Big machines, massive suspended tonnages and a slippery, difficult product being loaded under strict time limits all demand reliable, clear communications between crew members performing risky tasks.

Two years ago ISO’s business shifted up a couple of gears after it was awarded a major log marshalling and loading contract out of Tauranga. It was a significant addition to the business, and it meant there would need to be better communications between more crews.

ISO’s conventional analog communications channels used were becoming increasingly congested with cross channel ‘chatter’ and were picking up interference, resulting in loss of voice clarity. The problem had increased to almost saturation level, so the company made a conscious decision to move away from analog for its radio communications.


Casting around for digital handheld radio options, ISO examined options put up by multiple brands and found Hytera DMR to be the most suitable solution. The company opted for the PD602 model as the basic ‘pool’ use radio, while supervisors have the PD782 model with scan channel capabilities, enabling them to roam across multiple communications zones and channels.

The ability of the digital Hytera sets to designate specific communications zones within the spectrum was a key feature that made them well suited to ISO’s use, particularly for crews marshalling and loading logs onto ships. Good communications on the channel between crane operator, tally man, slinging crew and load operator are crucial to ensure a rapid, safe load operation.

Once logs are bunkered, tallied and slung for the crane lift, the crane operator requires clear communications to the loader operator who may be below deck under the ship’s coaming and well out of his line of sight.

Clearer, more distinct voice instructions being received are a simple, but potentially lifesaving, benefit of the digital technology, says Matthew Thorne, ISO’s IT operations manager.

“It is proving to be quality kit that we can rely upon which is backed up by very good service. It is a no-brainer that we will ultimately have Hytera equipment as our standard equipment as we retire our old analogue equipment,” said Thorne.

The Hytera equipment brings with it a number of benefits. The simple, robust design has face buttons capable of being screened off, providing simple and ‘one twist’ channel selection. The 24-hour battery life provides more than sufficient capacity for standard 8-hour shifts. And the ability to assign zones to ship berths, and channels to each crane crew, ensures separation of crews, zero cross channel confusion, and direct and ‘siloed’ communications.

Image supplied by Hytera

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