|Issue:||Latin America III 1998|
|Topic:||Recommendations on how to be a Good System Integrator|
|Author:||Ventura F. Rigol|
|Organisation:||Condor Communications, USA|
System integration is a speciality which requires taking many factors into consideration. System’integration of Mobile Radio systems (LMR, SMR, PMR, PAMR and the like) is an interesting and profitable but very demanding business that usually begins simply with a phone call, a fax sheet or an email inquiry. Condor Communications has learnt from experience on what it takes to be a good system integrator. Here, it provides recommendations to any would-be System Integrator.
System integration is a specialty which requires taking many factors into consideration. System integration of Mobile Radio systems (LMR, SMR, PMR, PAMR and the like) is an interesting, profitable but very demanding business that usually begins simply with a phone call, a fax sheet or an email inquiry, but can end up with the expending of thousands or millions of dollars. Irresponsible people should not get into the system integration business. For the serious and committed, there is a lot to enjoy, other than financial rewards. When we started doing radio system integration years ago we thought more about the revenue than anything else (not surprising!). We didn’t think much about things like Motorola’s R56 Quality Standards, or the European MPT1331 Code of Practice for Radio Site Engineering. Grounding, bonding, etc. was not given enough emphasis, and as long as voice quality was good, that was considered sufficient. We certainly put little effort into educating our customers in the importance on such ‘details’. Of course we paid the price! And we were positively criticised by both manufacturers and customers for not following all the rules in our starting projects; we got lightning hits, we got intermodulation hits, we got voltage surge hits, and all sort of hits, and then we learnt our lesson. So here are our recommendations to a would-be System Integrator (see table). Integration Business Condor Communications has been in Miami since 1980 and integrates MPT1327, SmarTrunk and Paging systems as well as value-added applications like Mobile Data, AVL/GPS, Scada, Dispatch, Messaging, etc. Recommendations on how to be a Good System Integrator Integrate open protocol systems if possible, because you can handle all the protocol information, have references from different infrastructure manufacturers, test the system with radios from different manufactures, all this al1owing better integration, training and support. Be a committed value-added applications provider, the customer usually needs a complete solution; being Mobile Data, Messaging, Dispatch, AVL/GPS, SCADA/Telemetry, etc. do not underestimate the extra work required to make any customer-required application work on the Mobile Radio system. Be available via telephone, fax and email. Be ready to provide a well-structured complete quotation, as well as documentation packages, brochures, specification sheets, quotation and presentation computer files, etc. Be a committed pre-sale support provider, always ready for a presentation or demonstration, in or out of the country, having demo systems and good laptops and PCs with system and radio software available. Do your own intermodulation study, ask the customer to give you not only his own frequencies but all operating frequencies at a given site in order to run complete IM calculations. Make the customer responsible for lines of sight between sites if field surveys are not contracted. Make the customer responsible for site coverage ranges if field surveys are not contracted. Make sure the customer understands and selects the appropriate transmitter combiners, (cavity, hybrid, ceramic) based on insertion loss, isolation, channel spacing and rack requirements. Make sure the customer understands and selects the appropriate antennas, based on the propagation patterns (directional, hi-directional and omni-directional). Make sure the customer understands and selects the appropriate battery backup systems, (solar, wind, rectifier, UPS, batteries). Make the customer responsible for possible damages if not purchasing all required protections, including Coaxial In-line Lightning Arrestors, AC Surge Protectors, AC-rated Power Strips, Grounding Plates, Grounding Kits, Telephone Surge Protectors, etc. Wire all cable shields, equipment chassis and metal cabinets (racks) together for a common ground potential. Use an individual fuse for every AC/DC connection. Wire an possible repeater and other equipment alarms to the control logic so that all alarm events are displayed and logged at the remote management terminal; VSWR is a must; do not underestimate any extra work required in order to make alarm signals available to the control logic. Bring the customer to training while the system is still in the staging and/or testing process, and for Acceptance tests if contracted; emphasize hands-on, users database and logic control parameters programming. Train the customer thoroughly in an the remote monitoring and diagnostic possibilities of the management software, checking the status log, monitoring the status of the network (LAN or WAN), monitoring the calls in progress, monitoring the status of link (microwave) channels, doing low level recycles and resets to the systems at the different levels, etc. Make sure the customer understands and selects the appropriate radio organisation (fleets, sub-fleets, groups, individual users); also shipping the radios pre-programmed is an asset. Make the customer responsible for possible damages if grounding resistance to earth is more than 8 ohms at a site. Be a committed post-sale technical support provider, because this is where the moral of the SI is tested and where the customer looks in order to decide future expansions or projects.