Robert Lyell & Associates Pty Ltd
Project & Business Management Solutions
Robert Lyell & Associates Pty Ltd
  ARFF Logo Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting
Communications Replacement

In 2006 Airservices Australia tendered for the replacement of their aging radio communications equipment for its Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) operations Australia wide, covering 22 airports. Vertel (Vertical Telecoms Pty Ltd) were selected to implement a public safety Apco P25 digital communications system with the project due to be completed in an 18 months timeframe.

The entire project was undertaken and completed well inside the 18 months allowed, with the first site commencing late January 2007 and the last completed on the 30th November 2007. 11 months installation works start to finish, and total project duration of 14 months.

Click the picture to watch a video of a Panther
Vertel sought out Robert Lyell's skills to manage this project on their behalf, managing a combined team of Vertel staff and selected contractors, freeing up valuable management resources within the business. This approach allowed Vertel management to focus on winning further new work. Robert's wealth of experience from other fleet communications and fleet vehicle tracking projects brought an experienced and balanced leadership to the project team, the many contractors and suppliers, both local and international.

Process Improvement
One of the many process initiatives Robert brought to the project was an ability to confirm proposed and installed site bills of material quantities, then provide the client with an invoice within 24 hours of each airport sites completion. This quick information turn around, and timely billing, provided both Airservices Australia and Vertel with up to date costs, quantities supplied and facilitated accurate daily progress reporting for both organisations.

Upon reciept of each batch of equipment from suppliers, each item was checked, labelled, pre-programmed, tested and stored ready for dispatch. Once final numbers of items were confirmed for each site they were prepared, inventoried and packaged into site lots ready for trans-shipment. Site lots were displatched in advance and their safe arrival confirmed prior to each installation teams departure to commence installation and training on site.

The project involved the installation of of VHF Airband and UHF APCO P25 digital radio communications and a variety of IT and data capture and recording equipment into offices, boats, equipment rooms and vehicles. One key component of the solution was the implementations of an APCO P25 repeater voting network at each airport. Vehicles included a wide range of fire tender configurations including the the 33 Tonne Rosebauer Panther, used also by the RAAF. It also involved the connection to WAN architecture for the recording and transmission of all voice data to a central data centre. The entire network comprises a series of linked repeater base stations interconnected via LAN and WAN to provide remote access, monitoring and voice data transmission to a central data centre. The project was kicked off in January 2007 after some intense logistics and project planning.

Apart from the installation of new equipment, removal of old and asset management of replaced equipment, a 75% hurdle rate for the training of all firefighters was required. This was easily accomodated by an innovative approach to the installation of the new equipment and its subsequent cut over into live use once all necessary staff were trained at each site.

The contract also required the establishment of a maintenace and support program for a further 5 years post implementation. Part of the project was to establish and entrench the the maintenance and support program, this was accomplished by establishing some key strategic locations to hold spare parts and hot swap equipment, while other sites would provide the technical support and maintenance services necessary to provide 24/7 support to the client.

Replacement Program
In the event of a site radio repeater failure or breakdown the support service provides a specialised support technician on call to fly to the required site on a next flight basis. The technician would leave from an agreed central location with a replacement repeater radio attending the site to install, test and commission the replacement then returning with the faulty item for prompt servicing or maintenance. Other radio components/items are replaced on a hot swap basis within an agreed service delivery timeframe for strategically located dispatch centers around Australia.
 Technologies that formed part of the solution included :
    • Intrinsically Safe (IS) Portable radios - radios rated to IS standards that are capable and certified to operate safely in explosive atmospheres (flammable liquids and gases) thus allowing fire fighters to communicate immediately and in close proximity to spills and in enclosed spaces.
    • Voting repeaters - networked voting repeaters provide fire fighters with enhanced coverage 'in building' and below ground, each repeater communicates with the others in the network to determine which repeater will pass a message to or from a prtable or mobile radio to achieve the best result.
    • Network monitoring to ensure all components of the system are avialable.
    • Radio over Ip (RoIP)
    • many others

Below are some media clippings on this highly successful project:


(c) Robert Lyell & Associates Pty Ltd
ABN 50 133 553 152