recommendation: metal manufacturing plant

Hey all,

I’m looking to get some radios for use in our warehouse/factory, specifically for use when the wireless network is down. The facility manufactures metal coils for roofing/siding which generates interference with the wifi already, so I’m looking for something that punch through that.

We also have a second building about a half mile down the street, so if they can reach over there even better.

I found this thread suggesting the DTR series, but that’s 5 years old. Is that still the way to go?

The real issue for you is signal strength, and with your plant, loads of barriers to and reflectors of RF. I’m not familiar with the licence system in the US, but what you need is a repeater with the antenna up high, and depending on topography, this will cover both sites … or not. If both sites are physically too separate, then you run two repeaters and link them. This won’t be cheap of course. What would work would be some PTT cell radios - Here, you simply slap in a cellular data SIM and the cost is pretty modest - $18 a year in the UK for one with enough data for speech, which is cheaper than the licence our government would want for a repeater. If there is cellular coverage in your location, these radios just work. I’m very impressed with them so far, and they can be quite cheap!

DTR radios are still a viable option. Also include the slightly smaller (and cheaper) DLR that performs nearly identically.

They have about the farthest range of any two-way radio and because they are at the high end of the UHF spectrum (900 MHz) they will punch through structures with a lot of metal in them better than most.

They are still on the market and there are still no competitive radios in the licence-free digital class.

But they are also expensive, so you want your two-way radio dealer to lend you a couple of radios first, to make sure they will reach. No one can predict because conditions vary and two-way handheld radios are always line-of-sight. Nothing can refute the laws of physics.

As my friend above says, the other alternative is good business radios with a repeater set up to stretch the range. This will involve the cost of a business licence for your own dedicated frequency, plus the cost of the radios, repeater and antenna.

There are few repeaters available for the DTR radios because of the way they work. (Repeaters need to have the circuitry from two DTR radios to work, and they can only repeat on one channel.) But because they have the farthest range of any handheld, repeaters are less necessary within their intended use.

Beware the consumer-grade radios that promise insane ranges. We call them bubble-pack radios because you buy them off the shelf at every big box store in town. Their promised “35-mile” range actually translates to a block or two in an actual urban setting. Plus, readability is fine for families on vacation, but would be sorely lacking for serious business use.

Thanks so much for the replies! I’ll take this to my boss and see what direction he wants to go with it. Since these will be for emergency situations I don’t think budget will be much of an issue, I’m not sure how feasible it’ll be to get repeaters installed though.

Also budget for some good speaker mics. They make a big difference in emergencies. This is another difference between GOOD business-class radios, and the consumer-grade FRS radios or the Chinese-made amateur radios that some people repurpose toward business use - business-grade radios have the proper audio output to come across loud and clear on the speaker mic; FRS and amateur radios do NOT.

Speaker mics will never sound quite as good as the two-way radio in your hand but in an emergency, it is great to get it out of your hand and on your belt, with the speaker mic clipped to a collar.

Because the DTR and DLR radios are high-quality, military-grade radios, they use the Motorola two-pin headset socket, not the consumer-grade Talkabout single pin. Match them with a really good quality speaker mic - which is really not that expensive these days in comparison to the radios - and you have a good communication system.

I would urge you again to borrow or rent a couple before you make a final decision, and see if you need a repeater or not. It will then be up to you as to whether you want to invest in a business licence with a dedicated frequency, business-class radios and a repeater system, or just go with the licence-free DTR radios.

Let us know what the boss says. Personally, I am a huge fan of the DTR radios and have used them for years. The forum hosts at Buy Two Way Radios probably know more about radios in general, and the DTR radios in particular, than most dealers, and can help guide you.

Also, before you decide, do some research on the DLR radios. They have similar performance as the DTRs, and are slightly cheaper. They are smaller and lighter, but you lose a couple of features, such as the ability to call up an individual radio, part of a group or an entire group. They are durable, but not quite as water resistant as the DTR.