The following address some of the more Frequently Asked Questions about WiLAS.
- Does the WiLAS wireless radio network require a radio licence?
The system operates in the lower end of the UHF bandwidth, at approximately 433MHz. This is what is known as ISM Band (the bandwidth reserved in Australia for 'Industrial, Scientific & Medical' devices) and any LIPD (Low Interference Potential Device) operating in this bandwidth does not require a site radio licence. WiLAS complies with the LIPD requirements, therefore requires no licence.
- Is the wireless system reliable?
Very simply, it's based on the same radio system that we developed for the SafeZone range of wirelessly network railway crossing and pedestrian crossing warning systems. These are now being used around Australia and continue to perform so reliably, many rail operators are moving away from hard wired controls for their warning systems. In fact, our record or reliability was proven in RTA trials in 2007, where we showed 100% reliability, the highest of any device tested in those trials (which were for warning systems for school zones).
While it operates in the UHF bandwidth, because it's an encrypted signal, it can't be hacked and has shown - even in areas with high levels of UHF radio energy - to be very robust and resistant to interference. Fact is, we've never experienced a case of a system not operating when it was supposed to...and vice versa.... not NOT operating when it wasn't supposed to!
In addition, the WiLAS System has been deployed in a great many sites in a wide range of situations, so we have a record of performance derived from a number of implementations to gauge performance and reliability by. In addition, our own testing took nearly two years before we deployed the system commercially, so we have a high level of confidence in its capabilities, which have been borne out by customers over the past two years.
- What happens if a Siren Station is only within 400 metres of one other Siren Station?
While we recommend an 'inter Base Station' distance of 300-400 metres to allow for site specific issues (such as reflections from metal objects or interference from other radio sources), as well as to ensure good audio coverage by teh sirens, the reality is that the radio repeater system itself has been tested over 5km distances!
The concept behind having every Station within 300-400 metres of at least TWO other Stations is to ensure that if, for some reason, an activation signal is not received from one Station, it will be received by the other. It's all about redundancy - that is, maximising system performance by minimising issues that could cause problems.
In short, when we sell a system and help with the site layouts, we're operating well within the known performance capabilities of the system to ensure it performs EXACTLY as it was designed to do, WHEN it's needed to! However, based on site specific issues, you may be able to extend the inter Siren station distance. This is where the 'trial and error' aspect of things comes into play. Once trialled and confirmed to work as per requirements, then that layout will be deemed suitable for your site.
Of course, contact us if you have any queries about issues that seem to be outside the normal operational parameters we specify.
- Why does every Siren Station come with 2 siren horns, not one?
Simple. Redundancy = Added Safety.
WiLAS is a site safety system and to ensure every siren will sound in an emergency, the second siren offers an added level of redundancy (in case of vandalism or device failure or even ambient noise at the time of an emergency). Two siren horns per station have shown to deliver more than the required minimum levels of audio output AND to ensure reliable operation every time.
While these are the same types of sirens we supply to Emergency Services groups around Australia (which means we know how very reliable they are), when the safety of people on your premises is at stake, the very small cost that one additional siren adds per Siren Station makes it an insignificant investment - especially when you consider that there isn't another wireless premises alert system on the market with the same features for anything like the price.
The wireless networking system already dramatically cuts the cost of implementing a WiLAS solution. We therefore don't need to cut functionality or reliability by reducing the number of sirens per Station!
- What happens if I lose a remote control?
Simple. We'll replace it, usually within 2 working days.
The remote controls use a security (encryption) key that was programmed into it when we shipped the system. Every system we sell has a unique encrytpion key. We keep records for every system sold, so can program the remote control before we ship it to you.
If one is stolen and you suspect your system could then be activated by an unauthorised person, the Master Remote (that we supply with each system we sell) can have its security code changed and you can then update the encyrption codes on all your remote controls and Siren or beacon stations. Simply refer to the WiLAS User Guide, or alternately, call us and we can walk you through the process. It's not difficult at all!
Remember, the worst thing that can happen if one falls into unauthorised hands is that the system can be activated by them when you don't want it to be. The best practice, therefore, is to ensure this complication doesn't arise and that you adopt the same security protocols you would for any other security system: keep secure devices with trusted personnel on your site, and ensure you always secure them at the end of the working day (ie, don't allow staff to take them home!). You wouldn't leave your office door keys lying about at work. Don't leave remote controls lying about either! It's just plain common sense.
If, however, you have an emergency, and you've lost a remote, then the system has a safety feature that means the network can't be deactivated within 15 seconds once it's been activated. So even if an unauthorised person did have a remote control and tried to turn the system off, they'd be locked out from doing so for a minimum period.
Best practice is to ensure remotes are kept secure! You wouldn't leave keys to your front door lying around, or leave then anywhere that wasn't secure. Simply treat remote controls in the same way and there's little chance you'll have any issues!
- How do I work out where to place the Siren Stations?
Simple. We'll help you with the design.
We've designed installation for schools, universities, factory sites, defence bases and mine sites. If there are any concerns about siren audio coverage, we'll generally organise a site audit to ensure best placement.
We note a company who's been losing business to us has queried whether siren placement is a bit 'hit or miss'. The answer is simply that optimal placement might require a bit of trial and error, but as the Siren Stations are battery powered, it's simply enough to move them around and run them off the battery and trial them before deciding on a final location for each one.
To date, preferred siren placement has never been prevented because of wireless coverage issues. Rather it has had to do with where sirens deliver best audio coverage and relocation has seen an improved outcome. Any audio technician who tells you that you shouldn't have to trial speaker placement in an open space with lots of reflective surfaces around, is possibly not telling you the whole story!
- Do the siren sounds penetrate inside buildings?
But like any audio device, different placements may result in better or poorer sound penetration.
The simple fact is, whether the sirens are wirelessly controlled or hard wired makes no difference. It's issues to do with your site, its layout, building construction materials, etc, that will affect the ability of the siren tones to penetrate inside buildings. But if you need extra coverage inside a building, simply install a unit indoors. We warn you though, they are VERY loud (approx 130dB at source) so mounting units indoors has not, to date, been required by any of our customers.
- Can I have fixed control panels as well as remote controls?
As an option, we supply Base Stations equipped with control keys exactly as per the remote control units. Like the remote controls, they are also wireless. these are, of course, only recommended for locations where only authorised personnel can access them (for example, you wouldn't locate one in the playground of a school, but it would make perfect sense to have an ALARM POINT in a refinery or a mine site as only authorised personnel would have access to it).
Consider that you had a traditional 'hard-wired' EVAC/Lockdown system and the site office where the control panel was located had been compromised (eg by thieves - or worse). It could simply be turned off (assuming you had the chance to activate the system in the first place) and there'd be no other way of activating the system unless you had a secondary control panel in another location. That also assumes that someone, somewhere else on your site, knew there was an emergency.
WiLAS gives you the added flexibility - and security - of being able to distribute activation capability around your site, where and with whom it's needed. By having portable as well as fixed activation points, we deliver a level of flexibility that greatly improves response times and overcomes any possible issues you might encounter (eg such as being unable to get to a fixed control panel) that could prevent you raising an alarm.
- Can a licenced electrician install the system or do I need an authorised installation contractor?
Yes, any competent licenced electrician can be quickly walked through installing your system for you. You don't need an authorised installation contractor, if you already have a preferred electrical contractor you'd like to use.
- Can my site handy person install the system?
If there were no electrical works required (ie to supply 240V power to the Siren Station locations), then yes.
- What if my site has no 240VAC power readily available?
Simple. We supply solar charging units. These trickle charge the batteries in each Siren Station, which means no mains power is required.
- Can I relocate sirens once they're installed?
It's one of the great benefits of going wireless, especially if your site has temporary buildings, demountables, trailer mounted site offices, etc. The Siren Stations can even be pole mounted (fixed/moveable) or tripod mounted (portable) in situations where things need to be moved around frequently. In fact, in such locations, WiLAS is the perfect solution because (like WiFi enabled computers) you simply move the wireless enabled Siren Stations to where they're needed.
- Can I have customised 'voice overs' to go with the alert siren sounds?
Tell us what you need and we'll provide an audio file to confirm what it will sound like. This is an optional extra so will incur a (generally) small fee.
- Can I have customised siren tones?
Yes, if you really need them!
Generally we find customers don't need these as there are 3 standard tones used. To create new tones would require additional hardware modifications to each tone generator in each Siren Station. So yes, we can do it, but it would incur an additional cost per Siren Station to cover the time to develop and implement the different siren tones. It then means any additional Siren Stations you purchased would be treated as special orders and might be subject to MOQs. But call us to discuss and we'll see how best to help you.
We appreciate that not every customer wants an Off The Shelf solution. We're en engineering company, so customised engineering projects is part and parcel of what we do. We've been doing it since 1985!