April 1, 2018
- Telex provides reliable communications to help guide marine traffic in and out of the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel
- C-Soft dispatch software provides monitoring and control of multiple radio towers via Telex IP-224 IP radio gateways
- The Houston Pilots consult with D&G Communications to ensure reliable radio contact between cargo and petrochemical vessels and dispatchers
Burnsville, MN (April 2018): Despite being landlocked, the Port of Houston is one of the busiest harbors in America, constantly moving huge numbers of massive cargo freighters via the 52-mile Houston Ship Channel. Before attempting to traverse this challenging waterway, protocol requires that each ship bring on board a member of the Houston Pilots, a team of experienced ship captains, to navigate the channel. Telex Radio over Internet Protocol (ROIP) dispatch equipment provides mission-critical radio communications for this high-stakes operation. D&G Communications, which maintains the largest trunked radio service in Texas, specified and supplied the solution.
“This is a difficult port, and it literally costs billions of dollars if there’s an accident,” says D&G owner and President Garry Gaudin. “These are 1,000-foot ships in a 600-foot wide channel, so by the time you see there’s a problem with getting two ships safely past each other, it can be too late. They can’t operate without reliable radio communications – that’s why we installed the Telex system.”
Radio contact between dispatchers and ships is maintained via two 500-foot transmitter towers, one near the Gulf of Mexico and the other inland, plus an emergency fallback tower in case of problems. The transmit towers are accessed via the Internet from the downtown Houston dispatch site. Dispatchers use software-based Telex C-Soft consoles on their computers to access the towers, with full functionality via touchscreen or mouse. Each transmitter site is outfitted with a Telex IP-224 IP radio gateway, helping convert those remote commands into flawless transmissions.
The Port of Houston upgraded to Telex IP-based radio dispatch technology in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008, which knocked out the traditional landline-based communications. “With no copper pairs, we couldn’t talk and couldn’t move ships. It really was a disaster. We were under a lot of pressure to re-open the port, which meant getting communications running as soon as possible,” explains Gaudin. “That’s why we went to Telex Dispatch. Being IP-based, telephone lines – which had been knocked out by the storm – weren’t needed. The Houston Pilots organization purchased the Telex system on our recommendation; we then set up a temporary microwave system and had them talking again in three days.”
Since that time, D&G has helped the system grow more robust, with fiber-optic broadband lines providing core connectivity and the microwave system in place for redundancy. Even if there is a problem, the IP-based Telex C-Soft software allows the dispatchers to work from anywhere with an Internet connection, even if they have to evacuate the office. The Port of Houston has weathered numerous storms since converting to the Telex system, and it has not failed them.
“At any given time, we’ve got two dispatchers and a supervisor managing the movements of 30 or 40 pilots, getting them on board the ships and then managing their movement into and out of the channel,” says Gaudin. “The Telex equipment handles the land-based side of the communications circuit, enabling everyone to talk to each other seamlessly. That means the Houston Pilots can do their job and the freight keeps moving.”
3x Telex C-Soft IP dispatch Cconsoles (primary workstations)
4x Telex IP-2002 IP hardware consoles (backup locations)
3x Telex ADHB-4 audio interfaces with microphones
12x Telex IP radio gateways
D&G Communications http://www.dgcomm.net/
Houston Pilots http://www.houston-pilots.com/