IARMS: Integrated Antenna and Radio Manufacturing Systems

  • 2021

  • Product
    Commercial and Industrial

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IARMS is an innovative product used in mobile communication networks. Sophisticated processes, equipment and technical expertise replace decades of tradition, when tower equipment was assembled piece-by-piece on dangerous weather-exposed towers and rooftops. Proven benefits include lower cost, reduced build-time and improved networks.

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  • Achieving cost, time and performance benefits compared to conventional assembly methods for radio systems used in mobile communication networks. This solution provides considerable design flexibility to accommodate multiple configurations depending on site-specific requirements, as well as evolving (5G) technologies. Equipment is assembled in a controlled factory environment including all processes, equipment, tools and technical expertise. Critical for this ground-based assembly is comprehensive in-process testing, to remove the requirement to retest after deployment on communication towers. Completed equipment is transported to sites anywhere in Australia, requiring just a single crane lift to the tower with limited post-installation site-work required.

  • IARMS is a complicated ground-based prefabricated system comprising many parts (antenna, radios, RF (Radio Frequency) cables, hybrid and DC cables and earth bars and blocks), installed, secured with correct torquing of fastenings and tested to meet relevant standards. IARMS was developed collaboratively with TPG Telecom (providing end-use expertise) and Site Pro 1 (supplying complex fabricated steel equipment). Multiple prototypes were produced to identify problems and solutions, resulting is a robust balance between RF performance and mechanical/ structural integrity. Importantly, the design minimises dependence on any single component supplier, to allow significant supply chain flexibility and 'mix and match' sourcing options.

  • IARMS delivers principal benefits broadly as follows: Life-cycle cost: Equipment is installed and commissioned on-site with far greater certainty of quality and reliability than achievable from traditional tower assembly and testing methods. Future operational expenses to support failures in the field are substantially reduced. Time: Installation and commissioning time, with Riggers working from dangerous elevated platforms, is significantly reduced from several days to a few hours at most. Performance: Controlled specialised ground-based assembly combined with comprehensive testing, compliant where appropriate with ISO/IEC17025:2017 provides certainty of performance prior to installation on-site, that previously has never been achievable worldwide.

  • The collaborative effort involving Vecta, TPG Telecom and Site Pro 1 has brought 3 critical skillsets together to realise IARMS. TPG Telecom is the customer and end-user, having contributed application knowledge and demonstrated the effectiveness of IARMS in-service. Site Pro 1 has contributed its considerable expertise in structural steel fabrication. Vecta led the project design, contributing antenna and RF knowledge together with component and system level testing intellectual property. Vecta is an Accredited Laboratory, certified to ISO/IEC17025:2017 (General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, certificate No. 5367.01). In addition, some of the testing for IARMS utilises patented processes and equipment (Australian Patent No. 2015240437, for which Vecta is the patentee: Testing method and apparatus) to measure technical parameters including Passive intermodulation (PIM), Return Loss, Insertion Loss and Isolation. It is widely believed that no other organisation worldwide is certified to undertake PIM measurements compliant to ISO17025. This testing capability is critically important to the IARMS concept, since without testing, the benefits of ground-based integration would be greatly diminished. Because of the certifications cited above, it is reasonable to conclude that Vecta is globally unique in offering this test capability.