We recently had the opportunity to chat with Ryan Sweet, a Field Service Technician for Spectrum Communications with nearly two decades of experience in the two-way radio industry. We discussed the benefits of using D3M and Sweet ran us through how he uses D3M to build and manage two-way radio projects.
What do your daily activities entail?
I do pretty much whatever is required. We have a big group of customers that we support, from emergency services like police and fire, to manufacturing facilities. We design networks as we’re going through them so any techs that come behind us will know exactly what’s going on. Mostly, I get the new systems in and learn how to use them, how to install them and create documents for others for when they are on call.
Prior to D3M, what tools were you using to design and document two-way radio networks and how do they compare to D3M?
We have an older engineer here who used Corel Draw for the last 20 years and I have used mostly Visio and PowerPoint.
[D3M] is going to be handy in the future because we can access it from anywhere. If we are in the field, we don’t have to keep a huge database of all our drawings. We can just go online and find them there. It will help us when we are stranded in the middle of the night with a client. It is definitely more versatile then other tools we’ve used in the past. Its nice to have one spot where we can grab everything.
How has your organization implemented D3M into the process of creating and managing your radio network projects?
Myself and Bob Moyer [Manager of Training Services] in our Kitchener office use it the most. A couple of weeks ago I sat down with our tech team and we went over a ‘how to’ and had a tech account set up. Now everyone can get in there and use the tool. Mostly people are going to be viewing the diagrams, more than creating their own. In some cases, some of our systems are 20 years old and if I go out in the field when I’m on call and see a system that I know nothing about, I will gather as much information as I can and come back to the office and create a D3M diagram of it. Anything I can get my hands on, I want to get everything in there to have everything in one spot.
What information within a codeplug is most relevant to you and do you store that info in D3M?
When we go out to clients we sometimes aren’t able to use their equipment to test, so if we’re inspecting or trying to troubleshoot an individual piece of equipment, we need our own gear to be able to talk to it. If we can go in there [D3M] and find out the frequencies, if it’s digital, or color codes, or PL tones, things that are specific to that client, we can get our radios ready before we go out. Having that information quickly allows us to program our own radios to be able to talk to their equipment.
What I put in the diagrams as well is what is visible in each individual room that the equipment is in, so everyone can find where everything is. There are room numbers, orientation as far as buildings go, everything like that makes it easier. A lot of these places, some of us [techs] have never seen…. It makes it easier when you’re going into a hospital for example.
Who do you interact with on a daily basis?
It would probably be end users first, then with coworkers because we have a rotating on-call staff that supports our clients 24/7. If one or two of us is put as lead on a system, then anyone else that has the on-call pager needs to know how that system operates. They need to know how to support it if we’re not available.
What do you personally like best about D3M?
It’s the fact that we have so many different types of equipment and you’re not going to have a database of all the types of equipment. But with D3M, you can take a picture of the equipment, or get an image online and load it right into the diagram and create the icon. I love that versatility. We can switch to the icons view and see exactly what the equipment is supposed to look like.
What is the most significant benefit of using D3M?
Everything is in one location. We can search for all of our diagrams. We don’t have to worry about connecting to our own servers. We can basically have it on our cell phones and see what the clients have when we’re on site. It’s a lot less to carry around.
I use my Blackberry when I need to get information, but my screen is a little smaller. The company is moving towards having that feature [tablets] in the future.
If you were to review D3M what score would you give it out of 10?
I know you guys are still in the feedback stage and we’re constantly changing how we need things to be, so at this point I would give it an 8 out 10.
Would you recommend D3M to a friend in the industry?
Oh definitely! It is very easy to use. Everyone took to it quickly. The fact that you can create anything you need to [within D3M].
Please finish this sentence in 25 words or less… “D3M has been beneficial to Spectrum because…”
Its versatility fits our needs because we can create anything in D3M that is either old technology or new technology seeing as we can create our own icons and diagrams.