By Brian Galante
AMSTERDAM — Now a subsidiary of France-based Thomson Broadcast, GatesAir is working on a modernization project squarely focused on the national FM radio infrastructure in a country increasingly popular with tourists from around the globe that was once a part of Yugoslavia.
The efforts by GatesAir are designed to give OIV, the Croatian broadcast network operator, a boost. Lower energy costs for Croatian Radio-Television HRT are also part of the plan.
Thus far, OIV has upgraded five transmission facilities with GatesAir Flexiva FAX air-cooled radio transmission systems, including sites near the capital city of Zagreb and the towns of Rijeka, Dubrovnik and Makarska.
OIV anticipates additional upgrades in the coming years, with a Flexiva FAX system installation planned near the town of Split in 2023.
As HRT’s network operator, OIV manages transmission systems for three national HRT FM radio programs and eight regional HRT programs targeting specific regions. The previous transmitter fleet, which consisted of transmitters up to 20 years old, began showing signs of age in recent years. Furthermore, some of the vendors were no longer in business, making spare parts hard to procure.
OIV favored a transition to transmitters with modern solid-state technology that would boost efficiency, reduce utility costs, and streamline maintenance. Enter GatesAir, which has a local presence through partner Smart AudioVisual d.o.o. (Smart-AV). Smart-AV handled all logistics, including transport of the Flexiva transmitters. Each location includes four or five Flexiva FAX transmitters in redundant 3+1 or 4+1 configurations, with power levels ranging from 5 to 10 kW.
Bruno Cigrovski, Head of Radio Network Department for OIV, believes the Flexiva transmitters are already paying dividends. “We have done the math for the Flexiva performance at Ucka, which is the transmission site serving listeners in and near the town of Rijeka,” he said. “After replacing our old system with GatesAir’s 10kW Flexiva system, our monthly energy consumption dropped by 11,800 kWh. We are now saving €1500 each month.”
Cigrovski emphasized that the redundancy is mostly for peace of mind. “Maintenance is simplified because the transmitters are very reliable,” he said. “We send people to the sites far less frequently, and that much lower maintenance saves us even more money.”
Smart-AV will handle all maintenance and service post-commissioning, including the procurement and delivery of spare parts as required. The common architecture of Flexiva transmitters assures that a minimum set of spare parts can be shared across the entire network.
Cigrovski adds that both GatesAir and Smart-AV have also solved enduring challenges that OIV have faced with cooling higher power systems. “One of our main challenges in Croatia has been effectively cooling higher power transmitters, particularly 10kW systems,” he said. “Smart-AV has provided excellent service and creative insights into properly ventilating high-power transmitters, and GatesAir has really helped us solve that problem with a new generation of high-efficiency transmitters.”
GatesAir Vice President of EMEA Sales and Channel Programs Ray Miklius added, “OIV was especially interested in reducing costs and labor associated with their FM transmitter fleet. We worked closely with OIV and Smart-AV to build air-cooled systems that aligned perfectly with their varied exhaust systems, ensuring that hot air was efficiently moved to the outside of their buildings either through the top roof or through our own air exhaust technology, depending on building designs.
Miklius shares that Smart-AV flew OIV representatives into GatesAir’s Quincy manufacturing facility for training and factory acceptance.