A Highlands trailer firm is helping to bring internet access to places that conventional systems cannot reach.
A small fleet of rugged domestic trailers built by Ifor Williams Trailers have been supplied by the company’s main distributor in Scotland’s North Highlands for conversion into platforms to carry a piece of highly sophisticated electronic kit using a satellite link.
The technology is providing web access to remote construction and utilities sites well out of range of traditional methods such as cable or mobile phones.
A handful of the Sinect TMS - Trailer Mounted Satellite – systems have already been ordered from the Scottish company which pioneered their development and they hope this will be the springboard for lots more business across the UK and even the world.
According to its managing director Richard Allan, the technical team at Inverness-based External Reality Ltd, which specialises in a wide range of high-tech solutions for business, spent the best part of a year developing the Sinect.
And when it came to choosing the right trailer to transport it, they turned immediately to market-leaders Ifor Williams Trailers.
Richard said: “We picked Ifor Williams Trailers because of their reputation for being solid, robust and adaptable.
“Up here in the Highlands there’s not many farms where you don’t see one of their trailers in use and I know it’s the same right across the UK and the world.
“We initially asked the Ifor Williams Trailers distributor for this area, D &R Alexander & Son, to supply five P6e trailers for mounting the Sinect as they are designed for use in some very remote and rugged terrain.
“The problem we were trying to solve during our nine to 10 months of development work was how to get internet access out to windfarm sites, hydro-electric schemes, water treatment plants, power sub-stations and road construction projects where there’s no cable, landline or mobile phone access.
“Carried on board the Sinect is a dome housing a small dish which automatically aligns to a satellite to become a high-powered internet access point within just a couple of minutes.
“The unit, which has a list price of just under £10,000, can be plugged into any on-site power source but also carries its own batteries to make it completely free standing.
“In the past internet access to these sites would takes days or even weeks to set up with engineers having to come out to get things up and running. With the Sinect you don’t have any of that. There’s no need for an engineer because the system can be operated by anyone.”
Richard added: “I believe we are the first company to look at providing a trailer-based system such as this as an option and we’re just getting the whole project going.
“We have an order in hand for four of the units from a large company in Inverness which will be hiring them out to various sites across the North Highlands and I believe they already have a number of clients lined up.
“We’ll first see how it goes in Scotland and then it’s our intention to take it right across the UK and then after that perhaps internationally.”
D & R Alexander & Son, which supplied the P6e trailers to External Reality Ltd, is a family run business established in 1982 which has been dealing in Ifor Williams Trailers right from the start.
With premises in Inverness and Reay, Caithness, it offers the full range of Ifor Williams Trailers along with spares for the latest to the oldest of models. The company also offers full servicing and repair facilities.
It has recently invested heavily in a new showroom at its premises on Inverness’s Longman Industrial Estate which has allowed it to double the number of trailers it can display from 50 to 100.
Managing director Mark Alexander said: “The company was started by my father, Donald Alexander, and we’ve been supplying Ifor Williams trailers to the whole of northern Scotland for the past 36 years because they are the best on the market.
“We’re delighted to have sold five trailers to External Reality Ltd who were looking for something capable of going on and off-road over rough terrain to some very remote sites.
“The Ifor Williams P6e is ideal for their needs. It’s basically a small domestic trailer measuring 6ft 6ins long by 4ft wide but is extremely ruggedly built. It’s larger, stronger and tougher than trailers typically sold at your local DIY or car parts superstore.
“On the road they can be towed by a family car, off road they can even be towed by a quad bike.
“This has been a very nice order for us and, hopefully, just the start of our association with External Reality Ltd, which is based just a few minutes away from us in Inverness.”
Andy Reece-Jones, the design engineering manager at Ifor Williams Trailers, was pleased their trailers had helped provide a solution to what had previously been an intractable problem.
He said: "It never ceases to amaze me the ingenious uses people find for our trailers and this is a brilliant example of thinking outside the box. It's also a testament to the rugged durability of our products."
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