Beacon Compliance Documents

Beacon Refurbishment Program

What is a Beacon Refurbishment?

A GME beacon refurbishment is a comprehensive process to ensure your beacon is fit for purpose and meets all compliance standards for a safe boating experience.

It is not simply a battery replacement; it involves replacing many parts of the beacon including the battery and an extensive testing regime using specialised equipment covering Ingress Protection (waterproof), 406MHz frequency, and 121.5MHz homing signal validation.

This ensures your GME refurbished beacon continues to meet Australian Standards.

Returned GME beacons will have their lithium batteries removed, and safely discarded.

GME’s EPIRBs and PLBs are fitted with a long-life lithium battery pack which must be replaced at specific intervals, as indicated by the date stamped on the side of your beacon.

Where do I send my GME Beacon?

Any customer wishing to return their beacon for refurbishment should follow the procedure;

Within Australia, all beacons must be returned to GME Sydney Service Centre

(Either in person or by Dangerous Goods road-freight – see Note below for more information about DG Classification)

Freight Costs of the beacon to GME is the responsibility of the owner
Return Freight Costs to the customer is included in the price for the battery refurbishment.

Australia

GME Sydney Service Centre
17 Gibbon Road
Winston Hills
NSW 2153
Australia
Phone: 1300 463 463
Email: enquiries@gme.net.au

New Zealand

GME Standard Communications NZ
Unit A, 11 Echelon Place
East Tamaki, 2013
New Zealand
Phone: (09) 274 0955
Email: nzbranch@gme.net.au

Any International customers wishing to have their beacon refurbished, please contact your local GME distributor for further details.

Note: All EPIRBs are categorised as Class 9 dangerous goods and must be transported according to the local regulations in each country. Contact your local courier company to arrange a suitable Class 9 Dangerous Goods shipment.

What will it Cost to Refurbish my GME Beacon?

GME is committed to the safety of life at sea and has implemented an extensive refurbishment program so that we are confident that in the event of an emergency, you can rely on your GME EPIRB.

The refurbishment costs for the various GME emergency beacon models are as follows:

MODEL AUSTRALIA
INC GST
NZ
INC GST
MT410AUS $199.00 $229.00
MT410GAUS $199.00 $229.00
MT400AUS $199.00 $229.00
MT406GAUS $199.00 $229.00
MT403AUS $229.00 $269.00
MT403GAUS $229.00 $269.00

The warranty on refurbished Beacons is 12 months.

How Long will it take to Refurbish my GME Beacon?

Due to the extensive refurbishment process, GME is committed to a 30-day turnaround (excluding transport time), from receipt of your beacon.

Why must my Beacon be Refurbished by GME?

Unauthorised battery replacements performed by unapproved third parties may result in your beacon not functioning properly in an emergency and are non-compliant under Australian and New Zealand Standards.

Please note:

  • Beacons with an expired battery date are considered “out of service”. Under Australian and New Zealand regulations, any vessel skipper/owner found by marine surveyors, water police, or other state regulators to have an expired EPIRB is in breach of mandatory EPIRB carriage regulations and may be subject to penalties.
  • Beacons found to be “out of service” and require additional repairs outside battery refurbishment are considered uneconomical to repair.
  • Beacons found to be “out of service” and returned 2 years after the Battery Expiry date are no longer considered serviceable under the “Useful Life” policy.

Other Useful Information

Testing your Beacon

GME EPIRBs have saved literally hundreds of lives over the past 30 years. Hopefully, you will never be in a situation that requires EPIRB activation, however, if you are, you will need to be certain your EPIRB is ready for action.

We recommend 3 simple checks on a monthly basis or prior to an extended voyage.

1. Ensure battery expiry date has not been reached.

2. Select ‘Test’ mode and verify the indicator light is flashing and audible ‘beep’ is present.

3. Confirm there is no physical damage and that the safety seal is in place and unbroken.

For a more comprehensive testing routine download an EPIRB Inspection Proforma.

What is an EPIRB Inspection Proforma?

Where required by legislation, this formalised inspection routine is recommended by the manufacturer. It is to be carried out only by suitably authorised personnel.

The routine may also serve as a useful guide for those owners wishing to establish a more detailed and regular voluntary assessment of their beacon.

A yearly inspection interval is suggested for typical installations.

The Benefits of GPS

GPS Beacons offer faster detection by Geostationary Satellites, typically less than 10 minutes anywhere in Australia or New Zealand.

Beacons equipped with GPS also provide greater accuracy of the beacon’s position as it transmits the latitude and longitude coordinates as part of the emergency message.

The search area is usually less than a 100-metre radius.

These advantages generally result in a much faster response time from Search and Rescue authorities, which means you are found faster.

Emergency Beacon Useful Life Policy

Emergency beacons may be called upon to make an important contribution in an emergency.

Appropriate handling and care, complimented with the recommended regular inspection and self-test play an important part in maximising the product’s life.

However like all electrical products, reliability reduces with age.

GME Emergency Beacons employ some of the latest materials and technologies permitting up to a 20-year useful life on certain models*.

GME beacons are required to be serviced at specified intervals that are clearly marked on the housing.

EPIRBs and PLBs that are not serviced within this period may not perform to specification when needed in an emergency situation.

In fulfilling a duty of care to its customers, GME’s useful life is detailed in the table below.

Beacons that fall outside of these dates will not be serviced by GME or any of its authorised service centres.

Models Battery life Useful Life
MT600/600G 10 years 20 years
MT410/MT410G 7 years 14 years
MT400/MT401/MT403/MT403G/MT406G/MT603G 6 years 12 years

*From date of manufacture.

GME Cat II EPIRBs in Life Rafts

GME EPIRBs should only be packed in life rafts by appropriately authorised, factory trained, and qualified personnel, using only the manufacturer’s approved packing methods.

Special attention must be paid to the amount of space available in or on the equipment pack, inside the life raft. DO NOT compress the EPIRB in any way during packing of the raft; as serious mechanical and/or electrical damage could occur.

Any damage caused to a GME EPIRB by incorrect placement or packing in a life raft will not be covered by warranty.

Particular attention must also be given to securing the EPIRB’s antenna.

It is recommended, within the scope of individual manufacturer packing instructions and manuals, that the EPIRB be secured in a protective heat-sealed plastic bag as used in stowing food and water in the equipment pack.

If space allows, cover with packing foam inside the plastic bag. Evacuate as much air as possible before sealing the plastic bag.

Individual life raft manufacturers may have issued precise instructions for the stowage of EPIRBs in their rafts, so it is important to study the manufacturers’ instructions before packing an EPIRB into any raft.

If in any doubt contact the life raft manufacturer for specific advice.

PLB use in Life Rafts

GME PLBs should only be packed in life rafts by appropriately authorised, factory trained, and qualified personnel, using only the manufacturer’s approved packing methods.

Special attention must be paid to the amount of space available in or on the equipment pack, inside the life raft.

Do not compress the PLB in any way during packing of the raft; as serious mechanical and/or electrical damage could occur.

The PLB should always be stowed in its protective carry case.

Any damage caused to a GME PLB by incorrect placement or packing in a life raft will not be covered by warranty.

It is recommended, within the scope of individual manufacturer packing instructions and manuals, that the PLB be secured in a protective heat-sealed plastic bag as used in stowing food and water in the equipment pack.

If space allows, cover with packing foam inside the plastic bag. Evacuate as much air as possible before sealing the plastic bag.

Individual life raft manufacturers may have issued precise instructions for the stowage of PLBs in their rafts, so it is important to study the manufacturers’ instructions before packing a PLB into any raft.

If in any doubt contact the life raft manufacturer for specific advice.

Handling Procedures

EPIRBs, in common with other high-performance electronic equipment, are powered by Lithium batteries.

Lithium batteries are used because they provide the best available battery performance and reliability which is required for extreme operating conditions such as varying temperatures, long operating life, and long storage life.

Because of their high energy content, particular care must be taken in their handling, transport, and disposal. When assembled in an EPIRB they have a high degree of protection from their environment, but care must be taken if the EPIRB is dismantled or damaged.

It is important not to short-circuit, physically destroy or dispose of Lithium batteries in a fire as an explosion could result.

Transport restrictions may apply to the carriage of Lithium batteries in some environments where they are classified as hazardous goods.

EPIRB Recall Update - March 2018

In July 2014 GME Pty Ltd issued a voluntary recall on a specific range of GME MT400/MT401/MT403 EPIRBs manufactured between January 2005 and February 2008.

Whilst such occurrences are highly regrettable, we as a responsible organisation believed that in the ongoing interest of product reliability and safety of life at sea, the recall was necessary.

Following the announcement of the recall, GME made every effort to trace each of these EPIRBs, notify the owners and provide a replacement unit.

In March 2018, GME reached a point where the final production of the impacted EPIRBs from February 2008 would be 10 years old, have been returned for refurbishment or been removed from service.

Consequently, GME Pty Ltd advises that having fulfilled all of our moral and legal obligations the GME EPIRB recall program is now closed.

Potentially, there may be the occasional customer wishing to make a claim under the program, in such situations, each of these claims will be assessed on its merits, however, we believe it is highly unlikely that there are any impacted beacons remaining in service.

For more information, please contact us via email at enquiries@gme.net.au

 

**Warning – Unauthorised Battery replacements on EPIRBs**

It has come to our attention that a number of non-certified beacon service centres are offering a low-cost EPIRB and PLB battery replacement service.

Whilst these operators are not breaking the law by replacing beacon batteries, they are exposing themselves to liability, particularly if the beacon owner is unaware their beacon is now non-compliant under Australian law, and the beacon may not function correctly in an emergency.