Making the connection to a safer world
08 August 2016
Today’s connected safety solutions allow for more rapid response to emergencies. As operations in hazardous, industrial environments become increasingly more complex and geographically dispersed, technological innovations in gas detection are revolutionising the way companies manage safety and productivity out in the field. Here Thomas Negre, marketing director for portable gas detection at Honeywell Industrial Safety, identifies the latest trends in gas detection technology, the thinking behind
Increasingly, companies are adopting technological solutions that provide real-time safety intelligence. We are seeing a shift away from individual or point solutions to connected solutions. Critical data can now be collected from smart personal protective equipment, biometric monitors and gas monitors worn by workers – and this information can be sent via the cloud and shared across an enterprise with all remote stakeholders on a smart phone, PC or other internet of things (IoT) devices. In this way, companies can respond more quickly and decisively to a safety threat.
As companies begin to deploy these technologies, we are seeing a growing emphasis on wireless gas detection systems that combine portable gas detectors with location tracking and software, which can then be used to inform safety managers of the real-time gas status throughout a facility or at a specific location. To start with, managers can immediately determine the location and the severity of a gas alarm. They can also draw on instant readings of an individual’s situation, which can then be used to better inform how best to rescue the worker and potentially evacuate others that might be at risk. Finally, managers can proactively monitor the readings of any gas detector remotely in real-time.
This is vital when it comes to enhancing worker protection. Advances in gas detection systems mean that companies can now automate their reporting and use this data to ensure compliance. Safety managers can scroll through the records of a worker’s gas detectors and uncover the gas readings that they had been exposed to over the previous weeks. This information can then inform how safety is managed going forward. The automated system also frees the supervisor up from having to compile time-consuming reports.
The latest gas detection technology can also help businesses improve productivity in a number of ways. For instance, it allows workers to concentrate on the job at hand instead of worrying about whether their gas detector is working properly. It also identifies trace gas leaks from process equipment, which reduces costly downtime. What’s more, it simplifies the safety audit process so that workers don’t have to be pulled from the field because of non-compliance. Finally, in some confined space scenarios, workers can use wireless technology to report gas detector readings back to their supervisor, thereby removing the need to stop work every few minutes to send this information back manually.
Developments in gas detection technology are moving at a breakneck speed and the possibilities are fascinating to pore over. In the past few months, for instance, we have seen the industry’s first wireless four-gas monitor, which operates with all of the most essential wireless communication protocols – Bluetooth, Mesh, GPS and Wi-Fi. This means that companies can now use a single device with wireless and non-wireless capabilities to monitor gas hazards in real-time at remote locations. Not only does this enable managers to access critically important information instantaneously from any location but it also provides them with an accurate picture of developments on the ground. Armed with this vital information, they can then respond effectively to events, mitigating or preventing safety incidents.
But the possibilities don’t end there. Developments in software applications mean that it is also possible now to talk to a hazardous area certified industrial smartphone via a cellular network so that safety critical information can be relayed from the front-line worker back to a remote host controller. Where companies do not use wireless gas detectors and/or they don’t have Wi-Fi installed, it now means that the end user can achieve wireless connectivity without the expense of a private network. Alternatively, if a worker is using Wi-Fi to communicate back to the office and they step into a blackspot on the site or there are holes in the Mesh radio coverage, they can use an industrial-grade smartphone and app to provide safety managers located off site with constant visibility of their movements.
This is just a snapshot of the cutting edge technology that is transforming gas detection and enhancing worker safety in the process. Clearly, connected solutions that deliver real-time intelligence is where gas detection technologies are advancing. By enabling businesses to integrate data to provide real-time visibility of operations as they unfold, end-users are better placed to make informed decisions. At a macro level, that can mean executing the right emergency response, resolving a small issue before it blows up to become a costly and damaging crisis and, arguably most importantly, making sure that safety is never compromised.
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