Wireless Gas Detection & Data Analysis


Category : General Safety

Wireless Gas Detection and Data Analysis Reduces Risk, Improves Plant-wide Processes, Maintenance and Safety

An explosion at a natural gas processing plant near Plymouth, Washington, injured five workers and caused the evacuation of 400 more workers. In the first half of 2012, two refinery fires occurred in California, two separate fires happened at the same refinery plant in Indiana, along with fires reported at refineries in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington. In 2010, five workers died with others injured during an explosion and fire at an Anacortes, Washington refinery.

Causes for refinery accidents can include faulty repairs, leaking pipes and pumps, tank overfills and spills, or breakdowns in following safety procedures or adequately utilizing safety equipment. One industry estimate suggests " that at least one fire occurs every week at a U.S. oil refinery."

Undetected gas leaks and subsequent damage, if uncontrolled and unmonitored, pose a dangerous safety risk to industrial assets, facility workers as well as to the communities around them.

Real-time Wireless Gas Detection and Data Can Help Reduce Incidents

Because of incidents such as these, wireless remote gas monitoring is rapidly gaining ground with managers of facilities, safety, and engineering. Monitoring gas levels in real time identifies tank leaks and dangerous confined-space gas levels. The data such as the time of reading, parts per million, lower explosive limits, and other variables may be analyzed and trended to identify dangerous situations and ultimately predict failure before it occurs.

Wireless gas monitors:

  • Can now easily integrate dedicated wireless monitors, personal protection monitors, GPS data, real-time meteorological data as well as personal physiologic data.

  • And data capture expedites and accelerates decision making, and improves safety and maintenance planning and forecasting.

  • Provide the ability to re-broadcast the alarms and data real time over mobile phones and the Internet, so that all interested parties can contribute to both hazard management and response.

  • Allow remote experts to engage and make decisions in the same way that doctors working in remote locations can interface with medical center specialists in real time.

Using "Big Data" to Predict and Prevent Incidents

Data access has now become an operational advantage to distributed safety teams as well as multinational firms. Today, wireless gas detection monitors allow data to be detected, transmitted, logged, archived, and extrapolated. Algorithms and computing models are emerging that accurately project trends, predict events, and identify risk, thereby driving engineering decisions to assess and control risks.

More specifically, wireless detection and data logging allow data to stream into a central location with dashboards and indicators to predict maintenance intervals, downtime duration, and equipment and system failure.

As wireless gas detection matures, so does data accumulation, which allows engineering managers to join the "big data" revolution that firms are embracing for operational and competitive advantage.

A recent IDG survey reported that big data for all applications would improve business processes precisely for decision making. Their survey showed that respondents believed that big data would improve the quality of the decision-making process (59%), increase the speed of decision making (53%), and improve planning and forecasting (47%) for various operations.

Safety of personnel and equipment and system reliability improve greatly with the advent of big data and its computation. Software may be programmed to answer critical safety and maintenance questions.

  • What are/were the levels when a tank was last entered?
  • How much water washing was required to reduce gaseous levels before entry?
  • Did workers need to vacate a space or confinement during the last entry because of high levels of oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, or VOCs?
  • Why was a worker out sick the day after he entered a tank vessel used in a chemical process?
  • What steps and processes can be used to better plan maintenance and improve worker safety?

This aggregated data, combined with real time plant-wide gas detection information allows facility managers and engineers to better invest maintenance resources to efficiently manage the next downtime event. This increases reliability and ultimately boosts productivity. It is a maintenance and safety best practice that impacts not only worker health and safety but also equipment and system performance.

Data Drives Operational Improvements

"Data helps drive operational improvements. It helps facilities managers and industrial leadership drive decisions faster and better. Data analytics help identify problems before they occur, early on, when there's still time to take reasonable actions and precautions before they compound into bigger problems that are difficult to control," says Dave Lambert, Senior Manager of Environmental Health & Safety at Ajinomoto Foods North America, Inc.

Data gathered from wireless gas detection can combine and analyze variables such as downtime, worker output, maintenance cost, and production schedules, helping drive management decisions to best allocate resources.

Knowing when and how gas levels increase can be determined by the data logged by the wireless detectors.This may dictate how often a tank or pressure vessel must be accessed and how to train personnel to safely enter and exit the tank.

It may also be linked to plant equipment downtime, indicating process flaws where portable detection equipment was unreliable. An increasing change in particle detection or parts per million of a particular substance may easily support a trend analysis, telling plant and facility managers where and when corrective action could and should be taken.

Industrial production facilities can combine both wireless gas detection information with production data analytics, in order to develop useful trends that economize maintenance dollars and create operational and process control best practices.

Wireless gas detection systems are now available with a broad range of wireless and mesh radio options including standard 110V/220V, battery and solar assist. These options give plant safety and risk reduction managers a new set of tools to deploy in a wide range of safety management situations. Other applications for wireless gas detection include HazMat response, energy exploration and drilling, refinery turnarounds, sewage/water treatment plants, petrochemical transportation, confined space entry, rendering plant-wide detection, leak detection, worker protection, fence line monitoring, scrubber efficiency and H2S safety.

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