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The Benefits of “Always On” Connectivity in Gas Detection Systems

What is the key to building innovative products? A visionary idea, hard work, a committed team? In industrial safety, progress is fueled by a relentless effort to keep people safer and more productive.

Innovation in gas detection systems stems from the need to continuously monitor and detect combustible and toxic gases in industrial facilities before a catastrophic incident occurs and lives are lost. However, designing systems to meet evolving industry standards, while keeping costs under control is a challenging task.

Wireless gas detection solutions have the power to change the status quo.

Why go wireless?

The global wireless gas detection market is estimated to grow to US$ 3.9 million by the end of 2025, research shows.

Wireless detection systems have become an intrinsically safe and attractive replacement of traditional, fixed or hard-wired systems.

Since gas monitors are typically installed in hazardous locations, detector installation, commissioning, and maintenance are labor-intensive tasks. They require large trenching projects and running cables to power fixed sensors, take weeks to execute, and involve trained technicians or electricians. Oftentimes, the remoteness of these locations exacerbates the difficulty of service and calibrate sensors and adds significantly to lost uptime and personnel costs.

At the opposite end, a wireless mesh, with its self-forming network of monitors, can be set up and fully operational in 30 minutes. What’s more, if one of the sensors goes offline, the network reconfigures itself and continues to operate without interruption.

The benefits of wireless gas detection in a nutshell:

1.       Real-time awareness of potentially hazardous situations

2.       Real-time broadcast of local alarms

3.       “Always on” cable-free connections enable fast, easy and flexible deployments.

4.       Long-term results, even in the harshest of environments.

But one of the biggest advantages is the substantial cost savings in regulation compliance and information-processing time.

·         Less time spent on manual readings and record-keeping.

·         Eliminating recurring recertification for scheduled plant retrofits, upgrades, and turnarounds.

·         Reduction in personnel travel to transmit data from one location to another.

·         More cohesive evaluations from wide-ranging plant-wide sources of data.

One of the cost-effective uses for wireless systems is in scheduled plant retrofits, upgrades or turnarounds.

These operations often require multiple “permit-required” confined workspaces. The traditional process requires the project manager and safety officer to recertify each workspace after each worker regress. Using a wireless command center approach, each workspace can be continuously monitored and only requires re-certification if there has been an alarm or if worksite conditions have changed. Eliminating the constant re-certification has often been sufficient to fully cover the cost of deploying the wireless monitoring system.

Adoption hurdles

For most organizations, transitioning from wired to wireless networks is cost-prohibitive.

"The biggest barrier in real-time connected solutions resides in the wireless infrastructure to be physically deployed on customer sites,” said Gautier Mallet, Global Product Manager at Honeywell RAE Systems. “Even though there is a lot of value around the connected worker offering, sometimes having a costly fixed and dedicated wireless infrastructure for gas monitors on a site becomes the main financial and technical obstacle for our customers—cost, complexity, and deployment.”

But what if a Wi-Fi ready component could reside in the portable gas device? What if we could eliminate the “middleman”, the need for a costly infrastructure?

Honeywell enhanced its existing gas detection solutions portfolio with two breakthrough technologies.

Gas detectors with BLE Profile protocol

This new protocol allows Bluetooth-enabled instruments to be connected in real-time using third-party wireless infrastructure.

Together with ProRAE Guardian monitoring software, this technology allows safety managers to receive immediate alerts on gas levels, location, potential distress situations, and Man Down Alarms, keeping lone workers safer and providing greater ability to make instantaneous decisions.

Gas detectors with NB-IoT wireless module

Narrow-band IOT is a LPWAN radio technology standard, using a subset of the LTE standard and suitable for connecting a high volume of low-complexity devices in challenging environments.

It has minimal impact on instrument battery runtime and provides several other benefits, such as extended coverage, compared to GSM/GPRS. It can transmit data over long distances, and because it uses a mobile wireless network, it offers better scalability, quality of service, and security, compared to unlicensed LPWA networks (LoRa, for example).

"NB-IoT network deployment around the globe is happening very quickly”, Mallet adds. “Through this technology, you have all the benefits and value from being connected without having to deploy a fixed wireless infrastructure and without spending a fortune in wireless connectivity plans.

Learn more about the benefits of new gas detection technologies.