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The Four Layers of Your Total Site Protection

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great," John D. Rockefeller said. And finding the great starts with defining it. The company you represent might be a top player in its industry, the balance sheets might look rewarding, and the company’s share trends might be bullish. But what if an explosion occurred at one of the company’s facilities? How good is your safety plan?

The industrial expansion, especially in the oil and gas, wastewater, and semi-conductor areas includes the production and use of highly dangerous substances, such as flammable and toxic gases. Oil rigs, plants, and facilities are permanently exposed to the potential hazards caused by gas leaks, also posing a threat to the environment and the people living nearby.

Oil and gas dark figures

In the rush to produce oil fast, safety can get overlooked. During 2003–2010, 823 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job – a fatality rate seven times greater than the rate for all U.S. industries, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The upstream oil and gas industry recorded a rate of 148.9 severe injuries per 100,000 workers in 2015–2016, one of the highest rate in the US and the world, OSHA states.

Full, layered protection

Businesses are just as diverse as hazards. The most effective way to deter, prevent and mitigate potential threats is to employ a layered safety approach in which independent yet interrelated layers of protection work together, offering full protection and guaranteeing business performance and confidence.  

The layered architecture of protection is created according to the business structure, safety, and production levels necessary for effective operations. The security control extends across the entire plant and business networks, thus, protecting the facility from pending incidents with an early indication of failing assets.

In a mixed technology approach for gas and flame detection, each solution completes the effectiveness of the previous one, adding to the safety case. As each one acts independently, an unexpected failure won’t affect more than one layer.  

The parameters (i.e., safe upper and lower limits, run time) under which equipment can function without failure need to be defined and managed so that emergency shutdown systems should prevent the escalation of an incident. For the fire and gas detection system, gas detection and flame detection are two separate layers. If the gas detection layer fails to detect a gas leak and a fire ignites, flame detection comes into play.

Layer 1 – Point Infrared gas detection

.Point Infrared (PI) is a hydrocarbon gas detector that continuously monitors to detect gas clouds that could cause structural damage in case of an explosion. However, to be detected, the gas must reach the detector point, which doesn’t happen if the wind takes the gas cloud away from the detector.

Searchpoint Optima Plus is an infrared point Hydrocarbon gas detector certified for use in potentially explosive atmospheres, offering the fastest speed of response and fail-to-safe operation, ensuring that your plant is compliant, your personnel is protected, and your production process can deliver maximum uptime.

Layer 2 – Open Path Infrared gas detection

Open Path Infrared (OPI) gas detectors offer an increased chance of detecting a gas leak and are less sensitive to wind speed and direction. They reduce the disadvantages of point detectors in windy conditions, but don't eliminate them completely.

Searchline Excel Open Path Infrared Gas Detector is the world’s best selling infrared open path gas detector with over 6,000 units installed in challenging applications throughout the world, from the Arctic Circle to Middle Eastern Deserts, according to Keison Products. Searchline Excel is totally immune to interference from sunlight or any other sources of radiation such as flare stacks, arc welding or lightning.

 Layer 3 – Ultrasonic gas leak technology

The (ultrasonic) acoustic gas leak technology delivers with high speed of response gas leak detection. The gas does not have to “reach” the detector like PI or OPI and it eliminates the dilution and wind direction effect. However, it reacts to any high-pressure gas release that creates a broadband ultrasonic sound within range.

Our Searchzone Sonik acoustic gas leak detector adds the ultrasonic technology to a reliable mix of point and open-path gas detectors. Thanks to its robust sealed solid-state sensor that doesn’t need calibration and can withstand the harshest weather conditions, the Searchzone Sonik delivers reliable gas leak detection, even in the noisiest environments, prevents false alarms, and reduces the cost of ownership.

Layer 4 – Flame detection

FS24X is the latest generation high-technology Multi-Spectrum Triple IR Flame Detector whose sophisticated software algorithms and dual microprocessors ensure the highest fire detection performance combined with optimal false alarm rejection.

Its technology and sensors allow detection of all types of fires, hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon, in all weather conditions. If the detector’s signal is blocked by ordinary window glass, the sensors will still alarm to the fire.

The FS24X Flame Detector has a detection range greater than 200 feet (Very High Sensitivity setting) for the detection of a one square-foot Heptane reference fire and has a cone of vision far greater in volumetric coverage than any other Multi-Spectrum IR Detector. This means fewer detectors can be used as compared to other manufacturers’ detectors.

The technology mix

Only by combining all the technologies, you can benefit from the most favorable coverage, detection, hazard mitigation, and life protection.

Detect the gas leak at the detection point with PI and OPI, unless air movement will take the gas cloud away or dilute it to a lower level. Then, let Ultrasonic Gas Leak Detector come in charge to “hear” the pressurized leak and send the risk alert. Eventually, deploy integrated technologies within the gas protection layer and then add a flame detector as the next protection layer.

It’s time to rethink your gas detection program. Take the threat assessment to learn how to improve your safety program.