JUSTIN GOLDBLATT, general manager of Runrite Electronics, gives advice on how to select the right gas-detection solution.

There are many gas-detection products on the market that might appear to be the same, but a closer inspection of specification, functionality and features reveals major differences in what products can do and the potential value they can offer. Similarly, individual applications are also unique in their respective designs, needs and processes undertaken.

Know your site risks

Before beginning to consider gas-detection equipment, a risk assessment needs to be conducted. Any
company employing staff has the obligation to conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards.
These can include potential toxic or flammable gas,
vapour or oxygen-deficiency risks. If gas hazards are identified, gas detection is applicable as a method of risk reduction.

Identifying the prime objective

Depending on the processes being undertaken and the gases being detected, remote or off-site alarm notification, together with event data logging/reporting, may also be required for health and safety management records. Other factors impacting on the need for enhanced reporting functions might be regulatory compliance, or a condition of insurance.

Ask the right questions

Having identified the primary objective, the suitable equipment is selected by asking a number of key questions. These fall into three broad categories (which will be discussed in their own sections further on):

• The gases to be detected and where they may come from;

• The location and environmental conditions where detection is to take place; and

• The ease of use for operators and routine servicing personnel.

Identify the gases to be detected and where they may come from

The gases to be detected should be identified by the risk assessment. Experienced gas-detection equipment manufacturers or their approved distributors are often able to help in this process, based on their experience of similar applications.

However, it is important to remember that it is the end-user’s responsibility to identify all potential hazards. For example, identify toxic gas to prevent health risks, corrosive gas to prevent asset damage, or flammable gas to mitigate fire risk.

It is also essential to identify the potential source of a gas release, as this helps determine the number and location of detectors required for a fixed gas-detection system. However, a fixed system alone may not be sufficient and a combination with portable gas monitors may prove more effective.

Consider the environmental conditions

The performance, accuracy and reliability of any gas-detection equipment will be affected by the environmental conditions to which it is subjected. Temperature, humidity and pressure levels at the location all have a direct bearing on the type of equipment that should be selected. Honeywell manufactures a range of patented sensors that mitigate against such environmental factors.

Understand product functionality

The next area of consideration relates to additional product functionality. Aspects like wiring configuration are important, especially when retrofitting into an existing application. If the apparatus is being integrated into a separate safety system, certain communication protocols may also be required such as HART, Lonworks or Modbus. The Honeywell Analytics range of gas detection devices fulfils the needs of industrial standard communication protocols.

Consideration will also need to be given with regard to the requirement for local displays on transmitter units and local configuration of the unit. Gas displays may also be a useful addition.

Measure the ease of use for operators and routine servicing personnel

Routine maintenance is another important consideration. Some gases and vapours can be detected with a number of different sensing technologies; for example, flammable hydrocarbon gases with catalytic beads, or nondispersive infrared (NDIR) sensors.

Honeywell’s latest innovations include Bluetooth communication for simple and easy set up and can be maintained remotely using a smartphone app. This allows the end user the freedom to maintain equipment without the need for specialised tools or advanced training.

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