Gas detection is a power-hungry operation, so the main system must be wired to a power source. The cost of such systems, including the cost of planning, design and running conduits for power and signal wires, trenching, and other installation details, can be in the neighborhood of $10,000 per device. Gas detection systems covering all critical plant points have traditionally been specified at the front end engineering and design (FEED) of the plant design, but coverage for all possible points is typically not financially feasible. Furthermore, most of the legacy gas detection systems in use today were specified prior to plant expansions and increased safety awareness. However, as significant incidents and new standards drive heightened interest in plant safety, and as plant systems age and experienced workers leave the workforce, there is a need for tighter monitoring of gas leaks. Filling this need with wired sensors is prohibitive, not only because of the wiring expense, but for many sites, because there is minimal workable space to add wiring or other necessary infrastructure.
Personal or wearable gas detectors can provide a layer of protection, but the accuracy of these devices is poor with 20-25% accuracy as reported by experts in a recent National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) conference. NFPA speakers highly recommend augmenting of personal devices with more reliable fixed gas detectors in potentially dangerous areas. Installing fixed detectors, would better warn workers against entering dangerous areas, protecting them from harm. Regardless of whether a company is deploying fixed or personal detectors, the detectors should be networked so workers in the vicinity are aware of the hazardous condition.
In our next post, we will explore the wireless connection function and how this technology removes the physical and economic barriers associated with wired gas detection devices.
by: Wil Chin, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at United Electric Controls
Joe Mancini, Senior Product Manager at United Electric Controls
Greg LaFramboise, Retired Wireless Technology Lead, Chevron