Fully wireless gas detection, a long time coming, a reflection on where we came from
Wireless gas detectors in permanent monitoring applications are rapidly being accepted to meet increased need to provide detection coverage when budgets are constrained. I took a quick look at a prior blog from our marketing team posted earlier, Safety: Wireless has matured, gas detectors have too.
Things have not changed much since that post. Andy was discussing how wireless can fit a critical need balancing these concerns specific to the gas detector market. End users fully understand the impact of deploying wireless gas detectors in remote locations, hard to reach locations, and in areas within brown field projects where prior wired solutions no longer adequately meet their needs. The budget, technology and speed to deployment are well understood from looking at the maturing evolution of the process control market. You can also check out our calculator if you are interested in seeing those potential savings.
The challenge now is safety: can wireless detectors be used in safety instrumented systems (SIS) and carry a SIL rating?
What other options, like independent safety layers (IPLs), can be deployed to take advantage of the new technology when SIL may not be appropriate?
This is an interesting discussion with no easy answer. WirelessHART, has no provision for SIL at this time. This means applications where wired detectors are not feasible, due to a lack of available power source or signal wiring, would go unmonitored entirely unless a wireless detector is deployed. A traditional mindset might say these applications require a SIL2 gas detection system, and therefore a wireless gas detector may not be installed or even considered. Clearly the preferred state is to have some sort of sensors installed.
We have customers right now looking at implementing IPLs in applications for early warning notification of potential leaks to protect neighborhoods close by. Other customers are using wireless gas detectors to monitor remote locations lacking sufficient power and signal wires in gas storage plants and in terminal applications. These are the early adopters clearly finding ways to make this relatively new approach work for them, improving coverage and safety. Safety of course the ultimate goal.
This is a very simplified discussion of a complex issue. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and how you may approach these challenges. It will also be interesting to see how things change in the next two years when perhaps we reflect back on this post.