In the oil and gas industry safety remains a perennial issue. The implications of failing to detect gas leaks can incur significant financial losses, along with impacting the environment and workers’ health if a site has an unplanned shutdown.
Plants are turning to connected, smart technologies when it comes to the accurate detection of invisible and odorless gases. Below are three ways automation can help improve gas safety in plants.
1. Deploy wireless sensors to increase monitoring density
Deploying wireless sensors is a quick way to increase monitoring density, achieve continuous monitoring and provide real-time analytics to detect and measure gas concentration levels. In terms of device placement, the recommended practice for toxic detectors is to deploy them where personnel are at risk of exposure, covering high traffic areas and potential evacuation routes to ensure worker safety. In the case of flammable gases, detectors should be deployed where gas accumulations are known to occur as these are areas with the highest risk of explosion.
2. Deploy open communication protocols
Advanced wireless gas detection systems are capable of communicating through open communication protocols like WirelessHART or ISA100. This makes it easier for operators to deploy more sensors throughout the facility and even in hard-to-access areas. Information can be routed through other WirelessHART or ISA100 devices and aggregated at the plant control system level, so that users can then observe conditions from their laptops, tablets, phones, or any smart device. This ensures that no part of the production environment is out of sight and that operators always have a real-time view.
3. Consider gas detection as an input to predictive asset maintenance
Expand the use of gas detection beyond life safety to include asset integrity, specifically as an input to predictive asset management. The premise is that ambient gas concentration can be used as another input for predictive maintenance, specifically the Predictive Asset Management System. An increasing trend in background gas concentration indicates a gas leak in an asset, and proactive remedial action can then be taken before the leak worsens.
As the oil and gas sector looks to reduce operating costs while increasing reliability and improving gas safety, automating gas detection wirelessly is a simple and cost-effective solution.
About the Author: Julian Yeo,Strategic Marketing Manager.
Julian Yeo is a Strategic Marketing Manager for United Electric Controls and is responsible for international marketing and business development. Prior to this, he was product manager for UE’s gas detection and electromechanical switch product lines. Julian has been with UE for 7 years.