We are a society of consumers. We grow, extract and process materials and food stuffs into those everyday products that we take for granted. But when was the last time you even considered how complicated, difficult or even dangerous the processes might be behind food on our table or the latest must have gadget? The truth is that many of the goods we use in our daily lives will have passed through a hazardous environment of one sort of another during their creation and this presents a considerable challenge for those who secure the raw materials and the manufacturers of these products.
Understanding what constitutes “a hazardous environment” is a critical consideration when meeting the communications and operational requirements for these manufacturers:
‘An environment is defined as potentially hazardous if three conditions are met: there is a fuel source, perhaps a gas, a vapour, some sort of ignitable dust; oxygen and an ignition source.’
The inherent danger of working in a gas plant or an oil processing facility may seem obvious, but you might be surprised to discover that a paper or flour mill can prove to be an equally dangerous working environment if the correct controls and safety are not stringently applied. It is easy to identify the stages in a product’s creation where a hazardous environment is encountered, be it the refinement of fuel which powers our vehicles, the production of chemicals we use in detergents, or the processing of metal ores used in our computers or the milling of the flour we eat. Every aspect of our lives is touched with products from these environments.
The scale of production means that many of the facilities encompass large, complex environments that require integrated communication systems to facilitate effective and safe operations. This drives the ever increasing demand for highly reliable, easy to use and intrinsically safe communication equipment. Intrinsic safety is a protection technique used in a wide variety of electrical equipment, allowing safe operation by limiting the energy available for accidental ignition in the presence of Oxygen and a Fuel. ATEX/IECEX radios are a prime example of communication devices that are designed and optimised to meet these very unique and challenging demands.
In conjunction with the intrinsic safety capabilities of a radio, it is vital to address the very particular needs of the user to establish their usability requirements. Invariably, hazardous environments are loud, dirty, hostile places and these conditions will further define the uniqueness of an ATEX communications device.
CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSIONS WE HAVE HAD WITH END USERS TO UNDERSTAND THE SPECIFICS OF THE CHALLENGE:
- In what sort of background noise levels do you operate?
- Do you require the use of any particular specialist accessories?
- Where will you be operating?
- What is the size of your operation?
- How long will you be away from ’base’?
These are the requirements which drove the creation of the highly successful MTP850Ex ATEX TETRA radio that, since its launch in 2009, has continued to be extremely popular with our customers around the globe, recently passing the industry leading milestone of 100,000 TETRA units in market.
In this article, we have just scratched the surface of the ATEX user needs. In the months to come we will explore the specifics in more detail and discover how we help our customers operate in the most extreme working environments on the planet.
Download this case study when demonstrates the importance of effective ATEX communications equipment in the management of major gas plant: Gassco
If you’d like to join the conversation about communication in hazardous environments, we’d be delighted to welcome you to the Motorola Solutions Community EMEA LinkedIn Group.