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What Gas Detection System Do I Need?

Posted by Claire Allcock on 15th Jan 2020

With the wide variety of gas detectors available, it’s important to make the right choice for you. So how do you know what that choice should be?

Understand Your Needs

Every industry and environment is different, with specific needs and processes that should be considered when choosing the right gas detection system for you.

Understand your Workplace

Regular risk assessments are the only way to ensure that you and your staff are safe whilst at work. By highlighting potential hazards in the workplace, they can quickly and easily determine whether there is a need for gas detection, and point you in the right direction for what functions you need in a system.

Identify Main Objectives

Think about the main motivation behind installing gas detection. What processes do you undertake at your site, and what gases do you need detectors for? Your health and safety management records may also need remote alarm notification and event data logging from your gas detectors.

If your industry has extra regulations or your insurance has conditions attached, you may need enhanced reporting functions from your systems in order to comply.

Ask the Right Questions

Using your workplace risk assessments and the functions on your detector that you need to maintain compliance, you can start digging into the more granular details.

  • Ask yourself about the main gases that need monitoring, and where they may come from.
  • Identify the location and conditions of the area that you need gas detection.
  • Question how easy-to-use your system needs to be.

Detect the Right Gases

While your risk assessments and external experts may be able to help you, it is ultimately down to the end-user to identify all potential gas hazards. For the system to be effective, you need to know whether your hazards are toxic, flammable or asphyxiant and at what levels they become dangerous; an effective system will alert the user before the levels increase that far. By knowing your gases, you can also evaluate sensor positioning, due to some gases being lighter or heavier than air.

By knowing where potential sources of gases come from, you can also determine the number and location of sensors needed to protect your workplace. If you cannot identify the sources of gas, portable gas detection keeps your workforce protected.

Gas sources will vary depending on environment and industry, but some sources can include:

  • Natural decomposition of waste: Methane, Hydrogen Sulfide.
  • Supply pipe or storage tank leak: Natural Gas.
  • Combustion emissions: Carbon Monoxide.
  • Production emissions: Solvents used in the printing and coating industry.
  • Manufacturing emissions: Ammonia from a refrigeration plant.

Review Environmental Conditions

Temperature, humidity and pressure levels will all impact your gas detection system, so you need to find one that can withstand your working environment. Think about variations in the production process, seasonal changes and whether the system will be installed inside or outside — being subject to weather conditions. If the environment experiences a lot of moisture, dirt or dust, your sensors will need a more robust housing to protect it.

Understand the Product

Now that you have a better idea of your environment, you can turn your attention to more specific details of the system itself. Consider features like wiring configuration, especially if you’re retrofitting to an existing system. It’s also a good idea to check whether you need any specific communication protocols, such as HART®, Lonworks or Modbus®. Product lines such as the Honeywell XNX are universal, and work with most systems.

Gas detection is only part of your overall safety protocols, so taking a holistic approach that encompasses your whole working environment is the best way to understand what functions and features you need.

The more functions and variations you have, the more expensive your system will become. It is important that you weigh up the cost against the necessity of the feature you’re considering.

Some variations include:

  • local displays
  • local user interfaces
  • software compatibility
  • the number of relays and outputs required
  • remote sensor mounting capabilities
  • on-board diagnostics
  • cartridge hot swapping
  • event logging abilities.

Consider Maintenance Schedules

Some systems will require more routine maintenance than others; being an important factor in coming to a decision. Think about the resources needed to carry out maintenance, and whether you can handle it in-house or need a third party to do this for you.

The amount of downtime faced by your gas detectors will depend on the frequency of routine maintenance, which may affect your production output. Some systems provide a fast, simple and safe sensor exchange which means you don’t have to power-down the whole plant for routine maintenance.

It is crucial to select the right gas detection system for your needs. With over 25 years of experience in the gas detection industry, DSA Suppliers can help you find the right fit for your gas detector solution.