Our informative article follows ICA Engineering’s latest panel discussion on intrinsic safety technology and its benefits across industry control systems.Intrinsic safety technology is a preferred system protection method in Europe that has seen rising popularity within the United States in recent years. The webinar touches on the advantages of the technology compared to standard industry alternatives like containment and segregation.
Webinar attendees included Joseph Stevenson, CEO and Founder of ICA Engineering; Peter McMenamin, Northeast regional sales manager of Newson Gale; Dave Sticht, Vice President of Pride Chemical Solutions; Edward Beardshaw, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Exloc Instruments; and Shane Filer, general manager of Neal Systems Incorporated (NSI).
Understanding Hazardous Areas
Hazardous areas within control systems refer to places that contain ignitable concentrations of flammable gas, vapor, or dust. These areas may cause explosions when in contact with a significant source of sufficient thermal or electrical energy. Specifically, an ignition triangle that combines interactions between energy, air, and fuel creates such hazards.
For example, a food and beverage company in New Jersey experienced an explosion when mounted propane tanks caught fire and ignited, damaging half of the building. Industry experts therefore need to find effective strategies to prevent the ignition triangle’s convergence if they want to significantly reduce the risks of on-site hazards.
Facilities that lack a protection method or procedure in these hazardous areas may face heavy consequences such as the loss of life, injuries, equipment damage, and a negative impact on the company’s reputation. Industry experts can readily identify and respond to hazardous areas through categorization methods sorted by material type, risks, and boundaries.
Hazard classifications at plants and facilities differ based on the nature of the hazard. These area classifications include Class I for gas, Class II for dust and powder, and Class III for fibers and flyings, which are traces of metal shavings and other heat conductors that float in the air.
Many industry experts and professionals are quick to attribute explosions to gas, but Class II and Class III materials pose just as much of a hazard if fibers and dust come into contact with small sources of static energy.
On top of classifications, each hazard location includes division breakdowns, also known as zones in Europe, followed by gas groups and temperature, describing the risks in specific areas. A clear understanding of the categorization provides site experts with the knowledge to respond with the proper measures and urgency for optimal outcomes.
Facility managers and decision-makers should consider categorizing hazardous sites as division 1 for maximum preparedness, reducing the risks of unexpected accidents.
Intrinsic Safety Technology as a Top Protection Solution
Some of the most popular NEC certified safety protection solutions include explosion or flameproofing, purging or pressurizing, non-incendive, and intrinsic safety. Facilities apply a solution based on the layout of their site and project nature.
Typically, facilities with multiple hazardous areas apply the explosion or flameproof technique, while systems with higher voltages usually employ purging or pressurizing methods. Incendive processes generally involve cost-saving preventative measures like the strategic display of signage and pamphlets to optimize on-site responses.
Intrinsic safety remains an effective method, as proven through an industry comparison between U.S. and European facilities. In one year, America reported 17 industry explosions, while Europe reported just one case of site explosion, showing a significant difference in method outcomes.
Why Choose Intrinsic Safety Technology?
Unlike other protection options, intrinsic safety technology such as the MTL 7700 series segregates equipment from power sources to avoid explosions in diverse scenarios. With intrinsic safety technology, you can create and maintain functional systems that operate efficiently in the most hazardous environments by limiting energy levels.
Some of the many intrinsic safety applications include the prevention of temperature-caused ignitions, accidental panel-sourced ignitions, and explosions caused by the build up of electrical energy in devices – a particular concern given the rise of mobile operations.
The intrinsic safety technology approach works for all classes, divisions, zones, and wiring layouts with the entire system in mind. Additionally, it is the only approved approach for Zone 0 site classifications in Europe.
ICA Engineering is a leading expert in the control system lifecycle. Our consultants provide comprehensive guidance and solutions in intrinsic safety technology, equipping your technicians with the skills to optimize systems across diverse scenarios.
While intrinsic safety technology remains an effective response strategy for hazardous areas, the high technological cost of intrinsic safety touchscreens might prove inaccessible for a limited budget.
Therefore, we recommend more affordable mobile tablet PCs that technicians can access facility-wide. This option provides context-sensitive functions while technicians operate forklifts or shift materials, serving as a convenient programmable logic controller (PLC) for managing multiple sites without the high cost and rigidity of fixed touchscreen installations.
We customize our solutions based on the layout and nature of your safety needs through one-off projects, system replacements, or ongoing maintenance.
Consult ICA Engineering for more information on how you can implement intrinsic safety technology on your systems and premises.
To watch videos on Intrinsic Safety Technology see below