In Gas Detection, Make the Right Choice for the Lives of your Employees

Imagine for a moment that you need to have heart surgery. Who would you trust to perform this highly specialized operation, considering that the physician’s level of expertise could either benefit your health or have fatal consequences?

It’s probably safe to assume that you would not choose an orthopedist or rheumatologist for this procedure.  Obviously, with your life depending on this operation, you would choose a heart surgeon.

Taking this hypothetical a step further, having decided that you need a specialist, you now need to actually choose the physician to whom you would entrust your most vital organ.  You would almost certainly do some research on his qualifications and expertise, the number of similar operations he has performed in the past, as well as on the infrastructure, technology and amenities of the hospital where he practices.  Moreover, you would want to be sure that the equipment he uses to operate on you would be cutting-edge technology.

Choosing a gas detection provider is not unlike choosing a heart surgeon.  You need an expert with extensive experience and up to date tools to recommend life-saving equipment for your plant and employees.

Every day, safety, maintenance and production managers at companies of all sizes, whether industrial or otherwise, are faced with various issues related to their production processes, the quality of their products and the safety of their sites and personnel. Most of these issues are resolved by adhering to current procedures, regulations and standards. The safety aspect is generally well managed because there are clearly defined rules on the use of PPE (personal protective equipment), smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.

When these same safety, maintenance and production managers are confronted with issues related to hazardous gas, whether it concerns a risk of explosion, toxicity or lack of oxygen (anoxia), the framework and regulations suddenly become less clear.

Often, manufacturers will install equipment in their sites or production and storage units because they are aware that a gas-related risk exists, or because, as a result of a government audit (such as an industrial and environmental risk management agency) or an audit by a private firm (appointed by an insurance company), they are required to install a gas and flame detection system.  Additionally, they could be meeting an internal request to come into compliance, occasionally following a fatal accident that occurred at a similar site somewhere in the world.

Without accurate information or specific regulations, how can they select the right system (with regard to architecture, technology, quality and quantity)?

Thanks to recognized safety organizations around the world (IOSH in the United Kingdom, INRS in France, OSHA in the United States and IFA in Germany), it is possible to obtain official information on toxic and explosive substances. This data can be used to determine gas density in order to determine the optimum height of the detectors.

Other information can be obtained through specialized training programs, including programs covering ATEX zones or equipment protection indices (PIs).

All of this information will have to be taken into account, but will still not be enough to establish a specific diagnosis and choose the best gas detection system. At this point, only the expertise and experience of specialists can guarantee that the best choices will be made. To paraphrase Simone de Beauvoir, “One is not born, but rather becomes, an expert.”

Like the heart surgeon, our gas detection experts see many different cases. They do research, they consider potential scenarios, they consult with their colleagues and share their analyses and practices with one another, site after site, application after application.

A typical week for the teams at Oldham is a testament to this. The following are but a few examples of the types of cases Oldham’s teams see: 

One team installed a toxic gas detection system at an old movie reel storage site in France.

A second team was deployed to the UK to recommend an ammonia detection solution for an energy production site in England. After conclusive communication tests, our wireless digital transmitter allowed our client to secure significant savings on wiring.

 A third team was in North Africa to determine the best architecture for a hexane detection system at a food-grade oil production site: a traditional analog solution combined with a remote detector calibration system that would allow for easy maintenance in the future.

In Scandinavia a fourth team advised a petroleum company on the best detection technology for a hydrocarbon storage facility.  Ultimately, Oldham recommended three different technologies to be used simultaneously in combination with a modular control unit connected to a touch screen.

 A fifth Oldham team was in Mexico to install a series of sampling boxes to detect high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide over oil wells.

In each instance, our experts, often with the support of our Integrated and Engineered  Solutions team, made observations, asked many questions of the users, explained and then recommended the need for customized solutions.

Different gas and flame detection systems are proposed every day, and most are high-quality systems manufactured by well-known companies. However very few companies are able to offer solid expertise that Oldham offers

At Oldham, we believe that you should choose your gas detection company as you would your heart surgeon.

The lives of your employees depend on it.

About the Author:

As Director of Sales & Customer Service for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, he leads his teams to gain market share in every country, either directly or through channel partners. Olivier also has responsibility for the Customer Service and iES (Integrated and Engineered Solutions) teams.

Olivier previously worked in process automation in the chemical industry at Rhone Poulenc (now Rhodia). He also worked in the export department of Hawker (now Enersys), a leader in industrial lead-acid batteries.

Olivier earned an advanced degree in electrical engineering, industrial IT and automation from the Institut Universitaire de Technologie of Béthune.