Advancements in mobile gas networks helping to save lives

Fast and effective toxic and flammable gas detection has saved numerous lives in a variety of industrial and dangerous environments such as mining, oil and gas drilling, shipbuilding, heavy fabrication and chemical processing.

With wireless interoperability improvements allowing industrial applications to share data with first responders and other responding agencies, the increases in workplace safety have been almost exponential.

In terms of gas measurement, the word ‘mobile’ has now become synonymous with ‘safe’.

These technological advancements in wireless communication means more and more companies are now able to use wide-area wireless gas detection systems to meet their gas detection needs.

The immediate advantages are that wireless systems are much faster and cheaper to deploy than traditional wired solutions as they eliminate the need to transport heavy and expensive cables, plus they remove the need to dig trenches or install extensive wire networks.

These detection systems have also become an attractive replacement to traditional fixed- or hard-wired systems, and are now available as stand-alone monitors or with rapid-deployment kits and self- healing mesh-radio systems.

A further advantage of this generation of wireless gas monitors is the ability to re-broadcast alarms and data in real time. Wireless system users can now engage remote industrial hygienists, safety experts and managers in the same way doctors working in remote locations can work with medical center specialists as things happen.

The first generation of wireless gas detection systems used fixed-frequency narrowband transmission modems, however any obstacles between the sensor and controller caused signal loss.

In addition, any “noise” from other wireless sources would interfere with the system’s operation. This type of co-channel interference occurred when two modems broadcast on the same frequency.

In order to accommodate multiple transmissions within the same frequency band, the narrowband signal was spread out.

These days, the two most common methods for spreading the signal are frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) and direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS).

In an FHSS system, the transmission frequency is randomly varied with time. At any particular moment, the system essentially operates using narrowband transmission, but because the modems are continuously jumping to different frequencies (up to 1600 times per second), co-channel interference issues are greatly reduced.

The use of mesh modems is another technological advance that has provided the ability to automatically route the wireless signal to other nearby modems allowing them to easily bypass obstacles and increase the transmission distance.

Mesh networks require minimal programming because the modems locate the best path back to a controller and connect automatically. Any loss of signal is detected, and the network will identify the best method to re-route the signal and heal itself.

In a DSSS system, the signal is spread over several frequencies and transmitted at the same time. By injecting a spreading code into the data, the resultant narrowband signal is broadened.

The embedded mesh functionality ensures a very stable wireless signal, and self-configuration of the network simplifies deployment. Designed for use in oil and gas exploration applications such as drilling rigs, the 2.4GHz modems integrated in these solutions allows the same system to be deployed worldwide.

RAE Systems MeshGuard wireless gas monitoring system offers intrinsically safe wireless gas detection networks based on 2.4GHz DSSS mesh technology, allowing MeshGuard to provide personnel with real time information from a network that quickly relays data regarding dangerous gases to an easy-to-understand central system.

Because the system includes wireless sensors that can be deployed rapidly in any environment, MeshGuard eliminates the need for lengthy and costly installations.

By detecting and recording a wide range of deadly gases and quickly relaying the data to an easy-to-understand central system, personnel now have up-to-date information from throughout the network of sensors at the touch of a finger.

For more information about RAE Systems MeshGuard, go to http://www.raesystems.com/solutions/wireless-gas-detection-technology or watch this free video.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.