Trends in ... instruments and monitors

A better understanding

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From gas detectors and noise dosimeters to refrigerant leak detectors, the field of instruments and monitors is broad. Here, Jeremy Majors, technical representative at Cedar Hill, TX-based Gas Clip Technologies, and Mark Heuchert, marketing manager, ADM, Region North America, for Houston-based Dräger Inc., discuss what’s new in the field, as well as what they wish employers and workers better understood about these devices.

Innovations

Majors said the release of an LED-driven nondispersive infrared sensor in 2013 was the first major change in lower explosive limit sensors since the 1950s. “This new LEL sensor changed the run time of the multi-gas detector from the industry standard of 12 to 18 hours between charges to months at a time without needing to be recharged,” he said. Three years after that, an even lower power-consuming IR LEL sensor was released that allowed years of use without the need for charging. “Just as sensor technology improved in the past, thus paving the way for simple-to-use disposable single-gas detectors, this low-power IR LEL sensor has made available today simple-to-use disposable multi-gas detectors that never need charging,” he concluded.

Heuchert pointed out that in the past, for benzene and other volatile organic compound detection, photoionization or multi-gas detectors were used with a tube to detect benzene. “Advanced technological miniaturization has allowed for gas chromatography to be placed in line with a handheld PID, allowing for a portable, highly accurate means to determine levels of benzene, toluene and other VOCs to concentrations down to 100 parts per billion,” he said.

Delving deeper

When asked what they want employers and workers to better understand about instruments and monitors, Majors and Heuchert pointed to data logging and bump testing. “I wish employers and workers better understood gas detector data logging and how crucial this feature is,” Majors said, adding that the two ways to digitally record an event are data logging and event logging. “Event logging is like taking a Polaroid picture, or a ‘snapshot in time,’ of an event, providing some limited information.” Data logging, he continued, is “like the ‘black box’ of the airline industry, which provides you with much more critical information.” In the event of an incident, data logging has the capability to record essential information leading up to an event, during the event and after the event, providing a full picture.

Heuchert wishes workers better understood how often to bump test and calibrate, based on sensor drift. “In addition, it is essential that workers know what alarm indications of A1 and A2 mean, and also how the use of probes and extension hoses affect testing timing,” he said.

On the horizon

“The ability for compound-specific detection like benzene” is what Majors said of the future of instruments and monitors. Heuchert pointed out that “the critical factor will always be sensor reliability and accuracy/drift, but customers will see new developments in communication between detectors and central monitor stations.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month:

  • Foot protection
  • Heat protection

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