Managing gas monitor data

Why are docking stations becoming more popular for confined space entry?

Answered by Andrew Saunders, applications and training specialist, BW Technologies by Honeywell, Calgary, Alberta.

Safety managers do not want to spend time managing instrument data, so gas detection providers are finding ways to efficiently manage the data for them. A docking station can perform all of the essential tasks related to a gas monitoring program – automatically. It can carry out a functional "bump" test, calibrate the gas monitor, track and record essential data such as gas concentration levels over a period of time, and charge the batteries that power the gas detectors. A docking station can manage a whole fleet of gas detectors in this way. This can save the safety manager and his team a lot of time.

A data-logging monitor can help the safety manager avoid confrontation through proper documentation. In the case of a safety event where evidence of proper maintenance and care of a gas detector must be given, docking stations provide objective proof that procedures are being followed. Accurate recordkeeping provides evidence of the event as well as proof that proper testing and maintenance tasks were carried out. This due diligence of data collection and retention may help avoid long and costly litigation. Even in cases in which gas monitors may prevent a tragic loss of life, other losses the company has to absorb may need to be justified in internal investigations; these include loss of time, money and productivity.

Each year, docking station capabilities increase through enhancements to the software package, which currently allows users to import event logs, bump test and calibrate results, log data from detectors and base stations, produce detector status reports, generate bump test certificates and calibration certificates, manage users and base stations, configure detectors, and archive and save the database.

Although some do not require a computer to operate, docking stations can be remotely connected to a network and regularly downloaded in standard Excel format for efficient recordkeeping.

Data logging in monitors is becoming a standard feature and often is likened to the "black box" in an airplane. Upgrading monitors with this capability may add a small capital cost to a confined space gas monitoring program, but they can save lots of money in the long run. In the case of a tragic event, the savings could be millions of dollars.

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