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SA Instrumentation & Control Buyers' Guide

Technews Industry Guide - IIoT 2018

Technews Industry Guide - Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation


Becker Varis gas monitoring for Zimbabwe mine
May 2018, IS & Ex

Becker Mining South Africa, specialists in safety and communications technologies for the mining sector, is soon to install a robust atmospheric and environmental monitoring system at a mine in Zimbabwe. The high accuracy Becker Varis Smartsense gas monitoring system has integrated features for the detection of ambient temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.

“A dependable atmospheric and environmental monitoring system, which enhances safety and improves productivity in the mining sector, forms an essential part of critical underground and surface communications and safety systems,” says Andrew Trentelman, senior general manager: Electronics, Becker Mining South Africa. “This project in Zimbabwe will encompass the installation of 19 environmental points underground at the mine, where each Smartsense device becomes an environmental station, monitoring up to seven different parameters.

“Apart from the accurate detection and monitoring of ambient temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, every device will also monitor up to four gases, including oxygen, methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide and nitrogen dioxide.

“An important advantage of the Becker Varis Smartsense SSFM-100 device over conventional monitoring systems, is all features are integrated into one compact device. There is no need for complex cable connections or troublesome programming or difficult calibration. Additional analog/digital input ports provide compatibility with other devices, to accommodate the mine’s expansion requirements. For example, an additional sensor could be connected to measure air flow.

“What is also important is that this system, which adheres to stringent local and international quality and safety regulations, is also certified for use in hazardous areas.”

Customisable system connected over fibre

In this project, the Smartsense system will be integrated over an existing Ethernet fibre backbone, to communicate measured levels in real time to the surface. The real-time information from the 19 monitoring stations, being available over TCPIP protocol, enables integration to other related systems using OPC connectivity, i.e. scada integration over the existing LAN network.

This hybrid system is customisable to all installation requirements, including copper (RS-485/Ethernet) RF (UHF – VHF data radio/Wi-Fi) and fibre optical data connectivity. There are various graphical representation methods to display data, including the Becker Mining application for smartphones or integration into existing scada systems. The system has also been designed for easy installation and effortless calibration and there is no need to remove the monitoring head for external calibration as the system can be adjusted during operation.

The Smartsense SSFM-100 fixed monitor has three fully programmable alarm set points for alarm and output controls, with a short-term exposure limit (STEL) and time weighted average (TWA) limits, displayed on a large LCD screen. It is possible to view the reading from up to five metres away and an adjustable backlight makes this device suitable for both underground and surface applications. An internal battery provides power backup for up to eight hours and robust industry power supplies ensure safe operation in harsh conditions. The low power system has an IP67 rating for protection against the ingress of dust and liquids.

The system, with its integrated controller functions, operates as a ‘black box’ and stores information that could be critical in post-accident investigations This includes the calibration record, alarm history and data logging. The ‘watchdog’ feature alerts the user of any system errors, for example, if the system has detected inaccurate measurements or calibration errors. This information is communicated both locally through a maintenance LED and remotely on the supervisory platform.

Preventative maintenance requires only simple procedures – between monthly and quarterly – to ensure optimum performance and extended service life. It is important that sensor intake areas are kept clean, with no obstructions. Three types of brackets are available for easy installation namely panel, roof bolt or cable mounting.

For more information contact Andrew Trentelman, Becker Mining South Africa, +27 (0)11 617 6300,,

Supplied By: Becker Mining South Africa
Tel: +27 11 617 6300
Fax: +27 11 908 5806
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