At the last technology evening, Gary Friend, sales director from Extech Safety Systems, walked us though the topic 'Making Safe Waves in Hazardous Areas'. Or in other words, can wireless be used in hazardous areas especially when radiated energy has the potential to initiate explosions?
Eric Carter (left) thanks Gary after the presentation.
As wireless devices such as mobile phones and laptop computers become more reliable and cost effective, there is growing interest amongst the process industry about the benefits to be found from enabling such devices for hazardous areas. However, this is not a simple task. Installing wireless networks in hazardous areas requires careful, expert planning and execution.
It has always been understood that radio frequency (RF) can cause ignition in the right set of circumstances. There are now a number of approval standards that must be adhered to, including the CLC/TR50427, EN60079 series, IEC60079 series and others such as FM3600. Fortunately, much of the latest wireless technology that is of interest to users to deploy in their plants, such as WiFi or RFID, has RF power levels lower than the 2 W limit. Providing antenna gain does not cause these levels to be exceeded, and they are installed with adequate protection e.g. Ex d enclosure, they can be used in a hazardous area without restrictions. However, when the amount of power is above the safe levels then CLC/TR50427 can be used to assess the installation for safe use in hazardous areas.
A recent development by Extronics, represented by Extech Safety Systems here in South Africa, has completely altered the landscape of deploying wireless networks in hazardous areas by using the intrinsic safety protection concept and being able to deploy wireless hardware e.g. access points and standard antennas, without further Notified Body certification.
The SAIMC thanks Gary for presenting and hosting respectively this valued and informative presentation.
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