If “gas detector” is a category like “shoe”, then the explanation is simple: a gas detector is for measuring and recording the concentration of various gases in the air, while a shoe is for putting your foot in for a certain activity. The devil, of course, is in the detail – because there are just about as many different gas detector technologies and devices as there are different types of shoes. So, just as the ballerina has been united with the ideal ballet shoe, how on earth do you go about matching your gas detection needs with precisely the right gas detector?
First, we’ll need to dig deeper into exactly what gas detectors do. It’s obvious that their typical deployment is for safety – as so many gases present in workplaces are toxic, hazardous, and harmful. And the latest generation of gas detector devices are typically portable and personal rather than fixed, enabling the worker to go about their tasks confident that their safety is being constantly and accurately monitored.
There are, however, many different and distinct gas detector technology types. Electrochemical detectors that reduce the gas into an electrode; catalytic bead detectors for combustible gases; infrared varieties that work on the basis of light absorption; photoionisation detectors that ionise gases; and multi-gas detectors that are able to (for example) monitor O2, combustible and toxic gases at the same time.
So how will we go about matching your precise needs, industry, activity, and workplace with the perfect gas detection solution?:
What’s the risk?
The first step for your workplace may be a proper risk assessment, which will thoroughly layout any gas-related hazards. That hazard may involve:
- Risk of fire/explosion
- Risk of poisoning/intoxication
- Risk of anoxia/hyperoxia.
What’s the objective?
With the risk known, what you need to do with the information fed back by the gas detection solution is the next step. For instance:
- Are you just keeping records?
- Is it to alert a worker or the entire workplace?
- Is it for regulatory/compliance/legal/insurance reasons?
Don’t forget, the primary objective of any gas detection setup is always to protect human life as best as possible, but understanding the rationale from a business point of view will guide the features, functions, characteristics, quality, data capabilities, and accuracy requirements of your chosen device(s).
Answer More Questions
Next up, you’ll need to dig into the details to ensure the technology type and device packaging is perfect for your requirements. It’s best done with the following questions:
- What gases will be monitored?
- What is the source of the potential gases?
- What are the general environmental conditions of the space?
- Is it for an indoor or outdoor space?
- What are the likely or relative gas concentration levels, in order to determine alarm settings?
With the answers, assisted by gas detection industry experts, you’ll be getting close to understanding the correct solution for your application, the costs involved, and other details such as maintenance requirements.
Complete the process
Lastly, having honed in on the technology type and device range, it will come down to the features and functions of the required solution. You’ll need to ensure your device:
- Has the desired unit of measurement
- Has the desired user interface
- Includes the right number of outputs/relays
- Is capable of remote sensor connectivity if required
- Features integrated diagnostics if necessary
- Is compatible with your lockout/tagout procedures.
When it comes to gases and workplaces, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Yes, it’s about smooth operations, high productivity, regulatory compliance, and minimized downtime – but we’re also talking about human life.
Matching the perfect gas detection solution and device with your requirements could hardly be more important, so make sure to consult with an experienced industry expert.