What are Area Monitors and how do I use one?

24 Dec 2021

Outdoor leaks from storage tanks or pipelines are a particular kind of hazard. With many outdoor areas not housing permanent, fixed detectors. If you’re relying solely on a personal monitor, by the time it alarms, there is a possibility that you may be engulfed in a hazardous gas cloud. Therefore, a temporary early warning system between you and the potential source of a gas hazard has the ability to alert you to trouble coming your way.

What are Area monitors and where would they be used? 

Temporary Area monitors are usually rugged units that can be placed, stand-alone to monitor a small area or multiple units can be linked together via wired or wireless networking to create a perimeter defence of a larger area. Area Monitor devices help safety personnel protect their workers from gas hazards in situations, in addition to—or sometimes in substitution of—personal, portable gas monitors used as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Area monitors can be positioned to produce a guard between potential hazards and workers, to notify what they are heading into or what potential hazards are coming their way.  This occurs most often when work takes place outside of normal operations where the risks are higher and/or different such as special projects, construction, maintenance, shutdowns, temporary sites or rigs, etc. In this way, they can be used to form a barrier around a tank or along a portion of pipeline close to the location of work being carried out. Portable units can be easily deployed to provide fence line monitoring during maintenance, shutdowns or turnaround. The objective is to ensure that the devices are not so far apart that gas could pass between them undetected.  If a fixed system is being taken offline for maintenance a network of fast to deploy temporary area monitors is an ideal option to use in place of the fixed system until maintenance is complete and the system is brought back online. 

How do you use one? 

Units can be connected by cables. However wireless connection between individual area monitors is also available and avoids introducing a potential trip hazard. This could add significantly to an already risky task, for example, if working at height. Some wireless systems create a “self-healing” mesh network. In this case, should the wireless connection between two devices weaken, the network will automatically re-route communications via alternate enabled devices, creating a mesh type network allowing a more robust and efficient wireless network. 

The benefit from a wireless connection is that it is practical to use repeaters or extra units to relay alerts directly to the control room. Besides the gas alert signals, some detectors will transmit other faults i.e., the loss of signal, or “battery low” alarm. This programmed alert mode is often conveyed by a specific sequence of signals, such as the beacon and lights will flash for 3 seconds followed by 5 second pause which will be repeated until an operator acknowledges the alarm. 

Wireless temporary area monitoring allows for quick deployment whilst ensuring a high level of protection for workers in circumstances where the risks are tricky to monitor. Personnel working at height can be alerted to any gas hazards on the ground, or vice versa and the same alarm can be relayed to the control room by having an additional detector in the control room. The audible alarm is significantly louder than a standard portable and light sequence is brighter and flashes faster on the Detective+ unit when gas is detected. , whilst the sequence on other units in the network is slower. This differentiates the unit nearest the gas from the rest, so everyone is alerted to the location of the hazard. In contrary, to the benefits of this products, the configuration tends to be straightforward without additional hardware. The batteries in Detective+ are larger and last longer than conventional portables. All in all, these units offer a simple yet effective solution for protecting workers outside of normal operations. 

Crowcon’s Detective+ is ideal for temporary area monitoring while workers carry out a repair. Detective+ is portable and can be easily deployed to provide fence line monitoring during shutdowns or turnaround. If working on a cooling tower fin fan, Detective+ units are connected to other units (up to 70m away) via Detective Wireless modules, which eliminate the need for cabling between units. Detective Wireless uses the proven RICOCHET mesh network. In the unusual circumstance that the wireless connection between two devices weaken, the network will automatically re-route communications via alternate RICOCHET enabled devices and so ‘self-heal’. In essence, this creates a mesh type network allowing a more robust and efficient wireless network.

Read more about Area Monitoring  

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