What are Area Monitors and how do I use one?

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  

Chernobyl – a powerful safety message to the world

The recent Sky Atlantic TV series Chernobyl sent out a powerful message about the catastrophic and far reaching consequences of radiation gases, both to people and the environment.

The series is based on true events from the 1986 nuclear disaster in the then USSR; the largest uncontrolled radioactive release into the environment ever recorded. The accident resulted in an untold number of fatalities, as well as serious social and economic disruption for large populations within the USSR and beyond.

The Chernobyl explosion resulted in a radioactive gas cloud which travelled across Europe, including the UK; falling to the ground in the form of ‘nuclear rain’.

There are many disturbing facts we read about. Not least that according to the British Ministry of Health, 369 farms and 190,000 sheep in Britain still contain traces of radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster.

Both human and mechanical error contributed to the disaster and thankfully safety standards, regulations, awareness and new technologies have significantly improved since the disaster.

The principal of safety, whether a huge nuclear facility or small manufacturing plant, must remain the same. Here at Crowcon we are dedicated to keeping people and the environment protected. Our technologies support organisations across multiple industries, including nuclear plants, improving plant and personal safety. Our technologies help our customers be protected from the dangers of gases.

At Crowcon, we welcome shows such as Chernobyl which document historical disasters such as this and highlight in a dramatic but real way, the importance of ensuring companies understand the need for safety measures, however big or small, are in place.  Protecting their people, the environment and the world.

#DetectingGasSavingLives

#SaferCleanerHealthier

Servicing for safety… A visit to the oil refinery

Working in the office makes it easy to focus on the individual tasks and get detached from how our products are making a difference to people’s lives. One of our customers was kind enough to facilitate an onsite visit so that Andrea (our Halma Future Leader on a marketing placement) could see first-hand how our products are used and who the end users are. This meant a visit to an oil refinery to see where our Crowcon portable gas detectors are used.


“The main thing that surprised me was the sheer size of the site. The oil refinery was very spaced out and it took us 10 minutes to walk from the entrance of the site to where the Crowcon engineer’s based. The engineers and employees around different parts of the refinery wore Hi Vis jackets, big safety boots, hard hats and all appeared to have personal gas detectors. During a quick site tour, I learned the products of the oil refinery are not limited to gas or petrol, but also tar, asphalt, lubricants, washing up liquid, paraffin wax and much more.

The products are all stored in big containers with pipes all over the site. Most of the products are highly flammable which explains the big focus on safety. In the distance, there were a few dome shaped containers which are pressurised vessels. If one of them were to explode, it would have a 10 mile blast radius. Suddenly I had the urge to leave and drive about 10 miles.

Crowcon’s engineer base was full of orange T4s, Gas-Pros as well as an army of “Daleks”, I mean Detectives, awaiting calibration and service. While the harshness of this industrial environment was evident from their appearance, they were otherwise in good working order, and the service engineer worked through the devices quickly.

The end users think of them as a simple device they have to wear to do their job, and they like the simplicity and reliability of Crowcon devices. The Detectives get thrown around and Gas-Pros are almost black is comparison to the usual orange, which just showcases how important the robustness of our devices is. The dangers of this working environment are not generally a big concern to the users, this is everyday life to them. Our devices help ensure they go home after a tough shift. Ensuring the devices are functioning properly is down to the service engineers, and they need to think for the users to ensure that the devices are being used properly.

Seeing Crowcon’s devices being used and the number of times someone enquired if the devices are calibrated and ready to go back into action, highlighted just how important use of portables as part of the safety regime  is considered. “Quality” and “robust” is how users describe Crowcon products and even though they may now treat them like the life saving devices they are, the devices are regularly used and valued. They make a very flammable and dangerous environment a safer place to be.”

How much life have you got left?

When something stops working, you rarely get a heads-up.  When was the last time you flipped a switch, only for your light bulb to give up the ghost?  Or have you had a cold, frosty morning this winter when your car simply won’t start?

Continue reading “How much life have you got left?”

Deadly Sin No.5 – introducing other hazards

Introducing other hazards is the fifth in Crowcon’s series of Deadly Sins of Gas Detection. Most working environments where gas detection is required are already hazardous enough. The irony of using a gas detector that ends up being the cause of non-gas-related accident would not be an amusing one. Improvements in a variety of gas detection technologies mean that now this can often be avoided. Continue reading “Deadly Sin No.5 – introducing other hazards”

Limiting your exposure

Reducing time exposed to hazards is key to minimising risk. We review some of the multiple benefits that developments in gas detection technology are introducing, to reduce the amount of time operators must spend in hazardous areas and improve worker safety.

Continue reading “Limiting your exposure”

Minimising Exposure

The key to reducing risk – spend less time exposed to hazards! Technological advances, driven by increasing safety awareness, are providing opportunities to reduce detector maintenance and therefore also reduce the amount of time operators must spend handling detectors and transmitters in hazardous areas.

Andy, Crowcon’s Senior Product Manager, has reviewed the benefits that these developments bring.

Continue reading “Minimising Exposure”