Workers’ safety is of utmost importance in any environment but is absolutely critical when they are working in harsh and hazardous areas. Workers in these environments face added dangers and unpredictable conditions, which can put their safety in jeopardy in emergency situations, further exacerbated if they are in remote locations which have low connectivity and are hard to reach.
Positioning solutions were created to help companies oversee movements of their workers and ensure their safety, but existing systems face multiple environmental and connectivity challenges which means they have limited functionality, are expensive and are difficult to deploy.
What is a harsh environment?
Harsh environments generally refer to places with more extreme and challenging physical conditions.
Extremely high or low temperatures – some components do not function out of a fixed temperature range. Rapidly changing temperatures can cause thermal fatigue and mechanical stress. Large temperature ranges and fluctuations can cause components to work inconsistently
High humidity can cause the alteration of component’s characteristics. Condensing humidity or condensation can cause short circuits.
Accumulated dust in the environment reduces cooling ability and causes possible short circuits and fires.
Rain, snow, ice, and sleet all have the potential to cause short circuits, while hail may also cause mechanical damage and shock
Sea spray and salt fogs corrode connectors, circuit boards and short circuit components when salt bridges from dried saltwater form, while Hydrogen Sulfide corrodes printed circuit boards
Ambient atmosphere is less dense at altitude and reduces cooling ability, resulting in potential equipment overheating
Animals and Insects
Electronics attracts nest and mound-building insects nests on equipment reduce cooling ability and may cause short circuits. Vermin may gnaw and destroy cables
Vibration or Shock
Vibrations in moving machinery cause equipment fatigue resulting in mechanical and electrical failures. Physical shock can happen from sudden impact and collisions
Radiant heating from the sun causes equipment to overheat, while Ultraviolet light exposure can weaken materials over time
EMI from nearby radio sources or welding equipment may cause unpredictable equipment operation or component failures
Noisy Electrical Power
Unfiltered and poorly regulated power from generators causes equipment stress and premature failure
Some common examples of harsh environments include:
Oil and gas rigs
Industrial manufacturing plants
What is a hazardous environment?
Hazardous environments are more dangerous than harsh environments as these areas are potentially explosive.
Hazardous areas typically contain potentially ignitable concentrations of combustible substances like gases, vapors, dust or flyings, and when combined with ignition sources such as a hot surface on a running engine, an arcing wire, or even a discharge of static electricity create an explosion.
- Oxygen is required for an explosive atmosphere
- Heat or something as small as a spark to ignite the explosion
- Fuel or combustible materials in adequate concentrations
Some common hazardous industries include:
Petroleum / Oil and gas refineries / Drilling
Specialty chemical / Cement / Paper / Plastic plants
The European Union uses the Atmospheric Explosives Directive (ATEX) to regulate health and safety in hazardous areas and uses a zoning system to define how hazardous an area is through the frequency and duration of the occurrence of an explosive atmosphere:
An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is present continuously or for long periods
An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation
An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is not likely to occur in normal operation, and it if occurs, will only exist for a short time
Designing safety solutions for harsh and hazardous areas
Given the challenging physical conditions, here are some key requirements needed for solutions in these areas to reduce safety risks and costly overheads.
Robust and reliable design
Solutions in these areas require purpose-built rugged equipment with robust materials and intelligent design features made to withstand the tough conditions and a reduced need to replace or fix frequently. For electrical equipment, products are specifically designed to greatly reduce the risk of igniting a flammable atmosphere in a hazardous area. For example, the Lantern Positioning System has a tag that relies on the intrinsic safety protection method. This means that it is designed with a specific conductive polymer to prevent static discharge and has redundant safety components to ensure reliable and safe operation.
Easy to install and optimized for remote management
A streamlined, compact solution that is easy to install would reduce the need to deploy teams of specialists just for setup and maintenance. Solutions that are less reliant on specific connectivity that can be easily accessed remotely for updates and maintenance from anywhere in the world further increases the ease of management without the need to have a team physically on site.
Allowing for flexibility and growth
In this age where technology advances so quickly, complex customized solutions can become obsolete just as quickly, and it can be difficult and costly to completely overhaul or replace a system when that happens. Systems and solutions built on open and scalable platforms allow for easy customization that can grow and evolve with your company’s needs.
Lantern Positioning is a safety solution built for harsh and hazardous areas
LanternEdge looked at the challenges faced by the industry in the creation of Lantern Positioning, a positioning solution designed to eliminate the inefficiencies and manual effort of current personnel management with near real time location of workers. This allows for the measuring and monitoring of worker’s locations as well as controlling deployment and worker occupancy, helping ensure the safety and productivity of workers.
The LanternEdge solution leverages open and scalable technologies to reduce costs and overheads, improving safety and productivity even in the toughest industrial environments. Lantern Positioning consists of rugged hardware with ATEX and IECEx certification standards, coupled with cloud-native applications, distributed cloud and advanced analytics at the edge of operations.
Learn more about how Lantern Positioning works
Here’s how your business can increase workers’ safety and improve productivity