Safety products manufacturer MSA Africa says MSA has products in development which incorporate wireless technology devices for gas and flame detection in mines and industrial plants and other industries, but, owing to the safety requirements for safety devices, they have not yet been released.
“Within the next 20 years, there will be a migration from fixed-line technology to wireless devices, commencing with installation in less critical areas in process plants, and, as the devices’ performance is being proved, mining companies will start to deploy the migration of wireless technology into more critical areas,” says MSA Africa marketing manager for Fixed and Flame gas detection products Robbie Taitz.
“With fixed-line detectors, there is no risk of interference, as the screen and signal of the devices are unchanging, as opposed to wireless technology, which is subject to a host of possible problems, such as radio frequency interference and radio magnetic interference,” he explains.
MSA Africa, however, has developed a dependable wireless technology that can withstand interferences through the implementation of reliable, stable wireless technology and Taitz believes that, in time, this technology will be implemented in highly critical areas across the mining industry.
He further notes that interest from the mining sector in MSA Africa’s fixed gas- and flame-detection solutions is growing – citing the company’s Ultima XP, a gas detector for hydrocarbon detection – as an example.
“The Ultima XP provides mining companies with warnings when there are low-level gas leaks at process plants. When staff need to be evacuated, a second alarm level will be transmitted, followed by a third alarm level should evacuation of the plant and emergency shutdown be necessary,” says Taitz.
The alarm levels are agreed by engineers and programmed into the device to warn the plant in accordance with calculated specifications.
MSA’s Ultima gas monitor transmitters are normally located on the sidewall of a structure, allowing maintenance personnel to read and perform testing and calibration using a remote controller
“A ten-compressor building would typically require 20 flame detectors, 10 to 15 gas Ultima detectors and one Suprema Control System,” MSA Africa explains.
Ultima Gas Detection
MSA Africa supplies its gas- and flame- detection systems to mining companies with processing plants that use dangerous chemicals, Taitz tells Mining Weekly.
“Cyanide is a highly toxic chemical and is used in the gold processing industry, which is a metallurgical technique for extracting gold from low-grade ore by converting the gold to a water soluble coordination complex. “When used in dry format, cyanide poses no harm to processing plant operations or employees, but should it get wet, the results can be catastrophic,” he notes.
Therefore, MSA Africa is targeting the gold mining industry with its Ultima range of gas and flame detectors.
“When cyanide is transported to the mines and stored, it needs to be ensured that there is no leakage,” Taitz stresses.
The Ultima gas detector ensures that leakage in a processing plant will immediately be detected and, therefore, stopped. “These devices are fed into a control system network and provide signal-feeding information for the process plant’s control room for optimal safety of the plant.”
Essential for Insurance Purposes
Meanwhile, Taitz notes that insurance companies increasingly require the mining, industrial and oil and gas industries to implement a gas- and flame-detection system outside process plants, in addition to the process applications or controllers required in the plants.
“Insurance companies require the gas- and flame-detection system to operate independently from the plant, while still feeding signals into the plant’s process system,” he explains.
Should there be a failure, the gas- and flame-detection system still needs to be operational to ensure plant safety, he adds.
“If you have a system which feeds information to the control room, it relies on the control operator to process the information and take action. This holds a high risk for the process plant and, subsequently, for the employees, as the controller could, in a highly stressful situation, be unable to perform his or her duties to protect the plant and the employees,” says Taitz.
“If, for example, a pipe bursts, spewing out gas, which could at any second be ignited and blow up, it could be too stressful for a control-room operator to handle. Therefore, an additional monitoring system, which could take action should the control room fail, needs to be in place,” Taitz explains.
“The outside control system, linked to the emergency shutdown system controller, comprises an internal microprocessor and ensures action such as switching off the valves and pipes when a leak is detected and alerting the fire department and the MD of the company.”
MSA Africa provides outside control systems as part of its gas- and flame-detection solutions, Taitz concludes.