Becker’s Smartsense atmospheric and gas monitoring system enhances safety in mining and general industry


Becker Mining South Africa’s range of safety and communications systems includes an atmospheric and environmental monitoring system, designed for use in industries where the presence of gases may pose a safety or health risk for employees and the environment.

The high-accuracy Becker Varis Smartsense® gas monitoring system, which meets stringent quality, safety and environmental specifications, enhances safety in diverse sectors. Adherence to Intrinsically Safe (IS) certification means this system can be safely deployed in hazardous and potentially explosive areas.

Environments which require dependable atmospheric and environmental monitoring, include general industry and manufacturing facilities, petrochemical, oil and gas plants and the mines.

“Becker’s high accuracy Smartsense system – with integrated features for the detection of ambient temperature, humidity and barometric pressure – forms an essential part of critical communications and safety systems in the workplace,” says Andrew Trentelman, senior general manager: Electronics, Becker Mining South Africa. “Some factories make use of manufacturing methods that can produce high levels of poisonous gases, or even explosive gases. In these environments, it is important to monitor gases emitted into the atmosphere real time and have a reliable system to take immediate automatic action to eliminate the possibility of poisonous environments, as well as explosions.

“Apart from the accurate detection and monitoring of ambient temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, every device can monitor up to four gases, including Oxygen (O2), Methane (CH4), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S), Chlorine (CI2), Hydrogen (H2) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).

“The Smartsense unit can be fitted with different gas monitoring heads to suit specific environmental monitoring needs.”

An important advantage of the Smartsense SSFM-100 device over conventional monitoring systems is all features are integrated into one compact device. There is no need for complex cable connections, troublesome programming or difficult calibration.

Additional analog/digital input ports provide compatibility with other devices, to accommodate a plant’s expansion requirements. For example, an additional sensor connectivity could be for air-flow.

Smartsense SSFM-100 gas monitors/controllers allow for localised use, or for implementation into a system-wide installation using industry standard communication protocols, such as Modbus RTU and OPC connectivity or for integration into legacy systems using 4-20 mA.

This hybrid system is customisable to all installation requirements, including copper (RS485/Ethernet) Radio Frequency (UHF – VHF data radio / Wi-Fi) and fiber optics data connectivity. There are various graphical representation methods to display data, including the Becker Mining Systems application for smart phones, or integration into existing SCADA systems. Web-based remote viewing of an entire environmental monitoring system is made possible through OPC interface over a customer’s existing LAN network.

The Becker Varis team has designed this system for easy installation and effortless calibration. There is no need to remove the monitoring head for external calibration – the system can be adjusted even during operation.

The Smartsense SSFM-100 fixed monitor has three fully programmable alarm set points for alarm and output controls, with a Short-Term Exposure Limit (STEL) and Time Weighted Average (TWA) limits, displayed on a large LCD screen. It is possible to view the reading from up to 5 m away. An adjustable back-light makes this device suitable for both underground and above-ground applications.

An internal battery provides power back-up for use in remote areas for up to eight hours and robust industry power supplies ensure safe operation in harsh conditions.

This system, with low power consumption, has an Index Protection IP67 rating for protection against the ingress of dust and liquids.

The Smartsense system, with its integrated controller functions, operates as a ‘black box’ and stores critical information, which could be critical in a post-accident investigation. Stored information includes the calibration record, alarm history and data logging.

The ‘watchdog’ feature alerts the user/maintenance team of any system errors, for example, if the system has detected inaccurate measurements or calibration errors. This information is communicated both locally through the maintenance LED and remotely on the supervisory platform.

Preventative maintenance of this low maintenance system requires simple procedures – between monthly and quarterly – to ensure optimum performance and extended service life. It is important that sensor intake areas are kept clean, with no obstructions.

This device is supplied with three types of mounting brackets for easy installation – panel, roof bolt or cable mounting.

Becker Mining South Africa’s commitment to providing a critical service to local industry encompasses the design and manufacture of products and systems, using the latest technology. Plant safety is significantly enhanced by the implementation of one, or a combination of Becker’s specialised multi-technological energy distribution, automation and communication solutions.

In addition, Becker also offers IS and flameproof electrical reticulation products, as well as fluid transfer, rigging, rope attachment, steel arch tunnel support and underground transportation systems. These systems are designed to facilitate future upgrades.

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