Mobile Computing Intrinsic Safety
When you see the term “intrinsic safety” or a description of a mobile computer, tablet laptop or smartphone as “intrinsically safe” followed by a string acronyms – do you have any idea what it all means?
Intrinsic Safety What Is It?
Intrinsic safety is a requirement that may be applicable to devices that are being operated in areas with flammable gases combustible dusts ignitable fibers or liquids. The device carrying the description is deemed to have been made in such a way as to be incapable of igniting these.
Why Is it Needed?
Intrinsic safety (IS) is a protection technique for safe operation of electrical equipment in hazardous areas by limiting the energy available for ignition. In signal and control circuits that can operate with low currents and voltages, the intrinsic safety approach simplifies circuits and reduces installation cost over other protection methods.
Getting to grips with intrinsic safety regulations can be a tough assignment as the numbers of intrinsically safe rugged mobile devices continues to increase and the regulations are as complex as ever.
Areas with dangerous concentrations of flammable gases or dust are found in a wide variety of applications including mining and process manufacturing industries such as petrochemical refining. Plant maintenance process monitoring and asset management are popular applications. As with non IS zones improving workflow productivity and effectiveness are considered fundamental reasons to undertake project.
Mobile Computing Intrinsic Safety
All devices that are to be used in an areas zoned as hazardous must carry the correct compliance certification for use in that area. Lab based certification allows a device to be used only in the area it is approved for. It is therefore important to understand which areas in your organisation should be treated in this way as it is not a case that “any rating will do”.
In the EU the standard for intrinsic safety certification is around the ATEX directive. In North America Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and in Canada the Canadian Standards Association. In many other countries around the world the IECEx standards are followed. Standards agencies do engage in harmonization activities so that intrinsically safe equipment manufactured in one country might be approved for use in another without expensive re-testing and documentation. But at this point a device certified for use in Europe may not be approved for use in the USA and vice versa.
Why Is This Important
Productivity improvements are often the key driver to implementing enterprise mobility solutions for organisations who have intrinsically safe areas. Making sure the most suitable devices are specified for use inside and outside these areas is key to operational safety and project success.
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