In Ex zone matters, buy a bundle to ease safety fears

Paul Boughton

Thorsten Arnhold explores the difficulties  of safety dealing with hazardous and potentially explosive materials.

If you are a machine or plant engineer in the energy industrywhere oilgascoalor even new fuels such as hydrogen are involvedthere is no getting around a simple fact – you are dealing with hazardous materials.

Everyone is awareof coursethat explosion protection measures are a must in almost all applications in the energy sectorsince major portions of plants in the industry – from productionto tank farmto processing facilities – are eg Ex-zone1 or 21 areas.
It is no small feat to get a grip on the wide range of intrinsically safe equipment you have to source from manufacturers of ex-proof devices.

And even once you have got your shopping listit takes more to get things done than finding suppliersor preferably just one for all your needs (or at least the better part of them). Naturallysomeone will have to put it all togethereg fit control stations and terminal boxes with componentsand ensure proper functionality for all these installations.

Fortunately there is someone who can do that cheaper and better than you: To take that load off your shoulderyour first choice should be a specialist who not only manufactures the Ex-proof components you needbut also provides the services you can’t do without.

You will want your partner to give you a comprehensiveintegrated solution for your Ex area automation needswhich involves supplying as many pre-configured systems and bundled components as possible. 

While this trend is clearly on the risesurprisingly few manufacturers of ex-proof technology can and will give you this level of added value. Some of them just don’t have a product portfolio extensive enough to provide nearly all things Ex from a single source.

R Stahlfor onedoesand is committed to deliver full-scale solutions whenever you ask for it. R Stahl control boxesfor exampleusually come pre-equipped with switches and remote I/O componentsfully tailored to the target application.

We can resort to our full line of control components – be it switches or pushbuttonsvolt meters or ammetersindicating lamps or LEDsflanges or cable entries.

Alarm units

RStahl also manufactures many other parts typically needed in and around Ex areassuch as audible alarm units and explosion protected energy supply fittings.
Its programme of intrinsically safe parts and devices includes a host of very different product categoriesranging from basic equipmentlike Ex light fittingsto complex automation technologysuch as our high performance operator interfaces and IPC systems.

The RStahl portfolio includes fluorescent light fittingspendant light fittings for filament lampsbulkhead lampshalogen spotlightshand lampstank inspection lampssign lightsbattery backed emergency lightsand more –for Zones1 and 2classified for explosion protection group IIC and temperature class T4.

Remote I/O technology in hazardous locations is a similar matter: RStahl has pioneered this field in the mid-1980sand supplies an intrinsically safefieldbus-enabled remote I/O system todaywhich features hot swappable modules with great ease of use.

As a final exampleRStahl HMI Systems’ compactEx-proof operator interfaces are advanced units specifically designed for plants that are subject to validationeg tank farmswhere all IT-based automation systems have to adhere to specific regulations concerning access controlversion control and record keeping.

Manipulation-proof documentation

In a proper set-upExicom operator interfaces can be totally relied on for completetraceable and manipulation-proof documentation of all operating processes throughout all areas of a plant.

With a range of products and services as vast as thisR Stahl can provide flexiblecustomised Ex area automation solutions second to none in the industry today. 

Dr-Ing Thorsten Arnhold is Director Product Management and MarketingR STAHL Schaltgeräte GmbHWaldenburgGermany.