Put Your Fleet of Gas Detectors on Autopilot

Automated safety intelligence-gathering systems are helping industrial hygienists and safety managers work smarter while saving dollars to the company's bottom line.

It's hard to put a value on safety. For most companies, the increasing pressures to be more efficient, more cost effective, more productive, and ultimately more profitable are immense. These factors often seem to relegate the responsibilities of industrial hygienists and safety managers far down the list of a company's budget priorities.

As an industrial hygienist, you often find yourself overworked and under-resourced. Monitoring, auditing, and reporting on your company's fleet of gas detectors is traditionally highly time consuming and costly, but gas safety incidents that end up shutting down an operation can cost your company millions of dollars.

Today's safety intelligence-gathering system can automate many of the tasks that safety managers and industrial hygienists perform. (Honeywell Analytics graphic)Although portable gas detection instruments play a crucial role in protecting a company's assets and its people, the cost of monitoring and maintaining gas detector fleets manually is considerable. An automated gas safety intelligence-gathering system can take a lot of the manual work out of the process. Such a system can enable industrial hygienists to evaluate what is working and what is not more quickly and more cost effectively and use the trends that emerge to improve their existing gas safety programs. At the same time, an automated system that allows more efficient data logging, incident reporting, gas tracking, and trends can go a long way toward helping keep tour company in compliance more efficiently. By cost-effectively managing your company's gas safety program, such a system also can make a safety culture more visible as a contributor to your company's bottom line.

Auditing, data management, report generation, and analysis in order to meet compliance standards traditionally have been processes that are heavy on manpower and costly to productivity. With a fleet of 500 gas monitors, for example, manually collecting data from a single unit drives up a company's costs not only because it is time consuming in terms of man-hours, but also because it causes downtime on the line, reducing productivity. Multiply the costs in manpower and downtime by 500, and you can see how detrimental that can be to a company's bottom line.

Now, imagine a system that can allow an industrial hygienist to monitor a company's gas detectors and through predictive analysis, determine instrument shelf life, create trending reports, and share information over the web or an intranet automatically. Imagine the time-saving possibilities and the reduction in lost productivity.

Manufacturers have made great strides in developing automated intelligence-gathering systems that can automatically output information into customizable reports. These systems combine rugged portable gas detector units with docking stations that collect information automatically and data management software that can translate that information into usable reports. Through the intelligent, networkable dock and automated data collection and analysis software, you can automatically obtain information on detector performance, compliance, and trending for all of the vital components and predictive analysis of their shelf life. Automatic sensor health checks also can provide information to improve preventative maintenance.

Customizable Reporting Turns Less Into More
As all industrial hygienists know, sorting through reams of manually acquired, complex information in order to analyze trends is a very time-consuming, complex, and costly process that puts heavy demands on man-hours. So in addition to developing an automated gas safety-intelligence gathering system that is less time-consuming than manual information collection and reporting, some manufacturers have developed systems that put industrial hygienists more in command. Standard reporting capabilities built right into the software enables smart information sharing that helps users avoid information overload, because users control which information they receive. Beyond the information you need personally, the systems' software sorts through the information, automatically generates reports, and gets those reports directly to the right people. The software can even email configured alerts to the people who need to take immediate action.

Once a worker drops the gas detection instrument into the dock at the end of a shift, the intelligence management system gathers the information and configures and customizes reports and analyses, providing you with only the information you need. Additional information can be shared automatically with whomever you designate to see it.

The systems' custom capabilities go beyond compliance, allowing users to create custom reports to track trends and analyze history, all the time deciding which data you want and which information goes to other key people. Rather than getting slowed down with excess information you do not need, you can stay on top of your work and stay in total control.

The system can be managed entirely in house. The advantage to the safety manager is the ability to exert control and significantly reduce outside costs.

Automatic Charging and Calibration
Bump testing and calibration also drive up labor costs and reduce productivity. The safety management system discussed here allows for calibrating and charging gas detectors while in the dock, thus reducing downtime even further and saving the additional manpower costs and potentially the amount of calibration gas needed. The end result will be your ability to have compliant instruments automatically ready to use at shift changes, increasing the productivity of your company’s workforce still further.

Beyond Compliance
Automated gas safety intelligence-gathering systems' ability to collect information and generate and share reports more cost effectively and efficiently is an invaluable way to help industrial hygienists take control of today's safety and compliance challenges. These systems are already enabling users to keep track of the health of their gas detection instruments and comply with regulations more efficiently.

With greater control and fewer demands on their time, industrial hygienists increasingly will be able to extend beyond mere compliance into the realm of total safety management. In addition, by enabling you to cut downtime, simplify reporting, and reduce costs for data collection and system maintenance, these systems can help you demonstrate to C-level executives the positive impacts a more robust safety culture can have on your company's bottom line.

The Benefits of Automated Gas Safety Intelligence-Gathering Systems

Cost Control and Savings
  • Reduce time and money on gathering, analyzing, and reporting information
Performance Improvement
  • Automated system monitors the health of gas safety program continuously
  • User control of information and sharing
  • Docks on network automatically update with new software versions
Automated Safety and Compliance
  • Automated "Contractor Lockout" mode protects and secures equipment
  • Automated alarm configuration quickly alerts those needed to respond

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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