Becker Varis Smartsense gas monitoring system
Becker Mining South Africa – specialists in safety and communications technologies for the mining sector – is soon to install a robust atmospheric and environmental monitoring system at a mine in Zimbabwe.
The high accuracy Becker Varis Smartsense® gas monitoring system has integrated features for the detection of ambient temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.
“A dependable atmospheric and environmental monitoring system, which enhances safety and improves productivity in the mining sector, forms an essential part of critical underground and above-ground communications and safety systems,” says Andrew Trentelman, senior general manager: Electronics, Becker Mining South Africa. “This project in Zimbabwe will encompass the installation of 19 environmental points underground at the mine, where each Smartsense device becomes an environmental station, monitoring up to seven different parameters.
“Apart from the accurate detection and monitoring of ambient temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, every device will also monitor up to four gases, including Oxygen (O2), Methane (CH4), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).
“An important advantage of the Becker Varis 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 or troublesome programming or difficult calibration. Additional analog/digital input ports provide compatibility with other devices, to accommodate the mine’s expansion requirements. For example, an additional sensor connectivity could be for air-flow.
“What’s also important, is this system – which adheres to stringent local and international quality and safety regulations – is also certified for safe and reliable use in hazardous areas.”
In this project, the Smartsense system will be integrated over an existing Ethernet fiber backbone, to communicate measured levels in real time to surface. The realtime information from the 19 monitoring stations, being available over TCPIP protocol, enables integration to other related systems using OPC connectivity. These systems include SCADA integration over the existing LAN network.
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.
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 the mines and general industry encompasses the design and manufacture of products and systems, using the latest technology. Mine safety is significantly enhanced by the implementation of one or a combination of Becker’s specialised multi-technological solutions.
Becker Mining’s high performance, fit for purpose solutions for underground and surface mining installations, include Leaky Feeder, Wi-Fi, tagging and tracking, as well as environmental monitoring PDS solutions.
In addition to communications solutions, Becker also offers IS and flameproof underground electrical reticulation products, as well as fluid transfer, rigging, rope attachment, steel arch tunnel support and underground transportation systems. An important feature of these systems is they are designed to facilitate future upgrades.