Mobile Connection in hazardous areas: Necessity and Opportunity at the same time

(PresseBox) ( Assamstadt, )
The underlying technology of production facilities, systems and machinery in hazardous areas have evolved considerably in recent years. This technology has brought rise to a range of challenges including the need to capture, send and process more data (including videos), collaborate in real-time with team members and remote experts, quickly locate lone workers who need to be rescued, and have rapid access to documents, networks and blueprints.

The high demand for the technical availability requires – especially in potentially dangerous hazardous areas (Zone 1/21 and 2/22 as well as Division 1 and 2) or harsh environments – flexible and secure communications at any time, in any place. The focus is always on network compatibility and the need for constant access to wireless communications networks.

ecom enables the industry to take advantage of technology in new usage scenarios and use innovative applications with its evolutionary Mobile Worker approach, a flexible and integrated wireless ecosystem built around rugged and explosion-proof mobile computers (tablets, smart phones, PDAs), wireless peripheral devices and smart software applications.

The requirements for mobile devices in hazardous areas are constantly increasing

Wireless technologies such as LTE, WLAN, WWAN, GPS and Bluetooth are, without a doubt, the alpha and omega for the intelligent intercommunication of humans, plants and equipment. However, the ever‐increasing number of digital communication systems also means that mobile devices – supporting various wireless connectivity types (WiFi, cellular, Bluetooth, GPS, RFID etc.) in the same device – must meet greater user expectations. They must ensure fast, secure and flexible data transmission and communications over long distances at any time.

Equipped as standard with the latest 4G/LTE and Bluetooth 4.0 BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) wireless communications technologies, the world´s first intrinsically safe Android Smartphone Smart-Ex® 01 and the only Zone 1 / 21 and Division 1 certified Tablet Tablet Tab-Ex® 01, simplify, modernise and accelerate communication and collaboration between mobile workers, the experts at the control center and the backend systems.

Opening up new usage scenarios with mobile hardware

Through wireless connected tablets, smartphones and PDAs, companies can now open up new usage scenarios and innovative applications for hazardous areas, leading to more operational efficiency and increased employee productivity. Similarly, companies can collect large amounts of data, avoid production losses and facilitate continuous and cost-effective maintenance.

Typical applications include the tracking and control of plant, testing machines and equipment as well as containers, tools and inventory management, supply chain management, inspection rounds, maintenance and repair, and plant safety inspections. Further advantages made possible by ecom´s mobile devices are lower user fatigue, improved utilisation, ongoing transparency of data in real time and flexible workflows during asset-management.

Different applications with custom configurations ensure that even in hazardous areas, users can count on the right solution for every requirement and every problem. The Tab-Ex® 01 and Smart-Ex® 01 constitute the technical platform for the growing multitude of different applications, including all Google Play store applications, such as the "Man-Down-Alarm", access to online documents, digital photos, videos and video streaming.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Best example of how mobile wireless solutions in hazardous areas open up new ways of communication for documentation, remote diagnostics and maintenance purposes, is video conferencing in real time. Optional built‐in rear and front cameras for the Smart-Ex® 01 and Tab-Ex® 01, with a full complement of wireless capabilities, allow equipment defects to be captured via video calling applications at the point of inspection or while maintenance work is executed.

The worker on site simply streams videos directly from the hazardous area while passing through the plant and can be assisted remotely by an expert if necessary. Experts or the responsible members at the control center can make a remote diagnosis in real time and initiate appropriate measures or repairs immediately without losing valuable time. Without the need of a specialist to visit the facility or offshore platform in person, the use of mobile hardware and video calling applications saves time and money.

Security-concepts must ensure comprehensive protection

The increasing interconnectivity of machines and equipment, inevitably involves higher risks concerning data security. To ensure the current safety standards, it is advisable to work with the latest operating system.

As mobile devices using the Android™ operating system are introduced to potentially dangerous work environments, individual and corporate security applications can now also be employed in hazardous areas. A wide range of software applications, combined with the control via a mobile device management system, are making it possible to set up devices so that the employee only has access to the applications he needs for his work tasks and for which he is legitimized by his account.

Through the high data transfer standards 4G / LTE or Wi-Fi, large amounts of data can be imported in real time into the ERP system and operational system components can commence production in the shortest amount of time. In addition to improving data security, these applications also optimize anti-theft protection, provide the highest security and can be individually configured. As a result Android is the optimal operating system for industrial environments.

Wireless communication even without WiFi connection

If no wireless network is available, engineers can also use mobile applications with the WWAN (Wireless Wide Area Network) compatible PDA i.roc® Ci70 -Ex, without having to rely on Wi-Fi, thus operating in much larger areas.

ecom’s i.roc® Ci70 -Ex enables the use of commonly available mobile phone networks to provide real time connectivity to centralised and cloud based networks. When combined with the integrated GPS capability of the i.roc® Ci70 -Ex, inspection and repair locations of a pipeline can be "geo‐tagged" to reduce the time to locate the area next time.

Increasing growth of wireless communication in hazardous areas

What began in the consumer sector has now been established in the industry. Wireless networks are becoming increasingly important. ecom's powerful mobile hardware – from the Tablet Tab-Ex® 01, the smartphone Smart-Ex® 01 up to the PDA i.roc® Ci70 – allows communication anywhere and at any time and improves the collaboration of employees on site with colleagues or experts outside of hazardous areas. Thus, decision-making processes can be shortened and problems and damages can be resolved quickly and efficiently.

For more information, please visit ecom’s website:
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