Keeping an eye on Ex risks

Video surveillance is a key asset for the Ex industry

By Claire Marchand

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is increasingly used in locations that need constant monitoring – banks, casinos, airports, military installations or shopping malls, to name but a few. A great number of municipalities around the world have installed CCTV cameras in sensitive areas of their cities to deter criminality and monitor traffic. Many industry sectors resort to video surveillance in their manufacturing processes. And video cameras are playing a major role in the monitoring and management of explosive (Ex) areas. 

Ex-proof cameras can easily be integrated in network systems that provide video surveillance for Ex and non-Ex areas
Ex-proof cameras can be integrated in network systems that provide video surveillance for Ex and non-Ex areas (Photo: Videotec)

Extreme and harsh environment

Some Ex industry sectors – mining, oil and gas – are constantly exposed to harsh environmental conditions, often in remote areas. Dust, dirt, dampness and corrosion are a constant threat for those working in underground mines and for the performance of the equipment they operate; potential gas emissions are an added risk they have to face. Oilfields and offshore platforms as well as pipelines, tanks and vessels that store or transport potentially explosive substances are frequently subjected to extreme climatic conditions and huge temperature variations. In such settings, continuous monitoring is essential to prevent gas leaks and oil spills. Video surveillance is an important part of the preventive measures that are put in place to minimize risks for those working in such environments and avoid costly business interruptions. 

Many industries face Ex risks

While not subjected to the extreme conditions faced by oil and gas, many industries have potentially hazardous locations – paper, printing and textile, chemical processing plants, gas stations, sugar refineries, grain handling and storage facilities, woodworking areas, waste treatment – and need to ensure their workers and machinery are protected from explosion risks. 

Industrial processes in Ex areas, e.g. dust, gas or vapour emissions, are some of the risks that threaten those working in such locations. One tiny spark and the plant or workshop can go up in flame. 

Video surveillance

Explosion-proof smart cameras can be of great use to monitor all types of Ex areas. They provide rapid detection, verification and identification of risks. They can be used for the monitoring of Ex facilities or areas. Combined with sensors they provide a great means of ensuring greater safety to staff and equipment/machinery. 

Smart cameras provide high-quality images of the areas under surveillance, gather data on all processes and systems, offer ongoing analysis of input that allows early detection of faulty equipment, and provide video recording and alarm systems. They can also alert the people in video surveillance rooms if a worker is injured or encountering problems that may put his life at risk. 

These smart Ex-proof cameras can easily be integrated in a network systems that provide video surveillance for Ex and non-Ex areas. 

Designed for the Ex sector…

As is the case with larger pieces of equipment used in Ex atmospheres, cameras – smart or not – need to be explosion-proof. This means they have to be designed and built in compliance with the very strict requirements set out in standards and specifications, most notably in IEC International Standards developed by IEC Technical Committee (TC) 31: Equipment for explosive atmospheres, and its Subcommittees. 

Designing and building these devices in compliance with IEC International Standards is not enough on its own. To ensure that any piece of equipment meets the required criteria, it has also to be tested and certified. Products associated with a certificate of conformity satisfy the criteria for safe usage in hazardous environments. 

…tested and certified by IECEx

 IECEx, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres, is the only truly international Conformity Assessment (CA) System to provide testing and certification for all items of Ex equipment and installations as well as certifying the skills and competence of individuals working in hazardous areas. 

The System addresses the inspection (location and other), installation, maintenance and repair of equipment and systems and assesses the competence of personnel working in this highly specialized area. 

IECEx has been endorsed by the United Nations (UN) through the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as THE certification system for the assessment of conformity in Ex areas. 

IECEx operates the following Schemes: 

  • IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme
  • IECEx Certified Service Facilities Scheme
  • IECEx Scheme for Certification of Personnel Competence (for Explosive Atmospheres)

The System also has the IECEx Conformity Mark Licensing System which provides on-the-spot evidence that products bearing the Conformity Mark are covered by an IECEx Certificate of Conformity. 

More information: www.iecex.com

Gallery
Ex-proof cameras can easily be integrated in network systems that provide video surveillance for Ex and non-Ex areas Ex-proof cameras can be integrated in network systems that provide video surveillance for Ex and non-Ex areas (Photo: Videotec)
The Orbit X Ex-proof WiFi camera is the world’s smallest IECEx and ATEX certified camera (Photo: BARTEC PIXAVI) The Orbit X explosion-proof WiFi camera is the world’s smallest IECEx and ATEX certified camera (Photo: BARTEC PIXAVI)
Video surveillance is a key asset for all Ex areas, such as offshore oil platforms that often operate in harsh environmental conditions Video surveillance is a key asset for all Ex areas, such as offshore oil platforms that often operate in harsh environmental conditions (Photo: BP)