Top 6 Uses for Mobility in Hazardous Manufacturing Environments

Top 6 Uses for Mobility in Hazardous Manufacturing Environments

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By Leigh Villegas, Manager of Corporate Communications at Aegex Technologies

According to a 2015 study by VDC Research, “Mobile Applications in Hazardous Manufacturing Environments,” the market for hazardous certified rugged handheld and tablet mobile computers in explosive environments is expected to grow more than 10% per year, increasing to $111 million by 2019.

The hazardous manufacturing respondents in the VDC study cited their top uses for mobile devices as being:

  1. Asset reliability and availability – 76%
  3. Location track and trace – 50%
  5. Plant safety and integrity – 50%
  7. Inspections and audits – 47%
  9. Workforce management – 29%
  11. Video conferencing – 6%

The study found that approximately one in five enterprise mobility decision makers in the manufacturing sector operate environments with explosive atmospheres, and seven in 10 of those are planning to deploy mobile devices in those environments. However, most mobile devices for hazardous environments (90%) are designed for C1D2 or ATEX Zone 2 environments, which are not the most volatile. The use of devices in the most volatile hazardous areas, classified as C1D1 or ATEX IECEx Zone 1, has been limited because of low availability of these types of certified devices and their relatively high cost.

As C1D1 and Zone 1 certified devices become more prevalent, however, organizations are finding that these devices do not always sync seamlessly with their existing IT systems. To operate most efficiently and effectively, an enterprise mobility strategy must easily integrate with the organization’s overall IT strategy. With so many large corporations operating in a Microsoft Windows environment, they ideally need their C1D1 or Zone 1 mobile devices to also be Windows-based to optimize their overall workforce collaboration.

Using a Windows 10 device, like the Aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet, hazardous area operations personnel can better perform the Top 6 activities for mobile devices in hazardous manufacturing environments.

1. Checking asset reliability and availability

If most companies operating hazardous environments are using or planning to use mobile devices to track asset reliability and availability in real time (as the VDC Research study shows), having a mobile device that is connected with a company’s Microsoft Cloud is optimal. Employees in C1D1 or Zone 1 hazardous areas can use a Windows 10 device, like the Aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet, to immediately upload observations to the company cloud, extract information from company cloud-based resources, and share information and interact with colleagues in real time, directly from the hazardous zone. If maintenance or repairs are needed, orders can be made on the spot and the appropriate contacts can be notified immediately. So little time is wasted by delays in data transfer or communication. This ultimately means less downtime and greater productivity.

  2. Location track and trace

Hazardous operations that involve remote workers, vehicles or other moving assets need mobile devices that can be tracked by a central command or team management. Whether an emergency rescue team or a fleet of oil tankers, knowing where personnel or products are at all times and getting real-time reports on their status is crucial for efficiently managing logistics and effective cooperation. The Aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet can employ Windows-based apps and custom GPS and logistics software that keeps team members and assets in dispersed hazardous locations organized and synchronized for optimal coordination.

  3. Plant safety and integrity

If mobile devices can be deployed throughout an entire hazardous operation, including the most explosive environments, personnel and management can get better firsthand knowledge about the status and condition of all areas of the plant. Even alterations in conditions that cannot be detected by sensors, like visual changes in equipment that may only be captured by the human eye or a lone worker’s facial expressions that could reveal a potential health issue, can be recorded and investigated in real-time by workers inside those most hazardous zones when carrying intrinsically safe certified devices like the Aegex10 IS Tablet. In C1D1 or ATEX IECEx Zone 1 areas, where any seemingly small problem could become catastrophic within seconds in these highly volatile environments, detecting potential issues in real time is paramount for preventing disasters.

  4. Inspections and audits

No type of inspection could be more efficient nor accurate than one done directly by a mobile worker inside the heart of a hazardous location operation. This access is only possible with a C1D1 or ATEX/IECEx Zone 1 certified device, like the Aegex10 IS Tablet, that can safely enter these explosive environments. Inside, the Windows 10 tablet can capture data, compare it with previously stored inspection data, perform predictive analysis, receive instructions or other input from external sources and order maintenance or perform other directives, all with one device directly from the inspection site.

  5. Workforce management

With Windows 10 mobile devices that can keep employees connected in real time from any location in a hazardous operation, offsite management can manage an entire HazLoc workforce. Devices like the Aegex10 IS Tablet can monitor each worker’s activities and instantaneously receive instructions or other information. Whether keeping track of mobile workers’ whereabouts or examining their task completion, Aegex10 tablets make Windows-based industry apps accessible to every worker to report back to supervisors, providing better transparency over workforce status and activities.

  6. Video conferencing

Windows 10 offers Skype for Business that provides “augmented reality” for hazardous location workers. Skype utilizes the Aegex10 IT Tablet’s front and rear cameras plus voice communication to allow personnel in the most restricted HazLoc zones to visually show any issue in question and verbally communicate in real time to solve problems or give instructions. Using Skype for Business, the Aegex10 tablet allows workers in extreme locations to meet virtually with team members and contacts across the globe from onsite. Real time
communication can reduce delays in task completion and help HazLoc personnel to better perform their jobs, which ultimately means higher productivity. The Aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet brings the full power of Windows 10 directly into the most dangerous hazardous locations, allowing users to monitor assets, track personnel and product, assess plant safety, perform inspections, manage workers, and meet virtually. It is the ideal tool for mobilizing hazardous manufacturing to improve efficiency, safety and productivity.

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Leigh Villegas, Corporate Communications, Aegex Technologies
+1 (470) 242 4000, ext. 115
[email protected]