Portable gas detection equipment needs to work faultlessly and in conjunction with safety best practice. Lives depend on it. But, faced with many daily demands on a safety manager’s time, maintaining compliance across a fleet of equipment is a constant challenge. Matt DeLorenzo, Business Director for Safety io (an MSA Safety Company subsidiary), explains how the Grid Fleet Manager – software service for managing fleets of portable gas detectors – helps to ensure compliance through a proactive safety approach.
If there’s one pressure that unites every safety manager in the industry, it’s battling to keep multiple plates spinning – trying to maintain rigorous safety monitoring and enforce robust Standard Operating Procedures against a backdrop of interruptions throughout the day. One of the most important areas constantly vying for attention is the need to manage complex fleets of portable gas detectors. There is the need to monitor maintenance, calibration and testing for every detector, ensuring it is completely and accurately compliant.
Gas detector fleets safety management
The fleet portfolio may be diverse, spanning both single and multi-gas detection capabilities
The administrative and management burden to ensure gas detector fleets are available, functioning correctly, ready for use and compliant cannot be underestimated. There are several obstacles to overcome. Organizations may well be using detectors in multiple locations, across multiple sites, and potentially in different countries.
The fleet portfolio may be diverse, spanning both single and multi-gas detection capabilities. Devices will inevitably be acquired or replaced. All of which means that manually tracking inventory and usage and keeping maintenance accurate is a difficult task.
Grid Fleet Manager System
For this reason, Safety io developed the Grid Fleet Manager system to provide a single point of truth. By gathering and compiling data automatically, as devices are returned and docked after use and bump tested or calibrated before use, it simplifies the management of the fleet of portable gas detection. Fleet Manager focuses on prioritizing the most important information, prominently highlighting when and where urgent action is required.
Each morning, the system sends an organization’s safety managers (and equipment maintenance partners if needed) a concise e-mail summarizing the status of the fleet at every operational location. If there are any concerns, e-mail links take users directly to view their Grid account. An intuitive fleet dashboard shows top-level, prioritized metrics and alerts, each of which can be expanded at a click to reveal granular-level detail on any device or event.
Efficient sensor and alarms operation
A common logistical challenge faced by safety managers is making sure that there is sufficient calibration gas available to both test devices and calibrate them accurately. To ensure correct sensor and alarm operation, best safety practice calls for every gas detector to be bump tested daily before use, and also calibrated monthly. If gas is unavailable, operatives cannot bump test equipment or carry out calibration, meaning that they are unable to work.
To do so would breach safety compliance legislation as devices could potentially fail to work, exposing workers to non-identifiable gas leaks. Such downtime and risk is both costly and avoidable. In response, Fleet Manager alerts safety managers when gas stocks are becoming depleted, allowing partners to proactively re-supply gas as needed before supplies expire.
Fleet Manager provides alerts on sensors that require attention so that the equipment at risk can be replaced
Over time, sensors in gas detection devices can degrade. Fleet Manager provides alerts on sensors that require attention so that the equipment at risk can either be maintained or replaced before it fails.
In addition to providing safety managers with control over their fleet, they’re also able to see – for all device serial numbers in the fleet – when, where and by whom the device was last used, when it was last tested or checked, and whether any further tests are needed.
Portable gas detection equipment
Portable gas detection equipment has come a long way in recent years. As well as providing vital early warnings about leaks, today’s advanced, portable gas detectors also gather and store invaluable data – recording critical information both about incidents and also the working practices of operatives.
This information, held locally on each device, can be downloaded when the device is docked and – ideally – properly analyzed for insights. By constantly pulling and storing data from all devices, Fleet Manager provides valuable insights to safety managers on non-safe behaviors.
Standard Operating Procedures
The system is also a key driver behind helping to achieve compliant operational practices. Whenever a gas detector issues an alarm, operatives must follow strict Standard Operating Procedures. They must acknowledge the alarm in the instrument and vacate the area. Unfortunately, real-world experience does not always reflect best practice. Some operatives may choose to ignore the alarm or even turn the device off. But with Fleet Manager, these occurrences are recorded and highlighted, allowing safety managers to identify those posing a risk, and swiftly move to re-educate or retrain them.
When it comes to streamlining device maintenance and compliance, the technology behind Fleet Manager is liberating. Safety io Grid Fleet Manager allows for a proactive approach to gas detection safety programs, allowing customers the ability to minimize distractions and put their time toward higher safety priorities, becoming more efficient and better informed in the process.
Cloud-based fleet management platform
One of the major goals was to ensure that information delivery was carefully prioritized
In the case of the latest solution platforms developed for gas detection by Safety io, they conducted many thousands of hours of customer interviews and prototype and interface testing to ensure the most meaningful and actionable value.
One of the major goals was to ensure that information delivery was carefully prioritized and that customers received the critical information they needed when most relevant. It’s also about recognizing when data is useful, while gas levels in an area may not reach compliance thresholds, the detection of a low-level anomaly can indicate whether investigative work may be warranted.
Safety io Grid Live Monitor
The result was two complementary solutions - Safety io Grid Fleet Manager, a cloud-based fleet management platform for managing the health of fixed and portable gas detection devices; and Safety io Grid Live Monitor, a real-time alert and incident management tool that tracks operatives and their status as they work.
One of the exciting opportunities MSA is embracing is the ways technology can enhance its wide safety equipment portfolio. In addition to portable gas protection devices and fixed gas and flame detection, MSA also offers Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, head protection, fall protection systems, PPE and more. The ability for technology to confer automation, intelligent reporting and data archival promises both to increase user safety and significantly reduce the current manual workload surrounding mandatory audits, reporting, compliance and inspections.