Designing Bodytrak For Use In The Most Hazardous Industrial Working Environments
Bodytrak has come to the attention of major operators and infrastructure providers across different parts of the utilities sector who see huge value in our solution for real time vital signs monitoring to protect people working in challenging and dangerous environments. To fully open up this opportunity in large scale, infrastructure-heavy sectors, industry compliance and certification are essential for Bodytrak.
Bodytrak’s mission is to bring connected health and safety monitoring to all workplaces which can be inherently dangerous. In the context of monitoring firefighters, there’s a clear need to alert for heat stress and excessive physical strain. Likewise in the energy, oil, gas and petrochemical sectors, engineers routinely work in highly hazardous and austere environments where body-worn electrical equipment must be manufactured and certified for safe use in areas where explosive gases may be present. For Bodytrak to be used in these sectors, the product must adhere to an internationally recognised set of standards and be stringently tested to ensure it will not fail in a way that it ignites an explosive substance. This certification comes under the authority of the ATEX and IECEx bodies and Bodytrak is now being developed for compliance with“Ex” certification to allow it to be used in hazardous or “zone-rated” areas.
The certification process for products like Bodytrak is extremely challenging from a development perspective since the technical requirements for successful certification must deliver a product which is manufactured to be highly robust and ensure its electrical design is inherently safe from all types of scenarios that could produce an errant spark from any one of its electrical components. The challenges are both mechanical and electrical, and at each stage it is critical to validate our product design with industry experts.
The starting point for defining this type of development is our customers: oil and gas operators and energy service providers who maintain industrial infrastructure both onshore and offshore, where strict operational procedures are enforced to ensure workplace safety. Hazardous zones are defined and rated according to the level of explosive risk and any equipment or protective clothing worn in a zone rated area must be Ex compliant and have the appropriate level of inherent protection.
Once our customers have provided the high level requirements and specified the “zone- rated” environments in which Bodytrak will operate, we then begin a 2 stage process: Ex certification planning, and product design. Certification requires us to fully digest the standard on which it is based. In our case this standard is IEC60079 which details the acceptable methods which can be used to achieve certification and in particular the requirements needed to ensure the electrical operation of our device is “Intrinsically Safe”. Then follows the product design stage which must cover both mechanical design and electronic design. One focuses on using 3D/CAD software to arrange and define all mechanical elements of the hardware including material selection. The other is focused on a highly engineered electronic design and PCB specification which delivers the right level of intrinsic safety in relation to controlling power management and ensuring system integrity.
This combined process delivers a final product design which, once built, is tested to achieve a level of certification or a “code” by which we can claim compliance with the ATEX and IECEx regulations. In our case we have targeted a code to operate in Zone 1 environments which our customers have validated as the right certification level for Bodytrak to be used safely on zone-rated onshore and offshore facilities. With our design validated and forthcoming Ex certification planned for later this year, Bodytrak is now expertly placed to partner with onshore and offshore operators across the energy sector.