Why Zone 0 and Safety go hand-in-hand!

 

Geoforce was founded in 2007 to serve the unique asset tracking needs of oil & gas, mining, and other industrial companies that operate in explosive, hazardous environments. Because of our founding mission, we understand the challenges of mobilizing equipment, people, and other resources in such environments. Most notably, we appreciate that safety is always priority one and have always built our products with that concern top of mind.

Like anyone else, companies that operate in explosive, hazardous environments want to track their equipment and other assets in order to be more efficient. But more uniquely, the tracking devices used to monitor these companies’ assets also need to safely operate in challenging environments. After all, the concerns of someone tracking a dumpster by the side of a freeway are very different from those of someone tracking a chemical tank on an active drilling site.

Thankfully, there are independent, third party certification standards that can help validate this is the case, giving operators peace of mind to focus on their business, and not whether a tracking device is safe to use.

A prime example is Zone 0 certification for communications equipment like GPS tracking devices.

What is Zone 0?

Zone designation provides better guidance on overall risk for operating duration in explosive environments.

Zone 0 is the highest environment rating and designates a device can operate continuously in explosive environments. In contrast, Zone 2 is the lowest rating and indicates only 10 hours per year of such operation.

Zone 0 devices are designed to be safe even in the presence of internal faults. Zone 2 has no fault tolerance requirement.

This is not to say Zone 2 devices are unsafe; rather, they are not designed or certified to the level of fully intrinsic safety with continual operation in a hazardous environment.

Quite simply, if you want to be 100% certain your device will always safely operate in your environment, you must use a Zone 0 certified product.

How do I know something is Zone 0?

The diagram below breaks out the certification mark on Geoforce’s GT1 Global Asset Tracker, a U.S., Canada, ATEX and IECEx Zone 0 intrinsically safe device:

Every mark in the string makes a specific statement about safety. For instance, the notation “ia IIC” says the device is designed for intrinsic safety for Zone 0 operation in all gasses. This means the GT1 can go anywhere, with redundant safety features designed into the product, and certification by an independent lab for compliance with the standard. By comparison, Zone 2 devices may operate in explosive environments less than one day per year to achieve a similar risk assessment.

What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You

The safety concerns discussed above become even more important when management of equipment passes to different entities. Companies that lease or rent equipment or otherwise have equipment that is at times out of their control must consider the risk for unintentional misuse of their assets.

Midland, Texas-based Permian Equipment Rentals is a leading provider of oilfield rental equipment and related services in West Texas. One day, they received a call that their man-lift on rent was damaged in a tank fire. Their lift was affixed with a Geoforce GT1 tracking device. While the fire was not caused by the lift or the GT1, the pictures below tell the story. The fire was hot enough to melt controls on the lift, but the GT1 was left undamaged and operating.

Man-Lift discolored by fire; GT1 operational and intact

In a situation like this, everyone – Geoforce, Permian Equipment, and Permian’s customer – was certainly glad the GT1 was a Zone 0 certified device!

Gary Naden has served as Geoforce’s Chief Technology Officer since 2012. With a background in defense communications systems, industrial radio development, and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) telemetry, Gary is an inventor on 11 issued patents in M2M communications, with several more pending. Prior to Geoforce, he served as CTO at Sypes Canyon Communications, Orbit One Communications, and Axonn.