Next-Generation Environmental Sensing Instruments Offer Advanced Home-Grown Solution

Electronic safety equipment specialist Booyco Electronics has just released two next-generation environmental sensing instruments developed specifically for the South African mining industry.

The locally developed sensors are being hailed as the most innovative alternative on the market today, with many unique design features that address the shortcomings of current sensor instrumentation. Anton Lourens, managing director of Booyco Electronics, says many of these features were developed as a response to market demand.

“During the design phase we did a lot of research and identified several factors which users identified as problematic with the current technology,” he says. “The instruments we have come up with have actually exceeded our own expectations and we are delighted to be able to offer such an advanced solution to mine environmental personnel.”

The Booyco Electronics ESI Sensor range is available both as a fixed installation — where gas emissions need to be monitored at specific locations, the Smart Sensor — and in a portable handheld format, dubbed the Sentient.

The fixed unit features a localised display of sensor information and can measure 15 different gases from a single controller, typically including oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2), flammable gases such as methane (CH4) and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide (CO). Average response time is less than 35 seconds, depending on flow rate. The Smart Sensor’s controller can also accommodate other sensors with analogue outputs, such as air velocity sensors or smoke detectors.

“A unique feature of the Smart Sensor is its modular design that makes for ease of repair and calibration,” Lourens says. “If a sensor fails, only this sensor unit need be removed — there is no need to open the main enclosure to replace a new sensor. Similarly, when the sensor calibration expires, the sensors can be replaced in situ with new pre-calibrated sensors.”

The Smart Sensor unit can easily be connected to a fire detection system with reporting and display on SCADA.

Lourens says ingress protection on the Smart Sensor exceeds IP56 and the instrument carries the following approvals: SANS IEC 60079 Part 0:2005; SANS IEC 60079 Part 11: 2007 and IEC 60529 (IP code).  The unit measures 265 mm by 150 mm by 60 mm and weighs in at 1.8 kg.

The Sentient
The IP68 rated Sentient handheld version is the most sophisticated instrument of its kind available on the market. Able to accommodate up to three “plug and play” sensors, typically CH4, CO and O2. The inner mechanism of this device is completely sealed, so although sensor units are regularly removed and replaced, there is no opportunity for moisture to penetrate the sensitive working parts. The low maintenance Sentient also has no buttons — instead an innovative “tap” sensor ensures that the instrument remains watertight.

Amongst the unique features of this device is “drop protection” which automatically switches the sensor off as a protective measure if the instrument is dropped, thereby significantly increasing sensor life.

Both the fixed and handheld units have been certified as EXia T4 Intrinsically Safe.

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