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Explosion proof cases vs dedicated explosion proof devices built specifically for hazardous locations

Operating across the hazardous area requires essential qualification before adopting and rolling out a mobility solution. It requires you to adhere to strict regulatory requirements, and you cannot afford to get it wrong.

Pursuing the wrong mobile strategy has the potential to undermine the safety of your site, compromise the security of your personnel, and drag down your efficiency threatening your long-term ROI. To avoid such consequences, you need to carefully evaluate your options, including:

  • Identify if purpose-built intrinsically safe devices adhere to your health and safety policy, insurance and regulatory requirements?
  • Identify if utilising existing consumer-grade devices like the iPhone, and Samsung range of smartphones meet your regulatory requirements and provide a strategic operational or cost advantage?
  • Identify if a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy is sufficient in meeting both regulatory and security requirements of the business while significantly reducing procurement and running costs?

In the main, field-workers operating across some of the worlds most harsh, hostile and hazardous locations operate in extreme conditions and as a result, they require devices to be ultra-rugged – capable of drops and knocks while being highly reliable benefiting their safety and the safety of the wider team around them. Mobile devices must be built tough, capable to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations and be useable with or without gloves and in poor lighting conditions including direct sunlight.

Above all, hazardous area engineers require their devices to be certified to the highest levels of intrinsic safety, adhering to strict European ATEX, global IECEx or North America Class 1, Divisions 1 and 2 certifications for safe operation and use across a range of hazardous gas, mists, vapours and dust-based hazardous areas.

So where to start? – One of the first things you should consider is whether you want to purchase smartphones that have been designed and built from the ground up to be intrinsically safe. Or utilise mainstream consumer-grade and enterprise smartphones housed within an explosion-proof case, allowing personnel to utilise devices they are already familiar with such as the range of iPhone and Samsung models.

It may seem appealing at first, utilising an explosion-proof cell phone case. However, companies should consider that while the case provides a degree of safety protection consumer-grade devices are not generally designed to withstand the same level of shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, low pressures, solar radiation, salt fog, humidity, blowing rain and water immersion. Should an explosion-proof case be compromised due to a drop or a knock, it could risk a potential spark or ignition point of a volatile atmosphere resulting in catastrophic damage, and/or possible death.

Many of our clients operating in dangerous and volatile atmospheres opt to buy purpose-built devices that have been designed and tested to meet very strict international laws and regulations, with globally recognised intrinsically safe certifications vs buying customised cases and potentially increasing the risks within their sites.

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