Technical Blog

Importance of Intrinsic Safety in Sensor Technology

As a leading manufacturer of sensor technology, Positek ensures that each device produced, complies with all safety requirements in every field where the sensor is applied. For example, an important parameter in sensors today is intrinsic safety. Intrinsically safe sensors are needed when the machin

As a leading manufacturer of sensor technology, Positek ensures that each device produced, complies with all safety requirements in every field where the sensor is applied. For example, an important parameter in sensors today is intrinsic safety. Intrinsically safe sensors are needed when the machine has to operate in hazardous conditions.

The concept of intrinsic safety

This concept came into fruition in the mining industry. Historically, mining sites are extremely prone to accidents and explosions caused by sparks generated in electrical circuits. These accidents were one of the reasons why mining is considered to be one of the most hazardous professions in the world.

The working environment itself, being underground and with little ventilation, makes mines prone to the accumulation of toxic gas and other elements, that can easily cause fires and explosions. While this cannot be avoided, it was then proposed that any equipment bearing electrical circuits should not produce sparks which may ignite and explode. This requirement became known as intrinsic safety.

Mines today make use of machinery and equipment that use sensing technology. As such, rotary position sensors in general, should be intrinsically safe rotary sensors, in order to qualify for use in hazardous environment.

What is a device labelled as intrinsically safe?

By applying the principle, any device considered intrinsically safe should not be able to generate enough electric current or heat, which may turn into a spark that could ignite flammable gas which may be present in the environment. Sensors do not become intrinsically safe without the entire system being checked, following detailed design and construction. in order to build intrinsically safe equipment, for example, sensors should not have any large capacitors or inductors within the mechanism or outside it in order for it to be part of an intrinsically safe system.

In addition to this, the wiring used for each piece of equipment has to be installed using an approved method. The control panel should be in an area containing safety barriers which isolates it from exposure to hazardous gases. In other words, intrinsic safety does not pertain to the sensor alone, but is a concept that is applied to the entire piece of the equipment.

Intrinsic safety regulation

To ensure that manufacturers and industries are compliant, there are different agencies tasked to regulate and develop the standards for intrinsic safety. These agencies are also responsible for the evaluation of products to ensure that they meet the standards. These agencies can either be directly organised and run by the government, or a private entity composed of insurance companies, manufacturers, and other related industries.

By allowing these agencies to regulate and inspect products, they can also provide manufacturers with a label that will be used to identify products that have met the safety standards. In the EU, the standard for intrinsic safety is ATEX, whilst other areas around the world comply with the IECEx standard.

Benefit of intrinsic safety

Machines used in hazardous working conditions labelled as Zone 0 should be compliant with this requirement, no other standard is allowed. Even in submerged working conditions, intrinsically safe submersible rotary position sensors are required as long as the working condition is hazardous enough to be labelled as Zone 0.

Safety is paramount to these areas and intrinsic safety is in place to guarantee that explosions and accidents are minimised or eliminated.

Positek's intrinsically safe sensors

As a leading manufacturer and supplier of sensors, Positek has a range of products that comply with ATEX and IECEx intrinsic safety standards. We also use our patented non-contact technology for each of our sensors which makes them more reliable, and durable.

Contactless sensors are not prone to friction, hence, they last longer than other traditional transducer devices. Our selection of intrinsically safe position sensors are suitable for use in even the most hazardous conditions. You can select a device from our inventory according to the type of environment, intrinsic safety standard, type of movement, and environment sealing in order to find the sensor with exact specification for the intended application.

If you can't find a sensor with the specifications you need, we also custom-build sensors, designed according to your specification. You can call our engineers today for assistance with customisation. Depending on the specifications, we can custom-build your sensor ready for shipping in as little as 1-2 days.


Article published on: 23/07/2018