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Hazardex 2018 Conference - 4. Toward an IoT Platform for Hazardous Locations

30 January 2018

Thomas P. Ventulett – CEO, Aegex Technologies. 
Weds 12.15 – 12.55: Main conference room

Toward an IoT Platform for Hazardous Locations: Examining the Collaboration of Humans and Edge Technologies in Disaster Scenarios for Insight into Industrial IoT for Extreme Operations

As more and more industrial organisations are adopting Internet of Things (IoT) strategies and beginning their digital transformation to Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing, they face challenges in adopting technologies due to regulatory restrictions for highly combustible atmospheres such as exist in some of the world’s largest and most critical industries - oil & gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, energy, utilities, food processing, defence and others.

In ATEX/IECEx Zone 1 or UL Class I Division 1 hazardous areas worldwide, up to 15% of personnel do not have access to mobile devices unless they are certified “intrinsically safe,” or incapable of causing a spark that could ignite a combustible environment.

Thus, the human “sensor" in hazardous area operations, who could conceivably detect perceived anomalies or problems in the maintenance, workflow, process or function of these operations, is relegated to recording observations with pencil and paper and then entering data manually into ERP systems hours or days later. Such lack of real-time communication and data management results in inefficiency, increased costs and elevated safety and asset risk, causing potential down-time and even loss of life in extreme cases.

By deploying new IoT technologies that allow people to use technology inside Zone 1/Division 1 hazardous areas, humans can actively interact with machines in real time to dramatically improve productivity, safety and the bottom line in hazardous operations. A new style of IoT platform built especially for hazardous area operations, would need to include various and affordable types of sensors to cover vast spaces, real-time communications, cloud computing, machine learning, rights management, security, big data storage, analytics and user-friendly visualisation, all functioning in highly explosive conditions.

This paper considers the possibilities for an IoT Platform for Hazardous Locations, based on hands-on research conducted by Aegex Technologies, Verizon, Nokia and multiple technology partners that tested various edge technologies with first responders in realistic disaster scenarios during Operation Convergent Response (#OCR2017). The event provided a unique opportunity to test IoT under extreme conditions, such as a staged chemical plant explosion, subway terrorism incident, neighborhood flood, cybersecurity attack, tornado disaster and hostage rescue.

The results gave insight into the need for continued collaboration on IoT capabilities that can better manage not only emergency response, but everyday operations in hazardous industries.

Under the leadership of Thomas P. Ventulett, Aegex developed the first Windows 10 industrial tablet universally certified as intrinsically safe for ATEX/IECEx Zone 1 and UL CI, II, III Div 1 hazardous locations in oil & gas, chemical, pharmaceutical and other operations with explosive atmospheres worldwide.

Mr. Ventulett is leading his team’s efforts to provide additional intrinsically safe solutions including a certified Internet of Things platform for hazardous locations that connects people and things in hazardous areas to the cloud in real-time, providing data that can be used to improve safety, efficiency and productivity.

He has more than 25 years of experience in executive roles in network and communications technology ventures.

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