Four Ways to Reduce Your Gas Detector Fleet Size

Four Ways to Reduce Your Gas Detector Fleet Size

Industrial Scientific | Thursday, August 12, 2021

Selecting and buying the appropriate gear, including gas detectors, is a critical part of making sure your teams go home safely to their families. This means you need to consider both the best hardware for the job, and which services and solutions would enhance your safety program.

It can be tempting to choose gas detectors based solely on the per-unit purchase price. However, when it comes to keeping your people safe, your top priorities must be reliability, durability, and usability. You also need to consider the total cost of owning the equipment over the long run, which goes beyond the initial purchase. The costs of maintaining a gas detection program include resources for repairs like parts, materials, labor, and spare monitors. You should also account for the lost productivity when your team can’t complete their job while waiting for gas detector repairs. On the other hand, the cost of not maintaining your gas detectors is the largest one—the risk of injury or death on the job.

How to Maximize Your Budget

What can you do to maximize your budget while buying the best equipment possible? Simply put, you can look for ways to be leaner without compromising safety. For example, selecting gas detectors and solutions with features that allow you to minimize your fleet size can make a huge difference.

Consider this scenario:

Area monitors with long run times help to
minimize the need for more instruments
in your pool of “spares.”

A company has 450 field employees who spend some portion of their time in an area known to have a high risk for exposure to H2S. It’s not a daily occurrence, but about once per week, they need an H2S detector. The employees also occasionally work in confined spaces and must sample the atmosphere before entry. Between the H2S risk and the confined space entries, the safety manager estimates that each person would be safest if they wore a four-gas detector for about 25% of working hours.

Budgets are tight, so there isn’t a dedicated employee responsible for maintaining gas detectors. Instead, the safety manager does all the troubleshooting and repairs when time allows. With competing priorities, it’s common that it will take weeks or even months to return a gas detector to service.

The safety manager is also responsible for knowing who has which gas detector. He keeps a spreadsheet with names and serial numbers, but it would be far too time-consuming to manually update that spreadsheet every day, so each employee is issued their own gas detector. If there is a problem, employees report it to their supervisors and arrangements are made to swap out the instrument. As a result, the safety manager isn’t sure that his spreadsheet is completely accurate. Sometimes an instrument gets handed out while he isn’t in the office and he has to track it down when he gets a chance.

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The company would likely purchase around 500 standard four-gas detectors. Of those, 450 would be for the field employees and an additional 50 would be backups to cover repairs and other downtime.

Purchasing backup safety equipment is a relatively standard procedure, but it’s far from cost effective and occasionally creates more problems than it solves.

How to Reduce Your Gas Detector Fleet Size

In this scenario, the safety manager has four options to reduce the size of the gas detector fleet and save money.

  1. Gas detection as a service – The need for spare instruments “just in case” can be virtually eliminated with a subscription-based service program like iNet Exchange that automatically provides replacement equipment before you face downtime. Docking stations automate basic maintenance and collect data from your gas monitors, including declines in performance. When they detect a problem like a failed calibration, your service provider is alerted and will send a replacement monitor within days—not weeks or months. There’s no need to have several loaners available while the gas monitors go through a long troubleshooting and repair process, and your team will have the devices they need to keep working without missing a beat.
  2. Smarter maintenance management – Gas detection management software like iNet Control enables proactive maintenance by allowing you to track the health of your equipment. For example, you can use the software to alert you when a sensor is nearing the end of its useful life, giving you and your service providers time to replace it before that first failed calibration. What’s more, the same software can be used to monitor whether equipment is being used properly. Are your gas detectors bump tested daily? If not, how do you know they will respond to toxic or combustible gases? Having an easy way to get a high level of understanding of how well your fleet is being maintained can go a long way in making sure every gas detector is in good working condition at all times.
  3. Powerful user assignments – Gas detectors that allow users to be assigned on-the-fly can

    Gas detectors that allow users to be assigned
    on-the-fly by tapping the instrument to a hard
    hat tag can significantly shrink the size of
    the instrument fleet.

    significantly shrink the size of your gas detector fleet. For example, if users can quickly tap the gas detector to a tag that programs their name to the instrument, there’s no need for manual tracking. Electronic records can quickly show who has which instrument. With flexible and powerful user assignments, it becomes much easier to work with a pool of gas detectors rather than assigning one to each individual. You can greatly reduce the size of a fleet by planning for how many people will need gas detectors at one time instead of the total number of workers.
  4. Gas detectors built to last a lifetime– Gas detectors that are designed to withstand harsh environments can provide savings over the long-term. You’ll spend less time checking equipment, arranging for replacements, managing repairs, and submitting paperwork for unexpected expenses.

Considering these four opportunities, it’s realistic for the company in the scenario above to significantly reduce the size of their gas detector fleet. They don’t need as many spare gas detectors because replacement equipment automatically arrives within days of any problem that arises. They can manage the health of their devices to make sure that the ones they do have are being maintained and used according to company safety policies. More importantly, when the gas detectors are built to last, there is a less frequent need for significant maintenance. With the improvements in assigning users, they now can manage toward the total number of simultaneous users instead of the total number of field employees.

Taking full advantage of these opportunities could easily bring the company down from 500 devices to 100. The savings aren’t limited to the equipment costs, though. The safety manager is now spending far less time on administrative work and keeping working devices in the field thanks to gas detection management software and an automated maintenance program. Instead, he can focus on identifying additional ways to ensure employees go home to their families each night.

Nobody wants to purchase safety equipment, but selecting gas detectors with the right features and supplementing them with programs that automatically keep your inventory maintained and functioning can allow you to reduce the size of your fleet while saving time and money.

Learn more about how iNet Exchange can increase the efficiency of your gas monitoring fleet.