Underground » Detection and Prevention of Fires and Explosions
The aim of this project was to determine the research needs of the industry with regard to the testing and certification of intrinsically safe equipment. By identifying the actual needs, the submission of future research projects can be coordinated and focused on a common goal.
In order to obtain a truly representative input to the project, the industry groups targeted were; mines in Queensland and New South Wales, Legislators in New South Wales and Queensland, manufacturers of coal mining related equipment and Testing Stations. Input from the different groups was collated making use of an adapted Delphi method. The Delhi method allows a geographically dispersed group to be covered without the cost associated with travel. The method allowed the research team to tap into an excess of 400 man-years of experience, in establishing the research needs with regard to Intrinsic Safety.
Three key areas have been identified which need to be addressed:
- The first is a lack of knowledge with regard to Intrinsic Safety. This covers all areas, from the basic principles, to the use of entity parameters in the configuration of systems. Methods of obtaining information as well as the transfer thereof will have to be investigated. It would be of benefit if some 'technology pushed' research, eg the use of a PC to replace the Spark Test Apparatus is conducted, as it would assist in highlighting what could be achieved.
- The second area that needs addressing is the use of a PC in the testing of equipment for intrinsically safe approval.
- The third key area to be addressed directly relates to the testing of equipment. A more consultative process is required at the start of the testing procedure. Testing Stations should consider providing a guide to clients of what is required - as a first pass. Additional information beyond the Standards to be used should be identified before testing commences. An additional point that needs addressing is the perception that the different Testing Stations conduct testing to differing Standards and rules.