In this article we’ll talk about the meaning of potentially explosive areas – sometimes better known as hazardous areas. We’ll talk about the differences between Intrinsically Safe and Non-Incendive and help you to assess whether your company needs devices that are Intrinsically Safe or Non-Incendive and why. Let’s get started.

What are hazardous locations?

Hazardous locations are defined as areas where a fire or explosion risk may exist due to flammable gases, vapors, dusts, or ignitable fibers being present in the air in quantities sufficient to produce an explosive or ignitable mixture. Such explosive atmospheres can be found in a variety of industrial sites: from oil fields, manufacturing plants, and petrochemical processing sites, to airports, distilleries, pharmaceutical production lines and beyond.

Why you need Intrinsically Safe and Non-Incendive devices

In recent years, rugged mobile devices for industrial use – and the apps that run on them – have advanced significantly. They are critical in allowing mobile teams to access and record real-time data that’s essential to provide visibility across operations.

However, rugged mobile devices are unsafe for use in hazardous locations. And with safety being top priority for organizations, we regularly come across sites where paper and pen are still used to avoid any chance of ignition caused by electronic equipment. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Digitized operations can be safely introduced across industrial sites by selecting devices that are certified for safe use in these areas: devices that can go wherever people go.

Devices certified to be used in hazardous locations are generally known in the industry as “Intrinsically Safe”, but not all ex-certified devices are made equal.

There are different types of protection techniques that enable the use of electrical devices in hazardous areas. The most common protection technique for mobile devices is “intrinsic safety” (marked as ex i). This technique restricts the electrical energy within the device and interconnecting wiring. The energy is so restricted that it cannot cause ignition by sparking or heating. However, there are two classifications of devices within this protection technique category – Intrinsically Safe (IS) and Non-Incendive (NI).

The major difference between the two types of equipment is that NI circuits are evaluated for ignition capability under normal operating conditions, while IS circuits are evaluated under fault conditions.

  • Intrinsically safe (IS): the device is incapable of ignition even in the event of up to two independent faults and can be used throughout all hazardous area classifications.

  • Non-Incendive (NI): the device is incapable of ignition under normal operation conditions (no faults) and is restricted to use in Zone 2/22 and Div. 2 areas only.

How devices are made safe
We partner with leading mobile device manufacturer Zebra Technologies to modify their rugged devices to become certified for use in potentially explosive environments – making them Intrinsically Safe or Non-Incendive. We ensure that the energy of the electrical components within them is limited, making it impossible for them to heat up or spark in hazardous environments.

We modify the Zebra devices in keeping with guidance from the strictest and most renowned notified bodies to certify ultra-rugged mobile devices to stringent safety requirements. These include ATEX, IECEx and NEC, as well as other country specific standards.

Our modified devices
There are a number of leading workforce devices from Zebra Technologies that we modify to become Non-Incendive or Intrinsically Safe. These include:

  • The TC 7X series touch computer – a simple way of equipping your field team with a true mobile office in a potentially explosive atmosphere.

  • The MC 92N0ex series mobile computer enabling complex applications to be executed, processes to be simplified and productivity boosted.

  • The BCS3600ex series of hand-held scanners that are ideal for mobile applications used to collect data from 1D barcodes, 2D barcodes, postcodes and optical character recognition (OCR).

If you cannot ensure your workforce devices are safe to use in your potentially hazardous environments you are risking business continuity, property and lives. Conversely, without using any type of handheld device and just using pen and paper, you are slowing down productivity and holding your people, processes and competitive advantage back. The only answer is to choose a device that is certified to operate safely in hazardous or potentially explosive areas – and that’s precisely where we can help you.

Take the first step towards safe and secure enterprise mobility. Talk to our team about keeping your workforce and property protected against fires and explosions, by implementing Intrinsically Safe or Non-Incendive mobile devices.

Contact our team for hazardous area-safe solutions here