How to Find the Right Technology Solutions for Petrochem
The petrochem industry is lagging when it comes to embracing IoT technology. Fortunately, finding tech that’s both safe and secure is now easier than ever.
The petrochemical industry is responsible for many of the products we have come to rely on, from synthetic fibers to plastics to pharmaceuticals. Yet in spite of its position as a leader in innovative technology, the industry often lags when it comes to adopting connected IoT devices that could improve safety and efficiency in environments like oil, gas, or chemical plants.
In many ways, this hesitancy makes sense — safety is a top priority in the petrochem industry and it’s hard to know if these new devices will be able to withstand harsh conditions or if they might invite new cybersecurity risks.
The good news is that petrochem no longer needs to sacrifice the benefits offered by these technologies for fear that IoT devices won’t be able to withstand volatile environments. In particular, the advent of explosion proof wireless access points and cameras points to a brighter, safer future for the petrochem warehouses, plants, and other facilities that adopt them.
In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at the specific challenges petrochem faces when it comes to adopting new technologies, as well as some of the connected devices that are both safe and effective in the petrochem environment.
The Challenges of Embracing IoT Technology
There are several challenges when it comes to bringing technology into petrochem facilities. Given that petrochem falls into the area of industrial IoT, many of these challenges are the same as those faced by other smart facilities, but there are also specific concerns related to deploying technology in hazardous environments.
One major pain point for any smart facility is determining where to place access points within a large space. Smart buildings or sites may have connectivity issues that stem from having too few or too many access points. To figure out the right number of wireless access points for a space, you need to consider factors like capacity and coverage. Without enough APs, the space will have dead zones. At the same time, too many APs can lead to interference that gets in the way of connectivity.
Another issue is access point placement. Even if you have high-performance WiFi 6, without proper placement, your indoor and outdoor access points might not actually offer the connectivity you need. A common issue in warehouses, for instance, is placing APs on ceilings that are too high to get a signal to the workers and devices on the ground. Engaging in a thorough wireless site survey to understand the layout and materials of a location before placing WiFi access points is the best way to tackle this issue.
In addition to these difficulties, petrochem facilities face further challenges in terms of their rugged, often hazardous environments. These plants, warehouses, mines, and other sites deal with potentially hazardous materials on a daily basis, which makes safety a top priority at all times. It also makes it difficult to take the leap and adopt new technologies whose functionality — especially in extreme conditions — may not seem certain.
One final concern for petrochem facilities is the risk of a data breach. The devices that enter these spaces not only need to be durable enough to handle the volatile environment, but also need to be secure enough to prevent a breach. Recent data breaches, like the one at a Florida water treatment plant, serve as a reminder of just how dangerous a cyber attack can be. For a petrochem site where explosions can have devastating results, a breach can be a matter of life or death.
The Benefits of Connectivity in Petrochem Facilities
While these concerns are reasonable, they also mean that the industry isn’t benefiting from the many safety and efficiency advantages offered by IoT technology. In petrochem factories, warehouses, and other potentially hazardous sites, the importance of embracing new tech like Aruba industrial wireless access points and explosion-proof cameras cannot be denied. With the aid of high-performance wireless access points and the devices that connect to them, smart facilities can automate and streamline mission-critical operations.
Further, petrochem facilities store a large amount of potentially dangerous materials that need to be kept in precise conditions to maintain safety. IoT devices like environmental sensors can increase safety by automatically regulating factors such as temperature, air quality, and more. IoT cameras also have the potential to improve safety by watching out for any unauthorized personnel who may enter the area. These cameras can monitor the location for any potential workplace injuries or other physical safety concerns, as well.
Embracing Connectivity with Aruba Industrial Wireless Access Points
There are many IoT devices that can boost safety, productivity, and performance in the petrochem industry, including sensors, leak detection products, and cameras. Before petrochem facilities can start investing in these, however, they need to make sure they have the wireless connectivity necessary to support them.
The best way to get that connectivity is with Aruba 370EX HazLoc Series access points. These Aruba access point models offer proven WiFi and advanced client, location, and IoT support that meets the most demanding temperature or weather requirements. They are specifically designed for use in hazardous locations and are certified for extreme weather resilience. Even better, the Aruba AP — whether it’s an Aruba outdoor wireless access point or an indoor one — is extremely secure. It offers end-to-end encryption that’s ensured through the Aruba Policy Enforcement Firewall.
Boosting Visibility with Explosion-Proof Cameras
Once petrochem facilities have wireless access points in place, they can start considering IoT devices that increase security without sacrificing safety, like Avigilon H5A Explosion-Protected cameras. These cameras aren’t just certified for hazardous locations (they have an ATEX Zone 2 rating), they’re actually explosion-proof. That means petrochem sites no longer need to rely on explosion-proof casing around the camera to maintain safety. Even better, the components within the cameras are intrinsically safe, so there should be no concerns about implementing them in a petrochem facility.
These Avigilon cameras are the perfect choice for petrochem. They are specifically built for efficient operational monitoring and control of processes in environments that face the risk of explosions due to the presence of flammable gases or dust. They also have exceptional imaging capabilities that let the cameras capture incredible details in conditions with poor lighting.
Find the Right Technology Solutions with TTI
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when it comes to bringing new tech solutions into your petrochem facility. However, when there’s so much technology out there that allows for safer, more secure worksites, there’s no reason for the petrochem industry to lag behind.
To implement these new technologies, you need a partner who will guide you through the entire process, ensuring you find the right tools for your specific environment.
Turn-Key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) is that partner. At TTI, we understand how to identify the needs of each unique worksite — and we have the latest technology and devices to meet those needs. From Aruba industrial wireless access points and other Aruba networks products to explosion-proof cameras and more, TTI has everything you need to bring your petrochem facility into the modern age and increase safety and security like never before.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you find the right technology solutions.
By Robert Elgart