“Gas detection: Automatic calibrations and bump testing belief, misconceptions and its virtues.”


Although bump testing or automatic calibration of a gas detector is very advisable whether it is for a sustainable or a disposable there is still many misconceptions of its true use.

Maintenance free, many said disposable it was, no hassle it is, although it is in part true it all depends what you mean with sorrow free.

Maintenance free yet a docking station is available. You need to be certified technician, or you are not allowed to do service. You need to get trained. There are manuals, read and understand prior to use. On what pretence? On ATEX? Trained by whom: The manufacturer, a 20-year experienced gas detector veteran, an ex employee of the manufacturer that always did the trainings or a distributor that has been around, or let’s read the manual, maybe even an ATEX specialist. Who or what to trust? What is service, what is maintenance? Replace a battery? Seems like hocus pocus. Lose warranty? Lose ATEX, lose IP rating. A docking station for bump or calibration is available by all, whether maintenance free, disposable or sustainable. Solutions to all. So, what is the deal here? Parts, spares are explained in the manual, yet the end user needs no certification, or do they? And then why? And by whom? The rules and regulations! Which ones, American or European? The law or the lack of it. The distributor must have service certification or do they just as an end user, buy a docking station and BAM you are an expert, or are you?

Dealers hiding in vans doing their magic with a docking station or is there more to it?

Manufacturers locking the instruments, so you are not the true owner, you have to service through them.

There are those that claim: get a maintenance/calibration certificate from a trusted supplier (ISO 9000, with techs that have been around for 5 years at minimum in gas detection etc). Do every 6 months while additionally bump testing, to cover the backside of the company from potential litigation when an accident occurs, it is better than just running an internal bump test program with a logging system behind it.

The truth is every gas detector will need some form of visual inspection and performance testing. Display gets broken, housings gets cracked (remember the salesman chucking the demo around to show how robust the instrument was while denting your floor). And of course, it is maintenance free. What happens if your sensors got fouled up with paint or crud and failed performance testing on a dock or manual testing i.e. breathing on an O2 monitor...no response right, throw it out buy a new one?

There is something to be said in the long run for a sustainable product then...right? It is about cost of ownership. Maybe yes maybe no.

24-month disposable where did that come from? A shut down? How long does that last? As short as possible right! Not 24 months. The next shut down? Perhaps 2 years later! Why 24 months then. Well that is history because maintenance free needed to last (commercially at least) as long as possible. Sustainable planet. No more plastic garbage. Yet so attractive buy it, clear it out when it is used up, throw it out and refresh. To the extent that there are 4 gas offerings now at $450 lasting just 2 years.... maintenance free with a docking station... Buy 100 get a dock for free?

Nothing really against disposables, but why not “a buy back” system, to make it more.... sustainable...why not just buy a sustainable then? Price of purchase, long term vision? Lack of knowledge at purchase time.
So, what does bump testing mean, calibration and what is the difference? It means you use the detector for 3 months test it with gas while using it (as most manuals say, test with gas prior to use) don’t call that maintenance and walk about with a broken display. Right?

By the way we offer gas, with individual certificates, individually tested prior to shipping. Ever had a failed gas bottle? Did you track all lot numbers? But then again that is not maintenance.

Bump testing is really the same as calibration, it just uses less gas and is quicker. If it fails a bump test you/it will revert to calibration and if that fails that, the sensor filters are clogged.

A bump test, the dock fail is probably set at 50% or similar of span value, this is done to speed up bump testing. Some even allow to set the fail value.

When calibrating no one cares as the unit is simply adjusted after a preprogrammed time of gas exposure to span value. Its about saving gas and time.

- Maintenance free? There are those that claim a dock is enough, there are those that claim when you have a dock, you only need to “maintain” the detector yearly instead of 6 monthly. Osha claims different, no longer should you use the product if not tested within 30 days, right? Some even offer policy enforcement. If not tested it doesn’t allow use of the detector. Great leave it in the truck, don’t use it. Accident are around the bend? Testing for response, not testing if the battery is any good or cracked housing, bad clip or broken display. Hey, does the dock even check for sound level? Does it check pump flow? Does it check visuals? Someone might stick a pencil in the sounder thinking it is a reset button. Guess what it works, after that there is no more acoustic alarms! Maintain what? Throw a perfect good unit away and pollute the planet. Sustainable? Open it up and replace the filter. Come on guys most sensors now a days last 5-7 years. The weight of every discussion was always put on sensor failures. Is that maintenance? Is it still applicable?

Yet at tenders many suddenly offer extended warranties.

I am sure that manufacturers that claim(ed) maintenance free, did a risk calculation, what is the chance of one guy working alone? Little so, they worked in teams, right? As prices went down each had a disposable, what is the chance that all sensors in that team were clogged? Yeah more could be wrong but chances are getting slim. Just saying. Maintenance free.

But now that wireless, Bluetooth and loneworker programs are becoming more of a hype, it puts the pressure on the individual performance, no more risk calculation. Getting serious time. Same sensors, yes, they are. So those that claim maintenance free, better make sure when bringing loneworker solutions, there is a trustful system in place. Like a service program with plenty of maintenance. Validation of functionality and systems testing. So, it seems we are going full circle, back to the roots of real gas detection. What do you think?

So in conclusion, look for a sustainable planet, do visual inspections, log that too, use a dock if you want, take care of calibration gas and lot numbers with individual certificates, validate a full functional system, but ask yourself when does a dock fail an instrument and when does it not, or when does a tech fail a product calibration/bump and is it the same? Is it at 30% of span value or at 2%? What does a dock do? What do you need and why? When do you get your dock serviced or is that too maintenance free? We tell customers annually. And does it matter? Is your supplier clear? Are they knowledgeable? Are they there to service you? Buy and get advice from proven sources, trusted sources that know what the product really does? Do they have a plan b or c for you? And do they have you covered in a land of unclarity.

So many questions, so many answers.
Soon you will need 7Solutions, soon you will need us.

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