Case Studies

Explosion-Proof Equipment Testing with LabVIEW

Posted in LabVIEW, Machine Vision, Manufacturing Automation and Intelligence, Oil and Gas, Test & Measurement Automation, Test and Measurement, Test Stand

Summary

The client, a product safety test laboratory, needed to modernize their Hazloc lab.  This laboratory is used for testing equipment that is used in potentially explosive environments such as refineries, chemical plants, power plants, etc.  The lab, used for testing explosion-proof rated devices, required the capability of automatically mixing, distributing, and igniting various types of hazardous gases.  The system also needed to collect peak explosion pressures and detect explosion failures. The requirements demanded robust, automatic, and inherently safe control algorithms.

Mixing

Mixing

Explosion Captured

Explosion Captured

Explosion Data

Explosion Data

Control Station

Control Station

Solution

DMC developed a complete hardware and software solution.  DMC also provided complete project management from demolition of the exisitng system to the install and commissioning of the new system.  The control system was implemented using a distributed application using Compact Fieldpoint Real-time, LabVIEW, and USB DAQ equipment.  NI Real-Time Fieldpoint devices are used to communicate to mass flow controllers.  These precisely mix varying concentrations of explosive gases, deploy them to the device under test, then ignite the interior of the device.  The USB DAQ and signal conditioning board is used to collect high speed pressure data and detect explosion failures.  A custom application in LabVIEW is used to perform all test management and test sample management.

Explosion-proof devices are defined as any device or container that, when saturated (inside and out) with an explosive gas or vapor, will not allow an internal explosion to propagate to the outside environment.  This has obvious safety benefits in environments involving hazardous gas.

Learn more about DMC's LabVIEW programming services.

Customer Benefits

  • Increases test throughput by 500%
  • Increases test accuracy
  • Modernized hardware reduced maintenance

The modernized test system now completes more test combinations in one day than the old manual system did in a week.  It also performs these tests more uniformly, with more data, and in a safer manner.

Technologies

  • National Instruments' LabVIEW, DAQmx, signal conditioning
  • NI Compact Fieldpoint Real-Time controllers
  • Ethernet and RS-485 to 3rd party devices
  • Intrinsically Safe Wiring
  • Ultra High-Speed cameras
  • Custom electrical panels to protect equipment not rated as explosion-proof
  • Brooks Mass Flow Controllers on an RS485 Network 
  • SQL Database storage of test data
  • Class 1 Div 1 Rated Controls Equipment