Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Fire and gas detection specialist achieves Cisco certification

Oxford based fire and gas detection systems specialist Industrial Design has achieved Cisco certification, allowing it to service large networked sites from March 2012 as part of its agreement with Cisco UK. 

On large sites where fire and gas detection systems need to be connected together, CISCO networking is used on a wide scale. Industrial Design’s new certification will allow the company to access the resources and support necessary to work on such complex projects.

Large sites require CISCO networking
Technical support, including smart design and assistance with network configurations in situ, is also now available from Industrial Design as a result of the certification. On sites spanning more than three or four kilometres, where control panels need to be connected together and proprietary systems are not capable or suited to the infrastructure, Industrial Design will be accessing further resources such as Ethernet on copper or fibre optic cable on Cisco equipment.

“Acquiring CISCO Select Partner certification guarantees the quality and reliability of the network design and components we use in our detection systems,” explained Mike Fikuart, managing director of Industrial Design. “We specialise in fire and gas detection, suppression, emergency shutdown systems and access control – in a word, “safety”. When a person or a site’s wellbeing is at stake, we will do anything to ensure nothing goes amiss and that we have 99.999% availability,” he said.

“We have been a registered member with CISCO for a long time, but we felt the need to take things a step forward and receive a higher level of support from our network partner. Obtaining the CISCO Select Partner certification testifies to our staff’s expertise and commitment to a job well done,” concluded Fikuart.

Cisco Systems is an American multinational corporation headquartered in San Jose, California that designs, manufactures, and sells networking equipment worldwide.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Online fire saftey training videos help business owners comply with legal demands

Oxford based safety control systems specialist Industrial Design has launched a series of online fire safety training videos. Approved by The Institution of Fire Engineers the videos help companies train their staff in basic fire safety, allowing them to comply with legal requirements and improve health and safety standards.

Costing just £249.95 for a five module course, the videos explain why fires occur, what action you can take to prevent them starting and how you should behave in the event of a fire.

Employers, employees and those accountable for building space, including common parts of blocks of flats and houses, have a legal responsibility to ensure fire safety. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that employees are informed, instructed and trained about fire precautions in the work place; and that they are able to cooperate with employers to make sure the workplace is safe from fire and its effects.

The regulations also state that if you’re not an employer, but have control of premises that contain more than one work space, you still have a responsibility to conduct a risk assessment put in place a fire management plan and ensure compliance with fire regulations. This applies to organisations, contractors and individuals who are responsible for business premises, responsible for a dwelling, part of which is used solely for business purposes or providing accommodation for paying guests.

Online videos enable fire safety training to be conducted in a clear, concise and easily understood manner whilst allowing it to be accessed by a large volume of people.

Compliance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is based on a logical 'assessment' methodology whereby all risks are identified and assessed, appropriate action determined and the implementation of the solution recorded. There is no minimum or maximum requirement, and compliance can be achieved using any product or service deemed necessary by the assessor.

As a result, the burden of proof for compliance rests on the person responsible for the premises in question, who has to ensure the continual monitoring of risk. It is the job of this 'responsible person' to prove that they have provided adequate and reasonable safety precautions specific to their premises. Evidence of online training can demonstrate that the theoretical element of this responsibility has been complied with.

A record of the training is held on Industrial Design’s system and a serialised certificate of successful completion is issued, which is valid for two years. Continual access to all of the training material is provided throughout the two years during which the certificate is valid.

“Legal requirements aside, basic fire safety training can save lives,” offered Mike Fikuart, managing director of Industrial Design. “Simple steps, such as closing doors in the event of a fire, can have big impact on controlling a blaze and eliminating further hazards that can cause injury or even death. The knowledge that people will gain on the course will prove useful at work and help comply with some legal requirements, for sure. But it could also prove invaluable in the future, should the worst happen and they find themselves in fire.”

Friday, 14 October 2011

Fire and gas prevention, suppression and control for the oil and gas industry

Industrial Design’s principal offerings to the offshore sector are carbon dioxide extinguishing for vent stacks and specialist offshore fire and gas detection systems.

For example, one problem that we often encounter on offshore gas rigs is lightning igniting the gas exiting the vent stack. Our systems are able to detect the problem and extinguish the resultant fire using carbon dioxide. Another common situation is fire caused by roller bearings running dry in an oil based generator enclosure. Again, years of experience mean we can provide the right solution.

But when you contact us all you need to know is the nature of the risk. Is it a room, vent stack or turbine? What is the basic construction; is the risk in a cabinet or enclosure or on deck? Our team will build the rest of the speciation following a detailed requirements capture.

By working closely with the project manager, maintenance manager or consultant, as well as their purchasing teams, we are able to deliver the right fire and/or gas detection system for most oil and gas industry applications.

In fact, most of our applications are tailor made for each client. We are able to combine the flexibility of an agile and dynamic specialist with hardware procured using our contacts in the fire safety industry’s most respected and reliable manufacturers.

All of our work complies with the relevant British and European EN standards and we are experienced in helping our customers meet the legislative requirements for fire protection and health and safety. Ultimately though, the bottom line is the safety of the personnel onboard.

To make an enquiry or find out more about our services, contact Mike Fikuart on 0870 128 3835 or e-mail chad.relf@industrialdesign.ltd.uk.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Safety first for all creatures great and small

~ Director of industrial fire and gas safety company becomes a minor media star after rescuing an angry swan from the busy M4 ~

Industrial Design’s Mike Fikuart was driving to work on the busy M4 motorway last month when his journey came to an abrupt standstill. A swan had made its way onto the road and taken up residence, refusing to move and adding to the already congested traffic. Little did Fikuart know that his actions that morning would be the cause of fifteen minutes of fame when he stepped in to help; safely guiding the swan off the motorway! 

Mike Fikuart takes matters into his own hands and clears traffic

As the traffic crawled past junction three at Hayes, west London, and the bird strolled gracefully along enjoying the sunny weather, Fikuart waited in his car like all the other commuters. After pausing on the middle lane, the swan extended its wings to slow the approach of an oncoming lorry.

Fikuart then decided to take matters into his own hands and help the poor creature off the road. He got out and escorted the confused bird across the hard shoulder to safety. As he did so, a freelance photographer snapped him in action and later sold the photos to the Daily Mail, Metro and several local papers who all later published the story.

“The M4 seems to be the place where I spend most of my time,” joked Fikuart. “I was fed up waiting and decided to do something. I was in a rush to get to a meeting and I feared for the swan’s safety; it looked very confused and scared because of all the noise and commotion around it,” concluded Fikuart.

The swan went down the bank to the quiet seclusion of the Grand Union Canal Way in search of a more ‘bird-friendly’ habitat.

Following health and safety procedures until the end

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thinking outside of the [alarm] box

~ Industrial Design demonstrates the benefits of flexibility and customer understanding at Oxford based children’s and young adults’ hospice ~

When branding experts sit down to decide what attributes they want to associate with a company, it’s a cliché that flexibility is regarded as a must-have. This is particularly true for the fire and gas detection sector; where a project often has to be completed without interfering with a rigid customer schedule. However, flexibility has never come further to the fore than when Oxford based children’s and young adults’ hospice houses Helen & Douglas House addressed chlorine gas detection in its Jacuzzi suites. Here, Mike Fikuart of gas and fire protection specialist Industrial Design outlines the challenges his company overcame to help protect the children and young adults at Helen & Douglas House from harmful gas emissions. 

Opened in November 1982, by Sister Frances Dominica, Helen House was the world's first children's hospice.  The charity grew out of the need for respite care and support for children with life-shortening conditions. It was set up to help families cope with their situation by providing occasional respite care. The hospice was modeled on a home environment and everything from the surroundings to the staff’s approach is tailored to the children’s individual needs.

Douglas House, the world's first hospice specifically for young adults aged 16-35, opened  in February 2004. It provides a young person with the time to do the things they enjoy with the support of the nursing and care teams.

The two hospices offer specialist symptom and pain management, medically-supported short breaks and end-of-life care, as well as counseling and practical support for the whole family.

Part of the care Helen & Douglas house’s young visitors are provided with includes physiotherapy and water relaxation treatments. For this reason, there are two Jacuzzi rooms on the premises, with one located in each building. As part of a risk assessment of the facilities, Deric Miles, the head of estates at the hospices, identified the need for additional gas protection in the two rooms.

The automated dosing system for maintaining the PH levels in the two therapy Jacuzzis uses two types of chemicals: sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydrogen sulphate. When they come into contact, the two substances release chlorine gas, which is toxic and highly irritant for the respiratory system. Additionally, chlorine gas is a strong oxidizer, which may react with flammable materials.

Recognising the harmful potential of the substance, Miles decided to have an early warning gas detection system fitted.  He enlisted Oxford based Industrial Design to come up with a system suitable for the two Jacuzzis. The company produced a design incorporating Crowcon gas detectors, a Crowcon Gasmaster control panel and alarm system into a custom made application to suit the hospice’s needs.

Crowcon Detection Instruments manufactures a range of portable and fixed gas detection products. Mike Curtis, fixed systems area-sales manager at the company describes the relationship with Industrial Design; “As a company, Industrial Design is very easy to work with and very approachable. As well as commercial applications like Helen & Douglas House, they do a lot of work in the oil and gas industry and I've even spoken to the MD when he's been sat on a sand dune in a dessert. For me this illustrates the flexibility of the company. We speak the same language."

Due to the fact that because of their conditions many of the hospice’s  young visitors are sensitive to noise, Industrial Design had to be very adaptable in terms of when they completed their initial risk assessment.

This sensitivity to noise also led to an interesting re-design later in the project.

The initial version of the application used traditional audible alarms as well as visual beacons. This was agreed on by both parties but after the first installation, Miles observed that it would have been better to have a primary visual alarm, followed by an audible alarm later.

“We are genuinely grateful that Industrial Design could change the project mid-way through to meet our needs,” recalled Miles. “The hardware they installed initially had to be re-assessed so that the beacon would show before the siren rings. Moreover, they did it at no extra charge, which was a pleasant surprise.

“What we needed was more than just the fitting of a new piece of equipment. The stay our guests have with us gives them and their carers the chance to have a break from the routine. The young people here feel very much at home and many of them are active through the night. This is why the facilities have to remain open 24/7, and outside disruptions must be kept to a minimum.”

“Industrial Design took this into account when commissioning the application. The visual indicator helps keep the facilities quiet and minimises distress and panic otherwise induced by penetrating and sharp sounds.”

“Industrial Design should be commended for the level of customer service they offer. Nothing was too much trouble for them and they kindly agreed to complete to project in stages, as and when it was convenient for the guests and staff. We would definitely work with them again,” concluded Miles.

The installation of the system was conducted by Helen &Douglas House’s preferred contractor, SES Electrical, based in Oxford. “The team at SES proved to be not only very knowledgeable, but also very understanding of the delicate situation we have here,” explained Miles. “If a contractor is not flexible enough, then we’d rather go somewhere else. We won’t risk exposing our Guests to stress caused by noise and strangers. Everything has to be done as discreetly as possible,” he concluded.

“The project posed a series of challenges we rarely encounter,” explained James Ward, Technical Director at Industrial Design. “Nevertheless, finding the best solution to suit every client’s needs is the key to completing a successful application. The only way to do that is to remain receptive and listen to what the end user wants and that’s what we did here.

“When faced with a delicate situation, one must remain flexible and adaptable. Working for this unique children’s charity has been great experience for Industrial Design, and we are really pleased with the results,” finished Ward.

While flexibility is such a commonly touted unique selling point it has become something of a cliché, it seems that there are multiple levels of flexibility. There is the level that branding experts talk about and there is a deeper level, the value of which Industrial Design proved at Helen & Douglas House.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

When mission critical truly means mission critical

Most suppliers to the oil and gas industry will claim to offer a ‘mission critical’ service. But very few can back that claim up in the same way that fire control systems business Industrial Design can. The company provides fire and gas detection, suppression and emergency shutdown systems to companies across the globe. And, given that nothing can shutdown a facility quicker than the merest hint of flame, it’s clear what mission critical really means in the oil and gas industry. Quite apart from the devastation that could be caused by a serious fire or the accidental release of gas, the cost of the downtime created by a minor incident or false alert can be heart stopping.  

"Going the extra mile: Industrial Design boasts extensive global experience. To date, the company has developed a strong position on the international market in eleven countries, notably Africa and Europe. With a total of 75 successful projects to date, Industrial Design has built a reputation in the sector as being highly adaptable to new environments. The company’s senior management team makes around 25 trips worldwide every year, totalling 75,361 Km of international travel, which is no mean feat for the Oxfordshire based fire and gas protection specialist."

Unlike many suppliers in their industry, Industrial Design doesn’t manufacture and sell gas detectors. Instead, it supplies those produced by companies such as Draeger and Crowcon. This means that the customer is provided with an independent view of the best equipment for their needs. This independent view is maintained right down to the electromechanical control equipment in a panel, where Industrial Design continues to maintain an independent supply chain.

The company would argue that its capability is in the dynamic supply, design and installation of fire and gas protection systems. Industrial Design believes that safety comes down to decision making in the design process.  That is reflected in the action the system takes as a response to stimuli. Decisions like whether to use beacons, remote sounders or local sounders, when gas is detected and whether these should prompt evacuation or plant shut down are where the company’s expertise lies.

Industrial Design understands the true meaning of 'mission critical' 

“We wouldn’t dictate the procedure,” explains managing director Mike Fikuart. “There are established guidelines that tell you what has to happen in different circumstances. But we can help our clients navigate their way through these guidelines to find the safe and compliant response. For instance, in the event of an uncontrolled release of flammable gas, one has to stop the gas from igniting. This sounds obvious, but you have to consider air conditioning shut down and the shutdown of the intakes into anything with a source of ignition, such as a motor?”

One also needs to consider the build up of other gases, such as carbon dioxide and similar gases that can become toxic when they reach hazardous levels. One needs to be very certain of exposure levels.”

In most cases a gas detection system is integrated with a fire safety system. For instance, at the end user level, most public buildings with a licence to serve alcohol store that alcohol in a cellar. Because of the carbon dioxide stored for use in the pumps, a system to detect leakage is required. As a result, in such cases Industrial Design tends to recommend equipment that can detect carbon dioxide or a lack of oxygen in the air and raise an alert without necessarily linking that alert to a fire.

Despite the fundamental principles of accidental-release gas detection being common to those of gas monitoring for process control, Fikuart believes it not to be a specialised art. “These are elementary calculations but at the same time it’s very different from gas detection for engineering,” he explains. “

Many of the projects Industrial Design is involved with are refurbishments and changes to existing systems. However, the company finds that new projects, while not as common, are an opportunity to bring a different skill-set to bear. “One of the reasons clients choose us is the concentration of industry knowledge within the company,” explains Fikuart. “We have a very broad base of experience and that means we can apply skills developed in one set of circumstances in another context. This can be reflected in the design and installation of a system or in the training, expertise and guidance that can go hand in hand with that process.”

Industrial Design provides fire and gas detection systems for oil & gas sector
Fikuart continues, “The future looks very positive at the moment because, on a local level, the UK energy sector is moving towards a greater dependence on imported gas in the short term globally, countries are going to have to be less reliant on coal. This means that, even though it’s not a long term solution, the next two or three decades will see an increase in the use of gas for energy.

For us this is a positive set of circumstances because gas and fire detection is synonymous with the oil and gas sector,” explains Fikuart. “We grew up around this industry so its second nature to us.”

Industrial Design is clearly a company that understands what is at stake in the oil and gas sector; it’s very rare to find them using the phrase ‘mission critical’ lightly.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Fire prevention for production engineering

Industrial fire safety specialists Industrial DesignFire prevention is a big issue in production engineering and manufacturing, particularly where the application of heat is an integral part of the process. However, not only are the requirements of each plant different but within each plant there are multiple applications that demand unique measures for detection, suppression and control. Here Chad Relf, of fire safety system specialists Industrial Design Ltd, outlines some typical applications from the food and beverage, automotive and tobacco sectors and explains how to achieve effective detection and fire extinguishant in each case.

Irrespective of the industry sector, there are some things that are common to every manufacturing or process plant in the world. One of these is that there is always a fire risk for which we need to plan. As a result, when I’m first contacted by a potential customer, the initial process I go through is the same.

The first step is to gather as much information as possible about the application. This involves discourse with the client, background research into the risk and, normally, a site visit. During such a visit we look at the process or equipment that needs protection and ask a member of the client’s team to demonstrate it and explain its operation and to identify any specific areas of risk.

Once the type and location of the detection is determined we decide where to put storage cylinders, pipe work and nozzles to get the optimum performance from the system whilst taking into account any restrictions caused by the equipment or processes. As part of this process the customer’s production programme and shift patterns need to be discussed to try and minimise any disruptive effect that the installation of the equipment may cause.

Compliance issues must also be considered. All systems should comply with current appropriate legislation (e.g. EN15004, BS5306 and BS5839) unless otherwise agreed with the appropriate authority. This may further depend on the Customer’s in house regulations, site location and insurance company requirements.

Health and safety is a primary concern with all systems, both during the installation phase and during the ongoing use of the completed system. Risk assessments and method statements need to written, agreed and complied with during the installation phase and the system user must likewise adhere to agreed procedures during its ongoing use.

Industrial fire safety specialistsThis is the point where the differences between each project and each sector begin to really become clear. For instance, in the food and beverage industry, we often come across packaging machinery where they use heat based shrink wrapping and carton sealing processes, which have been known to cause fires. Product can get jammed on the conveyor and, because heat is applied in the chamber, the jammed item will burst into flames. In addition mechanical faults, such as bearings running hot, can generate sufficient heat to cause a fire in a device such as a polythene film packaging machine.

In these applications we would normally use ultra violet or infra-red detection to provide a very rapid alert; required because of the quick burning process. The extinguishing system would probably be carbon dioxide applied using the local application method to extinguish the fire and cool the residue.

Another issue in food plants is deep fat frying; which is of course a common process applied to everything from potato chips and vegetables to meats and fish. The problems here are caused when the oil is raised above its flash point or when ultra heated product that has been immersed in oil for an extended period is exposed to the air. The latter often happens during cleaning, when the oil is emptied out of the vat and the product residue left in the bottom spontaneously combusts.

Here we recommend the use of heat detectors, to detect the rise in temperature, and carbon dioxide for extinguishing. This suffocates the fire by preventing oxygen from supporting re-ignition as well as cooling the combustion source to below its spontaneous combustion level. As an alternative to carbon dioxide, we also consider water mist. The water turns to steam during discharge and combines with the by-products of combustion to create a fire suffocating blanket. This also provides a cooling effect, thus reducing the oil’s temperature.

Another industry to consider is the tobacco sector. The process of preparing the tobacco, and also the process of making it into cigarettes and then packing and wrapping them in primary and secondary packing can create potential hazards. Polythene or cellophane packaging can result in problems similar to those found in the food industry.

Furthermore, fires caused by faulty electrical or mechanical equipment are possible in tobacco and packaging storage areas. Because the storage facilities can comprise large open areas with high, densely packed racks, high sensitivity aspirated smoke detection is often recommended for the early detection of a fire.

The automotive industry also creates a unique set of challenges. One example is the hazardous paint stores often found in a car plant. In many cases these areas are classed as hazardous because of the presence of stored solvents and other flammable liquids. These can require explosion proof fire detection and alarm equipment.

Our preference when undergoing the design process is to position the gas cylinders outside the hazardous area. If, in exceptional circumstances, this cannot be achieved, they can be located inside the hazardous area using explosion proof components.

Another paint related hazard can be found in large electro-static spray painting booths, where the electro static reaction can cause the paint to ignite as its is sprayed out of the guns; effectively turning them into mini flame throwers! Here the remedy is use ultra violet flame detection, which activates a discharge of carbon dioxide vapour through the paint spray lines thus effectively blowing the fire out of the spray gun and extinguishing it in the same action.

The lubrication medium often presents hazards as well. This can be the oil used in gear hobbing or the paraffin used in bore honing machines or the oil in quench tanks, which can also be prone to spontaneous combustion. These types of fires can be detected using thermostatic heat detection to activate uniquely configured carbon dioxide systems.

One hazard area that is common to all three industry sectors I’ve covered so far is the computer room. The risk here is normally of electrical fire, which requires point type smoke detection and an extinguishing system using an inert gas such as nitrogen or argon. However, these gases need large storage areas so if space is at a premium we opt for FM200 or Novec 1230; manufactured gases that require smaller extinguishing concentration and thus take up less storage space.

The essence of the problem is that where you have extreme heat there is the risk of fire. Nevertheless, by attending to the individual demands of each sector and, as in the examples we have discussed, the individual needs of the machines found in each industry, unique designs can be produced which share a common result; effective detection, suppression and control.

Ends: 1170 words

For further information contact: Mike Fikuart, managing director
North Oxford Business Centre, 7 Lakesmere Close,
Kidlington, Oxfordshire OX5 1LG
Telephone: +44 (0) 870 128 3835
Fax: +44 (0) 870 131 4307
e-mail: mike.fikuart@industrialdesign.ltd.uk
www: www.industrialdesign.ltd.uk

Press enquiries: Richard Stone
No 2 The Garthlands, Stafford, Staffordshire, ST17 9ZP
Telephone: +44 (0) 1785 225416
Fax: +44 (0) 1785 225416
e-mail: richards@stonejunction.co.uk
www: www.stonejunction.co.uk

Ref: IND001/07/10