Case Study: Extronics Develops Large Ex d Enclosure for Secondary Communications Link on Offshore Petrochemical Platform

Offshore oil & gas
August 14th, 2020 / Updated: November 23rd, 2020 / Worker Safety, Wireless Networking Asset Tracking, Condition Monitoring, Hazardous Area,

Extronics’ trusted partner, MMX Communications needed a custom wireless network solution for a major petrochemical company. The client required a secondary communications link to an existing offshore platform. The secondary link would support a sub-sea cable and use microwave Line of Sight equipment.

The electrical equipment also needed to be installed and work in an area on the platform that may have an explosive atmosphere present.

Customer Requirements

MMX Communications client needed to deploy a NEC iPasolink Digital Radio System and two outdoor units for the radios into a Zone 1 hazardous area of the site.

The iPasolink hardware is too big for a lot of standard wireless access point systems available; MMX needed to find a manufacturer who could design a custom solution that still met all the required standards for operations in the zone 1 area of the platform.

MMX Communications client also required an enclosure that had good corrosion resistant properties because of the offshore location.

In addition, the equipment had to be quickly and easily interchangeable during maintenance.

Finally, the client also wanted to use their own non-certified specialist antenna devices with the hardware

Solution

Ex d was deemed to be the most suitable protection concept. It was also decided that a stainless-steel enclosure would be selected over an aluminium equivalent due to the corrosive nature of offshore deployments.

To facilitate the large hardware form factor, Extronics needed to specify an appropriately sized enclosure that was able to cope with the hazardous area rules of maximum cross-sectional area and to ensure any heat generated from the equipment inside was appropriately dissipated.

Extronics drew on its 25 years’ experience designing and manufacturing for explosive atmospheres, as well as particular expertise with wireless technology to come up with a solution.

The solution was based on the mechanics of the existing iWAP107 product and up-sizing the platform to make it suitable for the scope of this project.

WAP open Zone 1 enclosure

To achieve efficient maintenance, Extronics worked closely with MMX to install a suitable mounting solution and provided the methodology for securing the mounting plate inside the enclosure. The arrangement of all components was done in a way that ensured the user would always have direct access to the iPasolink devices any time the Ex d enclosure was opened.

Finally, to ensure specialist antenna devices could be used, Extronics assessed the selected antennas against the simple apparatus clauses and were able to ensure compliance by facilitating the connection of all devices via the Extronics iSOLATE501 and iSOLATE-CT technology. Provisions were also added to install an additional attenuation device to give the client more flexibility in their deployment should they need it.

Benefits

The client received a custom-built solution that met all the requirements for the zone 1 area and allowed them to deploy the secondary communications link to existing platforms. The flexibility Extronics built into the enclosure chassis means the client can significantly reduce maintenance time and increase the safety of personnel undertaking the work.

About Extronics

Extronics specialise in developing and manufacturing ATEX, IECEx, and North American certified equipment for use in hazardous areas, and rugged industrial products for harsh environments. We serve customers around the world from industries such as oil and gas, chemical, pharmaceutical, and mining.

For more information, please speak to a member of our team by emailing us at info@extronics.com or calling us on +44 (0)1606 738 446

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