Switching to digital fire monitoring of industrial, commercial and emergency services assets makes sense during the pandemic as facility managers, contractors and consultants seek to minimise costs and limit the need for health-endangering physical inspections of critical assets.
No business or service can afford to lower its safety standards because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether it is an industrial, manufacturing or petrochemical site, a data centre or some other type of commercial or emergency services operation, the focus has to be on protecting people and assets.
There is pressure, nevertheless, on facility managers and other leaders in the business and services sectors to restrict the deployment of personnel because of social distancing rules and viral infection risks. Rules restricting the number of staff who are able to occupy a facility suggest that the old model of sending people to inspect and manage assets is likely to become increasingly rare in the not too distant future. There is also a desire to use technology to cut operational costs because of economic fallout from the pandemic.
A new, better way
The positive news is that managers do not have to cut corners, thanks to innovations around digital fire monitoring.
Importantly, the placement of monitors is not restricted by proximity to power sources or a control hub; they can go anywhere, and be checked anytime. Therefore, they can replace manual inspection, with the monitors detecting physical changes on site and ending the requirement for people to travel so they can visually inspect asset environments.
This technology allows sites to monitor their assets from any location so long as they have an internet connection. The key to such digital fire monitoring is the elimination of old-fashioned physical wiring to connect monitors to a central hub. Instead, sensors allow for the reliable observation of elements such as flame detectors, smoke alarms, sprinkler pressure valves, security alarms, motion sensors and gas detectors. This makes it perfect for remote or unattended sites.
Faster and cheaper
The development of digital fire monitoring platforms has streamlined the gathering of data from sites that can then be used to improve the efficiency, performance and reliability of the infrastructure that supports business operations.
The technology allows facilities and critical assets to be observed and tracked in real-time, incorporating predictive analytics to not only monitor performance trends over time but also to anticipate future needs and identify problems before they occur. Such advances are crucial when it comes to the all-important task of protecting sites from fire dangers and critical-asset failures.
How digital fire monitoring works
While digital monitoring technology is sophisticated, the systems are relatively easy to set up and operate. It uses the innovative SNAP® operating system, a wireless, self-healing mesh network that collects and transmits information that is critical to any installation or site.
On the ground, wireless sensors are mounted in selected locations and transmit data and alerts over WiFi networks via email or smartphone apps. The system is all hosted in the cloud.
Monitoring software can be used to issue alerts to off-site personnel. Such efficiencies can lead to significant safety cost savings, while the ability to automatically record critical-asset data in digital logs creates a secure audit trail that contributes to better regulatory compliance.
The shift towards digital fire monitoring will grow on the back of the reality that it provides greater safety for people during COVID-19, in particular, but during other times too. Facility managers will also draw comfort from the fact that it delivers better data knowledge at a cheaper cost than superseded systems.
As such, digital fire monitoring has quickly moved from being a nice-to-have technology to an essential business tool that site operators should factor in for the future.
Delta Integrated Systems is a division of Delta Fire Australasia, which specialises in the installation and servicing of fire-suppression solutions to commercial and industrial sites.