On Thursday, June 9, 2022, the Explosion Safety Team of PA Belgium had the opportunity to take part in the international “ATEX and Process Safety event”, which took place in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The objective of this event was to pick up a glance of the newest items and ideas within the world of industrial safety, more specifically on explosion safety and process safety.

To start our story of the day, we would like to share some of the newest innovations we have come across during this day:


1. The Explosion Safety Augmented Reality Visors suitable for use in zone 1. 
This innovation is invented by a young group of Belgian engineers, and the production is completely supported by Pepperl + Fuchs. The visors have a camera that shows the personnel in the control room the live feed of what the operator/maintenance technician is seeing in real time, and they have the possibility to project information on the visor of the operator/maintenance technician. (e.g.: instructions, GPS towards field equipment, settings, …). The objective is to further reduce human / systematic errors during maintenance and operation activities.


2. Ethernet-APL suitable for use in zone 2 when located in Ex-e enclosure.
The power of this switch is that connection to the control room is established via a single ethernet cable. This results in lower wiring costs (less wires required and less complex). Also, the existing wiring from field devices can still be used for the connection to the switch. The need for this solution lies in the low transmitting speeds of the well-known HART protocol. This solution will also make it possible to set the field devices in simulation mode for field testing and proof testing in case the devices are part of Safety Instrumented Functions.


3. MiniCON type 8595 plug-in connectors by R. STAHL. 
Described as the simplest, safest and most reliable way to connect your devices with power sources, data networks or each other. The connectors are modular connectors for quick and simple adaptability to multiple Ex zones. They are meant for hot-connections and disconnections within a hazardous area classified as a zone 1. This connector minimizes downtime (it can be replaced by only one employee during operation: hot swap), eliminates errors (connectors are already assembled in the factory) and saves money as it reduces the installation time which results in faster commissioning and higher plant availability.

To continue our story, we would like to share our personal experience of this wonderful day:

The information shared during the lectures was more superficial, but nevertheless we still got to know some amazing people with a lot of experience in their specific fields of knowledge. They gave us a different angle on the same topics we deal with daily. One of the biggest examples is the hot topic of hydrogen as an alternative fuel. They provided us with new opensource software and a starting point to tackle hydrogen generated problems we encounter more and more.


On the other hand, we came across some interesting point considering the weakest link in process safety which seems to be the process safety management. One of the most prominent issues with the management systems is the mindset (aka safety mindset). Currently safety is a target set by management, defined by KPI’s that every employee must adhere to. To improve safety and succeed in vision zero, the goal to reach zero work related deaths and injuries, safety must become a mindset, supported by everyone in the company.

The point of vision zero is not that it should be a target, but a long-term goal. We should lose the idea that ZERO should be a target since it undermines the bigger picture of the process toward this goal.


With regards to the Process Safety Management System, the SIS experts from the Netherlands are creating a third book on their platform “NEN SIL platform”‘ considering the required competences of people performing activities which are covered by the Process Safety Lifecycle as described in the IEC 61511. The other two books on this platform are covering the creation of a risk matrix and the setup of safety requirement specifications.

Lastly, We would like to thank our management and more specifically Koen Mortelmans & Niels Ongkowidjojo to give us this opportunity to develop ourselves in this field of expertise.


Jens Claessens and Simon Bogaerts, Antwerp, Belgium