Among the many improvements that will be included in the new FM Approvals 37,200 ft2 (3,455 m2) electrical hazards laboratory when commissioned in May in West Glocester, Rhode Island, USA, will be a greatly expanded gas detection lab. Gas detection technology is widely used in industry to protect facilities, processes and personnel from unexpected leaks and discharges of combustible or potentially harmful or toxic gases and vapors.
FM Approvals helps manufacturers worldwide save time and costs by providing certification not only to FM Approval Standards, but also ANSI/ISA, CAN/CSA, EN, ATEX, and IEC standards. The new gas detection laboratory more than doubles FM Approvals' testing capacity, enable the testing of a far greater range of combustible gases and add the ability to test toxic gases within FM Approvals' laboratories.
"The biggest improvement with our new laboratory will be the capability to test for more than 60 different types of combustible and toxic gases," notes Patrick Byrne, FM Approvals assistant vice president and technical team leader. The 20-year FM Approvals veteran oversees the current gas detection lab, located at FM Approvals' headquarters in Norwood, Massachusetts, USA.
"In our current Norwood lab, we are not equipped to handle toxic gases," Byrne says. "We provide certification, but our engineers have to travel to the manufacturer's facility to witness the testing, assuming the manufacturer has their own test equipment. That necessity adds time and expense.
"We will have a dedicated space that is double the existing capacity, so we're making the new lab (Fig. 1) as efficient as possible with a focus on future growth.
The many new test instruments and monitoring systems being installed will also equip us to record more test information. "Over time we plan to introduce greater automation and data capture capability and make that data available to customers," Byrne continues. "Particularly when a test is unsuccessful, we will be able to share that data directly with the manufacturer."
FM Approvals electrical systems group is planning a re-examination of all Approved gas detection systems beginning in 2020. "The expanded lab facilities will enable us to conduct re-examination testing in parallel without disrupting our testing of new products," Byrne notes. "Many of our standards have been updated to reflect increased harmonization with international standards, and the increased use of software and wireless communications. We have also made changes to better account for the varied environmental conditions that many gas detection systems must endure."
"Our customers want to carry out preliminary testing, which costs a fraction of a full certification program, and verify the operation of their equipment and systems. It's a great way to ensure instrument accuracy before submitting a system for a full test program. In that way, they can reduce the chance of a costly failure or delay." The new, larger gas detection laboratory will make it easier for FM Approvals to provide more and efficient certification testing and offer manufacturers greater access for preliminary evaluation prior to a full certification program.