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Case Studies

Specialists FES (Ex) develop unique inspection and management system

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Data capture consultants Tacit Systems Ltd have joined forces with Hazardous Areas Specialists F.E.S.(EX) Ltd to develop and market ExTrace, a unique inspection and management system to meet the legislative requirements of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations (DSEAR) and the Atmospheres Explosibles (ATEX) directive utilising hand held computers and Auto ID technology.

Fundamental to the ExTrace system are a full suite of ATEX inspection procedures together with a comprehensive asset management database. By using Ex certified hand held computers to record the inspection data, it is only necessary to enter the data once - at point of inspection. Using a unique identifier, a barcoded asset label or an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag, the equipment item is automatically identified and its details displayed on the screen of the hand held computer. The grade of inspection is chosen and then only questions relevant to that grade and protection method i.e. Close, EEx d appear on screen. Non conforming responses to a question trigger additional questions relating to the non conformance and corrective action required. Once the inspector has completed his checks, or sooner if required, the data is uploaded to the main system. At this point asset details and inspection information is immediately available for reporting. Non conformance/corrective action reports are generated. Data can be interrogated within the system or can be exported back to office / ERP systems or other applications (e.g. Microsoft Excel) for further 
manipulation or investigation.

F.E.S. Senior Inspection Specialist Mick Robinson says, “We wanted to develop a system using the latest standards and technology, not only for our own inspectors to use, but also one which could be used and developed by our clients after we have left site if they wished". Of the solutions available in the market, some only provide report data in printed form which cannot be manipulated or interrogated by the user. F.E.S. had previously provided inspection data to their clients in spreadsheet format, however this involved time consuming rekeying and cross checking of paper based inspection data by their inspectors. Now inspection data is entered once and is immediately available on reports. “Our development of this system represents large saving on time and cost, both for our inspection personnel and the client. Equipment which is checked and identified with a non conformance is highlighted, and a corrective action request is generated through ExTrace. The management of the inspections, corrective actions and reinspections is handled by the system."

The ExTrace solution has been developed by E & I craft and engineers for craft and engineers using the Tacit System's configurable data capture system. This means that it is not restricted to use as a  DSEAR/ATEX inspection solution but can be extended and developed to provide a solution for recording and reporting on a variety of site data collected using mobile data capture equipment. The same validation systems can be configured for a variety of plant equipment checks and “out of spec” results reported in a similar way. It is a totally configurable system that is designed to collect the data in your existing checks, store and report on the information gathered without the necessity of re-keying.

The ExTrace system has been developed and used by FES’s highly trained and respected inspectors for recording and management of their ATEX and DSEAR inspections worldwide. Many have had first-hand experience of other systems and believe ExTrace offers a solution using the latest technology whilst eliminating the shortfalls of other systems.

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