You sit staring down at your desk in utter disbelief of the results of your last gas detection safety audit. You look up and notice it is 7 p.m. You should have been home hours ago enjoying a dinner with your family, but not tonight. You will need to have answers for why you did so poorly on this audit.

You dig deeper and notice the biggest finding was instruments out of date for bump test or calibration. It goes on and lists lack of record keeping and alarm records as a major reason for failing this audit. What do you do now?

Scenarios like the one above occur throughout all companies and safety departments all over the world. People responsible for worker safety recognize there are three gas detection facts that exist:

  1. Fact – People who work in environments where gas hazards are standard run the risk of serious injury or death if not properly protected.
  2. Fact – Gas detectors play an instrumental role in worker safety by providing early warning and measuring gas exposures.
  3. Fact – To provide accurate performance and results, gas detectors have to be properly used and maintained.

It is the third fact that many people responsible for worker safety grapple with the most. How do they ensure that gas detection instruments are properly maintained?  How do they ensure that all instruments have been bump tested and are in compliance with company policies or manufacturers' recommendations? It is because of these concerns that many people ask themselves the question, "Do I need an automated bump test and calibration solution?"

A research survey of 1200+ gas detection users covering over 30 different industries was conducted and found that of these respondents, 25.7 percent do not have an automated solution for bump testing and calibrations. The top three reasons for not having this solution are as follows:

  1. 27.3 percent — Prefer to manually bump test and calibrate their gas detectors
  2. 25.98 percent — Have no knowledge that an automated solution exists
  3. 20.11 percent — Believe that automated solutions are too expensive

These gas detection users are left to manually comply with company bump test and calibration policies or manufacturers' recommendations. This manual process requires the following:

  • Collection of calibration gas, regulator, calibration adaptor, tubing and the detector.
  • Technical expertise to perform a proper bump test or calibration.
  • Proper documentation and record-keeping of the bump test or calibration.
  • Scheduling the next bump test or calibration.

Manual processes can lead to mistakes, causing even the most well-intentioned gas detection program to fail. People doing this manually must ask themselves:

  • Do I have all the equipment necessary to perform a proper bump test or calibration?
  • Has the user doing the bump test and calibration properly been trained?
  • Will I have the proper documentation for the next safety audit?
  • Can I ensure that the bump test and calibration will occur on a regular schedule?

It is for these reasons that an automated bump test and calibration solution has existed since the latter part of the 1990s. But, with such a wide variety, it can be difficult to choose the right solution for you.

There generally are three different types of automated bump test and calibration solutions. Selecting a solution depends on the functionality that is needed to maintain your gas detection fleet. These three types include calibration stations, docking stations and cloud-connected docking stations.

Calibration Station

This is the most basic of all automated bump test and calibration solutions. Calibration stations typically are  capable of automated bump tests, automated calibrations, battery charging and data log download. Typically, the bump test and calibration are done at the push of a button.  Pressing either a bump button or a calibration button will cause that corresponding activity to occur. Upon completion of the bump test, calibration or data log download, the records may be available via one of the following:

USB flash drive – The flash drive allows for the storage of all bump tests, calibration and data log records. These recorded files can then be transferred to a PC for long-term storage and analysis.  

Connected printer – When connected, a printer can provide all bump test and calibration records automatically printed out for record keeping.

PC connection – When connected to a PC, all records are transferred to a PC for long-term storage and analysis.