Connectivity: Transforming the Industrial Hygiene Sampling Pump

How Bluetooth technology and mobile applications provide smarter, more streamlined sampling

By: Dr. Ang Keng Been, Contributor

BLE-connected sampling pumps provide for more streamlined sampling. (photo courtesy SKC Asia HSE Sampling Technologies Pte. Ltd.)

Industrial hygiene monitoring is transforming in the advent of this digital age, bringing to the hands of practitioners more efficient tools than ever before. Wireless technology in personal air sampling pumps is becoming one of the most popular advancements for the industrial hygiene professional in traditional workplaces. This technology offers autonomous monitoring, enhanced validity of results, and forges new partnerships between technology and the professional—for smarter, more streamlined processes.

The personal sampling pump is the foundation of compliance air sampling in the workplace for exposure to airborne dusts, gases/vapors, bioaerosols and more. While traditional regulatory methods deploying basic sampling devices will not change quickly, recent developments in pump technology are already easing compliance while retaining high accuracy.

As the industrial hygiene industry continues to embrace and adopt advancements, wireless technology, in particular, improves the user experience while ensuring workplace safety and sampling accuracy. This technology allows pump manufacturers to develop and offer mobile applications to operate pumps remotely via Bluetooth®.

To reduce power consumption and meet unique connectivity requirements, pump developers/manufacturers have selected Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). BLE offers low power consumption to minimize maintenance overhead. Coupled with the effective integration of lithium-ion batteries in some pump models, such as the AirChek® Connect touchscreen pump, the overall operating time can be extended beyond 40 hours with a single charge. With such advantages, the industry will likely see even more devices equipped with BLE or similar technology.

With BLE and mobile applications, users can leverage their mobile phones and tablets to connect to multiple sampling pumps simultaneously and monitor each detected pump’s run time, current flow rate and total sampled volume, fault indication, inlet pressure, and atmospheric temperature and pressure in real time. In addition, users can select either a constant flow or constant pressure mode; set flow rate or pressure; start/stop/pause/resume a pump run; select temperature and atmospheric pressure display units; and even rename detected pumps to provide task or location context. These applications also offer security features to prevent unauthorized access to the pump and help eliminate tampering with settings during the sampling run.

The ability and convenience to receive information on pump condition and sample run status, as well as to control the pump remotely without interrupting the worker, provides even greater confidence and validity in sampling results.

A convenient app on mobile devices provides for remote monitoring and operation of connected sampling pumps. (photo courtesy SKC Asia HSE Sampling Technologies Pte. Ltd.)

To illustrate what this latest technology looks like, let us take a glance at the industry’s first wireless touchscreen, low-flow
sampling pump—Pocket Pump® TOUCH—and the SmartWave app (available in online app stores). With intuitive touch operation and BLE connectivity, the sampling pump can be connected, monitored and programmed remotely through the convenience of the app installed on mobile devices. This synergistic pairing of the hardware and software features has expanded the field of sampling applications from traditional personal workplace compliance sampling of gases/vapors, with its attendant inconveniences, to convenient mobile app control and monitoring of sampling data from the pump.

With the proliferation of pumps with BLE and mobile app technology and experience with their conveniences, the industry has seen a higher user acceptance of these new generation pumps.

Manufactures have designed the new generation of wireless sampling pumps principally to the ISO 13137:2013 standard for performance requirements of personal sampling pumps in workplaces. Manufacturers program these pumps to compensate for environmental influences (atmospheric pressure and temperature), to assure accuracy and provide confidence in sampling results. In applications where intrinsic safety is paramount, UL/ATEX intrinsically safe-certified pumps are available. These pump models usually feature a polymerized rubber overmolded case designed for operation under harsh conditions.

In summary, Bluetooth BLE technology and mobile applications have advanced industrial hygiene sampling by providing enhancements to the user experience, chiefly the ability to monitor multiple modern personal sampling pumps from a mobile device. This reliable data transmission facilitates a faster response by industrial hygiene professionals and increases confidence in and the validity of results. The technology enables autonomous monitoring and forges new partnerships between technology and the professional in delivering smarter user experiences and streamlined processes.

About the Author

Dr. Ang Keng Been, EUR.ING, Ph.D., MBA, MSc., BEng, is the Executive Director and member of the Board of Directors at SKC Asia HSE Sampling Technologies Pte. Ltd., the Asian office of SKC Inc. that specializes in applied research and development of scientific air sampling equipment. He has worked collaboratively with international organizations on air quality and environmental issues, and as a scientific consultant for forums and regulatory committees, such as National Environment Agency Singapore (NEA), Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC), Singapore Standards Workgroup and for media interviews. www.skcinc.com

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