Accent Systems talks with TECNALIA

Accent Systems has developed for Tecnalia and Petronor a bracelet to increase the personal security in refineries. It has a system that controls the access to confined spaces; thus, it detects if the space is empty of toxic gases, and if the worker has access to this zone.

It’s a pleasure to talk with José Maria Cabero, Project Manager at Tecnalia Research & Innovation.

Can you describe us the personal security system that you developed together with Accent Systems? How does it work?

We have developed a safety system for remote monitoring of workers in industrial plants (still in phase of industrialization).

The system is based on a three-tier architecture: workers carry wearable with form of bracelets, a static infrastructure of communications nodes that are deployed in the area to be monitored, and a cloud platform for process and display the data collected on the ground.

For now, the system offers the following nuclear features:

  • Monitor the location of workers in the area of interest.
  • Detect the access/drain of workers in confined spaces.
  • Remotely detect situations in which the worker may require external assistance, through bracelet mechanisms, as a panic button and the lack of movement of the wrist.
  • Warn the workers of situations that may endanger their safety, such as the access to dangerous areas or situations of evacuation, using bracelet vibrations and emergency text,
    with precise instructions to execute whenever depending on the context.
  • Remote monitoring of current and historical information through web interface.

In which refinery/s is the system being used?

The system was originally born by the need of a refinery, but its use is extensible to other industrial sectors. The system can be used permanently or in maintenance stops.

It has been used in stops of maintenance at the Petronor (Repsol) refinery. And currently, together with some clients with similar needs to the refineries, we are analyzing their potential use beyond the Oil & Gas sector, in particular in the electrical and construction sectors.

When and why did you detect the need to develop a device with this functionalities?

It all began in 2015, when Petronor wanted to complement their traditional security mechanisms in stops of maintenance, with technology that would allow them to monitor the activity of the plant in real time.

The personal safety system is always active or is used in specific situations within the refinery?

The system was originally devised for maintenance stops. These periods are characterized by a frenetic activity developed by large number of personnel to the plant itself.

When has it been used?

In refinery, in situations of maintenance stops.

What has the use of this personal safety system in refineries brought that before was missing?

Remote monitoring and the possibility of remote action, also. The system, itself, is a two-way communications network between the workers and the control center. It allows a continuous monitoring and discrete human surveillance monitoring.


When and why did you contact with Accent Systems to develop the project?

A refinery, mainly, is classified as area with danger of explosion by the type of productive activity that develops; so you can’t enter elements that can generate spark, such as conventional electronics.

During the stop, maintenance area is declassified, so it ceases to have danger of explosiveness and conventional electronics can be used. However, workers can move and leave this declassified area, so it may not carry conventional electronics, but explosion-proof (ATEX), i.e., without risk of explosion.

This need, together with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), are the two basic technologies on which rests the system, and this made us start to look for designers of ATEX  electronic. When we saw that Accent Systems has expertise designing ATEX electronic and developing devices with BLE, and also saw that its main activity was manufacturing, we had no doubts. 

How did the first contact take place?

We knew Accent Systems via Internet, and first contact was by telephone, in which we consider the needs of the system that we had in mind. 

And the development process?

It could be described as iterative, dynamic and flexible. The original idea was evolving until we reach the system as it is currently. The original idea suffered important changes and with the feedback of customers, it will continue evolving. 

What I would highlight about Accent Systems?

Their agility, flexibility, competence of its technicians, and kindness. 

Would you recommend working with Accent Systems?

Of course! 

Can you briefly describe Tecnalia?

Technology Center headquartered in the Basque country, which currently has more than 1300 employees, structured in divisions depending on the type of activities and sectors which are directed: industry and transport, ICT, energy and environment, Sustainable construction, health and Lab Services.

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