SK Energy has succeeded in developing an unmanned detection system that automatically detects toxic gas in confined spaces without the need for human intervention. The company aims to promote safety in factories and improve work efficiency through digital transformation.
The South Korean energy and petrochemical company said on Monday that it has developed an IoT-based unmanned system that detects toxic gas in confined spaces and completed its patent registration.
A number of operators at oil refineries and petrochemical plants enter into confined spaces several times a day to check for toxic gases since there are many tanks, towers, and drums at such facilities. Experts have pointed out that these operations take time and carry a high risk of suffocation. According to the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, an annual average of 19 workers die from suffocation while working in confined spaces and the death rate in such cases exceeds 50 percent.
In order to address the problem, SK Energy began developing unmanned detection technology in 2017. It has built a system that senses the presence of toxic gas in real time through Internet-connected sensors in confined spaces and automatically transmits the data. If gas is detected in confined spaces, a warning alarm goes off to help evacuate the workers. The petrochemical company plans to start installing the unmanned detection system at its Ulsan Complex (CLX) from September this year and apply it to its 10,000 confined facilities by next year.
“Safety is the first priority that cannot be neglected at large-scale industrial sites,” said SK Energy CEO Cho Kyung-mok.