Elbo – technical partner

Access Technology Group and Elbo have been partners for quite some time now. As we both are very satisfied with this cooperation, Elbo published a video introducing VISICS and explaining why and how we benefit from Elbo’s expertise.

Access Technology Group makes work in heavy industry safer and more efficient

Access Technology Group (ATG) is a Dutch technology company that operates internationally. With depots in India, Canada, Australia and the Middle East, they can reach the entire world. And that is just as well, because with the innovative and unique VISICS solution they ensure that maintenance work in refineries, power plants and chemical plants takes place much more safely. Elbo had the pleasure to think along with Zenitel’s product line about the best audio equipment to withstand the toughest conditions. And with success.

ATG provides security solutions for heavy industries. This is important, as their workers often work in confined spaces and dangerous situations. If something goes wrong at such a location, things go badly wrong. With all its consequences. To prevent these kinds of serious accidents, the ATG specialists developed VISICS. Jos van den Hoven (COO), Remco Coenen (CTO) and Alex Otter (Product manager) talk about this unique solution and the cooperation with Elbo.

Hazardous work

Whether it is oil tankers, chemical plants or a power plant: periodic maintenance takes place. For this, specially trained people enter a confined space where a manhole guard keeps an eye on everything. Alex: “The need for safety in heavy industry has increased in recent years. There have been several accidents where, unfortunately, people performing safety monitoring also became victims. Digitalisation is an ideal solution, as it means you need less people on site while you can provide more safety.”

Remco adds: “And that’s how VISICS started. We were asked if we could replace manhole guards by installations, as our expertise lies in making network and audio connections. The biggest challenge was that the system had to work in the harshest conditions. Like heavy steel boilers where no signal can penetrate. But also temperatures from -40°C in the snow in Canada to 50°C in the desert of Qatar.”

Complete monitoring network

After a period of product development, the birth of VISICS was a fact. Jos: “Under the name VISICS, we rent out complete surveillance networks consisting of camera surveillance, access control, intercom and gas detection. When we are requested to supervise a maintenance project, we first fully build the system here. We connect everything, program and test it and then it travels all over the world by plane. On site, we rebuild everything and test it again. No manhole guard is needed anymore; one person monitors the safety of 12 people from a central control room. This is how we ensure that work in confined spaces can be carried out more safely.”

Less people, more safety

Let’s be clear: this solution makes working in dangerous, industrial environments a lot safer. But there is another benefit, explains Jos. “The good news is twofold. With VISICS you can see exactly what is happening in the confined space, which is not the case with the traditional man guard. So you have permanent supervision of the work and you can communicate with each other. The second aspect is efficiency: you can monitor 12 manholes with one person in a control room. Previously you needed 12 people for this.” And in doing so, development has not stood still. Remco explains: “We have continued to expand VISICS and also came up with a solution where we monitor access so that only people with permits can enter. We also added gas detection. In addition, we analyse and present data so that customers get more and more information from the operations. This means that at lower cost, employees are better protected while at the same time our customers get valuable data to learn and be able to do better next time. Thus, besides being safer, they can work more and more efficiently and effectively.”

Case study: huge fire prevented

Whether VISICS has already saved lives? To that, Jos dares to firmly say ‘yes’. “We once had an incident at a large refinery. During the lunch break everyone was away and our operators were monitoring the confined spaces via cameras. They then saw that the gas detection was generating strange readings and detected an incipient fire. The fire brigade joined us and they were able to watch from our space and thus make an attack plan. Fortunately we were in time, because you can imagine that you would rather not have a big fire at a refinery.”

“For safety, it is essential that you can communicate well with each other.”

The importance of the best audio

Audio forms an important part of the VISICS solution. Alex explains: “For safety, it is essential that you can communicate well with each other. From the control centre, you want to be able to inform people, and vice versa, employees need to be able to ask questions to the control room. After extensive research, we found out that Zenitel has the best performance when it comes to the industry we work in. Think of the high noise intensity due to welding and grinding work. Or the extreme weather conditions. Zenitel’s products have been proving themselves very well in this respect for years. But the compact design of the equipment is also very beneficial to us. Moreover, the materials last a long time. In our portfolio, we have now used 1,200 Zenitel Turbine devices in various models. We are currently working on the latest explosion-proof systems.”

Cooperation with Elbo

For this Zenitel solution, ATG partnered with Elbo. Alex: “For us, Elbo is not only a supplier, but also a partner who gives advice on the composition of audio products. They have a lot of expertise in-house and with that knowledge they know how to find the best customised product for us. Their maintenance support is also very strong. We benefit a lot from Elbo’s expertise.”

Remco concludes: “Elbo understands the industry we work in and the context of our applications. This enables them to recommend the right products, deliver on time and offer financing solutions that fit our dynamics. In short, we like working with Elbo very much. That is why we have been customers for a long time and will remain so for a long time.”