Gasunie Netherlands


The Company
Responsible for transporting gas through grid networks across Europe, Gasunie places heavy demands on the phones used for its field workers. Not only do devices have to be dust, liquid and shock proof – they also have to be intrinsically safe for use in the combustible environments that can occur during the wholesale supply of gas.

Gasunie is a European gas infra- structure company, which stores and transports natural and ‘green’ gas through its pipelines in the Netherlands and Northern Germany. To get the gas to the end-user safely and reliably, it operates a high-grade gas transmission grid on behalf of its customers. Awarded ‘Transmission System Operator of the Year’ at the 2012 European Gas Conference, Gasunie is internationally recognized for its contribution to the industry.

The Challenge
“Much of our success is due to the performance of our in-field teams,” says Richard Spitzers, responsible for maintenance of communications equipment in the field at Gasunie.

“We have a widely dispersed international workforce many of whom are lone workers. Keeping them connected is vital to our business. We need reliable communications to keep them safe, talk to teams, ensure operational efficiency and report real-time grid data.”

As Gasunie knows, maintaining reliable communications when working with gas presents unique challenges for electronic devices, which can spark or cause temperatures, which could ignite combustible vapors and materials.

There are clear guidelines for determining explosive environments; these include Ex-zones 0, 1 and 2. The most dangerous, Zone 0, relates to the presence of explosive materials such as gases. Within the guideline’s classifications Class 1, represents an environment with a reasonably large risk of release of explosive gas such as that found within Gasunie’s operations.

“Our Workers Operate In A Class 1 Environment With Reasonable Large Risk Of Release Of Explosive Gas”

“Communication may be vital but safety is our first priority at Gasunie,” confirms Spitzers. “For this reason we have strict safety measures that govern our processes and the devices that we use, to avoid an unsafe situation.

One of these measures is that the mobile phones used by all of our mechanics have to be explosion proof – or Ex-safe. When working with gas, you never know if and where a situation might occur. We leave nothing to chance. That’s why when it came time to upgrade our phones, we wanted a solution that would reduce any risks even further.”

The Solution
Rather than simply upgrading its outdated legacy devices, Gasunie choose to replace them with the Ecom/Sonim Handy 06-Ex, which complies easily with Gasunie’s Class 1 status. This incorporates all the inherent features, functionality and call capability of Sonim’s ultra-rugged XP3 handset with safety specialist, Ecom’s, intrinsically safe build and features creating a tough, high performance Ex-safe phone.

Ex-safe branded phones are certified to meet a number of strict requirements. This includes excluding any component, which could cause a spark capable of igniting combustible materials.

In addition, the phone must remain safe during a fall for example – the battery cover must not get loose, or the casing cause a spark on contact with a hard surface. The paint and outer plastics must under no circumstances hold a static charge. The Ecom/Sonim Handy 06-Ex delivered this while providing the highest level of rugged reliability available –