Part II - Remote Site Monitoring Alarm Code Definitions
By Andrew Erickson
June 25, 2023
Mastering alarm codes doesn't just make you better at your job, it also marks you as a specialist. It's a skill set that's vital in today's tech-driven world - and it's something in high demand.
Having an in-depth understanding of alarm codes can make you stand out in your team and potentially open doors for career advancement. It gives you a competitive edge, whether you're aiming for a promotion within your organization or seeking opportunities elsewhere.
It's a testament to your technical competence, attention to detail, and dedication to preventative maintenance, all of which are highly valued in the remote site monitoring industry.
With that in mind, here are the definitions of 20 additional alarm codes you may encounter in your remote site monitoring career:
20 Common Alarm Codes in Remote Site Monitoring:
- Humidity Alarm (HA): This type of alarm is triggered when the humidity levels in the equipment room are outside of the acceptable range. High humidity can lead to condensation and corrosion, while low humidity can cause static electricity buildup. Monitoring devices must have high resistance to humidity so that they can be among the last devices at your site to ever fail. Most DPS alarm remotes, for example, carry a "0-95% non-condensing" humidity rating.
- Fire Alarm (FIA): Fire Alarms are extremely critical as they warn of potential fire hazards detected by smoke or heat sensors in the network site. I can't imagine a fire alarm being anything less than Critical or maybe Minor.
- Water Leak Alarm (WLA): This alarm goes off when a water leak sensor detects the presence of water or moisture that could potentially damage the equipment. I commonly bundle NetGuardians with one of a few different sensor types for water leakage. The "Waterbug" is a popular type, where water connecting any 2 of the 4 metal feet on the sensor triggers a contact closure. There are also "rope-type" water sensors that wick water from anywhere on the rope to the central sensor box for fast detection.
- Equipment Overload Alarm (EOA): These alarms are activated when system components are operating beyond their specified capacity, which could lead to performance degradation or system failures. You would expect these for things like rectifiers, where excessive heat and system wear happens when you push things too close to "the red line" for too long. More advanced equipment can report similar alarm states for things like excessive bandwidth consumption.
- Configuration Error Alarm (CEA): This alarm suggests there are issues with system settings or configuration, indicating that a device may not be set up correctly. No device should allow itself to fall into this state, but having a failsafe like a CEA alarm is a good backup in the unlikely event
- Device Offline Alarm (DOA): A device offline alarm indicates that a device, which should be online and communicating, has stopped sending signals to the monitoring system. This is a broader alarm than a "Power Fail" alarm. We don't know exactly why the device is offline, but it is and you need to respond. This is another case where the acronym, DOA, is easy to remember due to its more common use as "Dead On Arrival".
- Vibration Alarm (VA): This type of alarm indicates excessive or unusual vibrations that could potentially damage sensitive equipment. We have vibration sensors at DPS within our D-Wire ecosystem. They're sometimes used for this purpose, but vibrations can sometimes be neutral or even good. When an older generator can't be trusted to report its own run state with contact closures, I'll suggest strapping a vibration sensor onto it to know when the engine is turning.
- Unauthorized Access Alarm (UAA): It is triggered when an unauthorized individual attempts to gain access to restricted areas or network components. This can involve door access, but also encompasses digital login attempts using device usernames/passwords/tokens.
- Maintenance Required Alarm (MRA): This alarm indicates that a device or component is due for scheduled maintenance or may have reached its end of life. This is similar to an oil-change notification. It may not involve a sensor at all. An amount of usage or simply the passage of time is enough to trigger most MRA alarms.
- Data Loss Alarm (DLA): Activated when there's an unexpected loss of data, which could signify a serious issue within your network. This is most common in devices with long-term storage of history or perhaps even customer data.
- Signal Strength Alarm (SSA): This alarm is triggered when the signal strength of a device drops below the acceptable range, potentially indicating a problem with the device or the network connectivity. At DPS, we have worked in an SSA context when monitoring PPT (Push-To-Talk) radio levels and metro/subway radio levels.
- Bandwidth Exceeded Alarm (BEA): Activated when the bandwidth usage exceeds the defined limit, affecting network performance.
- Backup Failure Alarm (BFA): This alarm notifies you when a backup process (either manual or automatic) fails. A related alarm you'll see in a T/Mon master station is a "backup your database" alarm that appears when you haven't backed up your database within the recommended time interval.
- Disk Space Alarm (DSA): It indicates that the disk space on a specific device or server is running low or has already run out. In a T/Mon context, this is uncommon thanks to plentiful storage and efficient alarm logging methods. If an alarm like this ever triggers, alarm history will typically be offloaded to an archival SQL server so only more recent history (usually at least several years) can remain on the live T/Mon system.
- Network Latency Alarm (NLA): This alarm is triggered when network latency exceeds predefined thresholds, potentially affecting the quality of service and user experience. Latency is the speed at which data travels across the network, independent of how much bandwidth is available.
- Network Congestion Alarm (NCA): This alarm is triggered when the network is experiencing higher-than-normal traffic, which could slow down service or lead to packet loss. This is similar to "Bandwidth Exceeded Alarm" (BEA), except that it is global in scope rather than device-specific. No individual device may be hogging more than its normal share, but the total network congestion is nonetheless a problem.
- Unresponsive Device Alarm (UDA): Activated when a device within the network is not responding to system checks or commands. This is essentially a synonym for "Device Offline Alarm" (DOA).
- Database Error Alarm (DBEA): This alarm indicates an error with a database system, such as failed queries, slow performance, or corruption issues. In a few uncommon cases, DPS Tech Support recommends a repair of T/Mon's underlying SQL database. This is a simple procedure. The overall process can take from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size of the alarm history database table.
- Service Outage Alarm (SOA): This alarm indicates a complete loss of service and is typically a critical level alarm. This is the "service-affecting outage" that we all fear. Remote site monitoring is ultimately focused on preventing exactly this sort of outage. Every smaller alarm is generated to stop something early before its affects your system users.
- System Overheat Alarm (SOHA): This alarm is activated when the system's temperature exceeds a certain limit, which could cause severe damage to electronic devices. This can either be due to internal overuse, heat generated by another device, or the failure of the site's HVAC system. If the device generating the SOHA alarm has an air filter and/or blower, these may be causing a cooling failure within the device itself.
Get Help with Your Alarm Codes
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Just give us a call at 1-800-693-0351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a DPS engineer today. It will jumpstart your project.
Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...