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DPS Remote Monitoring Equipment Fundamentals

By Andrew Erickson

April 9, 2023

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I spend a lot of time on this blog writing about fairly detailed scenarios and technical nuances. When you're just getting started, however, a basic overview of what you can accomplish with DPS monitoring systems is in order.

Let's review some brief descriptions of what we do here at DPS. We'll cover the various major products we manufacture and how they are utilized. This will teach you their specific purposes in remote monitoring and control.

T/Mon is your central master station from a few to a few thousand remote sites

T/Mon is the master or brains of the operation. T/Mon is constantly gathering inputs from your RTUs (more on this later) and any device that can report its own alarms. T/Mon scales itself to handle just a few devices or several thousand.

From there, your T/Mon will make the decision of what to do with the inputs it received. Those decisions are based entirely upon what you have configured it to do in that situation (using its straightforward web interface).

This can be alerting local authorities in the area perhaps a manager or supervisor. It could also be the employee that was assigned to manage or assess the specific type of alarm that has been sent. These alerts that are sent out can be sent in the form of a text, voice alert, or even e-mail.

RTUs are the middlemen of the operation

RTUs (usually named NetGuardian, TempDefender, or a handful of other names) are constantly speaking with your T/Mon in response to a T/Mon poll. This sends updates to T/Mon about data received from either analog inputs or discrete inputs. This can include data for water level, temperature, an open door, motion, an equipment alarm, or anything else.

The RTU needed for certain applications can vary depending on what is needed for monitoring. That might be monitoring with analog sensors, discrete inputs, or both. Different RTUs have different quantities of each input type. Control relay outputs are also available in different capacities on different RTUs. They vary in capacities on the limit of discrete alarms or analog points.

The best RTU is going to depend on what equipment you need to monitor and how many sensors are required for your application.

Sensors

There are two primary types of sensors: Analog or Discrete.

Analog has the ability to show you variables or ranges. For example, an analog sensor like a liquid propane tank sensor would be telling you how much is left in a propane tank for heating or backup power. The most common analog sensors are analog temperature or humidity. Notice how all of these different levels benefit from being monitored in a "how much?" fashion.

Discrete alarms work more on the basis of a "yes or no", "on or off" scenario. One of these sensors could be a door sensor letting you know if it is open or closed. It could also be an interior or exterior motion sensor. This would be telling you either "Yes, there is motion" or "no, there is not".

These analog and or discrete sensors would report back to the RTU. That RTU will handle and process these inputs and update its internal alarm map with the information they have gathered. The data will then go up the chain to the T/Mon - and finally back out to you. This lets you know the results of the current status of what's being monitored for you.

Note that only some sensors that we sell here at DPS are manufactured by us. In particular, our D-Wire sensors for common sensor types like temperature are made in the same factory we make our NetGuardians and T/Mons. Other more obscure sensors are sourced from trusted suppliers and connect to our general-purpose RTU inputs.

How do you know which monitoring devices you need for your remote sites?

The first step would be a site visit to go over what would be in need of monitoring. We'll work with you to establish the needed sensors. We'll work backwards to see what RTU would be suitable for you - remembering to keep in mind growth for your foreseeable future growth. RTUs will vary from how many analog or discrete sensors you would need. Common DPS RTU capacity ranges from 4 to 64 to even 80 discrete alarms.

Finally, we'll choose which T/Mon would be suitable for you. Again, this will be based on the capacity on what is needed. T/Mon can monitor up to 16, up to 64, or up to 9999 devices. It's also possible to set up a T/Mon heirarchy and/or redundancy for very large networks.

How will it all work together?

Our next step will be to answer: how does it all work together?

For this example, we'll start from the bottom up with a sensor. Let's say that a discrete door sensor gives you an alarm. We now know that a door at a remote site is now open. That alarm is sent to the RTU (NetGuardian). That RTU will be able to alert you based on how you configure it.

Depending on the RTU, it will send you a notification through SMS text, email, dialer, or a standard protocol like SNMP. These options can be configured in the built-in web interface without requiring any software installs or IT headaches. The RTU will then alert you and show you alarm in real time within the web interface.

Because you have multiple remote sites, you can have multiple RTUs reporting to one master station. They would report to the T/Mon.

From there, your T/Mon would be able to do the same with sending notifications like an RTU. However, unlike a single RTU, it could holistically manage anywhere from 16 to 9,999 RTUs. The T/Mon would sit at the top of your local or regional network, monitoring multiple sites at once. This gives your real-time visibility and powerful alarm processing over multiple counties, regions or states.

So, when that door sensor we talked about before is triggered, what happens? Even though you may be hundreds of miles away, you would know in real time what is happening. From there, making the most appropriate action is fairly easy. That might be going to that remote site yourself or locating a technician to react to the breach. Visibility and reaction time are paramount.

Monitoring is tremendously important for your operation and for broader society

Imagine you're monitoring a remote substation for a power grid (you may not have to imagine!). Your monitoring system can be your only reference when trouble happens. The same is true for backup power during an outage at a cellular communications tower. You could also be monitoring the temperature in a control building, which is vital to protecting your valuable assets and infrastructure.

Peace of mind is an amazing personal benefit of quality remote monitoring

The full promise of these products and their operation, in the end, is peace of mind. Good remote monitoring is about simplifying multiple remote sites into one compact monitoring package that is easy to use. This ensures safety, security, and reliability.

Much of your work is not something the public thinks about or wants to think about. Because it's your job to keep infrastructure online (and people WILL come knocking if you fail), good remote monitoring gives you peace of mind.

Your next step is to call DPS

After knowing this full monitoring process and understanding how powerful and helpful it could be, your next step is be setting up a site visit with us. We would meet you (in-person or virtually) to custom tailor your remote monitoring solution.

We have experts with many decades worth of experience. We'll create a full detailed plan with you to establish the most effective monitoring system for your network.

From there, we would help you identify which DPS devices suite the plan we've developed together.

We'll also:

  • Help you set up your remote monitoring system.
  • Help you configure your alerts based on which alarms your consider to be the most important.
  • Show you all the features of our web-based interface.
  • Teach and provide assistance to you and your staff on your new monitoring set up (free tech support, free factory training, and on-site training are all available).
  • Give you 24-hour emergency technical support and 11 hours each workday of standard staffed phone support (7AM-6PM Pacific).

To get started, call DPS at 1-800-693-0351 or email sales@dpstele.com

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Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

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...