Buying Remote Monitoring: Q&A For Possible Vendors

Andrew Erickson
Andrew Erickson
Applications Engineer


Buying a remote monitoring system is a substantial investment of both your company's budget and the credibility of the individual recommending the purchasing - you. Of course, you want to have peace of mind when you're making this investment, as well as a guarantee that your gear will be a high-quality, perfect-fit solution to your monitoring needs.

However, network monitoring can become a highly technical and specialized field pretty quickly. Unless you've made remote monitoring your life's work, you'll want to have an expert answering your questions and giving you trustful advice when you're planning your system.

Rest assured that you're not the only with many questions, trying to decipher the remote monitoring world. If you're in the path of finding out everything you can do with network monitoring, it's natural that you'll have plenty of questions regarding this subject. This is especially expected if you just started looking for a best fit vendor and product options.

Your best bet in terms of finding a reliable vendor is asking as many questions as you can and comparing the answers in order to find a seller or manufacturer that will best match your requirements.

To help you through this journey, I'll answer the nine most common questions I get from clients in terms of purchasing monitoring equipment. You can use these same questions as a template to take to any prospected vendors you have in mind.

1. How Much Does an RTU Cost?

I've been working at DPS for a while, and interacting with clients almost every day, this is one of the questions I answer the most.

RTUs can range from $700 dollars to a couple thousand dollars. The difference is whether it's a small unit with minimal features, or a large RTU with all the bells and whistles. This simply means that the more capacity you need, the more expensive your device will be.

This certainly is great news if you have just a few sites you need to monitor. However, remember to allow room for growth when selecting your device - within reason. The more you play around with your remote monitoring devices, the more you'll find new equipment that could be managed as well.

Of course it's better to have more capacity than you currently need instead of having to purchase a new unit when your network only grows a bit over time, but you also don't want to overkill it and break your budget. Let's say that your actual requirements involve monitoring only 4 contact closures, there's absolutely no need to buy an RTU with capacity for a hundred. Your best bet would be doubling up your count - and get an RTU with capacity for 8 contact closures. Also, make sure to ask your possible vendor if their devices have expansion capabilities.

2. What's The Cost of a Master Station?

A master station can cost anywhere from $5,000 to tens of thousands of dollars. This can vary from the number of sites that you have to monitor to how many protocols you're communicating with.

Master stations follow the same premise of RTUs. The more capacity you need the more expensive your master will be.

The T/Mon is a central alarm master station that collects alarms from your remote equipment. It's a necessary tool if you have more than 10 sites.

3. How Long Does an RTU Last in The Field?

The common lifespan of an RTU is about 10 to 15 years. The driving force to pull it out of the field is infrastructure change or security requirement that's been pushed down.

It's sometimes frustrating for our sales team when we call a client after 10 to 15 years of the deployment and everything is still working great and they'll continue to use our gear not wanting to look at our newer equipment.

We bring this upon ourselves, of course. Since we subject all of our equipment to rigorous testing, this ensures that your network is in the best hands possible. By testing all of the components in each unit under extreme conditions, we're sure that we're delivering you an RTU that will stand up to even the most extreme conditions. We conduct several rigorous tests on every single unit of every model manufactured.

These are the tests that we conduct:

Using our NEBS pre-compliance lab right on the premises, we're able to build NEBS compliancy into the design of all of our new products.

These tests are extremely good indicators of equipment quality, but sometimes they won't be able to match the conditions and stress your equipment will face 100%. So, proven design is the ultimate test and the greatest proof of quality. Even though DPS offers custom units, the main components have been time-tested and proven to last. Our equipment has been field tested and proven to last.

4. Where is DPS Located?

DPS is located in Fresno, California.

In the market for more than 30 years, we design the circuit and manufacture boards here, and we even manufacture the metal chassis as well. Basically, we're a vertically integrated company that offers you expertise from design concept to final manufacture and tech support - we control every aspect of production in-house.

DPS Telecom is a vertically integrated company where all of its manufacturing, engineering and tech support is completed at our HQ located in Fresno, California.

5. Who Buys DPS Equipment?

We actually go from very small local companies to very large, regional companies. We span multiple industries, such as:

This one of the best questions to ask any prospected vendor, actually. This is a point that I recurrently touch: don't simply take your vendor's words as the absolute truth. Always ask for references and to see testimonials.

6. Does DPS Sell Through Distributors?

We have a direct selling model. That's because we do a detailed consultation that assesses our clients' true needs. We make sure to determine your present needs as well as what you need in order to achieve your future goals. Then, we design an alarm monitoring application that will serve as a bridge between your current state and your future objective. With all that we can create a perfect-fit solution for your unique scenario.

However, some of our clients find it easier to work through a distributor because they're already into their system. Some of the clients that we work with are Walker, and Graybar, so in this case we work both with the clients and the distributors to make sure the proper RTU is spec-ed, sold, and makes it to the end user.

7. How Do I Get a DPS Evaluation Unit?

We offer multiple ways of getting an eval unit.

Field trials are a good idea, specially if you want a custom-built design. Doesn't matter where you are, our team can go to you.

8. How Do I Get My DPS Equipment Installed?

I'll break this down into master stations versus RTUs.

Another good way to help you get familiarized with our RTUs and master stations is attending our factory training. Several times a year, we host a training event here at our HQ in Fresno, California. This is a practical, hands-on, week-long course, where you'll learn from the same engineers and technicians who designed and built your network reliability management system.

The 4 day training class covers everything you need to know about installing, configuring, and using DPS Telecom equipment, including valuable troubleshooting information.

9. What Is the Typical Lead Time for a DPS Product?

DPS products typically ship within 14 to 30 days. Since we offer you multiple options, we build to order, with the specs, alarm capacity, and features that best meet your needs.

Of course you'd want to receive your product in only 2 days, but remember that ready-to-ship is only a good idea if the product is already a perfect fit for you. Keep in mind that quality comes with a longer lead time - not the other way around.

Do You Have More Questions? Get in Touch with Me

These are the most common questions my team and I get on a daily basis - but, the best strategy for you would be to ask these questions to any vendor you might be considering and compare answers. This is a good way for you to get a better insight of which company you should work with.

If you have any other questions that I didn't answer or if you want to discuss more about remote monitoring, you can go ahead and give us a call or just send us an email.

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