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Enhancing Your Monitoring System Through MODBUS Access with RTUs

By Andrew Erickson

June 4, 2024

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Ensuring seamless communication between generator sets and remote monitoring systems is crucial for many industries. At DPS Telecom, we understand the benefits and challenges with integrating different technologies to streamline remote monitoring processes.

A recent conversation between "JP," a DPS engineer, and a client highlights common challenges and solutions in integrating with RTU generators to access MODBUS for remote monitoring. Let's explore their chat together now:

SNMP manager
A "Modbox" will convert your Modbus registers into SNMP traps - unifying your monitoring under one umbrella.

Full Chat Transcript

Client: Our customer plans to monitor his equipment off-site with NetGuardian 832A G4. Our generator set on site has Modbus RTU capability. Is communication simply a matter of connecting our genset's control panel RS485 or RS232 port to a com port on his NetGuardian? Thanks.

JP: Hello. Essentially, you are correct. There is a software module that will need to be purchased to unlock the MODBUS feature if it is supported on the G4. Is a T/Mon part of the existing design?

Client: Thank you for your response. What software module must our customer purchase to use Modbus? I see reference to T/Mon remote alarm monitoring on the NetGuardian 832A G4 page at the dpstele.com website, but I'm not sure what it is. I can ask our customer if this feature is part of his monitoring system.

JP: T/Mon is our Central Manager. The T/Mon will handle the MODBUS instead of the RTU. If your client has fewer than 10 NetGuardians, they may not need a T/Mon. The NetGuardian 832A G4 cannot handle MODBUS as a standalone solution. A T/Mon will be needed for this to work. The NetGuardian 832A G6 can handle MODBUS as a standalone solution (no T/Mon needed).

Client: I'll pass this along to our customer. Thanks!

JP: We do have a MODBUS to SNMP box that can work, but we do have a solution for MODBUS. Your client does have a few options including trading in the G4 for 30% credit towards a G6.

Client: I don't know that our customer will be interested in upgrading his G4. (It sounds like G4 is older hardware if you are offering G6!) I found a Modbus to SNMP Converter at dpstele.com/products/sp-rtu/d-pk-modbx.php. Is that the one?

JP: Yes, that is the one.

Client: How much does it cost? And is it available?

JP: Our RTUs and other remote boxes range from $800 to $5000 (MODBX near middle of that range) and have a 30-day lead time.

Client: The converter alone?

JP: Yes, but the 832A G6 is near the top of our price range, depending on the features. With a 30% trade-in credit, you can get a better solution than the Modbus converter. Are you in California? Do you install a lot of DPS gear? I see you are using CAT generators. We have working solutions for MODBUS and the D50 and D60.

Client: Yes, we're in the SF Bay area. However, this genset is going to a radio site in Oregon. This is my first conversation with DPS. Others at our company may purchase DPS gear.

JP: Would you and your team be interested in DPS stopping by and visiting with you? We would like to show you our working solutions and see if this is something you can offer your customers. We make everything in Fresno, CA.

Client: We do purchase converters, but I don't specify them. I work as a project engineer. If you send me an email, I will forward it to our sales force.

JP: Perfect, I will send you an email and we can see if this is something your company may benefit from.

Client: I appreciate your after-hours support. You've been a real help!

JP: You're welcome. I appreciate your conversation and agreeing to forward my email. Reach out to us anytime!

Client: Have a good evening.

JP: Have a good one, bye!

Integrating MODBUS RTU Generators with NetGuardian RTUs

The conversation began with the client seeking to monitor equipment off-site using a NetGuardian 832A G4. The client's generator set supports MODBUS protocol, prompting the query about the integration process:

"Our customer plans to monitor his equipment off-site with NetGuardian 832A G4. Our generator set on-site has MODBUS RTU capability. Is communication simply a matter of connecting our genset's control panel RS485 or RS232 port to a com port on his NetGuardian?"

JP responded by confirming the general approach but highlighted the need for specific software support:

"Essentially, you are correct. There is a software module that will need to be purchased to unlock the MODBUS feature if it is supported on the G4."

DPS Telecom T/Mon LNX
The T/Mon is a multiprotocol, multifunction single-platform solution for all remote alarm monitoring uses

Benefits of Upgrading to the NetGuardian 832A G6

The client then asked about the specific software module required and whether T/Mon was part of the existing system. JP clarified that T/Mon is DPS Telecom's Central Manager, which handles MODBUS communication. However, he also noted a limitation with the NetGuardian 832A G4:

"The NetGuardian 832A G4 cannot handle MODBUS as a standalone solution. A T/Mon will be needed for this to work. The NetGuardian 832A G6 can handle MODBUS as a standalone solution (no T/Mon needed)."

This response points to the significant advantage of upgrading to the NetGuardian 832A G6. Unlike the G4, the G6 version offers built-in MODBUS support. This simplifies the integration process and reduces the need for additional hardware or software.

Upgrading to the G6 model simplifies the MODBUS integration and enhances overall monitoring capabilities. The G6 version includes features such as dual power feeds, integrated temperature and battery sensors, and support for SNMPv3. This ensures secure and reliable network management​​.

Leveraging T/Mon for Comprehensive Network Management

When integrating with your remote monitoring system, it's essential to understand the broader capabilities of the T/Mon Central Manager. The discussion between JP and our client also touched upon the extensive functionalities of T/Mon:

"T/Mon is our Central Manager. The T/Mon will handle the MODBUS instead of the RTU. If your client only has less than 10 NetGuardians, they may not have a need for a T/Mon."

T/Mon is designed to manage multiple protocols and manufacturers' equipment. This makes it an invaluable tool for merge alarm data and ensure network visibility.

The device eliminates the need for specialized terminals by integrating various alarm inputs into a single interface. This capability is particularly beneficial for clients managing diverse and complex network infrastructures​​.

MODBUS to SNMP Converter
The Modbus to SNMP Converter is a dedicated mediation device that will help you connect your Modbus-enabled equipment to your SNMP manager

Exploring the MODBUS to SNMP Converter as a Flexible Solution

Given the client's hesitation about upgrading to a G6 model, JP suggested an alternative solution:

"We do have a MODBUS to SNMP box that can work. Your client does have a few options, including trading in the G4 for 30% credit towards a G6."

The MODBUS to SNMP Converter offers a viable solution for clients looking to retain their existing NetGuardian G4 hardware while still integrating MODBUS RTU devices. This converter enables the translation of MODBUS data to SNMP, which can then be monitored using the NetGuardian RTU.

The converter is cost-effective and has a 30-day lead time. This solution allows clients to maintain their current equipment while expanding their monitoring capabilities to include MODBUS RTU devices. It's an excellent choice for those looking to optimize their existing infrastructure without a full-scale upgrade​​.

Custom Solutions and Comprehensive Support

At DPS Telecom, we pride ourselves on offering tailored solutions and comprehensive support to meet our clients' unique needs. JP's proactive approach in offering both the NetGuardian G6 upgrade and the MODBUS to SNMP Converter exemplifies our commitment to providing flexible options:

"Would you and your team be interested in DPS stopping by and visiting with you? We would like to show you our working solutions and see if this is something you can offer your customers."

This personalized support extends beyond product recommendations to include on-site visits, demonstrations, and detailed consultations. At DPS, we understand the specific requirements and constraints of our clients. In doing so, we ensure that they receive the most effective and efficient monitoring solutions possible​​.

Ensuring Seamless Integration and Effective Monitoring

DPS Telecom is dedicated to addressing complex integration challenges and providing specific solutions for remote monitoring. Whether you are looking to upgrade to the NetGuardian G6, or you are looking for your own tailored solutions, contact our team today.

Call 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...