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How IoT Makes Your Remote Monitoring System More Efficient

Morgana Siggins
Morgana Siggins
Monitoring Specialist

According to Forbes, the IoT (Internet of Things) market is predicted to double by 2021 - reaching $520B. IoT is an emerging technology that many people understand to be worth investing in.

That's also true for the remote monitoring industry. Many network managers are now considering investing in an IoT-based remote monitoring solution for their remote sites. If that's your case, know that there are many ways that IoT can help you achieve your remote monitoring goals.

Let's talk about how IoT can help you enhance your remote monitoring system performance.

The Role of IoT in Remote Monitoring

Monitoring your network involves starts with the collecting of data from your network. You might want to monitor your remote devices and equipment, or you might be more interested in the environmental levels in your facility, or in the processes that happen there.

IoT monitoring system
This IoT network diagram is one example of a network of IP enabled devices. These "smart" connected devices are all connected and work together to automate and manage other equipment from a data center.

Whatever you're trying to monitor, it's important to avoid the costs associated with manual monitoring. These costs are normally related to frequent truck rolls necessary to go to remote sites when an alarm happens or the human-errors when manually reading and recording information.

IoT can help you mitigate these issues. IoT is a system of interrelated devices or equipment with the ability to exchange data through a network without requiring a human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

Are you on the water or wastewater industry? If so, then think about your pumps. Having an IoT-based remote monitoring system allows you to keep an eye on the efficiency and energy use, you can monitor conditions in real-time, and get overall network insights. And this can be done to whatever type of network you have.

Any type of device can become an IoT device if it can send data and be controlled through the internet. This means that your sensors, RTUs and master station can be IoT-based if they are IP-enabled devices, or if they can be custom made for that.

Advantages of Using IoT-Based Remote Monitoring Systems

There are some benefits that manual monitoring or traditional monitoring systems using older connections (such as serial or POTS) can't give you. That's where IoT monitoring systems come in. The following are some advantages of IP-enabled monitoring.

Less costs with data collection

When companies rely on manual monitoring, they need to experienced network technicians to monitor different remote sites at all times.

With IP-based monitoring, the expenses related to the truck rolls necessary for the trips between sites are considerably reduced. You'll only need to travel to your remote site when strictly necessary. Also, you won't need as many techs to monitor your remote network.

Of course purchasing a remote monitoring system can be a significant financial investment, especially if you want a modern one with advanced features. However, monitoring systems pay for themselves because they improve your company's efficiency and allow for the implementation of cost-effective strategies to maintain your network - all of this positively impact your bottom line.

Enhanced efficiency of monitoring processes

One main advantage of IoT monitoring systems is that they provide you with digital data collection. This makes the collection of network data faster, as well as the analysis of it.

Also, your IoT system is gathering information and sending it to your master at all times. This is different from other methods of data collection where the collection of data is done only every once in a while.

You'll receive detailed, thorough data about your remote sites

When compared to manual monitoring methods, IoT devices are able to provide thorough and more detailed information. This means that, instead of having periodic sensor readings, you can deploy IP-based RTUs to get a complete picture of all your equipment, for strategic monitoring, and for real-time alerts.

With IoT devices you will have an in-depth understanding of how your remote site operates. This is the first step towards making conscious decisions and meaningful changes.

Proactive maintenance

The most modern IoT monitoring systems have advanced analysis tools. These tools can give important insights about your remote network taking different periods of time in consideration.

You'll be able to discover underlying problems and learn where they come from. As a result, you'll be able to practice proactive maintenance by taking steps to fix small issues before they grow into bigger problems. You'll improve your operations and change the way you manage your remote sites.

Features Your IoT-Based Monitoring Should Have

In order to be truly efficient, your IoT monitoring system needs to have certain functionality. These functionalities should be able to deliver significant insights about your network. And it also should provide you with a higher level of control over your remote equipment.

The following points are some of these important capabilities.

Instant Alerting and Alarm Filtering

Instant alerting means receiving notifications about an important change of status or conditions in a timely manner. They should be actionable enough to lead you to check on them and respond to fix the issue.

Your alerts are only valuable if they can be responded to or appropriately dismissed. And if the notification reports a problem that can't be remotely addressed, it should give you enough information so you can know what do next.

Usually, alerts can be about preventing or warning or they can be critical, so they should let you know about an urgent condition (even at late hours during a weekend). These notifications need to be sent to the people who can take action, and different alerts might go to different technicians.

Also, a good practice is to perform incident management. When you investigate root causes of critical failures alerts, you can find out which other alerts could be put in place to help prevent the same issue to happen again.

A problem that often occurs, though, is that network technicians learn to ignore annoying nuisance alarms. Having nuisance alarms is an issue because it can cause your techs to ignore real alarms. So, your monitoring system should also have the option to allow you to filter these kinds of things.

Efficient Collection of Data

If you are not monitoring servers or data closets, chances are your IoT devices will be deployed at a remote location. This means that you'll need to have an efficient data collection method in place.

There are two main ways of collecting data: pushing or polling. For IoT monitoring systems, the push-based method can be more convenient, but you need to take the tradeoffs into consideration. These tradeoffs usually involve the communication protocol in place.

It's important to make sure the protocol your devices support have efficient ways to allow the collection of data. But it also important to use open protocols to ensure interoperability between your many devices. A modern protocol will ensure efficient collection of data and complete visibility over your network.

Graphing for trend analysis

Most monitoring systems can provide you with data from any determined period. However, this raw information alone isn't very usable directly. Most people are visual creatures, so some kind of visualization will help us grasp information and understand the meaning of alarm data.

The best practice is then to have a monitoring system that allows you to perform some type of query across your database, and then present the data visually. The best way to do this is through a line graph, but there are many other types of visual data presentation. The important thing is to reach the goal of having some kind of visualization that will be efficient in helping you interpret data and make informed decisions.

Keep in mind that your graphs should be intuitive enough in order to highlight key information - complicated graphs only make it harder to interpret data.

They should also present the data to the right network technician. Imagine, for example, that you have one team of techs that is responsible for monitoring and managing your remote equipment, and another team that takes care of environment levels in the facility. In cases like these, it's important to have each of these teams looking at their own graphs to avoid confusion.

What's Next

If you are interested in deploying a remote monitoring system with IoT capabilities, then your next step is to talk to an experienced monitoring solutions provider.

So, whenever you are ready to talk about your monitoring system, we are here for you. Our objective is to help you get the most value possible out of your remote monitoring. We'll identify your goals, discuss opportunities where real-time information can be valuable, and design a cost-effective remote monitoring system that is also easy to use.

If we don't have what you need already, we are able to custom design and manufacture a perfect-fit solution for you. And we'll be with you every step of the way. Reach out to us and let's start today.

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