I'm currently working on a project with a company that remotely monitors and manages HVAC systems for their customers.
My role in this project will be to integrate general remote site management for other equipment to supplement HVAC management.
If you're tasked with monitoring HVACs or any other equipment, it will be a good education for you to review our early exchanges of both technical info and monitoring concepts.
It all began when I received this email recently:
I have been on your mailing list for some time now and am very impressed with your operation and company. I think there is potential in our discussing cooperation.
We are are a leading supplier and service provider to the telecom industry for HVAC solutions as well as to the military, government and other industry sectors.
In addition to manufacturing our own line of heavy duty A/C units, we also represent Bard and nVent (Hoffman/McLean) as well as Coolsure. We have been doing this for over 25 years.
Further, we provide 24/7/365 service of the thermal maintenance systems to thousands of unmanned sites (telecom and infrastructure).
We are seeing a growing demand in the local market for "smart sites", and see this as an opportunity for us both. We would like to explore cooperation with you in this area. You bring your expertise in remote site monitoring combined with our customer base and support services to offer combined solutions here. There is also an option of expanding into other international markets, as we already have ongoing marketing activities in other countries.
With your permission, I would like to setup an online meeting between your team and ours to discuss potential cooperation.
After I responded to this email, we set up a web meeting...
I learned that this company was founded in the 1990s. Clients include telecom, water, electricity, rail, and county governments.
They have over 10,000 sites, with service contracts at nearly as many. They manufacture their own heavy-duty HVAC and hybrid (ventilation) systems. Cabinets are housed on the ground and on towers. Some large clients have more than 1000 sites each.
The project goal? They want to integrate general monitoring with their existing tools for HVAC monitoring and management.
I gave overview of our DPS HVAC Controller, which turned out to be off-base (that's their slice, which they already do very well). I pivoted to showing the NetGuardian web interface and T/Mon web interface.
Their CEO & Engineer asked about notifications when not in front of the T/Mon interface. I showed the process to set up email notifications.
It was great meeting with you this week. I understand that you need:
- Remote monitoring devices that will complement your HVAC control systems.
- A central server that will collect data from remote sites and also from your existing HVAC-management software.
The equipment I've quoted here includes:
- Several small and medium RTUs, one of which will be required at each site. We'll want to talk more about required power-input voltage, as many AC and DC options are possible.
- Our central T/Mon LNX with no site-count limit. This is important for your many thousands of managed sites. We'll want to talk about the communication protocol used to get predictive data into the T/Mon from your software, as this may require a small change.
Following our meeting today with one of our clients, we would like to explore the possibilities for a cooperation a bit more.
We had a good meeting today and were able to get a better understanding of the client's requirements. In addition to monitoring and controlling the a/c at their sites, they are interested in a full, turn-key solution to site management.
The features they seek are as follows:
- A consolidated dashboard that shows statuses of all site components. This is our T/Mon for all sites, or the individual NetGuardian/RTU web interface for a single site.
- Reports: meter readings (electrical), alarms, temperature, etc. T/Mon generates PDF history reports from large amounts of SQL-stored data.
- System user authorization management (hierarchy). We support very granular user rights natively in T/Mon. External RADIUS servers are also supported.
- Works with MIDI/MSNP comm protocols. These protocols are new for us, but we have a lot of experience adding protocols, particularly in our T/Mon server. It's common to collect alarms in one protocol, then render the alarm data to other devices in another protocol (MIDI/MSNP in this case). I'm familiar with MSNP as Microsoft's notification protocol. Is MIDI the same basic protocol commonly used for music?
View only monitoring:
- Meter readings Yes (external transducer, unless already +/- 90v or 4-20mA output)
- Electrical current levels (3-phase) Yes (external transducer)
- Flooding/water Yes (external sensor to detect water on floor and latch relay)
- Mast lighing Yes (typically a contact closure from lighting system)
- Smoke/fire Yes (we use an industrial smoke detector with additional 57 C temperature trigger)
- Facility gate opening Yes (external door switch or existing contact)
- Cameras No (we can accept SNMP/relay outputs from cameras when they, for example, detect motion; many third-party camera systems are available)
- Temperature (ambient, indoor and outdoor) Yes (external weatherproof sensor for outdoor)
- Site entry including dynamic authorization management (entry permissions to site that can be altered remotely). Yes. This is our Building Access System.
- Task documenting Clarify?
- Control of power systems We have relay outputs and can send protocol messages to devices. Our relay outputs can be enhanced with external relays to control larger loads (ex. 30A instead of native 1A)
- Contol of secondary/reserve power systems (see above)
- Control of HVAC systems via our controllers and our thermal prediction software. We will handle this portion. DPS can collect status information from both controllers and your software (depending on protocol) to display on the consolidated dashboard.
We need to understand how DPS can support this project, what cost-effective solutions can be offered to cover all of the above. Further, how can we cooperate to implement a pilot run of a few sites using our combined solution to achieve POC (proof of concept) with the client, without accruing major expenses until the client commits? For example, can DPS provide use of the main unit for the pilot run from your HQ? Yes, we can host a T/Mon on a public IP to assist with a pilot run.
I hope this is clear. If you like, we could hold another Teams meeting to clarify points and perhaps brainstorm solutions. Let us know. Yes, let's have another meeting once you review these notes and confirm all seems reasonable.
Thank you again for your efforts and time. We are optimistic regarding this client, but to win the deal we need to move quickly. Let me know what you think.
We look forward to your reply.
Do you have HVAC systems you need to monitor and control remotely? Are you manufacturer like the one above who wants to work with DPS?
In either case, your first step is to talk to someone like me at DPS. In just 10 or 20 minutes, we can establish a basic outline of a project we can execute together. I'll then draw up a detailed PDF proposal for you.
To get started now, call me at 559-454-1600 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 16 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...
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