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How To Use Remote-Monitoring RTUs To Smooth Your Technology Migrations

By Ziad Alezabi

January 8, 2024


A client who works at a wholesale power supplier company reached out to me. His company had been using basic embedded alarm monitoring at remote sites that did not give them anywhere near enough visibility. This resulted in them having to continuously send out two technicians in tracked vehicles (for snow). These trips are both costly and dangerous.

My client wants to use NetGuardians at 300 sites. He already has 48 from us and is happy with them. But he's worried about the difficulty of switching from embedded alarm monitors to RTUs.

NetGuardian 832A G6 back panel

I assured my client that his concerns were not uncommon.

Inquiries about using telemetry capabilities integrated into transport and other critical elements vs. embedded telemetry solutions are not uncommon at all. We offer this observation based on 30+ years of experience serving the telemetry monitoring space.

As technology advances, companies thought that shifting from RTUs to embedded equipment monitoring solutions such as "alarm cards" would be a good idea.

Reasons You Shouldn't Rely On Embedded Monitoring

While this might seem like an attractive solution for you, a lot of companies tend to avoid it for reasons such as...

  1. Low discrete alarm count.
  2. Lack of scalability due to limited inputs.
  3. A lot of your alarms are being shoehorned due to you needing to "OR" a lot of them as a result of limited inputs.
  4. Renders you unable to monitor other sites with different types of equipment.
  5. Short 2-3 year cycles before needing to upgrade to newer technology.

Opting for an embedded monitoring solution heavily restricts your bandwidth. This also restricts your ability to expand your capacity and features due to not being able to integrate your embedded system with newer technology, leading you to use outdated systems when it is not necessary.

I let my client know that I cared about his budgetary concerns and why an embedded telemetry unit cost him more money in the long run due to the level of the installer's expertise and certification required to deal with embedded telemetry...

Installation costs typically increase due to two main factors. First, the installer's skill set now has to include multiple different technologies. These technologies have vast differences in their physical connections and provisioning interfaces. The installer typically has to have a higher classification because he or she will be accessing revenue-generating transport or other mission-critical equipment.

I also let him know that the maintenance testing process of embedded telemetry in itself is extremely costly...

Assume for a moment that you can afford the training for the wide range of equipment and the access to mission-critical equipment. You still have the second cost increase of testing installed telemetry. Upstream event reporting now involves multiple interfaces and different groups often need to be involved to verify upstream visibility. These increased tangible installation costs quickly exceed the cost and operational safety of a dedicated telemetry solution.

This is not to mention the one big glaring issue of losing all your visibility if your site goes offline. A monitoring solution such as an RTU is so valuable because it keeps your infrastructure visible and controllable when events such as power outages occur.

Why RTUs Are Better Than Embedded Telemetry

Embedded Telemetry can often leave you in the dark. This can sometimes be literal, for example when a power outage happens and you can't monitor the right amount and/or type of alarms needed to understand what happened and where. This can also mean that you would need to shoehorn multiple alarm types into the same input due to the limited capacity that comes with embedded telemetry units.

In my client's case, what would happen if he had to OR an alarm for overheating equipment with an alarm for dust accumulation? As mentioned above, every time you send someone out there to fix something, you are laying safety and money on the line. The two technicians going up to the sites blind without knowing what exact equipment is needed and what the situation is will only make matters more complicated.

With a good alarm monitoring system manufacturer, you can be provided with remote telemetry units (RTUs) such as the NetGuardian that are customized to your exact needs. A good manufacturer will take your environmentals, form factors, infrastructure, and integration needs into account and manufacture your equipment accordingly.

Unlike embedded telemetry units, RTUs have the amazing ability to monitor analog and discrete alarms without needing to cram certain types of alarms into one output signal. You also gain way more messaging customizability, meaning that your technicians who you top dollar for will be able to arrive on-site knowing exactly...

  • Where to go.
  • What to fix.
  • Which equipment is required.

There's an adage about things not changing if they do the job well ("Don't mess with success"). Unlike embedded monitoring systems, which constantly need to be updated every 2-3 years just to work -- Here at DPS Telecom we have the opposite happen. Our NetGuardian RTUs usually last up to around 15 years. We only ever replace them because, at a certain point, we have a way better product to offer our clients, not because it is required.

Find Your Customized Monitoring Solution At DPS Telecom.

My client told me that everything I had mentioned to him was on the tip of his figurative tongue. In the first place, he was afraid of transitioning monitoring systems because it was going to be an "all at once" migration.

This is easily solved however by first installing all the needed networking solutions and equipment, and quickly unplugging the old system and putting the new and improved one in. Essentially you're looking at a 3-hour transition downtime to install remote telemetry units that will vastly improve your alarm monitoring system. This alarm monitoring downtime is not at all as bad as you having to encounter a way bigger problem 5 years later that cripples your entire visibility.

The client and I are currently working towards a proposal that works for him, and his remote monitoring and control capabilities will take a turn for the better with our NetGuardians.

At DPS Telecom, we offer you support every step of the way. From pointing you in the right direction to tech support long after you've installed our equipment, we are there to set you up for success and serve you as your own personal engineer. We also offer you detailed documentation that doesn't leave any room for confusion or imagination.

DPS Telecom is established and built by industry experts who can offer you customized and case-specific solutions to future-proof your business. We also offer you amazing scalability and integration that will enable you to grow as large as your ambition.

If you have any more questions or are interested in taking your company's safety and scalability to the next level, please reach out. Even if we are not able to come to an agreed solution, I will do my best to help point you in the right direction.

Call me at1-800-693-0351or E-mail me at sales@dpstele.com

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi is a Application Documentarian at DPS Telecom. He reviews successful DPS client projects and reports on the best practices that you can use to successfully reach your own project goals.