The Top Hardware Monitoring Tools for Remote Sites

By July 25, 2019 August 19th, 2019 Blog, RTUs
hardware monitoring

In many industries, remote sites house important, expensive hardware. In addition, the hardware located at remote operating sites is intended to remain functioning, continuously or as needed. If this hardware stops working, it can cause system outages in telecom, overpressure or spills in oil and gas, or blackouts for electric utilities. These problems can cost millions to resolve and may endanger lives. 

In order to keep their remote hardware working properly, companies monitor it. If signs of potential failure are detected, maintenance or repair begins in time to correct the problem. But, for many companies, remote sites are too numerous and too far-flung to staff and are intended to operate independently of human interaction. 

In order to monitor their many sites, companies turn to two of the top hardware monitoring tools for remote sites—remote terminal units (RTUs) and their master stations—for help. 

The Top Hardware Monitoring Tools Used Today

Companies with many remote unmanned sites of importance benefit considerably from employing modern monitoring tools.

Equipping remote unmanned sites with top hardware monitoring tools allows companies to notice potential issues before they happen. 

This allows time for technicians to make repairs before equipment fails which is less expensive and time-consuming than after a major breakdown. It’s the difference between a few hours repairing a pump versus a few months cleaning oil out of rocks and rivers, rerouting pipeline flow throughout. 

RTUs: Hardware Monitoring Tools that Safeguard Remote Unmanned Sites

See something; say something. Hardware monitoring tools do both. One of the top tools—RTUs—are physically located in unmanned sites requiring monitoring. These devices have attached sensors able to track changes in their environment or surroundings. 

For instance, RTUs with sensors can:

  • Sense the temperature and humidity in their area.
  • Detect fuel levels in a generator.
  • Monitor the voltage or charge of a battery.
  • Measure airflow, vibration, and wind speed. 

Custom sensor applications can monitor important equipment indicators unique to the operation of individual sites, regions, or companies. Here’s how it works:

  • When the RTU detects an anomalous reading—the temperature is too hot, or the generator’s fuel is running low—it transmits this information. 
  • Maintenance workers receive this information, and they can respond to the issue in time to correct it, by turning on the air conditioning or filling up the generator’s fuel tank.

This works well if there are only a few sites—usually less than ten. If there are more sites, maintenance crews will have difficulty coordinating and prioritizing labor. They may also become desensitized to alerts from RTUs due to their volume. In response, companies utilize master stations. 

Master Stations: A Leading Tool that Works With RTUs

Another leading tool—Master Stations—collect signals from many different RTUs at different sites. Master stations can then display detailed information about each alarm point. The information—appearing on a central screen—is presented in order of importance to your workers monitoring the system. 

This streamlines the maintenance process, helping companies respond to routine and emerging issues systematically. Above a certain level of system complexity, they are indispensable tools for rationalizing processes (allowing them to be understood by a human operator who needs to make decisions in response). 

When there are too many RTUs for a single master station to make sense of, companies create another level of hierarchy, by connecting multiple master stations to a single central master where: 

  • Myriad RTUs report their signals to their local master station. 
  • All of these local master stations report to the central master. 
  • Workers with access to the central master can see each alarm in the network, allowing them to make strategic decisions. 
  • Workers at the regional level, with access to a single master station’s information, can make tactical decisions, scheduling short term maintenance and repair projects according to need. 

The result of this hierarchical network is total system visibility. Plus, a central station is a durable solution, maintaining a mirrored set of drives and two redundant power inputs for built-in, back up support. Top solutions offer these parallel internal components to prevent downtime. 

What Top Hardware Monitoring Tools Can Do

Hardware monitoring tools can reduce a company’s exposure to the risk of equipment failure, and cascading effects which can result from it. This helps prevent catastrophic losses arising from single failure points. Of course, another mechanism already prevents large monetary losses from small or unlikely causes, in theory at least: insurance. 

So, by installing modern hardware monitoring tools—including RTUs and master stations—at remote unmanned locations, companies will:

  • Reduce the likelihood that insurance will be required to cover a major loss. 
  • Minimize the risk levels, as insurance premiums are calculated based on risk.
  • Drive down insurance premiums—a significant line item for major corporations. 
  • Decrease the chance that a catastrophe will occur, saving you time and money.

While insurance can help companies recover monetarily from a major occurrence, reducing a catastrophe to a mere unfortunate incident is much preferred. Even better is not having an incident at all. 

Top hardware monitoring tools enable you to achieve lower premiums and fewer accidents, while saving you time and money through simple prevention. So, how does that happen? 

Effective Hardware Monitoring Tools for Your Company

RTUs and master stations effectively monitor important company hardware and equipment at remote, unmanned sites. Their sensors and communication techniques inform maintenance crews of needed action before equipment fails, lowering the cost of repair and the risk that insurance premiums build on. 

Good RTUs have the sensors needed, and the durability and redundancy to endure in any remote site condition.

Quality master stations share this durability and redundant systems, as well as other features like the ability to understand multiple protocols from different RTUs. 

Finding the best hardware monitoring tools for your company comes down to assessing your needs and contacting a manufacturer who provides a quality solution that fits your specific circumstances.

DPS Telecom provides top-quality tailored hardware monitoring tools to a range of important industries. Our experienced team members can advise you on the ideal solution for your specific needs. Contact us to get a quote today!


Image courtesy Shutterstock

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson has been building remote monitoring systems for his clients since 2006, both in the United States and internationally. He has been a featured speaker at a variety of national telco, utility, radio, and rail conferences.

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