In controlled facilities like medical and research labs, minor differences in conditions can result in major differences in outcome. Fluctuations in temperature or humidity can spoil the production of delicate products, or invalidate the results of experiments.
Preventing the loss of costly products and experiments requires constant monitoring of both primary environmental conditions, and the systems which control them.
Security and recordkeeping are also critical capabilities for controlled facilities. Expensive and sensitive materials housed in these facilities are targets for theft or sabotage, requiring effective security measures, including monitoring and deterrence.
The constant stream of data produced by monitoring conditions and security must be saved and uploaded as well. A remote telemetry module, otherwise known as a remote terminal unit (RTU), helps controlled facilities accomplish these goals.
How a Remote Telemetry Module Improves Controlled Facility Monitoring
Remote monitoring, using RTUs, provides several key benefits for laboratories and research facilities, including:
- Monitoring environment conditions at all hours
- Monitoring primary equipment functions
- Providing remote control over environment and conditions using control relays
- Monitoring multiple labs simultaneously from a single dashboard
- Monitoring secondary equipment conditions (HVAC, generators, fuel tanks, batteries, and internal telecommunications)
- Interfacing with security equipment, like door controls and video cameras
- Automatically uploading data into searchable databases
Combined, these abilities provide a significant value add for controlled facilities, by preventing costly losses. Laboratory conditions for medical trials must remain static and exact, as these conditions can affect the outcome of experiments and production.
Weeks or months of revenue can be erased in hours, or even minutes, if conditions skew or equipment fails before staff can intervene. Conditions must be maintained at all hours, often in multiple laboratories, each running a variety of experiments.
While staff is typically available on-site, their numbers are necessarily reduced during overnight hours. Further, the number of conditions that must be monitored, and the frequency of monitoring required, demands constant vigilance, which is only truly achievable with automated assistance. And, RTUs offer this help in watching over critical aspects of these laboratories.
Remote Monitoring Individual or Multiple Sites
RTUs contain a customizable variety of sensors, adapted to meet the monitoring needs of the specific location. When a sensor detects abnormal conditions—such as a deviation in temperature, humidity, smoke, or airborne particulate matter—it transmits an alert via email, text, or voice to technicians.
When interfaced with an alarm master, multiple RTUs can display real-time conditions on a central computer screen, allowing staff to watch conditions across an entire research complex from a single dashboard. This enables rapid response, regardless of the time of day or night.
Some alarms necessitate a physical response from staff. Others, however, can be handled remotely. Control relays in RTUs allow them to effect preprogrammed commands in the physical world. So, when the temperature rises too high, the RTU can be programmed to turn down the HVAC system.
Remote Telemetry of Secondary Equipment
A large array of secondary equipment is required to maintain proper laboratory conditions. This equipment also can be monitored, to detect breakdowns before they occur and inform preventative maintenance. RTUs can monitor:
- HVAC Equipment
- Generator Function
- Generator Fuel Levels
- Backup Battery Levels
- Internal Telecom Equipment
Doing so helps protect primary lab functions, and makes administration more efficient by providing large amounts of accurate, real-time data. Trends in this data can be analyzed to help manage maintenance and procurement schedules, for instance.
In fact, all data recorded by RTUs and their attached sensors can be simply uploaded into facility computer systems. Most monitoring devices have embedded data loggers, which automatically time-stamp and store data in searchable databases. Not only does this help identify trends, but it can also be used to demonstrate regulatory compliance or identify a specific chain of events leading to product failure.
In cases where data would need to be recorded anyway, automating the process dramatically reduces the need for unending, costly, data-entry.
Improving Facility Security with Remote Telemetry Modules
Sadly, controlled facilities housing expensive equipment, sensitive products, or experiments can be vulnerable to intrusion for theft or sabotage. A single instance of larceny or malice can result in serious losses for laboratories. To reduce this risk, remote monitoring can be used to improve security in controlled facilities by:
- Monitoring motion sensors to detect unauthorized access
- Interfacing with video cameras to provide security staff live or recorded feeds
- Enabling control relays to open or lock doors remotely
- Triggering lights and sirens in response to a detected intruder, to increase deterrence
A remote telemetry module or RTU safeguards and improves operations in controlled facilities. Monitoring capabilities protect sensitive investments and help make maintenance more efficient. With an effective remote monitoring solution, managers never have to worry about what’s going to happen when they leave the facility for the night.
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