Basic alarm monitoring will provide simple status reports. Some systems are very passive. If a technician is monitoring the console, he can examine the state of each alarm point. But the system will not notify personnel of changes in state. Nor do personnel have the means to poll or ping equipment. Nor can they control relays remotely. Many alarm monitoring systems use proprietary protocols and interfaces. These are incompatible with other equipment.
Advanced alarm monitoring incorporates many element. You have change-of-state alarms. There are analog environmental alarms. You also have notification of support personnel by pager and e-mail, control relays, and derived alarms (alarms based on logical formulas processing from different alarm sensors). One additional element is support for multiple protocols and interfaces.
Advanced alarm monitoring uses data processing. This provides better alarm information and complex automatic responses to emergency situations. Advanced alarm monitoring won't just tell personnel there's a problem. It will locate the problem. It will provide useful information about the problem. If possible, it will correct the problem automatically.
Let's look at a concrete example. A basic monitoring system can tell you a generator is down. A more advanced system will automatically switch to a backup battery if the generator goes down. A truly advanced system will also check if the backup battery is good or bad. It will understand the minor alarm of a down generator OR a bad backup battery. It will also understand the critical alarm of a down generator AND a bad backup battery. It will respond to the critical alarm by paging support personnel.
Having some alarm monitoring is better than having no monitoring at all. But it's even better to have the best alarm monitoring possible. Advanced alarm monitoring features like these can make the difference between a minor incident and major downtime. That's a crucial edge to have in today's competitive industry.
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