You might actually want a separate patch panel at your larger sites, but at a small site, you need to conserve as much physical space as possible. In those cases, you have to be sure that you can terminate directly to your device. This means more than just having Amphenol connectors. You need to meaningfully connect wire-to-wire and bring alarms in.
Also, make sure you don't accept any proposals for devices that don't accept analogs. In today's monitoring environment, they are no longer a nicety, but a necessity. Monitoring temperature, humidity, battery voltages, fuel tank levels, signal strength and a range of other variables requires the versatility of analog inputs.
When talking with vendors, make sure that their offerings are capable of accepting input from analog sensors, which typically are 4-20 mA outputs. Equally important, the same inputs should also be able to handle your 48-volt battery plant without any special transducers. Of course, once the alarms cross a series of warning and alarm thresholds, you need to be notified so you can take immediate action. While simple low and high thresholds are better than nothing, the best solutions have warning and alarms thresholds for both over and under directions.
It's also good to ask about analog alarm scaling. When you view sensor data, you shouldn't be given a meaningless current or voltage that you'll have to manually convert to something usable. Temperature should automatically display as degrees, humidity as a percentage, etc. A good monitoring solution will allow you to input a conversion factor that will automatically translate input from sensors into instantly actionable information.
Finally, it's incredibly important to avoid proprietary monitoring protocols. You want a remote that can report to any standard SNMP manager. It should also be capable of routing SNMP traps issued by site equipment.
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