Monitoring your diesel tanks via SNMP

Do you use diesel generators to provide backup (or even primary) power to remote locations? If so, you know that tracking your diesel tank levels is very important. A dry tank at the wrong moment can me a site goes completely dark. Whether you're providing telecom service, coordinating railway traffic, managing a public-safety radio system, or anything else, you can't afford to have your network go down.

Fortunately, SNMP ("Simple Network Management Protocol") provides an effective means to remotely track and report your diesel levels. Protocols have changed over the decades, but SNMP is a popular standard today for the remote management of telecom and other assets.

To track your diesel tank levels, the first thing you need is a diesel sensor. Technically, you can approximate diesel levels by tracking generator running time, but that isn't as accurate as a true sensor.

Diesel sensors can take a few different forms. If a float was not integrated when you bought your tank, one of the more popular methods is a machine-readable gauge. This simply replaces the standard needle gauge on your tank and outputs a voltage/current that indicates the tank level.

An SNMP RTU will collect the reading from your diesel sensor (in addition to a lot of other data from the site, of course) and send it back to your SNMP manager as an SNMP trap.

Compared with other protocols you could choose for diesel monitoring, SNMP has the advantage of being a popular, open standard. You don't have to choose an RTU and a master station (SNMP manager, in this case) from the same manufacturer in order to maintain support for some proprietary protocol.

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