National Grid is one of the world's largest utilities, focused on delivering energy safely, reliably, efficiently, and responsibly. They own and operate gas and electricity transmission and gas distribution networks in the UK and US and electricity distribution networks in the US. National Grid aims to be the world's premier network utility.
What most people might not know is that there is a considerable amount of underlying telecommunication infrastructure required to maintain daily operations at National Grid. This equipment has to be aggressively monitored. T/Mon has been a key part of their network surveillance strategy since 1990.
T/Mon was initially used to monitor Datalok remotes at National Grid microwave sites. Security is a primary concern, as is basic environmental and equipment alarming.
Over the last 16 years, National Grid has transitioned from Datalok remotes to DPS KDA 8964s. "The switchovers go really smooth. We maintain a single database at the T/Mon master and download the KDA. We then send a tech to the field to cutover the wiring and 30 minutes later the site is up," said Mary Steffen, Sr. IT Analyst.
Newer site upgrades have migrated to the NG216 and NetGuardian832. "The analog capabilities of these remotes will allow us to trend key readings such as temperature, battery and RSL" said Tim LaChance, Team Lead - Network operations. "Once you see what these new units can do, you almost wish all of your sites could do this."
National Grid's T/Mon architecture is quite sophisticated. They have several markets each with their own T/Mon which in turn report to a T/Mon MOM (Manager of Managers). The T/Mon MOM gives the NOC full visibility into the remote networks as well as its own remotes.
The NOC is manned 7x24, so when alarms come into the system, the operators assess the problem and take appropriate dispatch actions. One potential action is to use T/Mon to issue a manual page. This manual page allows the operator to quickly select the proper technician as well as type in the specific actions to execute. This is superior to automatic paging because the operator can take many other factors and changing circumstances into consideration prior to acting.
Over the years, National Grid has found the T/Mon to be both an effective and easy-to-use tool. "New operators can be trained in half a day. We have set up very clear instructions in the text message on what actions are to be taken," says Mary.
Both Mary and Tim recently attended DPS factory training. Mary came to the class with years of experience. Tim, from his management point of view, wanted to know more about DPS products & monitoring applications. Mary expected that the she would have to sit patiently and wait for the class to catch up with what she already knew, but she experienced something quite different. "The class went at a very good pace and I learned new ways of doing things along the way."
One of the best aspects of the training for Mary and Tim was learning how they could maximize the use of their T/Mon. "We can now use the ASCII processor on the T/Mon to Telnet into our devices to find out the root cause of a problem and report that directly to the alarm screen. This will allow our operators to get critical information much faster because they won't have to open the Telnet and issue the queries to get more detail. This is especially good because they avoid the complication of the subtle variances in command syntax between various elements. Collectively, this shortens the time to dispatch, which is good for everybody."
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