Remote Terminal Unit Definition and Meaning

If you are doing reaserch about remote monitoring, you most likely came across the word "RTU" a couple of times. Specially if you want to deploy a brand new monitoring system for your network, it's critical that you understand what this equipment is and what exactly it does.

What is the meaning of "RTU"?

First, in order to understand the definition of an RTU, you need to know what the letters RTU stand for. There are actually two different definitions, but they mean almost exactly the same thing:

So, let's break down these 3 words, in order to understand remote telemetry units and remote terminal unit's definition.

1. Remote

An RTU is a electronic device that you install at a remote location to monitor and control the other equipment you have there (plus relevant environmental values like temperature, humidity, and water leakage that have a direct effect on electronic equipment).

There's not much reason to have an RTU where you have full-time staffing, because those areas are already covered by watchful personnel at all times (OK, someone could fall asleep on the job, but you get the idea).

2. Terminal / Telemetry

This device is going to act as a terminal or system for transmitting telemetry data and information. It's a terminal in the sense that data is collected from individual pieces of your equipment, aggregated at the RTU, then sent to you using your chosen communications method. The alarm data that's sent to you is known as "telemetry".

The word "telemetry" is also commonly used in hospitals to describe very similar data: a patient's health status (which is not much different from your network equipment's health status).

3. Unit

An RTU is a single unit/device that performs the functions described above.

Everyday Functions performed by an RTU
RTUs provide dependable network monitoring.

SCADA Systems

RTUs are an integral part of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. SCADA system is a monitoring and control system that is integral to many industries including power utilities, and manufacturing.

These supervisory and data acquisition systems are all about process control and information gathering. This ensures that a site manager has all the information they need. You can read more about SCADA here.

Get to Know More about RTUs

Now that you know what RTUs are and what they actually do, you might be curious about their specific capabilities and how you can select the perfect-fit unit for your real-world scenario.

If so, you can always talk to one of our application engineers as well. They are experts in remote monitoring and can direct you to the best option for your network - no commitment required. So, give us a call today and learn more about RTUs and how they can benefit you.

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You've decided it's time to buy an RTU to monitor your remote sites, but how do you decide which model is the best fit? Today, we're going to look at the top 3 things you need to think about when you're choosing an RTU...

by Andrew Erickson on February 11, 2019

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