As services expand, so do the needs for efficient site monitoring. While in many cases, a simple connection such as a Local Area Network is adequate; in larger networks this option may not be as feasible due to the geographical challenges. For that ranch that needs well monitoring across several hundred acres, or the communications company with sites all over the country, or even the remote monitoring posts in rugged terrain hundreds of miles from civilization, all of these need some form of communication connection that a Wi-Fi or wire line just can't provide.
For smaller applications, when sensors and RTUs only need to send information across distances of up to about 40 miles, a private radio channel may be sufficient. With the ability to self-broadcast and receive updates, a radio channel has the ability to carry messages rather efficiently. With the inclusion of repeaters every so often, that distance can extend much further based on many factors. Some of the drawbacks of this method are the fact that in some cases government approval may be required, this form of communication is rather unsecure, and for larger distances this method can become extremely inefficient without sizable investments.
Many companies have incorporated cellular services into their SCADA systems as well. Protocol sent in this form is much more efficient than radio communications, primarily because of the ability to use existing networks, as long as you are within range of a cell site. Signals can be readily sent across the internet through the cellular service's data packages or to a dedicated receiver through a simple SMS message. These methods though will have monthly costs because of the utilization of another organization's infrastructure.
One more form of wireless SCADA systems worth mentioning are those that are linked together via satellite. Imagine you are operating a water-level and temperature monitoring station out in the most remote parts of Alaska. The nearest cell tower is hundreds of miles and several mountains away. The odds of receiving a signal are slim to none. This doesn't mean that communications aren't still necessary though. You might be inclined to use radio transmissions, but due to the terrain and availability of service technicians, this route is also out. The one "for sure" connection still available is already above your heads. With data speeds rivaling that of hardline connections, and the ability to link up with equipment in the most remote areas, satellites have become a staple that holds together some of the largest and most remote network monitoring solutions.
If a wireless SCADA system is the only way to effectively monitor your projects, then why try to piece together something by yourself? Give a preferred telemetry professional a call and see what options you may have to better serve your needs.
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