Central Lincoln PUD is a public-owned electric utility and has been serving its customers since 1943. Central Lincoln has well over 32,000 residential and commercial customers, with coverage extending 120 miles along the Oregon coastline and servicing an area of about 700 square miles.
In order to manage such a long and wide area, Central Lincoln has created and actively maintains its own communications network. Fiber is run across the Oregon coastline and is the backbone of Central Lincoln's SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system.
This fiber is the primary communications channel between the substations and offices, providing data and phone. Technicians and dispatch are able to communicate and function effectively during power outages. Due to the critical nature of these operations, network alarm monitoring plays a vital role in Central Lincoln's overall strategy to maintain service.
Central Lincoln faces several monitoring challenges. From traditional network diversity issues, like having older equipment while phasing in newer gear, as well as other concerns like the weather, substation surveillance, and windshield time. Central Lincoln has steadily improved its network, giving its technicians even more event visibility across the Oregon coastline. When new electricity transmission lines go up, Central Lincoln proactively extends its fiber between the new areas and the substations.
Because most of the transmission lines are overhead, one of Central Lincoln's key priorities is to provide redundancy to the areas it serves. By adding loop feeds in certain areas, Central Lincoln is able to reroute power during outages. "Part of the rebuilding, is trying to add loop feeds so if the power does go down, there is an alternate path", says Dennis Woodward, Communications Foreman, Central Lincoln PUD.
With the visibility of the NetGuardian, Central Lincoln can easily keep an eye on their remote sites. When alarms do happen, the extra visibility helps the initial troubleshooting. Dispatch can then make accurate and informed decisions, sending technicians out to the correct site and well prepared with the right tools.
Using email, Dennis is able to log in and check the alarm status sent from the unit. The NetGuardian is capable of emailing, sending text messages, and paging technicians as alarms are detected. With the added feature of the web browser interface, dispatch and technicians can log in and get more detail about the problem, monitor conditions at the site, and remotely operate the equipment.
Even though Central Lincoln uses the NetGuardians as standalone remotes for alarm collection and notification, they are well poised to centralize their monitoring. An alarm monitoring system like the T/Mon SLIM or other SNMP managers can easily fit into their network and provide centralized visibility of the NetGuardians.
With training courses like the DPS Telecom Factory Training, Central Lincoln is succeeding in keeping up-to-date with changing Network Alarm Monitoring technologies. "Everything is going to Ethernet, even the meters at the substations are Ethernet, IP is becoming the transport of default, the older alarm monitoring systems we have don't support IP transport" notes Dennis. "One of the things that sold me on the NetGuardian 832A is that you could take it from serial to an IP transport."
The NetGuardian fits right in. It allows Central Lincoln to steadily upgrade their older remote telemetry units over time as their budget and manpower permits. "The NetGuardian still has the tie back to the older way of doing things, so with our other equipment we could connect straight into it without having to switch it out," says Dennis. With growth and expansion, Central Lincoln is looking ahead; making sure the infrastructure it lays down today will meet their needs tomorrow.
Many clients have a significant investment in their existing equipment, but need to improve visibility throughout their network. Using protocol mediation solutions will allow you to bridge the gap between your older devices while enhancing and maintaining your current level of monitoring.
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