Remote Alarm Monitoring Solutions: Efficient Network Management for Large Service Areas

Remote monitoring solutions

Telecom and utility companies with large distributed networks often face major problems. In order to manage a network that stretches across hundreds or thousands of miles, you have to be able to visualize and monitor it.

Remote monitoring allows you to take proactive steps where possible, and respond appropriately to incidents. Anywhere there’s equipment, there can be conditions that cause a catastrophic failure or service outage. That’s why operations must be closely monitored to allow for preventative maintenance, as well as to alleviate emergency repairs and breakdowns.

To make smart decisions concerning where to take proactive and reactive measures, it’s critical to implement reliable remote alarm monitoring solutions. Here are some tips to help:

Effective Tips for Network Management Tools

The typical scale of large service area networks and the volume of alarms will require reliable network management tools that:

  • Quickly render significant data into actionable insights. For successful large area network management, ensure data from every alarm will be sorted, prioritized, and aggregated. Then, data should be presented to company managers in a centralized way. This will enable time- and cost-effective allocation of maintenance and repair resources.
  • Include RTUs, a master station, and SNMP. Remote telemetry units (RTUs), central master station alarm management systems, and simple network monitoring protocol (SNMP) network management software will work together as a complete end-to-end efficient network management solution.

Solutions for Efficient Network Monitoring at Scale

To efficiently monitor large networks, companies need to keep these important options in mind:

  1. A way to monitor all of the actual equipment sites. This can be done with remote terminal units or RTUs, which are a collection of electronic remote monitoring devices housed in durable, metal boxes with attached sensors.
  2. A centralized screen to collect, sort, and display information coming in from multiple equipment sites. This can be accomplished with master stations that receive RTU signals and display them as readable data all on one screen.
  3. Something to translate different protocol “languages” into a single user interface. This can be accomplished by SNMP network management software, which receives data from various units, allowing company decision-makers to view alerts individually or en masse.

This doesn’t mean that every one of a hundred-thousand remote unmanned equipment locations needs to have the same exact RTU. Different sites will have different needs, which will be best served by a different RTU and a variety of sensors.

Choosing the best RTU means selecting the unit that processes information correctly and costs less or lasts longer.

Time to Replace Old RTUs?

So, when it’s time to replace an old RTU or find a new one for a new site, it’s good to plan ahead for efficiency. Remember that the RTU doesn’t have to be the same one used at the last site. It just needs to be able to monitor your systems well, provide flexibility, and account for future growth.

Because master stations and network management software deal with more individual components than RTUs, they are more difficult to replace.

A new RTU only has to be able to speak to one master station, old or new. By contrast, a new master station has to be able to collect data from many RTUs and support SNMP and non-SNMP RTUs. New network management software (NMS) and/ or your central master station need to be intelligible to all those using it.

Structure for Network Monitoring of Wide Areas

Large telecommunications and utility networks exist in wide areas. Large networks can be viewed geometrically, much like pyramids. This may be similar to your company’s hierarchy. 

Large networks can be viewed geometrically, much like pyramids.

Where, at the bottom are the numerous company assets and equipment that keep the network running. Then, each layer above this aggregates what is being produced by the layer below until you reach the top of the organizational structure. Visualizing the network in a similar way reminds us to focus on the structure of network relationships, instead of each individual site.

Realizing this allows company decision makers to structure their responses to alarm conditions accordingly. Keep these three levels in mind:

  1. Local. Begin with local alarms that require local responses. This is simple enough. For example: when an RTU notices a back-up generator is low on fuel, the closest fuel truck, in miles and hours, is dispatched. It fills the tank and helps prevent system failure. With a master station compiling multiple low-fuel alarms, dispatchers can plan fuel truck trips to different generators for the week. This will help to maximize route efficiency.
  2. Regional. At the next level up—the regional level—decision-makers don’t need to dispatch fuel trucks to every low-fuel alert. That’s a response being taken at the local level. Instead, managers need to look at how many low fuel alarms are coming in each month or each quarter. Then, they need to ensure there’s enough fuel in the region to supply the trucks, which will supply the generators. Management can decide the best options by looking at data sorted and presented by the network management software.
  3. Multiple Regions. At the highest level, managers aren’t concerned with single generators or fuel shortages in a single region. Instead, they’re concerned with how much fuel all regions use combined in a year or a decade.

Recommendations for Efficient Remote Alarm Monitoring

Having access to granular local data allows high-level decision-makers in large companies to see aggregate trends. Therefore, managers can visualize what is happening in localities, regions, and across an entire system, enabling effective strategic planning. Network monitoring solutions ensure companies can view alerts across their entire wide-area physical network. And it also allows them to view alerts from their past, and to predict them in the future.

Network monitoring solutions ensure companies can view alerts across their entire wide-area physical network.

Understanding the enormous complexity of large service area networks helps companies to choose the most effective network monitoring solutions. By implementing appropriate solutions at every level, company managers will ensure time- and cost-effective decisions about equipment maintenance, repair, and replacement. Ultimately, remote alarm monitoring is an efficient strategy for telecom and utility companies servicing large areas.

DPS Telecom has been helping large networks monitor their remote equipment for over half a century. We’re proud to leverage our experience with expansive networks to help you find the right monitoring solutions for today and ten years from now. To learn more about our solutions, get a quote today!


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Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson has been building remote monitoring systems for his clients since 2006, both in the United States and internationally. He has been a featured speaker at a variety of national telco, utility, radio, and rail conferences.

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