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How To Choose The Right Equipment For Facilities Management

Make your facilities management more effective by choosing a remote monitoring system with these key features:

  • Facility access: How do you know what's going on at your sites? Make sure your system allows you to fully customize your site security options and keeps complete historical records of site and equipment access.
  • Keyless entry: Where security is concerned, keycards are as bad as keys-they get misplaced, lost, broken, and even stolen. With keyless entry, a user-defined code allows site access and records the time and date of site occupation. Codes are easily updated and changed, and the keypads themselves are virtually tamper-proof.
  • Video surveillance: Added security for sites can now be provided using video surveillance. Network managers are able to view live streaming video of their sites and equipment through their web browser.

Checklist: Facilities Management Essentials

Facilities management is just the start of what you should be looking for in a remote network alarm monitoring system. Here's a handy checklist of all the essential features you should look for. Print this checklist out and use it to rate the systems you're evaluating. If a system can't meet these basic requirements, cross it off your list.

Make sure your system supports these essential remote equipment monitoring functions:

  • Alarm sorting and analysis: Make sense of alarm cascades with automatic intelligent alarm sorting, filtering, processing, and trend analysis.
  • Alarm collection and device management: Don't settle for a limited remote alarm network monitoring system. Get multiprotocol support for every monitoring device in your network, plus discrete alarms, analog alarms, ping alarms, and redundant path reporting.
  • Alarm presentation and notification: Send detailed alarm descriptions and correction instructions to NOC and field techs via pager notifications and web interfaces.

Essential alarm sorting and analysis functions

  • Alarm sorting: A large, complex network can create a cascade of alarms. Some are unimportant, but others are critical. Look for a system that can automatically sort and prioritize this flood of information for you.
  • History and trend analysis: Identify problem areas and eliminate recurring problems with a system that keeps a complete alarm history that's exportable for trend analysis.
  • Custom combination alarms: A low battery isn't a serious problem, and neither is a failed generator, but they're pretty serious when the happen at the same time. Look for a system that can watch many different alarm inputs and spot critical alarm combinations.
  • Root cause analysis: Finding the underlying cause between alarm cascades can take hours of patient detective work. Look for a system that can automatically correlate repeated combinations of alarms.
  • Nuisance alarm filtering: Even the best NOC staff stops taking alarms seriously if they're bombarded with status alerts, oscillating conditions, and unimportant alarms. Look for a system that filters these out.

Key alarm presentation and notification functions

  • Detailed alarm notifications: Summary "major/minor" alarms don't give you enough information to make dispatch decisions. Look for a network alarm monitoring system that includes detailed diagnostic information in each alarm.
  • Pager and e-mail notifications: Pager and e-mail notifications let your field techs respond to alarms while they're still in the field, speeding repairs and reducing windshield time. Look for a system with SMS support, which can send detailed alarm notifications to alpha pagers, cell phones, and PDAs.
  • Alarm correction instructions: Detailed instructions included in alarm notifications ensure that system operators, without extra training, will know precisely what to do and who to call if an alarm happens.
  • Web interface: Everybody knows how to use a Web browser. A Web interface makes sure all your field techs can access your alarm system, from any computer from any location.

Critical alarm collection and device management functions

  • Control relays: Many common site problems, from power outages to high temperature alarms, can be solved by quickly turning on a generator or an air conditioner. Remote operation of site devices is the best way to eliminate unnecessary site visits and it's a lot faster than going in the truck.
  • SNMP support and ping alarms: If you're responsible for both telecom and IP equipment, consolidate all your monitoring on one system.
  • Multiprotocol support for your existing devices: Make sure your next master system collects alarms from all your existing devices, including your older legacy gear. You can get rid of all your specialized consoles and monitor your network from one screen.
  • Live analog monitoring: You can't adequately monitor battery levels, temperature, and humidity with one-threshold contact closures. Look for support for analog inputs, including live monitoring of actual analog values.
  • Back-up dial-up reporting: Don't rely on your primary network to bring back alarms. If anything goes wrong with your transport, you'll lose your telemetry data just when you need it the most. Look for a system that supports dial-up alternate path reporting.

This is just a checklist of basic monitoring functions. If you want to find a remote equipment monitoring system that meets and exceeds your requirements, let us know.

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