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Telemetry Monitoring and the Importance of Sensors

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Telemetry Units

An important aspect of using remote telemetry units (RTUs) for monitoring is the collecting and reporting of information from your sites. Your monitoring system needs a way to collect this telemetry data and report it to you in a meaningful way.

Sensors play an important role in telemetry. Without a data collection system, an RTU would be pretty ineffective. Using various kinds of sensors with your RTUs allows information to be collected, then forwarded to you by the RTU. This creates an effective system to get meaningful information about your equipment, transport gear, and environmental conditions 24 hours a day.

Two Major Types of Sensor Technologies

Sensors used at network monitoring stations fall under two major types:
  • Discrete sensors - Discrete sensors collect digital information from telemetry equipment. By establishing a high/low threshold, you can receive an alert whenever the sensor detects that the alarm point crosses this threshold. Typically, discrete sensors are used for monitoring doors, tower lights, communication equipment, etc.
  • Analog sensors - Analog sensors measure and transmit live values from environmental conditions. This information is then reported to you as a real value, instead of just an "on" or "off" data. Because of this ability to present more accurate and precise information, analog sensors are commonly used to monitor things like temperature, battery voltage, power current, etc.
Telemetry Sensors Application Drawing
Live analog gauges provide real-time values and a graphical display of critical analog values.

7 Useful Sensors for Network Monitoring
The best sensors to use for your network will ultimately depend on exactly what you want to monitor. However, there are some commonly used sensors that help monitor critical conditions to deliver a more reliable level of uptime. These sensors include:

  1. Temperature Sensors - Analog temperature sensors allow you to monitor fluctuating sensor levels at your remote sites. Accurate, real-time live values mean there's no guessing involved. You can closely watch the long-term temperature trend to see if it's slowly rising (telling you that there's probably something wrong), which lets you respond before your gear starts powering down because it overheated.
  2. Motion Sensors - The most critical element of monitoring physical site security is detecting intruders and other unwanted visitors. Motion sensors provide you with the instant notification you need to react to intruders. Discrete motion sensors can even do things like turn on a light or send an intrusion notification when movement is detected within its field of vision. Potential points of entry should be protected by motion sensors.
  3. Door Sensors - Whether or not you've ever had to deal with theft or vandalism before, your unmanned sites conveniently located in the middle of nowhere are vulnerable. Door sensors keep your important network equipment secure - you'll receive notifications the instant someone tries to gain unauthorized access to one of your sites, or if an employee enters when they're not supposed to.
  4. Power Failure Sensors - The primary damage caused by an outage is obvious: If commercial power fails and you don't have a backup power supply, the site is eventually going to go dark (which means you get to enjoy downtime). A power failure sensor will send alarms whenever power is disrupted for a specified amount of time.
  5. Voltage/Current Sensors - If you rely on batteries anywhere in your network, then you probably want to know if they're outputting power. The last thing you want is for commercial power to fail then you find out there's something wrong with your backup batteries. You can avoid this entire issue by simply monitoring battery voltage or current.
  6. Propane Tank Sensors - Monitoring your propane tanks can save you the hassle of running out of fuel. Depending on how much propane you use, you'll have multiple options for how thorough you need to monitor your propane levels. A floating sensor that gauges low levels may be all you need or an advanced gauge that reports live values may be more fitting - it all depends on what you need. And if your propane tanks are farther from your site, we also have wireless sensors available.
  7. Smoke Sensors - Smoke sensors are critical safety devices used in every single home - and your site is no exception. There are a number of ways a fire could break out at a site...overheated equipment, electrical short, wildfire, etc. You can't control when a fire could start, but you can take some extra steps to give yourself time to respond with a smoke detection sensor.

With a variety of sensors available for your monitoring systems, you can collect data for all of the important conditions throughout your network. To learn more about sensors... and network monitoring...

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