Remote Monitoring

Published by Jason Koffler on 11 June 2012

Remote monitoring of UPS and power protection equipment is now possible because of developments and advances in communication technology and monitoring systems. Acquiring the most suitable solution for your installation comes down to several factors:

- Criticality – how critical power protection is to your business and the level of uptime and availability you require.
- Human resources – whether or not you have the skilled and available resources in-house to monitor and manage your system effectively.
- Business improvement – what improvements, in terms of business reporting, more effective management and overall business enhancements will a monitoring system allow.
- Security – the level of security required by the business.
- Budget – although costs should not be the first consideration, you need to have an idea of how much you can afford and what you can expect.

This article offers five pointers to consider when choosing a remote monitoring solution.

1 – SNMP or GSM-based remote monitoring?

First appearing in its basic form in 1988, SNMP is a standard for managing devices using the Internet. It is used extensively in systems for monitoring network-attached devices for conditions that may require technical attention or intervention. It also permits active management tasks such as modifications to be made or configuration changes to be applied.

An SNMP-based remote management system requires three primary components: a managed device (such as a UPS, or a UPS system), a software agent, which runs on the managed device, and a network management system (software that runs on the manager, which could be one or more administrative computers).

Early versions of the standard were shown to contain security flaws and even now, care must be taken when employing SNMP remote monitoring in environments where security is a primary issue.

These days, GSM-based remote monitoring systems offer more choice in terms of usability, functionality and mobility. In the 1980s, GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) was developed by the European Telecommunications Standard Institute (ETSI), originally for voice communication. Since then, it has expanded to include data communication via GPRS (General Packet Radio Services) and data speeds have been enhanced, including the launch of the 3G (Third Generation) and 4G (Fourth Generation) standards. It now also offers international roaming.

Today, engineers are mobile, out on the road most of the time and remote monitoring may be required across a number of sites at different locations, GSM-based systems offer many advantages.

2 – What happens when the alert comes in?

Unheard or ignored alerts from monitoring equipment are two of the most common causes of system downtime. Customers need to ask themselves: who is going to respond to alerts whenever and wherever they happen? Streamlined operations means that staff are always busy and chances are, they will not be in the vicinity of the alarm nor able to respond to it when it alerts.

Remote monitoring takes away this problem. It means that there is always someone available to respond to alerts when they occur. The system transports the alert whenever one occurs to wherever it will be heard (usually to a mobile device carried by an engineer out in the field or to a management computer located at a remote monitoring and management centre run by a specialist third-party). This type of service goes one better by providing a nationwide network of skilled and experienced engineers, on hand at all times, 24/7 if need be. This means alerts are never ignored.

3 – Does the remote monitoring service offer an end of month monitoring report?

If a system does not enable a customer to enhance their business, processes and systems, maintain power protection equipment in an optimum condition and provide data to enable improvements to be made, is it really worth it?

There is nothing worse for a business manager (whether ICT, operations or financial) than to be in the dark about remote monitoring: alerts that occurred, how many, how often, how they were responded to, any follow up work, cause of the problem and so on. Without this information, it is almost impossible to realise any real return on investment or make any improvements or respond to maintenance issues that may have come to light.

4 – What is your SLA (Service Level Agreement)?

This is most closely associated with criticality and you firstly need to decide on what level of service you require from a supplier. Is it round-the-clock critical or is a guaranteed clock-hour response (4, 8, or 12-clock-hours) sufficient for your site?

Being clear about the level of service you need from a supplier before you select a product or service will enable you to select the right one and take things forward smoothly.

5 – What else can be monitored?

Alongside your power protection system, including UPS, generator and batteries, what other monitoring options will benefit your organisation? What about the environment: temperature, humidity, smoke and fire, liquid leaks? What about security in terms protecting installed equipment from unwanted or unwarranted human contact? All of these can be taken care of with the right remote monitoring system and intelligent sensor technology.

At Critical Power Supplies, we offer a range of remote monitoring systems and services from superior battery and environmental monitoring using leading-edge products from GENEREX to our own Critical Watch 850, which is a popular wireless monitoring system. It is compact and versatile, making it suitable for a variety of applications. It can be enhanced with GPS location services and is able to deliver alarm alerts to mobile phones and email addresses – including designated recipients and our own 24/7, nationwide Critical Watch team. It also delivers real-time data streaming for advanced telemetry and is web-enabled and remotely programmable.

For more information or to talk to us about your remote monitoring requirements, call 0800 978 8988 or click here

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