Know Your Options: Communication Platforms for Remote Monitoring Systems

Posted on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 8:44 AM

Remote terminal units, or RTUs, allow municipalities, utilities and manufacturers to remotely monitor facilities and equipment and communicate data or alarms to personnel via phone, fax, pager, cell phone, email or voicemail. Traditionally, RTUs transmit data or alarm notifications via landline telephone, but more options are now available. They include:

• Conventional landline: The conventional landline option is the simplest—an RTU transmits data via the landline network to the predetermined device.

• Cellular networks: The prevalence of cell phones means the RTU can transmit through a cellular network to the landline network.

• The Internet provides a third transmission option—machine-to-machine, or M2M. An RTU transmits data packets via an M2M network to the cellular and landline networks, which transfer the information through an M2M service provider gateway to the RTU manufacturer’s website. A notification is then sent to notify personnel that they can access data through the manufacturer’s website.

Consider your facility’s remote monitoring needs when choosing a communication platform. Systems that require frequent, high-volume data transmission are best suited to cellular and landline networks, since they allow unlimited transmission and data logging from up to 256 channels. They also are highly reliable communication methods.

In the past, when analog cellular was the only way to transmit, M2M was best for systems that require less frequent monitoring, since transmissions and data logging were limited and it was more difficult to call in for status checks.  However, with the transition to digital, much more data now can be sent at a higher frequency and lower cost. Additionally, with more steps in the transmission process, M2M also opens up more chances for an outage that could result in a delivery failure.

Download RACO’s white paper “Information Delivery for Remote Monitoring Systems” to learn more about RTUs and communication platform options.

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