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The True Value of Remote Monitoring Your Generator

by Chip Main | 8 30, 2019

 

power-generator-remote-monitoring

 

There are several different reasons for people or businesses to own generators. For some it’s a luxury, being able to have minimal power maybe at a rustic campsite to be able to run the coffee pot, the TV or even the air conditioning in an RV. The art of making primitive camping a little less primitive.

One of the main uses of generators is in the case of power outages, which can be extremely costly to homeowners and businesses, leading to hours or even days of no productivity and personal discomfort. For homes the need to be able to keep the lights on, the heat or A.C running and most importantly the water and refrigerator powered up and running are some things we depend on. Even further power outages can be a life threatening issue in the case of a hospital or in an emergency room. Lastly for many businesses power generators are vital to ensuring that they are productive and efficient.

The most common industries that use power generators are:

  • Hospitality/Tourism
  • Food Production
  • Government/State Services
  • Telecommunications
  • Retail
  • Entertainment
  • Power Plants and Energy

In this article we will review 3 different uses of generator power that many businesses rely on and how remotely monitoring their power generators can save valuable time, costs, assets and possibly even lives. Additionally for a deep dive on how to reduce operating costs of power generators with remote management read through our whitepaper here:

Whitepaper

 

Primary Power

In the use case of utilizing power generators as a primary power source this is due to there being no utility-based power available. This scenario can typically be found in the Oil, Mining, Telecommunications, and Construction industries.

In the case of a remote oil or gas well, power is required continuously or may only shut down once the site has filled or transferred to a transfer tank. In these types of cases, the reliability and dependability of the generator are absolutely mandatory. 

In the case of telecommunications (Telecom), there are remote areas where a telecommunication microwave or cellular tower have no access to the power grid. A local generator provides the primary power that is running 24/7. In some primary power cases the generator may only shut down when the telecom site sign is not in use.

As in the case of the Telecom company Azercell located in Azerbaijan, they recognized the value of remote monitoring of their site generators. Azercell have trusted the Azeri company NetService to install diesel generators at 450 mobile base stations all around Azerbaijan. These diesel generators supply backup power to the base stations whenever the regular power should fail. Their locations are all outside and may experience a temperature swing from -20deg c to +40degC. The gensets are equipped with A Netbiter remote monitoring gateway that is connected to a DEIF – GC-1F genset controller, communicating via the Modbus 485 protocol. “Remote monitoring has spared us a lot of service trips which means savings in time and money, but more importantly we have better control of the generators and can monitor all parameters in real time through a web browser” Yashar Mailov, Service Manager, NetService.  

 

 

Critical Backup Power

For most of these applications, the generators are used as “Back -Up” power, meaning it is not the primary source of power. There are cases in which a generator on stand by power is critical. For example in the case of a data center or a hospital. If those businesses loose primary power and the generator fail to start and provide backup power, the results are catastrophic.

 

"Keeping the power on during an outage is a necessity not an option"

 

Remote monitoring allows these businesses to test and check on their generators to ensure that they are ready to be used whenever. Without remote monitoring the tests most be done regularly in person that can be tedious or in some cases very difficult. One example of this is a telecom provider that was at the top of the mountain in the El Yunque National Forest located in Puerto Rico. In this case, the generator site location was many hours away and may actually be inaccessible during rain or fog. Remote monitoring was critical to be able to remotely control the gensets and pull data from the generator controller.

 

             Fog-remote-monitoring                                                 tower-remote-monitoring 

 

 

Non-Critical Backup Power

The remaining generator applications can be grouped into non-critical backup power. In this case there are no risks to human lives or significant costs associated with the loss of power, but it does cause a major inconvenience and does negatively impact a companies productivity. An example would be - losing power at a light commercial facility such as a grocery store. Employee can not execute their jobs or the environment may become too cold or too hot to conduct business. Or if the power is out for too long, the concern for in store product such as produce and frozen foods becomes an issue. Ultimately there are costs associated with the power outage and that may well be avoided if the generator system is well maintained, tested and remotely monitored.

 

 

Improving Generator Reliability with Remote Monitoring and Maintenance

In most of these cases, it is very important that the generator starts and functions as intended. This is where remote monitoring or as some refer to it as “Remote Management” can help. The ability to remotely monitor the generator from your pc, tablet or your mobile phone can provide extremely valuable information regarding the health and operation of the genset. Review our list of questions to see if you are in need of a remote monitoring solution for your genset!

 

The ability to know the following is very important for the dependability of the generator-

  • How many hours has the genset ran since last year?
  • Can we schedule service for the unit when it is not needed or while the other unit is running?
  • Were there any faults during the last run of the generator?
  • Is there anything that happened during the last run that will keep it from running again?
  • Are there any faults during the current run of the generator?
  • Is it a fault that requires service? Does it require a reset? Does it need to go offline?
  • What is the coolant temperature and level?
  • What is the cause of high temp? too much load?
  • What is the oil temperature and level?
  • What is the cause of hi oil temp? does it require an oil change?
  • What are the voltages and current the genset is producing?
  • Are the loads balanced? Is it overloaded? Underloaded?
  • Is the operator control panel in the correct mode to start when needed?
  • Is it in auto mode? Manual mode? Ready to transfer?

Knowing these valuable data points will help the service technician or maintenance personnel to determine if the generator needs maintenance or service, and if it is…what type of material or personnel need to go to the site for the repair.

 

 

HMS Networks Remote Management Solutions

As well as all the benefits of knowing what is happening or what has happened in the past with the generator, there is also the capability with a Remote Management solution such as the HMS Netbiter and Argos solution to actually control the genset remotely.

This means that if the generator controller has encountered a fault that would prevent it from starting, the Netbiter Argos solution allows you to access the faults in the generator controller and clear any remaining fault. You also can remotely start the genset from your phone or PC to “exercise” the generator. The exercising is a requirement from most generator manufactures that “stand by” generator start and run periodically to ensure the system is functional.

If you have the need for remote monitoring and control of your genset or other remotely located assets, please contact HMS for a face to face introduction of this solution.

Schedule a Live Demo to Learn More

 

 

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