One particular area of industry, in general, that is buzzing now and showing no signs of slowing down is the utilization of the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) innovation in industrial settings. M2M’s reach is so broad that we will focus on its application in the process control industry.
What is M2M?
Machine-to-Machine Communication represents the latest frontier in evolution of remote telemetry. When we talk about traditional remote telemetry, we are referring to the monitoring or controlling of an industrial system in a remote location by using radio frequency or telephone lines as the mode of communication between the remote site and the operation’s headquarters. The general setup in a process environment for a telemetry station includes the following:
- An instrument that senses flow, level, pressure, temperature or other common criteria.
- A PLC or RTU that can collect the data coming from the instrument(s).
- A mode of communication that allows the RTU to transport that information from the remote location over the traditional modes of radio and telephone, and more recently over fiber, Ethernet, or cellular networks.
- A Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA) system at the headquarters that can monitor and/or control the remote sites depending on what the project requires.
Why Use M2M?
While M2M terminology is starting to replace the use of “telemetry,” it is essentially the same concept with updated technological capabilities. The benefits of using the newer forms of communication can include cost savings, more reliable data, and more functionality with both monitoring and controlling the remote sites. In addition to those, when newer SCADA systems are installed or upgraded from older versions, several other key advantages occur:
- Data can be transmitted wirelessly from the station to headquarters over cellular towers, reducing the infrastructure needed for radio towers or telephone lines.
- Cellular Modems can serve as backup communications to radio systems already in place.
- Mobile applications can be activated by most major SCADA providers to allow smartphone and tablet access to the system.
- With mobile access, operators can plan maintenance trips more effectively and be more equipped for issues when they do occur.
- If desired, controls can be activated rather than just the monitoring of data. Data can be transmitted over Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) to add additional security layers to the data and controls.
Why Choose Cross Company?
Cross Company has been working in the telemetry field for over 20 years. We have helped customers set up telemetry systems on one form of communication and then migrate to the newer forms as time and technology allow. Today, we specialize in setting up M2M systems that we refer to as “Cellular Telemetry.” We prefer that term because it helps those familiar with the telemetry process identify that the main adjustment is the use of cellular communication in place of what they are used to.
Since telemetry looks somewhat different for each industrial setting, Cross Company customizes solutions for each application based on the existing infrastructure as well as your current and future needs. Investing in this technology and service is scalable and with the right plan in place, it can be implemented over time to incorporate each remote location with increasing functionality of the SCADA system.