Remote Monitoring: The Next Generation of LMR Management

Throughout our career in the wireless communications industry, we constantly had to contend with a significant gap in monitoring capabilities for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems – especially for organizations with multiple repeater sites that are geographically dispersed. There are hundreds of thousands of repeater sites supporting critical LMR infrastructure across North America that are not being adequately monitored.

These transmitters are responsible for connecting vital operations such as dispatching first responders, keeping major manufacturing plants working productively and safely, and ensuring oil and gas continue to operate. Without the ability to properly monitor key data and functions of these LMR systems, organizations are forced into reactive maintenance, putting productivity – and lives – at risk.

SHIFTING TO SOFTWARE-CENTRIC SOLUTIONS

According to a recent global benchmark survey, 45 percent of organizations reported using a digital-only two-way LMR system, while 29 percent are using a hybrid of digital and analog as they transition to a digital-only system. These numbers are part of a broader shift to digitization in wireless communications solutions that allow for major gains in the use and management of LMR systems.

This evolution has enabled leaps in LMR functionality and performance, but these systems are only as good as their maintenance allows. LMR systems generate large amounts of operational data and system alarms on a daily basis. Most of this vital data goes unused and sending a technician out to manually investigate every alarm not only incurs the cost of additional truck rolls, but also lost revenue during system downtime. As wireless communications technology becomes more complex, this break-fix approach to maintenance will no longer be sustainable.

In order to close the gap of effective monitoring for remote wireless transmitter sites, we developed RimotRF, a turnkey remote monitoring-as-a-service (RMaaS) solution that drives predictive maintenance and smarter remote asset management. RimotRF users can easily access site information and receive alerts via SMS text or email when thresholds are exceeded to effectively allocate resources and resolve critical issues without disrupting service.

HOW REMOTE MONITORING WORKS

RimotRF was developed on a foundation of empowering system owners and technicians with actionable data. There were existing offerings for remote monitoring, but they were a substantial investment and required complex engineering and installation. Existing solutions were also designed to only monitor one aspect of a site, just the repeaters for instance, and not all of the related equipment on a site that may create  failure points for radio systems.

We designed RimotRF to monitor critical site infrastructure at a low monthly cost (about the cost of a cell phone) with simplified installation and intuitive use. A typical system can be installed and running in as little as an hour, without pre-engineering.

Using site sensors, private encrypted IP communication links, and data analytics, RimotRF monitors key aspects of your wireless transmitters and repeaters, antenna systems, and the site itself. Weather and lightning data are also integrated into our remote monitoring service to provide a clear picture of what’s happening in the field and reveal any contributing factors for system malfunctions.

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THE INFORMATION YOU NEED FROM YOUR REMOTE TRANSMITTER SITE

To deliver a comprehensive product that solves major monitoring issues, we conducted over a hundred interviews with industry professionals in varied roles and levels of responsibilities for transmitter sites. Reducing system downtime was the most common issue for system owners and technicians that lack visibility into their remote sites, in addition to:

  • The ability to capture historical events for troubleshooting intermittent problems
  • Diagnosing a site problem remotely before sending a technician
  • Determining if weather conditions are impacting radio system performance
  • Being alerted when a site has lost AC power and is running on limited DC power
  • Knowing if HVAC is working properly, or if humidity is too high or too low
  • Accessing the health status of antenna systems
  • Finding out if lightening was near the site when the system went down

To ensure overall system health and reliability, an effective monitoring solution must address the transmitter site, the transmitter(s) themselves, and the antenna system. More specifically:

The site – in the shelter or equivalent where the transmitter is housed

  • Temperature – is the heating or cooling keeping in range for equipment and batteries
  • Humidity – what is the relative humidity and is it within range for electronic equipment
  • AC Mains – is the primary AC line power available
  • Motion – is a person (or unexpected creature) in the shelter

The transmitter and antenna system – analog and digital repeaters and key base stations including marine and aviation:

  • Forward Power – is the transmitter producing the power it is expected to and licensed for
  • Reflected Power & VSWR –Voltage Standing Wave Ratio is a good measure of the health of the antenna system
  • Utilization – what is the activity of the repeater or transmitter

 

SUPPORT FOR MODERN LMR SYSTEM MANAGEMENT

Rimot was born out of decades of experience with wireless communications systems, product development, and building technology companies. Today, Rimot integrates the latest of Industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies into a turnkey remote monitoring solution to help ensure the reliability of critical systems made up of largely unseen and underappreciated equipment that businesses and government count on every day.

The Rimot monitoring platform and company are built around three beliefs that drive everything we do:

  • Easy: Easy to install. Easy to use.
  • Insight: Data and alerts about what is happening and has happened.
  • Value: A turnkey solution at an affordable price point for widespread use.

RimotRF provides continuous insight into previously unmonitored or under monitored equipment that helps to avoid downtime while reducing the time and cost of system issues when they do arise. RimotRF is a powerful tool for service teams to be proactive in maintaining the systems that organizations rely on every day.

As we move forward, Rimot will continue expanding the capabilities of our remote monitoring service to ensure the wireless communications used by government and commercial organizations remain reliable and operational whenever they are needed.

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