Telemetry

Communicating with remote devices

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Telemetry is a communications system used to remotely control geographically dispersed or isolated plants. It is used in many market sectors such as management of water and sewage systems, public lighting and environmental protection.

Capable of implementing intermittent and low-speed communications, telemetry establishes a connection before communicating, exchanges data blocks in non-real-time (even over slow networks), also offering the ability to communicate with the same device through different media. Telemetry requires a reliable channel of communication, such as a telephone line, GSM or SMS.  However, higher speed ADSL or fiber networks, through less reliable in terms of data transmission as such, may also become a possibility in the future. Traditionally based on PSTN or GSM technologies, the world of telemetry is undergoing a major transformation with the arrival of IoT.

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Use case

Telemetry is typically used to communicate with several plants dispersed over a wide geographical area in cases where the available physical infrastructure is limited or unreliable. Telemetry equipment can operate in fully standalone mode in isolated settings.

It is used to:

  • Optimize travel time for technicians by limiting the need for site visits and even eliminating systematic visits in some cases.
  • Modify the settings of remote equipment to adjust energy consumption or simply change operating modes.
  • Centralize information and create collective intelligence for instance to predict the consequences of an event on other downstream sites (such as a thunderstorm) or upstream ones (increased water consumption).
  • Regularly measure and compare the status of plants, to improve maintenance and prolong service life.

Brands and protocols

Telemetry principles were first implemented by the water industry (treatment plants, pumping stations, distribution and bore hole stations). Industrial and regulatory requirements within the sector have therefore grown to dominate the market. These include SOFREL and Perax with key protocols such as SOFBUS, LACBUS and Perax. Other sectors such as electricity, gas, renewables and road traffic management and control, then developed their own communications equipment and communication protocols. More recently, public lighting and building energy efficiency have also joined the fray, with WIT and Ijinus, for example, complementing and diversifying the current offerings.

Other technologies such as the Internet of things and low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) are now providing highly attractive IoT solutions.

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