Automated data collection from your emergency power supply (EPS) (also known as the “generator”) allows for a level of accuracy, speed, and repeatability that manual data collection simply cannot provide.  During an engine run the operator is asked to provide values for volts, amps, frequency, oil pressure, percentage AC load, DC voltage, and coolant temperature. With an automated EPS monitoring system these values are collected several times each second, opening the door to diagnostic views as the EPS starts, accepts the load, warms to normal operating temperature, transfers the load back to utility and then cools down.

Manual record keeping for total compliance can sometimes be inaccurate and onerous. Mechanical and electrical systems are often spot checked rather than continuously monitored and out-of-parameter readings may be missed.

Monitoring Fundamentals

A fundamental feature of automated monitoring is the archival of data over the lifetime of the equipment for compliance purposes. This archived data allows for analysis of the EPS before a major mechanical issue occurs. For example, the median oil pressure during loaded running events may remain in acceptable range over years, but if that measurement is slowly declining over time, that trend can reasonably point to future failure, and of course, failure prevention is the objective of remote monitoring.

Sample EPS Load Run Report

A central concept of automated remote monitoring is the notification process, whereby designated recipients receive electronic messages related to their EPS.  Depending on the recipient, there may be a need to know only if there is a situation requiring service, while other recipients may need to know the status of utility and emergency power sources for surgery scheduling reasons. Such messages may be routed directly to those responsible parties to avoid delays and errors related to the manual interpretation of antiquated annunciators. While electronic delivery of voice alerts is possible, emails and text messages are most common because they have some degree of visual permanence that helps avoid misinterpretation, as well as archival of the messages that are sent.

Wired or Wireless?

Automated remote monitoring can be implemented on different data transport technologies.

  1. Cellular: Provides high-speed transport, is exceptionally simple to install by generator technicians and does not rely on facility infrastructure.  Those devices are powered by the EPS starting battery and therefore have a built-in reliable uninterruptible power source. The nature of the cellular system includes tower redundancy, so that the devices may automatically connect to different towers as needed. It is not locked to a single data connection.
  2. Satellite: Offers global connectivity, and for facilities in areas subject to intense weather events, provides some users greater comfort knowing that satellite communication is not dependent on local towers or utility power for long-term connectivity during emergency events.  Generally, satellite communication is a bit more expensive and somewhat slower than cellular, but it fills geographic needs well.
  3. Ethernet: Commonly used throughout medical facilities using local data networks. In such a design, the power system needs to be on its own network for security purposes, and the data path is ENTIRELY dependent on the operation of the generator during an emergency.  This means that every hub, switch, and router must be on emergency circuits, and the generator must function properly. If the generator fails, the monitoring channel fails with it.

If you would like to learn more about EPS monitoring options, please click here to contact Dan Chisholm Sr.