Using Satellite Communications for M2M, SCADA, Telemetry & Remote Monitoring Applications
M2M, Telemetry or SCADA applications for oilfield equipment, pipeline control, Cathodic protection monitoring, tide gauges, waste water systems, compressors, generators and a host of other types of industrial devices, creates the need for reliable communications to those devices on a global basis. While terrestrial communications offer connectivity to populated regions, it is satellite communications that organizations turn to when terrestrial services are unavailable, or when a consistent global communications solution is desired.
Benefits of Satellite Communications
A primary benefit of using satellite communications is the ability to have data communications virtually anywhere on the globe. Terrestrial communications are primarily driven by the need for people, rather than devices, to communicate and thus they are prevalent in populated areas. When it comes to communicating with a compressor or generator in the middle of nowhere, you are less likely to find terrestrial data communications. Satellite communications provides communications in remote regions where industrial equipment is deployed.
In addition to global coverage, other benefits of satellite communications include:
Some satellite technologies provide the ability to broadcast messages (point to multi-point) across a fleet of devices. This can be beneficial for applications that require simultaneous synchronization across remote devices, e.g. close all valves now, as opposed to terrestrial links where routing paths can cause differences from milliseconds to seconds in remote devices receiving commands from a SCADA host application.
Less Susceptible to Natural Disasters
Terrestrial communications are often compromised by natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes or man-made issues through inadvertent error. If your industrial equipment is deployed in an area known for poor weather, or if you want an ensured emergency backup option, then satellite communications may be the logical choice for you. With satellite communications, you can deploy omni-directional or tracking antennas that will ensure communications when radio or cell towers are down or if fiber lines have been severed.
Reduction in Complexity through Deployment of a Single Technology
As a general rule of technology deployment, the more consistent you can maintain your deployments, the simpler and less expensive it will be to manage that technology on an on-going basis. Satellite communications provides you with an option of one communications technology that can be deployed on a global basis. Rather than building radio networks, or worrying if cellular coverage does or doesn’t exist in a given area, with satellite communications you can utilize a single technology to be deployed and managed regardless of where your remote equipment is deployed.
In some industries, such as oil and gas, a lot of the equipment deployed into the oilfield will move from site to site on a regular basis. Keeping track of that equipment or routing equipment to the next closest job site can be accomodated through satellite communications. Many of the satellite modems used for telemetry include GPS tracking capability allowing either regular GPS reports or the ability to demand poll a device to find its current location.
Faster Implementation Times
Building radio networks or negotiating with telecom companies to add cellular towers or fiber lines are all time consuming tasks. With satellite communications you can leverage existing infrastructure rather than building terrestrial infrastructure. That means you can deploy your systems faster and not have the burden of on-going management of a radio network since the satellite network is managed for you. By simply subscribing to the appropriate service you can accomplish your SCADA or telemetry communications needs faster with satellite communications.
Optional Voice and Video Communications
Several of the satellite communications options for telemetry or SCADA can also support telephone or video communications. Should you have technical staff travelling to sites for maintenance, a satellite communications system can provide telephone service for safety or to communicate with head office to discuss technical issues relevant to the site visit. Beyond that, field staff can be deployed with video cameras and via a satellite system they could relay video back to head office to enable engineering or management teams to help in assessment or resolution of issues at the remote site.