Upgrade of VoIP Phone System Improves Field to Office Communication

           

We upgraded to the TELUS Business Connect VoIP phone system from a legacy VoIP system in order to reduce maintenance and operating costs; and to improve call quality. We  were pleasantly surprised by the improvement provided by this upgrade and wanted to share this with my Industry colleagues, especially those whose operations rely on high degree of mobile connectivity such as those in Oil and Gas Services.

Our legacy VoIP system was a mashup of  VoIP Hardware/Software,  Internet Access, and Telco Phone Lines from separate vendors. We had found that this legacy solution had higher maintenance requirements and operating costs than was available in the current market place.  After review of options, we chose TELUS Business Connect.  TELUS Business Connect is based on RingCentral VoIP Platform.  Your local telecom provider may have  the same on similar VoIP solutions.

Cost Savings, Higher Uptime, and Increase Reliability

TELUS Business Connect is a complete single vendor Cloud based VoIP solution.  All connectivity is in the Cloud. There is no VoIP Server hardware at located at our office.   TELUS Business Connect could be scaled based on the number of team members/lines.  In addition, with a single vendor offering, TELUS Business Connect would be a single point of contact for phone system technical support. Previously when we had telephone system problems we would have to contact either the VoIP Hardware/Software Provider, the Internet Provider, or even the Telco to determine the cause.

Connect Team Members via a Single Number

TELUS Business Connect’s VoIP phone system supports both VoIP hardware and  soft phones.  Softphones can operate on IPhone, Android based Smartphones, and Tablets, Laptops, and Desktops. With Business Connect, each user can have multiple VoIP handsets and soft phones associated with a single number.  Using TELUS Business Connect App on a smartphone, users can be reached on their office number if they out of their  office;  in the field, at customer sites, or at their home office via the same number.

Improve Field Communication

The Auto-Reconnect feature of the TELUS Business Connect VoIP phone systems makes for effective Field to Office Communications.  Business Connect automatically reconnects when a link drops, so there is no need to redial. This can be a godsend when field personnel needs to be connected to clients or team member during lengthy field commissioning sessions.

Another benefit of TELUS Business Connect for is the online directory  so you can easily connect to colleagues when your out of office.

 

 

Tailings Pond Level Monitoring System Using Differential GPS and Radar Level Sensor

A Canadian oil sands mining company had a requirement for real-time tailings pond water level monitoring.  The system is to provide survey quality measurement between their weekly surveys. They engaged Bentek Systems to provide a  complete solution.

Solar Powered Wireless RTU System

This monitoring system designed and fabricated as a complete turnkey assembly to insure rapid onsite deployment and minimize field costs. Solar Power System is used to power the system; with Cellular data communications is used to provide connectivity to site RTU  to the SatSCADA Server.

High Accuracy Requirements

To achieve the required measurement accuracy levels, a system was implemented using a combination of Differential GPS Transceiver (DGPS) and Radar Level Sensors.

Differential GPS with Post Processing

A DGPS transceiver was installed on the tailing barge to measure the Barge Reference GPS Level. Data from the DGPS was transmitted to DGPS Post Processing Software on SatSCADA Cloud Server in real time. The SatSCADA Server post-processed the DGPS data from the barge in addition to another DGPS data received from a GPS reference station to provide a corrected GPS Level of the Barge.  The corrected GPS level is sent back to the Data Logger on the barge.

Radar Level Sensor

A Radar Level Sensor connected to Data Logger is used to measure the distance for the Radar Level Sensor to the water line. Radar Level was chosen since Radar provides type highest accuracy and reliability through the range of operating conditions. This RLS distance combined with the GPS Reference Level is used to calculate Water Level and data logged. All data is sent periodically back up to the SatSCADA Server for archival, trending and display.

Web-Based Data Access

Users access the Water Level data via SatSCADA Web Client which can provide access through to laptop, desktop, tablets, and smartphones.

   

   

 

I/O Telemetry Using Satellite Based Communications

I/O Telemetry Technology is frequently used to transmit server digital (ON/OFF) or analog (4-20ma) signals between remote sites for remote control (i.e. Pump Control) or public safety signalling(i.e. Traffic, Flood, or Avalanche Warning) applications. I/O Telemetry systems are typically implemented as a point to point communications between the 2 sites via licensed or unlicensed radio.

There are times though where terrestrial communications methods such as hard wire, licensed and unlicensed radio or even cellular may be not practical or available.

In these situations,  I/O Telemetry Systems can be implemented with Satellite-based Communications using the SCADALink SatSCADA Platform. A satellite-based system deployment can eliminate the need for the construction of antenna towers or installation of repeater systems thus minimizing design and construction costs. I/O Telemetry via the SatSCADA Platform provides a mirroring of I/O signals.

 

 

I/O Telemetry using SatSCADA Platform… see more

 

Public Safety Warning

Warning signs for Flood, Avalanche or Road Hazard Signals may be turned on remotely. For example, a mobile flood warning sign warns drivers of the hazard partially flooded road erosion caused by torrential rain.

  

Use of RS485 Hub Minimizes Downtime

RS485 networks are designed to provide multi-drop serial network connection of 32 nodes at distances up to 4000 feet. Properly implemented, RS485 networks should be trouble-free, however in over 30 years in the industry we have seen common problems in RS485 networking implementations that include:

  • RS485 networks wired as star networks.

The RS-485 network specification requires nodes to be wired in a “daisy-chain” topology where each node is connected to the previous node along a single transmission line with impedance matched termination resistors at both ends of the line. Often in industrial implementations, it makes more sense to have each node wire back to a central control panel in a “Star” type topology. Star wiring can wreak havoc on RS-485 connections as each leg of the network cause reflections on the line and put termination resistors on each leg would overload the bus. The 485HUB eliminates this problem by splitting the RS-485 network into multiple individually isolated sub-networks.

  • Ground loops and common mode voltage offsets.

In installations that cover large distances or have nodes that are powered from independent power supplies, it is common for the ground potentials at each node to vary considerably. This results in common mode voltage offsets in the signal that can easily push the transmitted signal out of the receivers input range. Each port on the 485HUB is individually electrically isolated allowing the receivers to float up to the transmitter’s ground level eliminating the common mode offset as well as any noise that may be induced by the ground loop created between the nodes. This isolation also prevents large ground currents from being conducted on the signal ground connections which can damage equipment and wiring.

  • Signal reflections and noise due to improper transmission line termination.

Both far ends of an RS-485 network should be terminated with 120ohm resistors, however since only the end devices should have the termination installed most devices do not include the resistors and assume that the technician installing the device will have some resistors with him. Each Port on the 485HUB has internal termination resistors enabled by adding a wire jumper on the port’s terminal block. Internal Bias resistors can be enabled by the configuration DIP switches under the unit for use with older RS-485 drivers that require biased lines to prevent noise during a bus idle state.

  • Failure or disconnection of one node or cable segment takes down the whole network.

In a “daisy chain” network a failure of a single node can bring down the whole network, likewise a short or break in the line whether accidental or during maintenance will cause the whole network to fail. With each leg of the network isolated on its own line, these failures on a sub-network will not impede the rest of the network. In addition, the 485HUB’s integrated USB connection allows a technician to tap into the RS-485 network for maintenance of the downstream devices without having to change or disconnecting any existing wiring.

  • Bit timing problems introduced by low cost RS-232 to RS-485 converters

Converting RS-232 to RS-485 requires the synthesis of a direction signal to switch the RS-485 driver from receive to transmit. This is often done in low cost RS-485 converters by using a simple RC timer circuit. While this may get the job done for slow transactions at low baud rates it’s timing is too loose to operate effectively at speeds greater than 9600 baud. Some converters do not even have a configurable baud rate setting meaning the same time constants are used at all baud rates resulting in poor performance at any speed. The 485HUB uses internal UART’s and a microprocessor to control the timing for all ports and is capable of high-speed transactions and the fastest possible bus turnaround.

Troubleshooting problematic RS-485 installations can be quite difficult as many of the above issues can only be diagnosed using advanced tools such as oscilloscopes and protocol analyzers. These are not standard equipment for the electricians and field technicians who typically will be implementing RS-485 networks, meaning the time spent troubleshooting via trial and error can become excessive and often a specialist may have to be brought in to repair problematic installations. Costly field time, as well as production and project schedule delays, can easily be avoided by designing networks with the SCADALink 485HUB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Satellite Based Communications Enables Tank Level Monitoring

In a recent application for a Rural Water System in Northern California, satellite communication helped achieve remote connectivity from a water storage tank site despite the site being surrounded by large redwood trees. Satellite based communications allowed easy deployment once line of site from the remote site to the satellite has determined. No large antenna structure was required. …see Application Note

Satellite Communications Superior to  Cellular/Radio for Remote Applications

In this application and other recent applications have it has been found that satellite based remote monitoring systems help alleviate potential troublesome intermittent communications in areas where there is limited terrestrial coverage. Reliable satellite based communications ensure on-time and on-budget remote monitoring systems implementation with lower chance of unexpected costs.  Frequently in  implementation of cellular based systems at sites with marginal paths, that much time may be expended to troubleshoot or improve intermittent cellular communications.  Large antenna structures may be needed. For these instances, satellite based systems can often be the best or only solution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dual Mode Satellite/Cellular Modem Can Ensure Reliable SCADA Connectivity

SAT120 with DIN-Rail

Cellular data connectivity is  pervasive and cost effective and seeing increasing use in SCADA Applications. Due to the nature of cellular data communications technology; cellular connectivity alone may not provide adequate reliability in critical SCADA applications; however cellular connectivity backed up by satellite connectivity can provide the necessary reliability.  Field experience with the SCADALink SAT120 and SAT130 Dual Mode Satellite/Cellular Modems with cellular as primary link with fail-over to satellite shows that dual mode connectivity can provides cost effective and high reliability solution for fixed and mobile SCADA applications.

Cellular Communication Challenges

Due to the nature of cellular data communications technology, loss of  cellular connectivity can occur due to:

  • Path Fade
  • Network Changes
  • Network Failures
  • Natural Disasters
  • Network Overload
  • Cellular Repeater Relocation

Path Fade

Cellular RF paths  can be obstructed by terrain and foliage. Many cellular based SCADA sites will not have direct line of site RF paths due to limited antenna height.  The paths will most times have a goodl signal. These RF paths can be affected by wet foliage, or atmospheric temperature inversion causing reduced cellular signal strength and connectivity loss.

Network Changes

Cellular providers will change network topology, tower configurations, and cellular service without notifying subscribers.  This can affect remote site connectivity for cellular based links.

Network Failures

Network outages can be caused by equipment failure, human error, or malicious  actions causing cellular data communications outages. The complexity of cellular networks increases chances of problems.

Natural Disaster Outages

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, fires, and snowstorms can damage the cellular infrastructure, affecting cellular connectivity in local and wider areas.

Network Overload

Cellular Networks can be overloaded by traffic spikes during emergency situations or special events causing cellular data communication service interruptions in given areas.

Cellular Repeater Relocation

Cellular data communication sites that  have relied on cellular signal improvement provided by by a cellular repeater may be affected when the repeater is relocated.

Satellite Connectivity Provides Availability

Satellite based connectivity on the Geosynchronous Inmarsat network provides a highly stable data link since a direct RF path will be  less affected by terrestrial obstructions and weather.  A satellite based network effectively has a lower number of hops can would have higher availability, however will have higher connectivity costs.

Dual Mode Connectivity Balances Availability & Cost

SCADALink SAT120 and SAT130  Modems with dual mode satellite/cellular connectivity can provide the best of both worlds. At sites with marginal cellular RF path, the satellite link can provide connectivity during cellular RF fading.   Most of the time when cellular connectivity is available, providing high speed and lower latency connection at lower costs.

Satellite Communications Delivers High Value in Industrial Applications

Satellite Communication - SAT100

Recent field experience with the SatSCADA Platform operating on the geosynchronous Inmarsat based Satellite Communications network has proven it to be valuable in industrial applications. It can provide connectivity for remote fixed site applications without reliable terrestrial communications; and provide ubiquitous connectivity in mobile applications. In these applications satellite connectivity was used as the sole link, or in a redundant configuration with cellular connectivity.

Connectivity and Increased Reliability for Fixed Site Applications SAT130 Solar RTU

For remote fixed site applications, the use of satellite can help improve the reliability of the field data communication. Terrestrial communications technology like private radio systems or cellular unavailable or  be unreliable due to the terrain and foliage obstructions, or due to lack of coverage.  Use of SatSCADA satellite connectivity can reduce system deployment costs as radio towers were not  required. The small size of SatsSCADA Terminal facilitated rapid deployment and simple field installation.

Field services costs and time were reduced  due to the elimination of  the need to troubleshoot site communications problems due to unreliable terrestrial communications.  Comparative experience with remote sites found field services for communications troubleshooting for satellite connected sites were nil compared to terrestrial means. SatSCADA RTU Packages

SAGD

RTUinLake

Ubiquitous Coverage for Mobile Application

For applications with Mobile and Portable equipment such as used in well testing, water transfer, chemical injection and bulk fuel/chemical delivery;  Satellite combined with Cellular connectivity can enable near 100% ubitiqous coverage; and allow for rapid deployment. Field experience has shown that satellite connectivity helps ensure reliable connectivity in areas of marginal cell coverage. Reliable connectivity for mobile applications is especially important in Oil and Gas Services where operations are frequently in areas that have limited or no cellular coverage.

Industrial Iot Gateway-Well Testing & Gas Delivery Remote Transaction Logging

Benefits

Benefits of satellite communications for mobile applications include improved real-time access of field operations, improved data accuracy and reporting.  Satellite connectivity can provide more timely invoicing where delivery volumes are required.

About SatSCADA

The SatSCADA Platform include the SAT100, SAT110, SAT120, and SAT130 Terminals connected to the SatSCADA Cloud Based SCADA Server.

SCADALink Locator Enterprise for Oilfield Site Information Managment

SCADALink Locator Enterprise is a Cloud-based Site Information Management Solution for Industrial Applications that can be accessed via Laptops, Desktops, Tablets, and Smartphones.

With Locator Enterprise, multiple users can archive and share site information including Drawings, Digital Photos, Scanned Documents, Manuals, and Device Configuration Files. The locator is built on a Cloud Hosted Database architecture that provides both security and accessibility.

Locator Enterprise can be a cost-effective and timely solution for Industrial Site Information Management.

Applications for Locator Enterprise include Oil and Gas, Utilities, Telecommunications and other enterprises that deal with a large number of remote sites.

SCADALink Locator Enterprise Cloud-Based Location System is a cost effective, versatile platform for companies in the Oil and Gas Production and Services to manage location information.

Locator Enterprise includes coordinate conversion and mapping in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan or Manitoba. It is designed to assist office, field and service personnel to find and manage locations information efficiently. Typical applications include Oil & Gas Operations, Oil & Gas Field Service, Engineering, Agriculture, Forestry, and Surveying.

.…more about SCADALink Location Enterprise

MapGPSPhotos

SCADALink Locator Mobile

SCADALink Locator Mobile is a free web based application for LSD & BCNTS to Lat/Long Conversion to help find and navigate to locations in the oil field in Western Canada. I wanted to share this application with colleagues in the energy industry. Locator Mobile works on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
…click here to use Locator Mobile

Locator Home

Locator-home

DLS/LSD to Lat/Long GPS Conversion

The application calculates the centre of the LSD grid.
Locator-DLS-LSD

Location Mapping

You can use the EMAIL link in the Map screen to send your location to your co-workers. The direction can be used to navigate to the location.

Locator DLS Map Convertion       Locator-DLS MAP

GPS to DLS & BCNTS

Use this option to get the grid location for a specificied Lat/Lng, or your current location.

Locaotor-LatLong to DLS&BCNTS

BCNTS to Lat/Long

BCNT to LatLong    BCNT MAP