IoT Blog
IoT Blog

How Your Advanced Utilities Monitoring System Can Benefit from Real-Time Data and OTA Updates

by Olivier Amiot, Director of Marketing, Energy
If you work in the energy sector, integrating smart grid technology is among the most positive and disruptive changes that your company could make. A streamlined, integrated grid will track each of the renewable generation source's energy production levels in real time. This makes it easier to monitor your company’s entire system from one central location. But there’s one essential update that you can make to your smart meters and remote controlled grid systems that will vastly improve your advanced utilities monitoring system: Over-the-Air (OTA) updates. When you configure your smart grid to receive OTA updates, you save time and maintenance costs. This ensures that your system is always secure and running the latest firmware. The days of manually updating your advanced utilities monitoring system are officially over, which is great news for energy companies. 

The Challenges of Smart Metering and Grids

The first challenge that you’ll face when integrating your meters and remote monitoring grid systems onto a smart grid involves hardware and firmware. This embedded module hardware and firmware is required to actually make that connection and utilities demand an efficient and reliable connection in order to function. It’s not enough to install a module on the meter and the grid monitoring asset; you also need to integrate that module with a monitoring platform, and configure that platform for future updates to keep the system running smoothly. You don’t want to make this process more complicated than necessary. Maintaining separate modules and monitoring platforms for each meter or grid is not only a logistical nightmare, but it also leaves your system vulnerable to security breaches.  

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OTA Updates Help You Overcome These Challenges 
When you integrate all of these components into a single, end-to-end system, and maintain your firmware with OTA updates, your grid remains secure. You’ll also spend less time manually maintaining your advanced utilities monitoring system. With OTA updates, you can do every modification on your system over a secure cellular connection, requiring very little by way of resources. This allows you to identify potential problems within seconds. Having only one interface also allows for faster smart grid integration, which means that you can deploy your new system at a more rapid pace. This is especially important if you receive government subsidies, as these funding sources often require deployment within a specific time frame. 

Real-Time Monitoring Means a Faster Response

Power grids—especially solar panels—tend to be clustered, with hundreds or even thousands of data points to monitor daily. An advanced power company or utilities monitoring system can observe and control what’s happening with the meters or the grid PV monitoring system that are affixed to the panels. However, if you have to go through a separate data center to process this information, you’ll experience delays in service. For instance, one set of panels may see a dip in energy output due to a mechanical failure. Without real-time monitoring, it could take minutes for this data to reach the data center, and from there, it could take even more time for the center to process that information and relay it to you. After you receive the data, you still have to respond to the mechanical failure. This could potentially add hours to the process. 

Instead, when you fully integrate your smart grid with real-time monitoring, you can receive and process this data in a matter of seconds. This lets you respond to outages as quickly as possible. You don’t need to go through a third party to see and respond to your data. You’ll receive a notification internally whenever the system detects an unusual data reading, and you can have a maintenance expert visit that specific location to pinpoint and repair the source of the problem. This process occurs on a rapid timescale—mere seconds instead of minutes or hours. 

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How to Build an Advanced Monitoring System Connected to Smart Grid 
Power panels are sensitive; mechanical failures happen frequently and this fragile equipment requires regular maintenance. This is why you need to know exactly what’s happening in real time. Using Sierra Wireless’ AirVantage® IoT Platform, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to build your own advanced monitoring system for your smart grid. AirVantage has a set of customizable alarms installed to notify you of any changes in your panels, delivering a bird’s eye view of your entire system on one platform. And since all of these features are encompassed within a single system, you can quickly see whether the problem is a module issue, a network issue or simply a weather issue. 

With OTA updates included, you’ll never have to worry about whether you’re running the latest firmware on your smart grid, and you won’t have to start from scratch when you update your system with new technological advances. Sierra Wireless is creating end-to-end solutions with intelligence and evergreen considerations in mind. Start with Sierra to create your own advanced utilities monitoring system.