Data Centre Management (DCM): Making The Most Of Remote Monitoring For UPS Systems

We explain the benefits of UPS remote monitoring to data centre operators in the age of COVID-19 by offering the added reassurance of a “virtual” power engineer onsite 24 hours a day.

Data centres have played an even more important role in society these last few months.

As society grew to live with coronavirus, server rooms up and down the UK have dealt with increased demand created by companies transitioning to work-from-home.

While data-intensive streaming and other online activities helped millions of families overcome their lockdown isolation and boredom.

Data centres have had to cope with all this at the same time as operating with heavily-reduced staffing levels. Social distancing, restricted site access, and other safety precautions are likely to be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

We explain to Data Centre Management (DCM) magazine how this means an increased emphasis on the benefits of remote monitoring for UPS systems.

Basics About UPS Monitoring

The article starts by explaining some of the most basic forms of UPS monitoring, including volt-free (dry) contacts which provide “true / not true” responses to simple queries such as whether the UPS is running on battery or not.

The next level of monitoring involves a network-based approach either locally through an ethernet connection or over the internet.

This involves methods such as RS-232 serial connection or common protocols such as Modbus and Profibus.

Then there’s advanced remote monitoring using Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP). This is a vendor-independent protocol that allows UPS systems to be remotely monitored and controlled from a central location.

The UPS gets fitted with a network adapter and dedicated management software, such as Riello UPS’s PowerShield3, which gives it the power to both transmit data and receive external commands. In effect, this enables the UPS to “talk” and “listen”.

ROUND THE CLOCK: Remote monitoring acts as an extra pair of eyes and ears watching your UPS

Cloud-Based Remote Monitoring – How Does It Work?

A platform such as our Riello Connect service allows the UPS system to communicate securely with a remote service centre staffed by experienced engineers 24/7/365.

This service centre queries the UPS at set intervals to monitor its performance and the operating environment.

Most UPSs also perform automated self-tests daily and will alarm if there’s a fault or sudden change in conditions. An example of this would be a mains failure.

In the event of an alarm triggering, the remote monitoring software automatically alerts key personnel by email or SMS. In addition, engineers in the service centre can carry out further tests and diagnostics.

If it turns out service engineers are needed on site to carry out repairs, the service centre can quickly arrange the visit and ensure the correct spare parts.

In a worst-case scenario, they can even trigger emergency shutdown scripts for all connected equipment.

Another advantage of remote monitoring is that the service centre and data centre staff can interrogate the UPS’s historical status and events logs, generating powerful performance reports that can inform efficiency improvements.

What Are The Benefits Of UPS Remote Monitoring?

Remote monitoring delivers a range of financial, reliability, and performance benefits:

  • Immediate fault detection: if there’s a problem with your UPS, you know straight away even if it occurs out of hours or at an unmanned site. This means you can get the issue fixed quicker.
  • Remote diagnosis: remotely interrogating the UPS offers the opportunity to make a more accurate initial assessment of the fault. This should help the responding service engineer achieve a first-time fix.
  • Problem prevention: UPS monitoring identifies many potential issues before they have chance to grow into something more serious. For example, a failed automated battery test would trigger an alarm, and upon further investigation, it turns out a weakening battery block is causing the problem. You could then replace this block and stop your entire battery set failing.
  • Reduced service visits: remote monitoring minimises the need for onsite service visits. It also enables IT staff to perform many of their key duties from the comfort – and safety – of their own homes.
  • Enhanced performance: tracking the historical performance of UPS systems over time provides a wealth of information which can help optimise load management and highlight other areas for improvement.