Industrial control systems generate huge amounts of data, traditionally monitored by information technology personnel. The introduction of BGAN M2M communication has made possible increased automation of monitoring and settings changes in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems used in factories, large office buildings, water and electrical utility systems and oil and gas pipelines and installations.
This automation can alleviate the necessity for often expensive and arduous travel to remote locations. BGAN M2M applications can link smart meters to a utility grid, collect oil well data, monitor the condition of oil and natural gas pipelines or communicate the equipment state of a wind farm to a central location. The increased flow of data allows a pre-emptive and pro-active approach to equipment maintenance which can only favor increased safety and security.
The BGAN network extends the reach of M2M communication to the entire globe, even to very remote locations where the communications infrastructure has failed or never existed. The BGAN satellite network offers simultaneous voice and data connections and covers the whole planet, except for its polar regions. This extensive coverage makes BGAN M2M devices ideal for disaster response and telemedicine programs, as well as for news coverage and business continuity after natural disasters and during periods of political unrest, when communications outages are likely.
Unlike previously bulky satellite terminals, BGAN’s highly portable receivers are rarely larger or heavier than a laptop and are extremely simple to install, point and activate. A Sky News correspondent used the BGAN Satellite network to cover the fall of Tripoli in August 2011, for example, much of it while in motion and from the back of a truck. Shipboard installations are also possible, and specialized BGAN M2M receivers exist as well for use in aircraft, overcoming the problems that doppler shifts pose for traditional receivers.
BGAN M2M models offer features specifically geared to SCADA installations, for instance automatic restart in the event of a power outage, keep-alive link supervision to maintain data connections even for periods of inactivity as long as 12 hours, and auto context activation allowing static orDHCP connections over either TCP or UDP networks. An optional battery provides power backup if needed.
BGAN M2M receivers do require a line of sight to one of the three I-4 geostationary satellites, most likely from out of doors. Assuming the user already knows the general direction of the satellite, a connection typically only requires about two minutes, one for experienced users. In addition, BGAN M2M receivers are ruggedly built and designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.
BGAN M2M devices can minimize travel needs for data collection and management, allowing information technology personnel to focus on the broader picture and implement planned maintenance strategies. Onsite personnel can transmit and receive data after only minimal training, improving communications with off-grid and other remote location. Field personnel like mining engineers and rescue workers can get information to base in a more timely manner, improving operational efficiency and the likelihood of desired outcomes.
Certainly the BGAN M2M along with the Inmarsat network deserves a look from any organization that operates in backcountry and remote locations, both from the point of view of safety and improved operational efficiencies.