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997 posts

Ultimate Geek


# 242693 9-Nov-2018 16:57
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I have just drawn the short straw at work .... oh yay.


So, we need to monitor a range of things, -80°C freezers, +37°C rooms, freeze driers, water cooling systems, light levels,  and so on.


We would (should?) like to monitor power to various parts of the building too, and I figure we may look at flood alarms, and other bits of scientific equipment


that have alarm outputs, or various analog (0-1v, 0-10v, 4-20mA, etc) outputs.




We would like to set up intelligent alarm systems, so only the required people for each situation need be called out. We are talking about perhaps 80 different people.


We would like user monitoring of their equipment, eg the last hour, day, week temperature measurements of a -80C freezer, potentially 300+ people of varying technical ability


It should be able to call landlines, cellphones, send txts and emails as alarms or as say daily/weekly reports 


If users are heading overseas (happens a lot) then we would like them to be able to self manage their status as being away (no need to call people in Germany....etc)


We would like a more limited set of users to be able to change the alarm settings for their equipment, ie this week an incubator needs to be @37C, next week 10°C




If possible each alarm point should be monitored over ethernet (with POE to power the sensor/alarm) Our network switches all have UPS's on them so batteries are not required




I have ZERO experience with building management systems or this level of environmental systems management.


Where do I start to go down this rabbit hole, I am sure someone can sell us a needlessly complex system that would be fine in an industrial setting


but much of the management of this is likely to fall on administrative staff . And as always, as soon as you get something up and running there will be all sorts of requests


for monitoring (oxygen, liquid nitrogen, water flow, opening times of doors, etc etc).




Any help about where to start will be greatly appreciated (I am a registered sparkie , but I service scientific equipment these days and do some IT support, etc) 



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4102 posts

Uber Geek

  # 2122889 9-Nov-2018 17:06
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Where do I start to go down this rabbit hole, I am sure someone can sell us a needlessly complex system that would be fine in an industrial setting


but much of the management of this is likely to fall on administrative staff . And as always, as soon as you get something up and running there will be all sorts of requests


Given the multitude of things you have described, I think you probably need to look at getting a  couple of professional companies to quote you what is available....


 .... it sounds a bit complex for a "roll your own" solution

2520 posts

Uber Geek


  # 2122892 9-Nov-2018 17:32
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Everything you are asking for is readily available except the POE sensors. Where are you based? I can suggest some companies. I've worked in this area for a long time.


You need to get your scope very well defined before you go for pricing. How many devices are you looking at monitoring? What sort of budget are you looking at? You need to be realistic that this is not like buying gear that lasts 3 years. The controllers are designed to last 10+ years.


It sounds like you need an Environmental Monitoring Systems (EMS). This is just building management systems with no control elements. Depending on the complexity you may get away with an embedded web server or require a full front end. If you want to manage complex alarming (80 recipients is a bit unusual) then a front end may be required.


The key is defining the locations and number of data points you want monitored as pulling the cables is the hardest bit. If you think scope creep is likely then you should consider modular(expandable) controllers rather than fixed IO. This will cost a little more up front but then makes adding IO much cheaper and takes up a lot less space.


Is the purpose just alarming? Or do you need an audit record as well? Standard BMS will do this easily but it gets costly if you need lab/pharma grade audit trails. 


Do you want floor plans / schematics on the graphics? Or are tables ok?

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