Exele provides TopView Alarm Notification to Sunapsys | Automation.com

Exele provides TopView Alarm Notification to Sunapsys

November 5, 2012 - Many municipalities need a water and waste water alarm notification application that is robust, simple to configure, and has the capability to communicate using standard telephone technology. There are several reasons why customers choose voice communication over internet based solutions or text messaging. Mack McGhee, President of Sunapsys, Inc., a Virginia-based company specializing in the design and implementation of SCADA systems for municipalities, explains how they provide their municipal customers voice communication solutions.

Alarm Notification Options
Municipal water and waste water rely on monitoring and alarm notification software programs to keep processes running efficiently and safely. These locations are often unmanned and in remote locations. From low tank levels to potential sewer pump overflow, prompt notification of troubling events is critical. With the proliferation of mobile devices among employees, there are several notification options from which to choose.

Mobile alarm notification solutions include e-mail, cell phone text and smart device messages. These options all require internet access which can be a problem in some remote areas where data access is unavailable or, in many cases, unreliable. Providing municipal employees internet access and smart devices has its own set of issues. ”Municipal water and waste water facilities are cautious customers”, says Mack McGhee “Some of them avoid connecting their systems to the internet for security reasons. In those cases using voice callout of alarms over standard dialout telephone technology is the preferred solution. Although this need exists, most modern SCADA systems and alarm programs don’t offer this notification option.” Even if SCADA system vendors recognize the need, voice callout can be a technical challenge. Users will often want customized callout messages requiring text-to-speech conversion of alarm messages. In addition, voice callout requires an internal or external callout device to interface with the phone system.

Sunapsys has turned to EXELE TopVew alarm monitoring and notification software to provide these cautious customers a means to dispatch alarms to employees and maintenance personnel using standard dialout telephone lines. “TopView is cost effective, easy to implement and marries nicely with the controlling SCADA systems”, claims McGhee. By supporting popular standards such as OPC and SQL, TopView can interface to most SCADA system vendors on the market today.

Dial Out Notification
TopView OPC allows you to easily monitor, alarm, and send notifications for process data measurements and alarms read from one or more SCADA systems. TopView OPC supports the open OPC connectivity standard available for most PLCs, SCADA Systems, Control Systems, and Historians. TopView SQL supports ODBC or OLEDB data sources which provide standard interfaces for querying data from databases. “We use TopView SQL to monitor alarm tables for unacknowledged alarms in the SCADA System’s ODBC database” said McGhee. In the event of an alarm condition TopView notifies the appropriate personnel. The software also allows the use of time delay and time average values to minimize the possibility of nuisance alarms. And, users can set up multiple conditions, create custom alarm messages with embedded real-time data values and add instructions to operators that could be useful in locating and diagnosing specific problems.

There are two options for dialup notification; modem notification utilizes TAP protocol for pagers and cell phones, while voice notification delivers audible WAV file or text-to-speech alarms to any phone and provides keypad acknowledgment of alarms.

McGhee explained that “to ensure that messages are received and responded to, we have set up a cascading queue of alarm recipients, so that if one person doesn’t respond, the next person on the list gets the callout alert.” Alarm groups can be set up to make sure that everyone is kept in the loop when a particular type of problem occurs.

Municipalities benefit from alarm notification using voice communication as a reliable cost effective alternative to internet-based options. Dial-out solutions eliminate the need to provide costly web-based or smartphone technology to everyone on staff. Security minded operations avoid the security risk associated with connecting their systems to the internet. Remote locations, where internet access is not available, is unreliable, or would prove costly, can utilize voice communication for a robust, cost effective option that is customizable and simple to implement.

About Exele
EXELE Information Systems, Inc. is a privately held consulting and software engineering company founded in 1978 specializing in manufacturing applications and process control. EXELE provides consulting, environmental reporting, and software products for process automation (OPC, SCADA, PI) and manufacturing systems.

About Sunapsys, Inc.
Sunapsys, Inc. remains the largest independent system integrator in southwestern Virginia specializing in the design and implementation of controls and information systems for municipalities, manufacturers, and OEM's. Sunapsys is the first system integrator based in the VA, NC, WV, and MD region to earn the Certified Member status from the CSIA.

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