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What Are Remote Telemetry Units And How Do They Work?


While you may not have heard of remote telemetry units (RTUs), these contemporary devices are becoming increasingly commonplace in a host of industries including telecoms, IT and logistics. These devices also embody the principles that underpin the Internet of Things (IoT), as their essentially smart units that collate and transmit large swathes of data in real-time. Let’s clarify the precise definition of RTUs and its underlying technology, while also asking how they work.

What Are Remote Telemetry Units?

Quite simply, an RTU is a smart device that monitors and reports real-time events as they occur at a remote site. This enables project and network managers to oversee multiple sites simultaneously, regardless of their purpose or geographical location.

There are also different types of RTU available, including basic models that control remote hardware using control relay contacts and protocol-based commands. The issue with this type of primitive device is that it can only report events as they happen, without negating the need to visit the site in question.

In contrast, most contemporary devices include advanced remote control capability, which delivers real-time reports while also enabling managers to complete a full, automated response. This makes for a far more efficient and cost-effective example of technology, and one that realises the fully potential of smart RTUs.

How Exactly Do RTUs Work?

In fundamental terms, RTUs collect diverse and large swathes of data from their local environment, before transmitting this information in real-time to a central control centre. It achieves in different ways, however, depending on the nature of the technology and a businesses core purpose or objectives.

Firstly, RTUs may take the form of devices that serve as the bedrock for your business venture, with these units collecting data naturally before reporting problems as they occur. Such data is usually delivered in the form of discrete contact closure alarms or more detail-oriented protocol messages, and this remains the most common manifestation of RTU technology.

Secondly, you may see RTUs that leverage onboard and external sensors, which can measure a host of performance and environmental measures that are likely to impact of productivity (and potentially profitability). Most commonly, this type of device will be used to monitor metrics such as temperature and humidity, with food storage businesses benefiting from this when handling sensitive product such as deli meats.

These devices, which are available through suppliers like servelec technologies, can also be used to measure important technical values, such as tank or battery levels. Power voltages can also be monitored, which is extremely important for manufacturing or energy plants.

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Zak Goldberg is a Law & Business Graduate from the University of Leeds who has chosen to follow his aspirations of becoming a full-time published writer, offering his expertise on all areas of law, finance and business.