In the world of HVAC and refrigeration (HVACR) controls, remote access to a system can provide enormous benefits for an organization by reducing energy use, maintenance costs, and product loss.
But just what is remote access? At its most basic definition, this refers to visibility of a control system’s data not only onsite, but from anywhere. The type of visibility could be as basic as receiving temperature alarms and regular data reports, or as advanced as allowing users to remotely view and make changes to a complete system.
At RDM, we believe that remote access to a system and its data is an invaluable tool for our users. Much can be accomplished with only an internet connection and a web browser, utilising the Internet of Things (IoT) and IP-enabled devices.
Not only can users view and manipulate their entire HVACR control system, RDM can also enable additional software features or even upgrade firmware of devices, from thousands of miles away. In some cases, software enablers can even be activated remotely on devices with no internet connection. By eliminating the need to send a technician to the site for these tasks, significant cost savings can be achieved.
System Front-End Visibility and Remote Monitoring
ActiveFM™ is RDM’s remote monitoring software, providing a web portal for users to access hundreds of sites from a single dashboard. Other features include automatic reports and backup capabilities, as well as the option to utilise our UK-based, 24/7 monitoring call center that handles HVACR alarms preventing costly equipment failures. Closely monitoring the system helps facility managers implement energy-saving strategies and limit the need for onsite equipment service.
ActiveFM™ can access the onsite HVACR infrastructure remotely through either of RDM’s control systems front-end: DMTouch or miniDM. The front-end manages an entire IP network of control devices. For integration with a local network and remote capabilities, a Secondary IP interface is created through a USB to Ethernet adapter. This interface allows the DMTouch or miniDM to be assigned a static IP address, enabling secure remote access through ActiveFM or over company networks.
With this remote connection to a site’s system front-end established, users can analyse historical data and view or edit controller parameters and timer schedules. PLC programs, template and configuration files, site layouts and pdf documents can also be uploaded remotely.
Remote Software Activations and Upgrades
A large list of software features and interfaces are available for enablement on the DMTouch and miniDM, as well as on RDM’s HVACR controller range: Intuitive controllers. The list includes third-party communication protocol support, energy-saving features, PLC hosting and editing capabilities, and more.
Because we believe customers should only pay for what they need, a base hardware platform can be purchased with basic included software. Additional software features can then be added on as needed. RDM will pre-configure devices to ship with all desired software installed.
But what if challenges during installation affect the software needs of a DMTouch? Or if a year later, a new communication protocol is needed to integrate a third-party HVAC device? Not to worry. Using a remote connection, RDM Technical Support can perform a software activation or upgrade by directly accessing a site’s DMTouch or miniDM. These can apply to the front-end itself as well as certain RDM controllers on that network.
If a remote connection is not present, there is still a means for software features to be enabled after devices have been shipped. Once an additional feature is purchased, RDM will generate an activation code which is provided to the customer. Navigating to the proper internal menu and simply entering this code will activate the feature or initiate the update.
Remote Connection Options for Applications without a System Front-End
Showcasing the flexibility of the RDM system, unique remote connection solutions are available for sites without a front-end. An Intuitive TDB controller supports a Secondary IP interface, allowing for a direct remote connection to the controller and access to its internal menus.
Additionally, the Mercury Stand Alone Monitor (SAM) is a compact, cost-effective device that can log and export temperature data to a web server such as ActiveFM. The SAM can be used for sites where only this basic monitoring is desired, or in instances where integration of certain monitoring points to the front-end would be too costly.
Remote Access Essential for Control Strategies
Remote access to a building controls system is an essential feature for businesses to consider when developing their control strategy. It provides flexibility in the management of critical HVACR equipment, while also providing additional opportunities for companies to save on energy and service costs.
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