Data Quality | Why Communications Between Devices Fail

Data Quality | Device Communications

Data quality communications are the critical path for power monitoring systems to function properly. Device communications are only as good as the hardware, firmware, protocols, and physical wiring between these devices and the server.

The old adage “garbage in equals garbage out” is very true. Understanding the reasons causing your device communication to fail is the first step to keep your system safe.

Do you have devices that will not communicate with your power monitoring server?

Let’s review the reasons communications fail to transmit data from a metering device to the server:

1. Device hardware and firmware can become outdated over time

Metering devices and gateway devices are electronic devices. Software changes at the data collection point may require devices to update the firmware’s latest issued version as time goes on.

APT Layer Cake

When updating the hardware to the latest version is no longer possible, the device must be replaced. Gateway devices translate protocols to allow devices with serial type protocol to work over TCP ethernet systems. Furthermore, we recommend limiting devices to communicate with a single device type in the loop to the gateway. 

2. Communication between devices and the server requires a unique language or protocol to pass the data collected

This happens when both devices send data. Subsequently, the device receiving data must support and be programmed to communicate. Typically this is matched when devices are configured at startup.

Communication Diagram

Additionally, when there is a mismatch between the device protocols and the server protocols additional support (and either a software or hardware protocol converter) will be required.  

3. Using physical wiring for most device communication protocols

Sizing and configuring the type of wiring correctly allows for stable and long term connectivity. For instance, if the wire type or size is incorrect or terminated poorly, this will cause device communication failures.

Moreover, to ensure the highest quality communication, limit the device’s quantities per-protocol in the loop to prevent data loss. Typically serial communication loops are limited to less than 32 devices on the same loop. There are also distance limitations – for instance, Ethernet cables cannot be run longer than 100 meters.

The data quality from the power monitoring server is only as good as the weakest communication link between devices and that server. Subsequently, maintaining and upgrading devices over time offers a solution to improving device communication speed and quality.

Technology continually evolves, driving us to regularly review and update older devices in our power monitoring systems. For instance, it remains essential to maintain a network diagram from the server to each device showing all communication device types and cable types. These same network diagrams also provide an invaluable troubleshooting tool for diagnostics when devices fail. 

APT Data Quality Solutions

APT can provide a systematic review of your power monitoring devices to determine what devices are not communicating correctly and provide solutions to resolve errors. Our team can create network diagram(s) for your facility to use to manage network devices. 

APT spends every day in the space between electrical energy and Information Technology. Get us on your side to resolve data quality communications before you lose data!

Brian Curnutt, Service Manager APT