Remote Monitoring Solution Aids Isolated Alaskan School District
August 24, 2009
Barix AG, a supplier of IP-based control and monitoring solutions, is providing Lake and Peninsula School District in southwest Alaska with its Barix Barionet IP control and automation devices to remotely monitor the HVAC, electrical, and other critical building systems at 14 schools across a remote, 400-square-mile section of the state.
Headquartered in King Salmon at the northern end of the peninsula, the sparsely populated region encompasses 17 small, widely-scattered communities. Prior to installing the Barix IP devices, the school district was often forced to close schools to repair boilers, air handlers, and other equipment that provided heat and electricity to schools. The limited human resources at the school district and in the villages, coupled with expensive and difficult travel conditions, led the school district to Barix.
“The expenses multiplied every time we jumped on a plane, and often our travel was delayed due to extreme temperatures or restricted nighttime travel,” said Roland Briggs, IT specialist for Lake and Peninsula School District. “The repairs could take up to three days after thawing the equipment and dealing with the water damage. We would always figure out how to get things running again but would end up with a lot of damage and debt. We began searching for an IP serial unit we could hook up over the Internet to my serial devices in the boiler rooms for remote monitoring and control, using the school district’s existing network. That’s when I came across Barix.”
After researching the Barionet, Briggs contacted DataNab, an IP systems programmer and Barix reseller based in Burnsville, Minn. DataNab designed a series of custom software applications for remote monitoring and control/automation that has simplified life for Briggs and the school district’s three-man maintenance staff.
The complete solution includes:
• Two Barionet devices at each school to monitor analog/digital signals from multiple systems.
• Barix R6 relay devices with contact closures to remotely switch systems on and off.
• Barix TS temperature sensors to feed readings back to the Barionet and over the network, imperative to minimizing energy costs.
• DataNab Ai32 modules to allow for 32 input channels in addition to the eight Barionet inputs, greatly increasing the number of systems that can be monitored over the network.
“We essentially created a solution to provide all of the vital system information on a single screen, including the status of every critical HVAC unit connected to the network via the Barionet,” said Adam VanOort, president of DataNab. “We designed a Web-based GUI that allows a network of Barionets to pass information from multiple sites and locations so that maintenance personnel can access critical information from throughout the district on a single browser, from any location on the network. The Barionet is very flexible, and the amount of detail that they are getting from the solution is impressive.”
In addition to daily status readings, the Barionet reports issues in need of immediate response via e-mail. This allows Briggs to log onto the network - from King Salmon or anywhere else in the world - to identify the problem. Briggs can then quickly locate a teacher or village technician to address the situation and prevent a catastrophic failure.
“Alarms typically activate the e-mails from the Barionet, and then the system in danger flashes in red or another color on the GUI,” said Briggs. “This means we are doing more and more preventative maintenance versus putting out fires. As a result, the team can schedule travel plans more efficiently when necessary and reduce expenses related to last-minute travel costs.”
According to Barix, its products are inexpensive, low-power devices that are scalable to the growth of the operation and serve as a flexible platform for integration into virtually any operation requiring control transport and delivery over a network.
For more information on DataNab, visit www.datanab.com. For more information on Barix and its products, visit www.barix.com.
Publication date: 08/24/2009