Remote Monitoring Solution (RMS) – A New Network

Over the last 5 years, there has been a Gold Rush – to setup automated systems to provide site visibility, adopt IOT and make rapid gains in cost optimization especially towards Fuel and Site Visit costs.

However, the sheer effort and cost of running the system has led to several tower companies diluting or abandoning the focus. Often the effort that goes in to ensure the systems are running and /or to replenish broken elements are so significant – that you can compare it to operating an alternate network.

The cost of maintenance of the smart equipment, (Battery, PIU OR DG) preinstalled with sensors and actuators, is far less than the retrofit sites that have been adopting RMS configuration for the past 5-10 years. The initial settlement and maintenance cost of an RMS topology is very high in terms of attaining a quick break even.

If tower companies already have smart equipment, then why there is a need of remote monitoring systems as a “New Network”?

Remote Monitoring Solutions (IOT based sensors) have huge potential to bring excellence and efficiency to tower sites and operation, however pre-requisites need to be met and outcomes need to be realistic.

To make RMS deployment effective, it needs to be planned, monitored and maintained for upkeep and reliability. Just like any other network, its elements need to be replaced and upgraded from time to time which has CAPEX and OPEX of its own. In fact, RMS is a network which is not factored in while doing cost benefit analysis of an RMS deployment.

However over the last decade, tower companies have realized that RMS is not a magic wand and have started to look at alternatives. With increased deployment of smart devices (battery, PIU, DGs) with built-in SIMs, the need for RMS has reduced further.– However, data in smart devices  remains in silos, so it is complex to figure out the insights from the data. This is where Applied Analytics comes into picture.

What are Alternatives to RMS? Does every site require one?

Tower companies’ ground teams take lot of initiatives, which are unknown or less known to management teams, have already improved the site efficiency. On such sites RMS may not be able to work its expected magic. It may not reduce cost. Rather new network’s cost of maintenance may increase cost on site.

Before deploying RMS, reasons beyond OPEX reduction need to be identified. Integrating the intelligence from different parts and seeing the whole picture is important – to leverage right outcomes. Besides cost savings, it has to be seen how it helps planning, operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, achieving excellence. Other methods of data collection and intelligence building may aid to cause in a better way.

A hybrid approach can be adopted. Tower Companies can go for a mix of RMS, OSS data feeds and manual data feeds through mobile applications to capture data in real-time. Timely data collection, validation and analysis of these feeds can provide meaningful insights and enable correct actions.

How applied analytics can help generate value out of deployed RMS?

RMS deployment challenges – the major challenge is how to benefit from “TIME VALUE OF INFORMATION”. Over time, the value of information decreases – and at times if action does not occur expeditiously, action can no longer be taken.

Based on our research, when we looked at data generated from different input sources – such as RMS, OSS Feeds, Log Books, Fuel Filling Agents – the major challenge we came across was with data quality and completeness.

Data is coming from multiple sources and is maintained by multiple departments in silos. Each function looks at a pie of data from its own perspective to fulfill its own goal. The work in creating an actionable data view is significant and often under-appreciated. In reality this is so important. By the time data integration has happened and people take action, it is too late, and often the impact is lost.

There is an urgent need to act intelligently at each touch point – with an ease of use (which is seamless like Excel). What you need is an intuitive interface which is intelligent, integrated and yet as simple to use as Excel. This will drive fast Action-ability and ensure Time Value of Information.

REAL-TIME ACTION-ABILITY that an RMS ecosystem is believed to bring in is missing.

Conclusion

  • RMS has huge potential to bring excellence and efficiency to tower sites and operation, however pre-requisites need to be met and outcomes need to be realistic
  • While planning lot of facts need to be factored other than simple RMS box cost like cost of regular visits to stabilize and maintain, regular maintenance of RMS
  • Most important it is very critical to define the ownership of data completeness and accuracy, which would facilitate planned outcomes.
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