Always Online: Industries That Never Sleep

Keyboard with 24/7 on a key.

We have a client who absolutely must be online, ALL THE TIME.

Are they a stock broker? A police station? Bank? Nope. Solar array farm. Yup, fields, and fields of solar panels.

The Power Must Flow

Why? Simple. The electric company doesn’t tell them when they aren’t generating power, and if there is no power being generated, the return on investment of the solar panels is not be fulfilled, aka losing money.

Back in the day, they would drive out to the farm every morning and look at the day’s performance and compare it with the previous day. Up and down the rows and rows of panels they would inspect the panels and hope they were working fully and not just look like they were. It was an all day job and you’d have to pay someone to do it. Issues were hard to detect and when they happened, it might take you months to find and resolve the issue.

A New Controller System and a Botched IT Installation

Luckily the panel manufacturer made two years ago a controller system that would query each panel and see how it was producing, costly, but worth it. What did they didn’t provide was the communication system, so they worked with a local IT company to install a wifi and a cellular link.

2 years later, and dozens of replacement of hardware, that solution was obviously NOT commercial grade. The owner was spending a similar amount in costs which were supposed to be saved in defective ineffective hardware.

That is when he contacted Triton for a solution, and that is exactly what we did.

Triton Installs Industrial WiFi

What exactly did we do?

  • Installed multiple Ubiquiti Nanobeam AC point to point access points for wifi at each of the rows to a central tech shed.
  • Within that shed, we installed a Multitech rCell with TaoGlass cellular antenna amplifier.
  • That was connected it all to our at&t partner wireless network provided by with our cellular wholesaler Data2GoWireless.
  • With Cisco industrial switches connecting them all.

It was installed a month ago with 8 solar farms, and setup was completed within 3 days.

Always Online IT for Always Online Industries

We followed up with them yesterday, and how many times did they have to reset anything: Zero. That is right, zero times, from the cellular router to the access points to the switches, it all worked. It was installed in the dead of winter with snow around and it performed flawlessly. Their labor cost plummeted and their production was now consistent. Issues could now be resolved immediately and notifications of the problems when they arose was near instant. No more going up and down the fields like you were patrolling for raptors at Jurassic Park, but instead located in an office 10 miles away sitting at a workstation LITERALLY seeing the money rolling in and on the power grid.

Lesson learned, if you want to go big, you need to get the big dog hardware. Hardened, commercial industrial grade hardware that provides consistent and reliable communications is cheaper in the long term that anything you’ll save up front. Learn more about our IT service for the Energy Industry, as well as related fields such as Manufacturing, Transportation, and Government. If you’re in an always online industry, contact us to make sure it stays that way.