Affordable remote monitoring set for take off

Remote monitoring is an idea that has been long talked about - but according to Chris Dakin, founder and Managing Director of Gas Data, the waiting is over. He claims that the technology has finally arrived - at the right cost. Gas Data is already providing remote monitoring for a European company which has invested in the management of a major landfill site in South America. This provides data that is environmentally, technically and commercially beneficial as "Carbon Credits" are eagerly sought under the Kyoto Protocol.

Low hardware costs and low communication costs mean that the many benefits of remote monitoring are now available to any landfill operator who previously thought that it was financially out of reach.

Remote systems can offer immediate notification of any important site issues for landfill managers required to carry out an increasing number of monitoring programmes for UK Landfill Regulations and IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control). Mobile phones and the Internet give colleagues the opportunity to share and act upon information from wherever they might be; on-site, off-site, working at home, or from anywhere on the globe.

If this is, as I believe, what the landfill industry has been waiting for, then there is this warning. Before rushing in with one of the many companies that simply offers "remote monitoring", look for a company that has genuine environmental experience; one that truly understands the whole landfill gas picture. Unless they have that intimate knowledge, they simply will not be capable of providing the sufficient depth of data to help you control your landfill emissions smoothly. You will miss out the significant added value of a vast volume of easy-to-access, consistent, reliable management information. An average monitoring company may only be able to supply you with a system that involves scrolling through page upon page of individual data, leaving you to piece it together and make sense of it yourselves.

Accessing data streams

Until now, basic monitoring has usually been covered from one office, often showing that engines on a gas extraction system are either running, or not. But what has not been possible to access is the stream of data (up to 19 channels) that would have led up to an emergency message, from which they can learn why something has happened, and perhaps prevented it.

Streams of very specific data, presented in correctly formatted combinations of parameters will show important trends for say, controlling well heads on an extraction system and how to optimise them. It can also be crucial to monitor the rate of gas flow with pressures, which can tell you how efficiently engines are running. With remote monitoring, everyone within a company (or those authorised to do so) can see exactly what's happening. It gives far superior regulatory control and much better management control, with the beauty of not having to be on site. Multiple installations can compare one site to another and compare current results with a predictive model to see how the site is performing.

You can programme in key trigger points for low levels and high levels, and alert your key operators by email or text message about continuing trends. Trigger points could show a marked rise in carbon monoxide, indicating excessive heat, and possible combustion. Excess oxygen could indicate that atmospheric air is leaking into the landfill which can be catastrophic in gas production.

All of this has been possible before, but the installation, for example, of dedicated telephone lines to remote areas, has put costs out of reach. For those companies now investing in the landfill sites of developing countries, manual monitoring is totally out of the question. Carbon credits have to be traceable. It just cannot be done frequently enough, and of course there are some serious logistics and distances involved.

With remote monitoring, supplied by a company that understands the landfill business, the potential is quite phenomenal.


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