Guide to Creating Meaningful Alarm Thresholds

Category: General Published on Sep 05 2019

The value of remote battery monitoring lies in its efficacy as a predictive tool. Manual battery testing relies on service technicians to physically conduct tests at regular—or not so regular—intervals; the system is prone to procedurals errors and inaccuracy due to inconsistency among technicians performing tests by hand. Additionally, the frequency of manual testing is not sufficient for patterns and trends to emerge; limiting the application of data from such testing to merely capturing isolated snapshots of the health of battery installations.


Remote battery monitoring, on the other hand, leverages the power of trending data to not only ascertain the present status of battery health but to predict future performance and viability. Continuous, consistent collection of data supplies the context needed to establish patterns of performance, enabling organizations to take proactive rather than reactive action.

 

The role of alarm thresholds

Alarm thresholds are a critical element of remote battery monitoring, as they are the point of connection between data and personnel. An alarm threshold is the pre-determined condition which triggers the battery monitoring system to alert users of an actual or potential problem, ideally in time to avert it or mitigate resultant loss of operational functionality.

There are many factors to consider when setting alarm thresholds, and to a very large extent these are determined by the unique needs and operational protocols of each organization. The following checklist, however, will provide a brief guide to topics to consider and questions to ask as you determine how to set alarm thresholds that work best for you:

 

  1. Which alarms do you want to enable? Robust remote battery monitoring systems like those developed by PBT are designed to give users the flexibility to customize the system to their organization’s needs. For that reason they are option-rich, and one of the first points to consider is which alarm options it will serve you to enable, and which can be left dormant because they do not apply to your circumstances or supply information that is meaningful to you.
  2. How high should you set the threshold? An alarm threshold set too high can result in users not being alerted to potential problems, or being alerted too late to either avert them or reduce the cost of disruption. Conversely, alarms set at too low a threshold can create alarm storms, inundating users with information to which they may eventually become desensitized. Much like the fairytale of the little boy who cried wolf, overly sensitive alarm settings compromise the system’s efficacy in communicating when something serious really is happening or about to happen. What is required here is a balance between the two extremes determined by the needs, capacities, and culture of your organization.
  3. Should the alarm threshold have multiple levels? Once you’ve identified which alarms it makes sense for your organization to utilize and what threshold should trigger the alarm, there remains the question of alarm level—specifically, warning levels and action levels. Some users prefer for alarms to be triggered only when actionable, while others want one or possibly more levels of warning beforehand. If you intend to take advantage of the powerful predictive capacity of remote battery monitoring systems, at least one warning level is generally required, though this designation as well is ultimately dependent on organizational individual needs.

The ability of any remote battery monitoring system to enable organizations to avoid the financial and operational loss that accompanies battery failure is tied to its protocols for deploying alarms. These protocols or alarm thresholds are determined by their users, and work best when established with the unique needs, resources, and goals of the organization in mind.