Site Monitoring, Cooling, Design, and Power @IWCE

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The sessions at IWCE show were really great and I did go to many of them but I also moderated this session. I thought it would be good for you to see what is available for your site needs, especially if you are working mission critical operations. This is where the FirstNet system may or may not be up to par. I often wondered if FirstNet thought through their approach. Well, that’s another story, isn’t it?

I moderated the session, Power, Shelters and Site Management for Remote Wireless Infrastructure which was really interesting. I had 4 people on the panel and we covered some very important aspects of critical site issues.

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Bob Selby-Wood, our favorite Australian, is the CEO and Founder of Sentor Control Systems, Inc, USA. He talked about monitoring the site for all the problems that they may see. He has had great success with the City of LA who rely heavily on his system to keep an eye on all problems in real-time. He covered how he would monitor the power before and after the filter because most customers don’t realize that they need to keep an eye on all aspects of their system. This was the one thing that most customers don’t monitor. The reason that is so important, filters won’t let you know if there is an antenna problem. By monitoring the forward and reflected power on both sides of the filter, in and out, you can see what is really happening on the antenna, if reflected rises, then you know you have a problem. If power drops on the outside of the filter, you may have a problems with the filter. You need to know what is really happening in your system.

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Rick Schmidt is the COO of Dantherm, Inc, of South Carolina. They make DC air conditioning units for sites. Rick covered how efficient the DC units can be for more reasons than just efficiency. He pointed out that the savings is really in how the unit can run steady at a lower speed for the compressor and the fans. This method saves so much energy by maintaining a constant speed versus the on-off-on-off scenario that pulls so much energy from normal cooling units. He also mentioned that the biggest mistake that most customers make is they try to cool the entire shelter more than necessary. You see, today’s equipment is hardened and can handle a higher temperature that you may believe. I know that cell site routers can handle more heat now than they could 3 years ago. Why not take advantage of that by saving on cooling costs and only cool what you need, like the cabinet, not the entire shelter. Just some suggestions. By the way, Rick is a really smart guy that has 2 patents, (he knows his stuff!)

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John Potocki of PEPRO LLC covered the shelter design. He went over many different hardened sites and showed examples of different sites in extreme environments. They looked pretty wild, especially the Alaska site covered in snow, deep snow! When he was asked what the one over sight most customers make is, the answer was size! He talked about how most customers only look at the racks but they often overlook the filters, which usually are very large, but most customers don’t take that into consideration. This is a problem because a shelter is what it is, you can’t expand it mainly because it is hardened concrete. So what do you do? You plan ahead, look at all the equipment you will put in, and make sure that you plan for growth so you only put in one shelter, not 3 because you were too cheap up front to spring for a growth site.  Most locations add equipment, very few remove equipment.

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Nam Paik is the VP of Sales for TSi Power Corporation. He was there to speak of UPS systems and battery power. He gave a detailed presentation of how the systems work and what you need to look for when designing the system for appropriate backup power. I asked him what the one mistake most customers make, and he said that they often design systems for the max power needed, not the real world power draw. For example, if a unit is on 110VAC and has a 5A fuse or breaker, then you would know that the worst case power draw is 550 watts. The reality is that if you took an amp meter then you would see that the real draw is 1A. So at 110VAC at 1A the draw is 110W. So why buy a system that is 5 times bigger than you need? This is a common mistake that most people make and it adds unnecessary costs to your system. You may not think it’s a big deal, but 5 times the power means a bigger system and bigger batteries. If you have 100 sites, then it’s a real cost factor. By the way, Nam was nice enough to fill in at the last-minute, thank you Nam!

Site issues are often something that the site design team has to deal with. As you can see if you don’t do it right then you should expect problems from that site that will mean unnecessary site visits and probably outages. All because you didn’t plan properly up front. These are all critical issues, power, cooling, shelter, and monitoring it to know what is going on. Think about it!

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

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