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The integral role of an Oriel Systems telemetry outstation or RTU

Of all of the components that are critical to the smooth running of remote telemetry, the actual device for collecting that all-important data – the telemetry outstation – cannot be overlooked. Also referred to as a Remote Terminal Unit or even Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU), a telemetry outstation is located on each monitored site, gathering information on a 24 hours a day basis from all of the sensors at that particular remote site. When customers across the water, chemical, print and oil and gas industries choose Oriel Systems (, they can specify a video outstation, intelligent outstation or low power outstation.

Such a unit has digital and analogue signals wired directly to it, and is capable of relaying information on events, alarms, analogue (floating) values and more to the host station. It’s also possible to configure communications for local communications to SCADA and further local intelligent devices. The specific RTUs that have been developed by Oriel Systems include a video outstation capable of the simultaneous transmission over the Internet of as many as eight live feeds – optionally with audio – from the given remote site. Oriel Systems’ AWAX software can then be used for monitoring and controlling the cameras, as tabs are kept on other onsite functions.

Customers of this intelligent video unit from Oriel Systems’ large installed user base across the world appreciate the various resolutions at which it can transmit video – whether the requirement is for a low network bandwidth system, or a high bandwidth application from which television quality video can be produced. But Oriel Systems is also known for its intelligent outstation that can be programmed for the monitoring and control of the remote site’s plant equipment. The system can be fully configured for the client’s site, with the Unit being attachable to IO modules of various types, as well as to PLCs and other intelligent devices.

Clients choose the Intelligent Telemetry Outstation (ITO) partly on account of the wide range of communication transmission options that can be specified with the connection of the unit back to their master station. These include both licensed and un-licensed Low Power radio, PSTN (land-line), Internet, satellite and GSM/GPRS mobile. However many previously recorded values need to be sent back, that can be accomplished, with a live feed also being delivered of on-site events.

Finally, Oriel Systems also offers a low power outstation that has been designed for small solar panel and/or mini-windmill power. The unit provides clear and confident readings, with its internal charge pump enabling the generation of its own 24 volt supply for analog sensors. With this unit, radio or GSM/GPRS modem are usually used for communication to the AWAX master station, and a repeater station is not generally required. Such features make this unit just one more of the many telemetry solutions that have helped to make Oriel Systems ( such a go-to company for a wide range of specialised remote monitoring requirements.


The telemetry functionality greatly assisting the printing industry

Much has been made of the struggles of the printing industry in recent times, with newspapers and magazines having to fully embrace the rise of online or, in some cases, succumb to it. In the meantime, newspapers are having to respond to declining circulation figures by streamlining their businesses, with costs being cut wherever possible. One of the most vital commodities to the printing industry, but also one of the most expensive, is printing ink, and the telemetry systems of Oriel Systems ( can help to ensure that no supplier lets a newspaper down.

Not only are newspapers dependent on their suppliers’ continued smooth operation, but the supplier is under pressure to ensure that its customer does not run out of ink – and to ensure that, information needs to be available on the levels of product at the customer’s site. The supplier needs to receive regular notification of customer tank levels, and when the time comes to deliver ink, the supplier will not want to have to return with a partial load – instead, it will want to be able to completely empty the tank. This is where the remote tank monitoring solution of Oriel Systems proves invaluable.

The Vendor Managed Inventory solution of Oriel Systems allows for the constant monitoring of the ink levels in customer tanks, courtesy of an Intelligent Telemetry Outstation present at each site. If, overnight, there is unexpectedly high usage resulting in the tank level falling below a certain pre-defined limit, the system overrides the whole operation, with the supplier being contacted so that it can respond accordingly. But it also helps the supplier to save costs if it has the ability to better plan production in advance, and sure enough, consumption is also monitored so that the supplier can better ascertain the newspaper’s likely future needs.

Over its more than 25 years in business, Oriel Systems has accumulated significant expertise on the requirements of a wide range of clients, with its large installed user base worldwide empowering the technical team to provide the most appropriate inventory monitoring solutions for various applications of different levels of complexity. A recent case study in relation to the printing industry is Oriel Systems’ installation of a telemetry system for one of the major, Spanish-based customers of the leading ink supplier, Flint Ink.

Specialising in periodic magazines and brochures, the purpose-built printing facility in Tres Cantos near Madrid is some distance from the plant in Wolverhampton, UK where the ink is actually manufactured, with the ink management contract being managed in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, Oriel Systems ( was able to supply and install an Intelligent Telemetry Outstation on broadband providing instantaneous tank level readings back to Flint Ink’s Holland headquarters. Information on the next ink delivery, the colour that needs to be planned and historical ink consumption are also all provided by a system that is highly cost-effective and flexible, in line with the customer’s exact technical requirements.


Oriel Systems fosters strong international links

The very nature of telemetry, whereby data is collected and measurements made at inaccessible or remote points prior to the transmission of such information to receiving equipment, might suggest that it is an especially internationally-oriented technology. Sure enough, telemetry owes its very existence to a series of developments far beyond these shores, from the mid-19th century development of one of the first data transmission circuits between the Winter Palace of the Russian Tsar and army headquarters, to subsequent innovations in France. It all points to the importance of any telemetry systems provider, like Oriel Systems (, being distinctly outward-facing.

Sure enough, since its 1986 inception, Oriel Systems has gradually developed into what is now a highly internationally-oriented high technology services provider, with an emphasis on providing the most flexible, reliable and cost-effective remote monitoring systems to what has become a sizable installed user base worldwide. Clients across the likes of the water, chemicals, printing and pharmaceutical industries turn to Oriel Systems on account of its in-depth expertise relating to these particular sectors, combined with specific data acquisition solutions of a proven level of reliability and functionality.

Such clients know that the telemetry systems of Oriel Systems are as powerful as they are scalable. They know that as such systems can be installed quickly and easily, start-up and operational costs can be kept down, while they are also aware that such solutions can be incorporated into a wide range of remote equipment to avoid an existing investment having to be thrown out. In addition, they know that with Oriel Systems, they do not find themselves investing in telemetry infrastructure that they do not actually need. Whether a small-scale or plant-wide system is required, customers know that an Oriel Systems solution can be easily adapted to suit ever-varying needs.

However, clients may also be interested to learn about the national and international links with other major stakeholders in telemetry software and hardware, that put the Oriel Systems technical team in such a strong position to respond to the widest range of needs. The company has a presence in various parts of the UK, with a manufacturing, research and development facility in south west England being complemented by Manchester and north London sites, out of which the company’s installation engineers work. But the firm also maintains strategic alliances and agents in Europe and the Far East – indeed, more than half of its revenue is international.

Such in-depth expertise as gathered from across the world has been instrumental in attracting such high quality and frequently multinational clients as Cadburys, BASF, Nestle, Unilever and Fling Group Netherlands B.V. Customers both throughout the UK and overseas also benefit from a head office located in close proximity to all of the major transport links, as well as the wide range of languages in which the telemetry solutions of Oriel Systems ( can operate around the world. Such factors all help to make the company a continued first choice for national and international clients alike.


Telemetry’s role in fishery and wildlife research and management

Organisations investing in solutions like silo monitoring hardware and software from Oriel Systems ( are often intrigued to read of how telemetry – the automated making of measurements and the remote collection and transmission of data – is applied in sectors far beyond the likes of the oil and gas, chemicals, water and printing industries. One area in which these systems certainly have value is in the research and management of fishery and wildlife, with telemetry proving its worth in the monitoring of threatened species at the individual level.

For data acquisition software to work in the study of certain species, the animals are routinely outfitted with instrumentation tags, which incorporate sensors for the measurement of temperature, speed and location, making the most of ARGOS or GPS packages. In the case of marine animals, diving depth and duration is also generally measured. Through telemetry tags, researchers can learn about the behaviour, functions and environment of given animals. Archival tags can be used to store this information, or it may be sent or transmitted to a satellite or handheld receiving device.

Hydro-acoustic assessments for fish had previously involved the use of mobile surveys from boats for the evaluation of fish biomass and spatial distributions. Now, however, advanced telemetry is used, with stationary transducers being employed as part of fixed-location techniques for the monitoring of passing fish. It may have been the 1960s when fish biomass quantification was first seriously attempted, but it was at hydropower dams in the 1980s that especially significant advances in equipment and techniques took place. In the case of some evaluations, fish passage was monitored on a 24 hours a day basis for over a year, resulting in estimates of fish sizes, fish entrainment rates and spatial and temporal distributions.

The 1970s saw the invention of the dual-beam technique, enabling fish size to be directly estimated in situ via its target strength. By the early 1990s, HTI had developed the first portable split-beam, hydro-acoustic system, which was soon preferred to the dual-beam method on account of the greater accuracy and reduced variability of the fish strength estimates that it produced. It was also through this method that fish could be tracked in 3D, allowing for the determination of a fish’s swimming path and absolute direction of movement. Such remote monitoring systems proved vital in evaluating entrained fish in water diversions, as well as for studies in rivers of migratory fish.

The last three and a half decades have seen tens of thousands of hydro-acoustic evaluations, both mobile and fixed-location, conducted around the world. Certainly, for the purposes of the research and management of wildlife and fishery, telemetry solutions have never relented in their importance – and much the same could be said for the many industries that Oriel Systems ( serves with aplomb. The company’s technical team is happy to listen to requests for both relatively simple and much more advanced, specialised systems.


Telemetry and the Formula One

For the large installed client base of Oriel Systems (, the benefits of remote monitoring systems, both in a more general sense and in ways more directly applicable to their highly specialised industries, are clear. There is, however, another less everyday setting in which telemetry solutions have long proved their worth to the end of delivering world-leading performance – with the results regularly being shown live on TV to millions upon millions of viewers worldwide. That setting is, of course, the Formula One paddock.

Formula One has long been a bastion of high technology, and amid the intense competition both on and off the circuit, it shouldn’t be a surprise that race engineers take advantage of every resource available to properly tune these highly-sprung and delicate vehicles. Whether during a test or race, engineers throughout motor racing have long sought data that they can interpret, and in Formula One, the sophistication of current telemetry systems are such that the car’s potential lap time can be calculated, giving the driver a benchmark to meet.

Temperature readings, suspension displacement and wheel speed, as well as accelerations (G forces) in 3 axes, are all measurements that can be made on a racing car via a remote data acquisition system. In Formula One, driver input can also be recorded for the assessment of driver performance, as well as so that in the event of an accident, the sport’s governing body, the FIA can determine whether or not driver error was at fault. A more recent development was two-way telemetry that enabled a car’s calibrations to be updated by engineers in real time, even when the car was out on track. Having first appeared in Formula One in the early 1990s, two-way telemetry was banned from Formula One by the FIA ahead of the 2003 season.

Most viewers of the on-track action around the world are, of course, oblivious to the intricacies of telemetry solutions and their influence on the outcome of a race, although they do have a highly visible physical presence in the form of the engineers who are constantly hunched behind screens, using the sourced data to interpret their car’s every move. These engineers are in many ways the unsung heroes of the sport, as they spend hour after hour dutifully behind screens on the pit wall, in the garage, inside the paddock engineering truck and even back at the team’s headquarters, many of them never to be seen at the podium celebrations as their triumphant driver douses himself in champagne.

The focus of these engineers may be on the car’s speed, or instead on its reliability. Whatever their exact responsibilities, they depend on the most accurate and sundry data, delivered to them by technology with much in common with that used by Oriel Systems’ ( loyal clients. The company’s technical team happy to devise the right inventory monitoring solution in response to even the most specialised of requirements in the oil and gas, chemical, water and printing industries.


What reasons are there to choose Oriel Systems over any other telemetry provider?

People who have spent a decent amount of time perusing the Oriel Systems ( website are likely to appreciate one thing, above so many other things: that telemetry really does serve a vital purpose in so many industries, particularly at a time when there is pressure to become more competitive on a backdrop of reduced revenues. For a process that seemingly amounts simply to an instrument’s readings being recorded and then transmitted via radio, telemetry has an astonishing range of increasingly essential real world applications.

Telemetry solutions have long been used in fields ranging from meteorology, space science and motor racing to flight testing, military intelligence and medicine. Oriel Systems does not provide solutions for all of the fields in which telemetry could possibly have an impact, but does provide the most reputable, reliable and scalable hardware and software for those in the water, chemical, oil and gas and printing industries. Having been in business now for more than a quarter of a century, the company has an enviable manufacturing, research and development facility in south west England, and maintains strategic alliances and agents across Europe and the Far East.

But for those in the UK who require a well-tailored remote data acquisition solution, the main benefits of doing business with Oriel Systems remain clear. The company’s solutions are flexible, reliable and cost-effective, as can be vouched for by a large installed user base worldwide. These systems are able to connect to various remote plant and equipment, including the client’s existing telemetry equipment that they may have had to dispose of, had they opted for another supplier. The system really can be added to as and when requirements change, with the client only paying for the size of system that they need.

A remote tank monitoring solution from Oriel Systems can also be quickly and easily installed, saving the client manpower and labour and minimising both start-up and operational costs. The products themselves include an intelligent video unit that can transmit up to 8 live feeds – optionally with audio – simultaneously from the client’s remote site over the Internet. Meanwhile, Oriel Systems’ well-regarded software includes Awax VMI telemetry software that enables the simple and confident monitoring and control of remote sites.

Various industry-specific needs can be catered for by these hardware and software options, and Oriel Systems ( also grants access to experienced software consultants who can develop simple user interfaces and more advanced measurement and analysis functions alike. Indeed, Oriel Systems’ people are central to its offering. Customer support can be provided over the phone or via the remote control of customer telemetry systems, and whatever the client’s exact requirements, members of the technical team can be contacted by phone during the day for further discussions. These technicians and consultants are as comfortable with small projects as they are with large ones, and are happy to listen to the most distinctive of requests.


The central role of telemetry in many fields of human endeavour

Since the emergence of telemetering over wire in the 19th century, followed by the development of progressively meaningful wireless telemetry systems over the next century or so, telemetry has not merely existed to assist the running of plant and equipment. Nor has it solely had value in achieving financial efficiency. What Oriel Systems ( would instead like to emphasise in this article is the role that telemetry has had in shaping the present world in which all of its clients and non-clients live, work and play.

It is telemetry solutions, for example, that have made it possible for everyday people to be better informed about the coming weather in their localities, with weather balloons having used the technology to transmit meteorological data since 1920. Telemetry has also greatly modernised agriculture, given the need for weather and soil data to be delivered in a timely manner if healthy crops and good yields are to be consistently achieved. In the latter case, wireless weather stations transmit vital parameters, such as air temperature, precipitation, wind speed and soil moisture, to the achievement of such ends as precision irrigation and disease prevention.

Remote data acquisition has also been integral to fishery and wildlife research and management, with threatened species being monitored at the individual level. Instrumentation tags are fitted to animals under study so that the likes of temperature, diving depth and duration can be measured. Through telemetry tags, researchers can learn more about an animal’s environment, behaviour and functions. Archival tags can then be used to store this information, or the information can be transmitted to a satellite or handheld receiving device.

Testing environments where there is a need for close observation, but the presence of humans in close proximity would be dangerous, such as volcanoes, radioactive sites or munitions-storage facilities, also see the use of remote monitoring systems. They can be invaluable in making measurements in places that are generally inaccessible to humans, such as deep in the ocean or in space. Indeed, space science has long been another key frontier for telemetry, being used for data transmission by manned or unmanned spacecraft and covering distances exceeding 10 billion kilometres.

Data is frequently collected from spacecraft and satellites by space agencies like the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, via telemetry and/or telecommand systems. There are so many more examples of the areas in which solutions like telemetry software have played an integral role in furthering human achievement and broader society, from rocketry, military intelligence and medicine to communications, resource distribution and motor racing.

With its own highly concentrated areas of expertise in the water, chemical, printing and oil and gas industries, Oriel Systems ( takes pride in its continuing contributions to making telemetry more powerful, flexible and suitable to the broadest range of professional and industry requirements.


The sometimes unexpected role of telemetry in sport

Many prospective and current clients alike of Oriel Systems’ ( remote inventory monitoring solutions are likely to be following the latest goings-on at the 2013 Tour de France – but not all of them may be aware of the reports earlier in June of work being done on a telemetry system to make real-time data accessible to TV audiences. The technology wasn’t ready in time for the 100th Tour de France, but it is thought that live figures and statistics could be streamed for the first time at Paris-Tours in mid-October, according to a BikeRadar report.

The idea is to use such telemetry systems for the collection of real-time data on the speed and position of riders in the peloton, enabling it to be fed directly to TV stations for the benefit of audiences. If the trials are a success, viewers could soon be perusing statistics on the hardest working riders and which team members have been on the front of the peloton for longest. Speculation began when operatives were seen cable-tying cadence sensor-size units to the undercarriage of team saddles at the stage start of the Criterium du Dauphine in Grésy-sur-Aix.

Although the operatives were not forthcoming about the exact nature of their activities, it was later confirmed that work was being done alongside Tour de France organisers, ASO on the first stage trials of the GPS-based technology. Audiences and commentators alike will be hoping for the successful implementation of such a data acquisition system, given that it could result in accessible information not only on the amount of time spent on the front by riders, but also hard working domestiques doing bottle runs returning to team cars and how cohesive certain teams are when riding in a group in the peloton. Team managers may also appreciate data on the work rate and positioning of their riders.

This is not the first time the broadcasting of in-race data to audiences has been trialled. It used to be possible for commentators to access selected participants’ heart rate data during races, while the 2005 Tour de France saw the fitting of GPS units to the bikes of selected riders. But none of these previous measures have stuck, with sports fans perhaps more aware of the application of remote monitoring systems in Formula One. Throughout motorsport, telemetry remains invaluable for race engineers interested in tuning a car for optimum performance, making the most of data collected during a test or race. Two-way telemetry, for instance, allows for calibrations on a car to be updated in real time, even when the car is out on the track. Telemetry has also been used in yacht racing.

Of course, as exotic as such technologies can seem, clients of Oriel Systems ( customarily require a telemetry installation for a rather different kind of competitiveness. More specifically, they require industry competitiveness as achieved through a cost-effective, reliable and scalable system tailored to their exact needs, whether they are in the oil and gas, printing, water or chemical industries.


A short history of telemetry

Telemetry can be described as a highly automated communications process that involves the collection of measurements and other data at remote or inaccessible points, prior to transmission to receiving equipment for monitoring and control purposes. Regular visitors to the Oriel Systems ( website will be aware of the many potential applications of telemetry in the 21st century, including those both covered and not covered by the company.

Telemetry itself, can trace its own past back to the 19th century. This is the period in which telemetering information over wire has its origins, with 1845 being the year in which one of the first data-transmission circuits, between the Russian Tsar’s Winter Palace and army headquarters, was developed. In 1874, French engineers had a system of weather and snow-depth sensors built on Mont Blanc for the transmission of real-time information to Paris.

Then, in 1901, the American inventor C. Michalke patented a circuit – known as the selsyn – that allowed the sending over a distance of synchronised rotation information. The developments that gradually culminated in today’s data acquisition systems came thick and fast after that, with the year 1906 seeing the construction of a set of seismic stations with telemetering to the Pulkovo Observatory in Russia. A system of telemetry was then developed by Commonwealth Edison in 1912, for the monitoring of its power grid’s electrical loads. By 1914, the Panama Canal was completed, and used extensive telemetry systems for the monitoring of locks and water levels.

The start of the 1930s saw the concurrent development of the radiosonde by the Russian Pavel Molchanov and Robert Bureau in France, with wireless telemetry making early appearances in it. In Molchanov’s system, the modulation of temperature and pressure measurements was possible with their conversion to wireless Morse code. Meanwhile, another system, “Messina”, consisting of primitive multiplexed radio signals, was used by the German V-2 rocket for the reporting of four rocket parameters, although its unreliability was such that Wernher von Braun once claimed that watching the rocket through binoculars was a better idea.

There can be no doubt, however, that remote monitoring systems have advanced significantly in functionality, sophistication and reliability since then. Certainly, the range of applications for telemetry has significantly expanded, with space science, agriculture, motor racing, flight testing, military intelligence, medicine and resource distribution being just some of the fields that have benefitted from it. Since 1920, telemetry has also been used by weather balloons for the transmission of meteorological data. Remote monitoring solutions have also become more powerful and flexible in recent decades across various fields, helped by the large installed worldwide user bases of the leading telemetry installation providers.

The current technical team at Oriel Systems ( have certainly learned a great deal from the telemetry solutions of the past, which places it in the best position to supply the most suitable systems for the widest range of present requirements.


The truly all-encompassing nature of telemetry

Telemetry, which can be defined as a highly automated communications process by which measurements are made and other data collected at points either remote or inaccessible, before being transmitted to receiving equipment so that it can be monitored, is not a process with which many people have an everyday familiarity. Nonetheless, it is a vital process in many industries, including many beyond the obvious bounds of Oriel Systems (

An appreciation of the wider context of telemetry software and hardware and the situations and industries in which it is used helps individuals and organisations to grasp just how versatile the process can be – as well as just how much work goes into the development and refinement of a solution that is reliable, flexible, high-performing and cost-effective. Although Oriel Systems is a high technology industrial services provider with a strong track record in the water, chemical, oil and gas and printing industries, there are many more sectors in which telemetry has an instrumental role.

These include meteorology, with telemetry having been used for the transmission of meteorological data by weather balloons since 1920. It also has a role in space science, as manned or unmanned spacecraft use it to transmit their own data, over distances of more than 10 billion kilometres. Telemetry systems have also long been appreciated in agriculture, given the need for weather and soil data to be delivered in a timely fashion for most activities relating to healthy crops and good yields. This gives wireless weather stations a vital part to play in precision irrigation and the prevention of disease.

There is also a strong association between remote monitoring systems and the sporting world, and indeed, many people may be predominantly aware of it on account of its link with motor racing. In modern motor racing, telemetry is a fact of life, with race engineers using data that has been collected during a test or race to properly tune the car so that it delivers the best possible performance. So advanced have telemetry systems come in series like Formula One, that it is possible to calculate the potential lap time of the car and use it as a benchmark for the driver. During a race, such measurements as accelerations (G forces) in three axes, wheel speed, temperature readings and suspension displacement can all be made.

From defence, space and resource exploration, energy monitoring and military intelligence to resource distribution, medicine and even retail, there are so many fields in which a telemetry installation can have a major influence. Oriel Systems ( takes pride in its own laser-like focus on its specialist areas of expertise, and its technical team welcomes contact for those with small or large telemetry systems and complicated or relatively simple requirements. It will ensure that all elements are incorporated into a system that delivers the best results in the context of the client firm’s resourcing and/or staffing needs and wider objectives.