Getting started with Alarm and Monitoring


Thread Starter


I'm new to this, so please forgive the long post as I want to explain myself clearly. If you wish to contact me offline about any of this, feel free: derrick. signup @ gmail. com

I'm currently doing some research into potentially designing some machinery monitoring & alarm systems for boats. I'm hoping someone could point me towards things like standards, books, and/or white papers on such systems. This would be my first attempt at such a project - I believe I have the know-how to push through it, but of course I have some doubts on getting started.

A typical system would include items like engines, generators, thermocouples, some analog voltage/current transducers, and digital dry contact. Probably on the order of 100 points.

In my head, this is pretty simple - connect sensors to remote I/O modules, bring those back to a PLC, and write some ladder to compare inputs to stored values in memory (hi/lo alarm setpoints), and trigger outputs as appropriate, such as sounding buzzers, turning on warning lights, etc.

Then I want to add another layer by introducing 3 or 4 operator panels - one with detailed info such as all the sensor values, individual alarm point status, etc. Then others with summary info - just a couple of sensor values, group alarm status. This seems pretty straight forward as well: either find a complete operator panel that can communicate with the PLC (probably from the same vendor), or find HMI software that can run on a PC and communicate with the PLC. From there, it should be mostly configuration and screen design.

Finally, I would want to add features such as data logging, some basic trending, and the ability to print. This should be a feature of the operator panel or HMI software.

I am familiar with tools such as OPC servers, and packages such as Iconics, but I fear the additional cost may be too high for such a small scale system. Plus, I doubt that I would be mixing hardware vendors.

This has to be more complicated that I'm making it sound. Am I going to have to go through this via trial & error, or is there learning material out there to give me a leg up?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I appreciate any guidance that can be given.