Argus Frequently Asked Questions

Argus, the Company

  1. What does argus sell?
  2. Who does Argus sell to?
  3. What equipment & service guarantees does Argus offer?
  4. How does Argus handle customer support?

Control Systems

  1. Can the system control all my equipment?
  2. What should I consider when looking to purchase a control system?
  3. Is it difficult to use (i.e. what level of computer competency is required)?
  4. Will I save money by investing in an Argus System?
  5. What does a system cost?
  6. Can I install the system myself?
  7. How often will I need to upgrade my system hardware?
  8. How does Argus handle software upgrades?
  9. What happens when I need to expand my control system?
  10. Do you provide wireless and mobile access?
  11. What is Argus' liability should the system fail?

System Hardware - General

  1. What are some of your available sensors and uses?
  2. What types of alarms are available?

System Specifics - Control Reference

  1. How does Argus handle indoor/outdoor relationships?
  2. How are climate zones handled?
  3. How does Argus control light?
  4. How does Argus control temperature?
  5. How does Argus control humidity?
  6. How does Argus control CO2?
  7. How does Argus control irrigation?
  8. How does Argus control plant nutrients?

Control Software

  1. What about charting & graphing capabilities?
  2. Can I export data from the Argus system to other programs?
  3. What about record keeping and data management?

Troubleshooting

  1. What happens if the PC fails?
  2. What happens in a power failure?
  3. What backup systems are recommended?
  4. What happens in emergencies?

1. What Does Argus Sell?

 
  • Argus offers complete fully integrated computer control systems for managing greenhouse environmental, irrigation, and nutrient equipment.
  • Our systems are modular, highly expandable, and feature a distributed control architecture.
  • Systems range in size and complexity from one to hundreds of individually managed climates and irrigation systems.
  • All control functions are processed and executed on dedicated hardware, independent of the PC operator interface.
  • Argus normally supplies all sensors, control panels, software, and control interface equipment required.
  • We also supply fiber optic cabling options, relay panels, and custom control equipment for specific applications.


2. Who does Argus sell to?

 
  • Our customers are located around the globe. They include many of the world's top
    • commercial production facilities
    • research, education, and public facilities

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3. What equipment & service guarantees does Argus offer?

 
  • We offer a standard 1-year warranty.
  • We stock most parts and can usually provide overnight delivery for critical replacement items.
  • We offer a low cost parts exchange service for many items.
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4. How does Argus handle customer support?

 
  • Argus is recognized as an industry leader in customer service.
  • Our systems are designed for remote support diagnostics
  • Most components are modular and easily field replaceable.
  • We provide phone (toll free in North America) and Internet support.
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5. Can the system control all my equipment??

 
  • The Argus system can generally automate all of the equipment used to regulate the environment in your facility. It can also provide custom control for a wide variety of other machinery systems including batch processing, water management, water treatment, irrigation and nutrient control equipment. Although we have provided some custom solutions for production machinery, our systems are not particularly designed for applications such as packaging equipment etc. These are normally supplied with their own control automation, which can often be interfaced to the Argus system for monitoring and control coordination purposes.
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6. What should I consider when looking to purchase an environmental control system?

 
  • Make sure that your operation and equipment is suited to automated control and will benefit from it. There should be sufficient payback in terms of reduced operating and management costs and the potential for increased climate control uniformity and production gains to warrant an investment in control automation.
  • Look for a manufacturer that provides a control system for your application.
  • Ask prospective vendors about their system capabilities, expandability, after sales service costs and support. If you can, try to find out how full-featured each prospective system is when it comes to climate and equipment control. For example, each vendor may offer a lighting control program, but only one two may offer the depth of control options you require for optimum control, energy management, and integration with other equipment and processes. Some may lack the essential safety features needed to protect your equipment from damage and premature wear.
  • Check references. Make sure the manufacturer stands behind their product.
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7. Is it difficult to use (i.e. what level of computer competency is required)?

 
  • You do not need any particular skills to operate an Argus system other than knowledge of the equipment being controlled and a basic understanding of the control objectives for your operation.
  • Some basic proficiency in using a PC running under the Windows operating system is an asset.
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8. Will I save money by investing in an Argus System?

 
  • You certainly should, but it does depend on how you use it. An integrated control system enables you to realize production gains, better crop uniformity, and longer equipment life.
  • By increasing and centralizing your management and control capabilities, automated control provides you with better precision, efficiency, and coordination of your equipment and energy use. Some growers have reported energy saving as high as 30%.
  • Detailed information is continuously collected, recorded, and analyzed by the system, providing you with a powerful management tool for maintaining optimum production conditions. With this information, you can repeat past successes and identify areas that need improvement.
  • The extensive monitoring and alarm capabilities of the Argus system can help you detect and prevent impending catastrophes by providing the earliest possible indications of equipment malfunctions and other 'out-of-bounds' conditions.
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9. What does a system cost?

 
  • It varies directly with the size and complexity of the application. Generally the more measured inputs and controlled outputs, the higher the cost.
  • A base Argus system can manage several climates including irrigation.
  • Systems start around $15,000 for control and monitoring of a few relatively simple climate zones and irrigation zones. All systems are custom configured to match your exact requirements. The Argus system is capable of controlling hundreds of climate zones as well as complex irrigation and nutrient systems. The cost per system is directly proportional to the size and complexity of each application.
  • After receiving your specifications, we will engineer a proposed system design for your review, complete with itemized system component pricing.
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10. Can I install the system myself?

 
  • In many cases, yes, particularly if you already have existing line voltage relays in place for equipment control, or your Argus system includes line voltage interface relays. Although the Argus system hardware is low voltage, you may require the services of an electrician for any line voltage wiring or connections. Each system is supplied with a complete set of custom wiring diagrams and installation instructions.
  • There is generally no need for Argus to perform any of the on-site installation. Argus systems are generally easy to install and we provide detailed installation drawings and documents to assist in this process. We also perform all of the system setup, programming and configuration. You can either do it yourself, use your local electrical installer, or we can recommend the services of independent contractors who specialize in installing Argus systems.
  • Installation costs vary with the size and complexity of the applications, ranging from as low as $500 per climate to as high as $5000. Typical installation costs are around $1000 per climate.
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11. How often will I need to upgrade my system hardware?

 
  • A good quality horticultural control system should last for at least 10 years without the need for significant replacement. Argus has existing installations that are well over 20 years.
  • Upgrading systems is usually expensive and time consuming. If you choose a quality system that is appropriate for your present and future needs your short-term investments will be on expansion items rather that system overhauls. 
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12. How does Argus handle software upgrades?

 
  • Argus provides minor software revisions free of charge.
  • When we release major software versions provide new functions and features, you have the option of purchasing an upgrade. (Many of our existing customers are still content to use software versions created more than 15 years ago!)
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 13. What happens when I need to expand my control system?

 
  • You should never outgrow your Argus system. Our systems are highly expandable, from one to hundreds of climates and irrigation systems.
  • All systems are upgradeable - we are still supporting, expanding, and upgrading systems purchased 15 years ago.
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14. Do you provide wireless and mobile access?

  • Yes, our systems are compatible with standard wireless technologies. Argus has also introduced introducing new capabilities that enable password protected multi-user access over local networks and Internet portals.
  • Some users are also using smart phones and tablets for system access.
  • Wireless control communications options are also available for some applications where wired communications with some controllers is not practical.
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 15. What is Argus' liability should the control system fail?

 
  • Liability is limited to replacement of the Argus product components.
  • Under the right conditions and given enough time all systems will fail. However, Argus systems typically outperform and outlive the equipment they are designed to control.
  • We work with our customers to make sure they have adequate contingencies for all emergencies and the management practices in place to ensure proper supervision of all equipment and systems.
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16. What are some of your available sensors and uses?

 
  • Argus supplies a range of standard  sensors that have been carefully selected for each application. Generally, these have been proven over time as the most appropriate, durable, cost effective, and reliable. Standard sensors include: aspirated air temperature and humidity, CO2 pipe temperature, nutrient conductivity, pH, and weather station sensors (temperature, wind direction, wind speed, rain detection, and light, with optional humidity and rain accumulation).
  •  The Argus system can interface to almost any industrial or scientific measurement sensors.
  • We stock 95% of our customer's sensor needs.
  • We offer free factory consultation on sensor types and choices.
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 17. What types of alarms are available?

 
  • Alarms can be configured for any measured parameter.
  • All alarms can be chained or linked to other alarms to enable more sophisticated multi-parameter alarm conditions.
  • Powerful alarm configuration programming is provided to specify how and when each alarm should annunciate depending upon its user assigned priority. For example, non-urgent alarms can be configured to annunciate silently as a software message in the operator program while more important alarms can be set to ring audible local devices or to activate phone dialers for remote alarm messaging. Automated alerts and reports via email are also available.
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 18. How does Argus handle indoor/outdoor relationships?

 
  • The Argus system constantly monitors light, temperature, rain/snow, wind, & wind direction.
  • Outdoor conditions are considered along with operator-established setpoints to determine the best possible strategies for control.
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 19. How are Climate Zones Handled?

 
  • Each climate zone normally consists of one contiguous air mass controlled from a single set of sensor inputs and a common setpoint schedule. This includes all equipment used for zone- specific temperature, humidity, light, & CO2 management.
  • The control system is designed to coordinate the activities of all equipment that is used to produce and modify a climate zone.
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 20. How does Argus control light?

 
  • Argus uses outdoor global radiation values from a weather-station-mounted pyranometer to control heating, cooling, supplementary lighting, photoperiod, humidity, CO2 supplementation, irrigation, shading, and thermal curtain operation.
  • Information from PAR and other light sensors can also be incorporated in light-based decision programs.
  • Lighting and shading programs are fully programmable based upon relative or absolute times, accumulated light or other user programmable parameters. 
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 21. How does Argus control temperature?

 
  • Climate control settings include either multi-day schedules or diurnal (daily) schedules.
  • Specific temperature and humidity targets can be defined for up to four periods of the day with smooth ramping between periods.
  • Astronomical (dawn and dusk) or regular clock time may be used to define each period.
  • Almost any environmental profile can be created with these settings.
  • Individual equipment settings can be synchronized with the climate control settings including:
    • supplementary lighting
    • photoperiod lighting and blackout
    • shading and thermal curtains
    • pipe temperature settings
  • Manual, snow load, spray program, and temperature overrides can be configured.
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22. How does Argus control Humidity?

 
  • Argus controllers continuously calculate air moisture content.
  • Moisture values are calculated and expressed as relative humidity and VPD.
  • Depending on the application and customer preference, Argus systems can use either wet bulb or solid-state humidity sensors.
  • Using feed forward control and operator management strategies, Argus climate programs employ a combination of heating and ventilation to achieve the dehumidification targets.
  • Evaporative cooling programs manage mist/fog systems as well as pad/fan systems.
  • For dehumidification, you can control the amount of heating and venting resources that are used.
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 23. How does Argus control CO2?

 
  • Argus systems can monitor multiple environments for CO2 levels via stand-alone or multiplexed sensors.
  • Multi compartment CO2enrichment is controlled for liquid or stack recovered sources.
  • Systems include special programs for boiler heat storage and CO2 extraction systems.
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24. How does Argus control irrigation?

 
  • Argus irrigation programs feature highly integrated equipment control and the ability to handle large, complex systems.
  • Capacity management and multiple feed sources are supported.
  • Full integration with nutrient control applications.
  • Comprehensive decision programs allow for irrigation schedules based on light accumulation, time, or sensor based parameters and complex combinations of input decision sources.
  • A full evapotranspiration model is available for outdoor irrigation.
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25. Can Argus manage plant nutrients?

 
  • Argus configures a wide range of nutrient monitoring, recirculating, & control applications featuring:
    • Full span setpoint control of EC & pH
    • Backup sensors
    • Light level & accumulated-light compensation for pH
    • Flow metering, alarming, and safety shutdown
    • Full integration with irrigation systems
    • Single source, A/B style injection, and complete single element dosing applications are supported.
  • Argus Multi-Feed Nutrient Injectors are designed by Argus and work seamlessly with Argus environmental control and irrigation applications.
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 26. What about charting & graphing capabilities?

 
  • Argus systems feature extensive data and graphical display capabilities.
  • Data can be exported for use in other applications such as third party growth modeling systems.
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27. Can I export data from the Argus system to other programs?7

 
  • Yes, recorded data is available for export.
  • Argus can monitor energy usage for management purposes.
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28. What about record keeping and data management?

 
  • Argus systems feature extensive data recording and archiving capabilities.
  • Permanent event records can be used to monitor equipment cycles and operation.
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29. What happens if the PC fails?

 
  • Control is not affected. Argus uses dedicated controllers that are independent of the PC you use to access the system. Why? Because dedicated and distributed controllers are far more reliable that PCs for real-time control.
  • If the PC remains off-line for extended periods you may loose some recorded data from the controllers, but control remains unaffected.
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30. What happens in a power failure?

 
  • In the event of a loss of power, the controllers simply resume operation once power is restored.
  • All programming on the Argus system is stored in non-volatile memory.
  • To protect your equipment and reduce electrical loading, controlled equipment is activated sequentially during the power up sequence.
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31. What backup systems are recommended?

 
  • Argus systems are usually much more reliable than the equipment they control. The Argus system will often be the first to notice an equipment problem and will alert operators through user-configurable alarms.
  • Argus systems feature distributed control architecture, helping to avoid catastrophic system-wide failures caused by lightning etc.
  • Our systems use dedicated hardware and software designed to operate under greenhouse conditions. They continuously monitor their own status and will report any internal problems through the alarm system.
  • We configure our systems with manual overrides on most equipment relays. These are used for equipment testing and servicing and for manually operating the equipment in the event of a control or communications failure.
  • For the recorded data stored on your PC, we recommend you use standard backup practices such as external storage drives. Argus also provides a backup interface at the Argus Server PC for storing redundant copies of all system settings.
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32. What happens in emergencies?

 
  • Argus systems feature comprehensive alarm and alarm annunciation programs allowing "management by exception".
  • Multiple alarm levels and alarm linking capabilities enable sophisticated alarm annunciation strategies.
  • Many growers use Argus alarm features for security monitoring and other event-based applications.
  • Alarm contacts on the Access Point controller provide general purpose alarm annunciation (lights, sirens, diallers, signals to security monitoring, etc.)
  • An alarm dialer featuring multiple call lists is provided for emergency callout.
  • For critical conditions such as power failures or loss of heating, cooling, or irrigation, we recommend additional emergency backup contingencies, including the use of simple battery backed up "Thermalarm" type devices and phone dialers. However, since phone lines can sometimes fail, and cascading equipment failures can sometimes occur, no single warning device is safe enough on its own. When conditions warrant, there is often no safer substitute than having a person on site.
  • If you need help in resolving a problem, our support technicians are available on-call during non-office hours, weekends, and holidays to provide emergency assistance.
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