It is a challenge for the RD Offutt Company, Fargo, N.D., owner of one of the largest farm and dairy operations in the United States, to keep watch on its two irrigation pump stations in remote locations 150 miles east of Portland, Ore. To meet the challenge, the company turned to On-Net Surveillance Systems Inc. (OnSSI) and the company’s NetDVMS with Ocularis Client Lite IP Video Management Platform.

“Within the first week of installing OnSSI’s video surveillance solution, we caught someone inside the pump station buildings and made an arrest,” said Mark Ashby, supervisor of technology and automation of the RD Offutt Company. “When something happens at the pump stations, it could be disastrous to the farm.”

The new system has also provided benefits beyond security, enabling RD Offutt Company to monitor its business operations, track jobs and to observe remotely if equipment is working properly. “We want to be able to see what happens when we turn a pump on,” Ashby said. “We have cameras in our mechanic shop, and we’re currently putting in cameras to watch young calves in the hospital areas,” he added. “We are now able to monitor the most important areas of our business, which has saved our company thousands of dollars and helps us keep our employees safe.”

The information network provider for RD Offutt Company is Dry Canyon Communications, Redmond Ore., an end-to-end solution provider for networking, wireless communications and IT surveillance in industrial and agricultural applications. Taylor Long and Associates, an OnSSI manufacturer’s representative, introduced Dry Canyon Communications to OnSSI’s NetDVMS Ocularis Client Lite solution.

“The OnSSI video surveillance solution was very attractive to us because it is IP-based and our customer’s cameras are in very remote areas,” said Curt Barnett, owner of Dry Canyon Communications. “It fits what they needed and has a lot of flexibility and the ability to upgrade.” Dry Canyon Communications also provides process control systems for RD Offutt.

The job involved installation of 30 new IP cameras and the addition of encoders to adapt and assimilate about 20 existing analog cameras. The cameras are positioned to cover key locations such as pump stations, water on/off valves, business offices, fuel pumps and production warehouses. Each camera connects to one of 1,000 nodes on a wireless network that includes WiFi and other secure wireless transmission. Quality of service on the network gives priority to video traffic over other data, ensuring quality streaming video with no performance issues.

RD Offutt uses NetDVMS on three Dell PowerEdge 2850 rack-mount network servers running on two separate wireless networks that are bridged via a Cisco routing solution. Each server has 4GB of RAM and 500GB of hard disk space, and they archive to an NAS (network-attached storage) with 5TB of storage capacity. The flexibility of the OnSSI solution allowed RD Offutt to deploy DVR servers in areas that are heavily populated with surveillance cameras to help reduce the amount of streaming video traveling over wireless backbone links. NetDVMS with Ocularis Client Lite also enables the farm to manage bandwidth by providing the ability to centrally manage the cameras, frame rates and quality of video from one central management portal.


In addition to security, the system functions to oversee production through remote viewing of RD Offutt’s operation. “It gives them extra eyes at the equipment sites, and they can know what to turn on or off based on what happens. IP video gives them the ability to see what’s going on,” Barnett said.

Uses beyond security include business management and job tracking, and managers have already seen improvements in efficiency. For example, the cameras monitor remote diesel and gasoline pumps used to refuel the farm’s equipment. Video has captured images of people loitering at a fuel pump station, leading to arrests and possibly avoiding vandalism. Given that the site is roughly 30 miles square, some cameras are located as far away as 15 miles.

“We considered several different solutions, and OnSSI just performed better for this environment,” Barnett said. “NetDVMS with Ocularis Client Lite accommodates cameras from multiple vendors, provides remote accessibility and the ability to select which users have access to specific cameras.”

Pricing was also a consideration, and the economic benefits of OnSSI’s scalable solution won out in the end. Barnett explained: “The system is very scalable, which makes it less expensive. You can add camera licenses as you need them and as your network grows. You’re not locked into buying large-volume licenses.

“OnSSI has been very supportive and responsive to our design questions and software purchasing,” Barnett described. “They helped us decide what software configuration offered the best solution based on the customer’s long-term and short-term goals.”

To date, the OnSSI video surveillance solution has performed flawlessly for RD Offutt with no downtime or other issues, which provides peace of mind considering how much is at stake.