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Overview Print E-mail

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Monitoring and Controlling your Meter Reads has never been easier!

  

 

 

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Meter Reading Comes of Age Print E-mail
 
 
 

At a Glance

Over the last few years, utilities around the world have been trying to create value through more asset utilization—either by financial means (e.g., shorter days receivable) or physical means (e.g. lowest cost of operation).

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What is AMR?
Exploring New Territories

By Adrian Marcellus

High voltage towerAlmost all of us are familiar with the manual meter readings that are done at our premises. In fact, the meter reader pretty much represents the face of the utility company. However, manual meter reading is a labor-intensive and high-cost activity for a utility company.

There are also significant costs on top of the normal readings, such as additional readings, new connections and service disconnects. Furthermore, when meters are inaccessible, customer satisfaction is often jeopardized because the billing amounts have to be estimated and then re-adjusted to reflect the actual usage. At the end of the day, all this results in a higher number of complaints to the call centre, and increased operating costs.

Over the last few years, utilities around the world have been trying to boost ”asset exploitation,” i.e. create value through more asset utilization by either financial (e.g., shorter days receivable) or physical (e.g. lowest cost of operation) means.

What is Automated Meter Reading (AMR)?

AMR represents a series of technologies that enables meters to be read and data transferred without human intervention, i.e. meters are automatically read periodically.

Diagram 1: Components of an AMR Solution Enlarge Chart 1
The choice of wide area network (WAN) technology is one of the key drivers of overall system cost, because the cost of the remaining solution components is constant for a given level of metering functionality. The WAN options range from mobile wireless, telephony, and PLC (power line communication) to broadband and even satellite.

Exploring New Territories

While the introduction of AMR in the local market may be seen as a technology upgrade, it actually provides an opportunity for new business models to emerge. This could potentially transform the metering industry as we know it today.

Many utilities that have implemented AMR have established AMR-related businesses. A few companies now offer new services to other utilities, ranging from integrated and bundled customer management (e.g. meter reading and billing for gas, water, electric, sewer and waste water utilities) to AMR project management, installation and maintenance services. Some others have developed new business models that provide value-added services directly to end-customers. These services include monitoring and reporting on energy and building operating systems and performance contracting/consulting services.

AMR technology made substantial progress in the 1990s. This has contributed to the development of “smart meters.” These meters can be used not only for utility meter reading, but also to act as “residential gateways.” This development has resulted in non-traditional players emerging in this new market. Smart meters enable utility providers to directly access and control consumer appliances!

One application of this new technology is connecting home devices such as the electric meter, major appliances, light switches and A/C thermostat to the Internet. Consequently, consumers can now opt to use their appliances when the rates are at its lowest–helping them save on electricity expenses.

We see many business opportunities for Malaysia in using this new technology. However, Accenture’s experience globally also indicates a challenging road ahead.

First and foremost is the need for the key industry players to ensure that the technology providers, utilities and telecommunications companies have the right synergy to develop a business model that is market-relevant and viable. This is vital to change the way utilities and consumers view a meter. It is not merely a mechanical (or digital) device, but a rich provider of value-added information and a potential gateway to one’s daily activities.

Besides that, organizations must review the relevant regulatory and privacy regulations to ensure that service providers do not misuse the customer information. A very sophisticated security infrastructure is also important to prevent this type of abuse.

In summary, the benefits of the latest AMR technology would initially be limited to the areas of revenue enhancement and cost reduction. As the technology matures, it will be a driving force to help utilities innovate and uncover growth opportunities.

Source: Adrian Marcellus is a partner in the Malaysia Resources industry group - www.Accenture.com

 
 
 
Advanced Automated Meter Reading is Key to Profitability for Utilities in North America Print E-mail
 
 

NewswireToday - /newswire/ - Palo Alto, CA, 03/06/2006 - Frost & Sullivan finds that the North American Automated Meter Reading Market earned revenues of $1097.1 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $2.01 billion in 2012.

   
 

The cash-strapped utilities are experiencing increasing pressures to increase profitability and reduce costs. A sound solution to such utility problems has come in the form of ‘Automated Meter Reading (AMR)’ systems. The AMR systems are designed to dramatically reduce operational costs and also meet the new regulations that make demand response and outage management features necessary. The utilities expect to save at least as much as the cost of the whole AMR system over the lifetime of the system.

Frost & Sullivan finds that the North American Automated Meter Reading Market earned revenues of $1097.1 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $2.01 billion in 2012.“

The AMR market is moving up the priority list of the utilities because of the inherent cost benefits offered by the system. The regulatory scenario is expected to keep the AMR at the top of the priority list for at least 3 to 4 more years. What with AMR benefits so high, which utility would not like to have such a system,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst J. Subramanian. The significantly higher cost of the equipment, installation and the maintenance of Advanced Metering AMR, over traditional AMR prove to be the biggest challenge today. Advanced Metering AMR incorporates increased sophistication and improvements in reliability and accuracy, resulting in lower overall operational cost over the lifetime of the equipment. Utilities, however, are wary of investing in such a system without a strong business case.

“Utilities are carefully analyzing the business case for advanced AMR, which more often than not has proven very difficult, as many benefits of Advanced AMR are intangible,” notes Subramanian. The newer advanced AMR systems expect to have significantly lower operating costs and improved reliability along with better accuracy. This has made decision-making a little easier for the utilities. North American Automated Meter Reading Market is part of the Power Generation Subscription, which also includes research in the following market: North American Generator Set Market. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews are available to the press.

 
 

Agency / Source: Frost & Sullivan

 

CYPLEX Communications is a world leader in the provision of intelligent Automated Meter Reading (AMR) Systems and have clients throughout Nth America, Sth America, Asia and Australasia. 

For further information regarding our Networked Telemetry solutions for AMR, Security & Remote Monitoring then contact us>>

 

CYPLEX Communications

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(p) +61 2 9482 4269 

 
Non Revenue Water Monitoring Solutions (NRW) Print E-mail

The Technical team at CYPLEX Communications (M) Sdn Bhd has consulted with one of the Worlds best engineers in the field of NRW. That person is Dr. Dewi Rogers, a very experienced hydrologist that helped write the “water bible”. He is a renowned speaker at world water exhibitions and seminars.

CYPLEX Communications (M) Sdn Bhd has learnt his method and sought to improve upon it in a dynamic way. CYPLEX Communications (M) specialize in communications for the water Industry and have designed a way that will improve on Dr. Dewi Rogers method.

The principles are realistically the next step in NRW methods and Dr. Dewi Rogers has moved leak detection to the next level. Although software systems have been around for a while, nobody has had the enterprise to try the method of Mathematical modeling on a large scale. Dr. Dewi Rogers has a living model in Northern Italy and has also designed a training program at a local university there to teach his method.

Whilst in Malaysia Dr Rogers trained the CYPLEX Technical team on his method and we have since organized a joint venture of his methods and our methods to create a dynamic NRW system. This will be an innovation for NRW in Malaysia, if not the world, that if used will leave the client with a tangible system and piping GIS.

Mathematical modeling has been around for a while but never used on a large scale except in Italy. The main essence is in the design, breaking the piping system into Districts and the districts into zones. This is Dr Rogers’ specialty, creating the best design. An incorrect design will fail and proof of bad designs will be evident when NRW staff undertake subsequent “step testing”.

With all the technology out on the market “step testing” is still the best initial proven way to breakdown the leakage correctly. The reason is simple… step testing will eliminate large areas of piping (miles of piping) quicker than technology can determine, and the cost is inexpensive in comparison to noise correlation technology.

Noise Correlation is not a good method if the Bar pressure is below 1 bar and must be done at night for best result. But our preferred method is to step test first and then noise correlate on the smallest area of piping possible. It is a well-known fact that noise correlation will determine even microscopic leaks and it is best to apply correlation on the smallest lengths of piping.

Another advantage of our water management method is that in the development of a model that requires that all valves and piping elements will need to be visited to determine their condition. But the advantage is that once its done, Managers can determine their maintenance schedule and repairs. An asset register can be created from this process and is also embedded in the WatNet model. With Privatization of the industry occurring in Malaysia this process will no doubt add value to Water Authorities.

CYPLEX Communications (Malaysia): Methods of Non Revenue Water Conservation

Water leakage and location is the main area of endeavor to reduce NRW. Using a combination of Dr. Rogers’ method and our telemetry, we believe that this is the correct combination that will leave the client with a tangible and cost effective system. Just using noise correlation techniques alone cannot work effectively and is too costly! We will introduce the optimum solution for water monitoring through a proven system.

It starts with a combination of management tools and telemetry devices combined with a logical process, using a: what | where | when and finally how system.

WHAT is leakage – it is FLOW problems and is measured by flow-meters (called a Node). Strategically positioned flow-meters and pressure sensors, will lead the management process team to find the problem of ……..

…WHERE , through the process of creating these Nodes sectioning and sub-sectioning, the piping system will be sub-divided into smaller districts and from districts to zones, it will help in fault analysis of the piping system by locating and isolating the problems.

A “Step Testing” method with pressure reading will be able to pinpoint the actual zone. Noise correlation is the normal system in the final process of location of the actual leak only if the pressure is above one Bar BUT is decided during the …….

…..$ WHEN $ It is an active decision process time, because we have determined the zone and importunately HOW MUCH is the loss. This decision process is now applicable to the following:

  • length of piping,
  • quality of piping,
  • age of piping,
  • pressure problems,
  • water quality problems,
  • reliability, how much is it costing us and
  • finally how many interruptions.

and now the ….HOW…to come to the final decision.

The method can be one of three options;

  • Replace all the pipes in that zone.
  • Locate the leak precisely through noise correlation and replace a small length of pipe.
  • Reduce the pressure to the district at night to reduce the leakage until it becomes to much of a waste.

The reasoning behind item 3, is that the leakage can be economically controlled through pressure reduction at low usage times because, the leakage is not worth locating or repairing. There are many factor to consider and are mentioned in the “when”.

The conclusion on the logic to the above approach is to use a number of elements to conclude on “how”.

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