Nowadays, smart metering becomes more popular because it is the future for utilities, telecommunication companies and buildings administration. As a comprehensive system, it responds to the need for remote meter reading, data collection and analysis, anomalies detection, manhole monitoring, field work services, automatic billing, predictive maintenance, retrofitting.
Devices, cloud and connectivity
These systems are based on a combination of three elements:
- devices (which download data),
- cloud solutions (where data is stored),
- connectivity (communication technologies through which data is transmitted).
Most of them can be implemented using the existing infrastructure (retrofitting). These systems rely on the installation of small IoT devices that collect consumption data and transfer them to the customer’s IT systems. The installation itself does not require replacement or breach of the integrity of meters, thereby preserving manufacturer guarantees and low-cost digitalisation of the network. One can also carry it out in a fast, less invasive and safe way.
In less frequent cases, you may need to replace some or all of the existing infrastructure with new components. In some countries, state legislation requires the periodic legalisation of meters – the installation of Smart Metering systems can take place during such activities.
New era of readings
Smart Metering systems provide companies in the utilities sector with the ability to monitor media supply networks and efficiently respond to current events. Data can be obtained even from meters that are difficult to access and those located at long distances from each other. They are sent periodically, informing the end user about the reading, transmission data and possible failures and errors. This makes it possible to send teams almost immediately where they are needed at any given time. All this is to respond as quickly as possible if a problem arises.
In addition, the system enables to monitor own consumption by the users themselves on an ongoing basis. Thanks to the data provided to them in real time, they are encouraged to reduce their demand (and thus to reduce their bills and engage in more environmentally-friendly behaviour, e.g. to reduce the carbon footprint in the case of smart energy meters). Increased awareness of end users also results in their greater involvement and activity.
The implementation of Smart Metering systems has a real impact on the environment. We are currently observing an increase in the consumption of natural resources, especially water. The growing population causes an increase in consumption in households, industry, agriculture, and business. Climate change causes real threats related to droughts, floods and migration of people, which is why it is so important to strive to change demand for and supply of individual resources and to manage them more efficiently by responsible entities. The implementation of smart metering systems is not only beneficial for business, but necessary in the long term.
In conclusion, incorporating an ecosystem of IoT solutions provides measurable value that allows the utilities sector to rationalise resource management and achieve real business benefits. On the other hand, the telecommunications sector gains revenues due to the digitalisation of the utilities sector. It provides a connection between devices and the IoT platform, and thus also contributes to the creation of green and smart cities, while protecting natural resources and the environment.
The Comarch smart metering system is a solution that has been operating for over a year in practice. At the beginning of 2019, Comarch Smart Metering was implemented at a water supply company in the United Arab Emirates. The good condition of the current infrastructure there precluded the replacement of currently used meters, so it was necessary to carry out their digitalization. Comarch faced the challenge of retrofitting, which was a great success.
The Comarch Smart Metering implementation confirmed that the device also works in extremely difficult conditions (in the desert, in sewage wells, where meters are located at a depth of up to 8 metres underground). The use of the new data transmission technology (Narrowband-IoT) enabled to constantly transmit consumption and telemetry data in a secure and stable manner. What is important, Comarch Smart Metering can also rely on other types of technology. Currently, work is underway on the 4G and LORA versions.
4G version of Smart Metering is undoubtedly the best solution dedicated to meters in blocks of flats, office buildings, and in multi-family housing, where they are densely located. It can run on any SIM card, which ensures ease of implementation through the use of existing cellular network infrastructure.
Integration into other systems
It is worth adding that the system designed by Comarch is also compatible with other solutions. Manhole Monitoring is one of them. It is a solution for fully automatic monitoring of openings and closures of all hatches, including sewage wells, switchboards or doors, which helps in remote data monitoring and immediate response to unexpected situations.
Comarch IoT Platform is a platform that connects devices with external applications and systems and collects and stores a huge amount of data obtained through IoT equipment. This cloud solution also includes the libraries necessary to quickly create applications with open application programming interfaces (APIs), which guarantees the security when monitoring the devices connected to it. Importantly, it easily integrates with other corporate systems, e.g. for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and others.
In addition, thanks to the Comarch IoT platform, integration with the Head-End System (HES) is also possible, so it performs automatic measurements and data acquisition. What is more, Comarch FSM (Field Service Management) enables to automate service and network maintenance as well as to manage the work of technicians/field workers, which brings real business benefits.
Full report THE ROLE OF SMART METERING, PROSPECTS FOR 2020-2040
Download FREE WHITE PAPER with a comprehensive report on this topic and information on:
- Business and ecological benefits of the smart metering system
- Practical application for energy, gas, heat and water meters
- Operation of Comarch Smart Metering and device specifications
- LPWAN capabilities – Narrowband-IoT
- Retrofitting and its benefits
- Operation of the Comarch Smart Metering solution at a client’s site in Dubai.