As the world moves towards a connected future, smart energy management and consumption is becoming a top priority for energy providers and consumers respectively. With IoT and ideas like smart factory playing a major role in business operations, utility companies are planning to roll out millions of smart meters to help industrial and residential users efficiently manage their electricity consumption while simultaneously helping lower their Energy costs.
Several IoT manufacturers, in turn, are developing interoperable smart energy products that monitor, control, report and automate the delivery and usage of energy. These innovative solutions connect to a smart grid to help provide the desired information and automation support. There is a further need for energy providers to have a proper control over matching their demand-supply needs, and bring in runtime customizations for value enhancement.
Value additions of Smart Meters
- Automated and streamlined meter readings resulting in significant time and efforts savings
- Accurate, timely and variable usage based billing
- Better handling of events e.g. Outage, tampering , theft, errors etc
- Reduced back office rebilling
- Improved transformer load management
- Greater employee safety and incident management
Concerns related to smart energy meters
Although smart meters help improve grid reliability and promote energy efficiency, there are still concerns regarding the accuracy, security and integrity of these meters as well as managing RF emissions. Ensuring appropriate level of accuracy, safety, and security and adherence to national standards and state and local requirements is essential for proper and secure operation.
1. Planning and maintenance
The success of smart meter projects depends on the accuracy of operations during project planning, deployment and maintenance of systems. The need of the hour is to properly develop the business and technical requirements of an end system, with a robust technology selection team that may select an appropriate technology.
This would call for sufficient planning for operations and maintenance while developing a maintenance model to ensure reduced outage while enabling support of new systems
2. Security and integrity of systems
Security and integrity of industrial meters are major focus areas for utility companies and vendors. One of the major areas of focus is incorporating appropriate security measures for data validation, privacy and encryption, access control, and error checking. There is a need to ensure safe and appropriate installation plans and processes.
3. Reduced time for deployment and maintenance
Another focus area is a reduced thrust on manual field deployments. With connected smart meters, the firmware upgrades over the air has been a reality. This, along with other features, can make diagnostics, repairs, and maintenance virtually a remote activity with minimal time and manual efforts required.
With the technologically advanced smart meters, energy providers have managed to reduce manual meter readings, and other in-person data capture to near zero thus, enabling a more integrated, accurate and faster solution which can send over the data to the cloud for further analysis. This, in turn, helps pass on the benefits of dynamic price controls based on usage, understanding usage as per geographical and demographic factors and accordingly, aid in business decision-making.
4. Adherence to regulatory standards
For smart meters, compliance with industry protocols and guidelines to ensure optimal standards of safety is needed to ensure zero difficulty in field deployments. It also has to be ensured that appropriate transition and post deployment testing plans are in place, to meet local regulatory requirements and your business needs.
For further reading
Check out this eInfochips case study where we designed a cloud-enabled smart metering solution for one of our clients.