Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Evaluating the role of IT tools in automatic electric meter installation Special

Consumers are being proactively approached for the activation of programmes, in which they control electric consumption costs any time from their homes.

One such initiative was recently taken in Sweden, where Telvent completed the automatic electric meter installation for Vattenfall.

During the “Amrelva” project installation phase, Telvent acted as the main meter supplier by providing 600,000 of the 850,000 total meters, and allowed Vattenfall to bill all of its clients through remote reading of electric consumption. This real-time technology offers a benefit like reduction in billing errors, apart from increasing customer satisfaction.

Utilities like Vattenfall intend to transform their power grid by making electrical distribution more efficient, economical and secure, in addition to, in this particular case, permitting the electric company to comply with Swedish legislation requirements aimed at reducing energy consumption through performance and demand response.

The operational and maintenance phase, also managed by Telvent since 2006, is to be completed by 2011, with a six-year extension option.

Commenting on projects where consumers control consumption costs, Ignacio Gonzalez-Dominguez, Executive Vice President of Telvent’s Energy division told that the technology exists today to make these programmes a reality.

The industry now has the tools, expertise, solution suites and finally experienced integrators to execute small pilots or large deployments such as Vattenfall’s AMI programme including 600,000 smart meters, communication and data infrastructure.

“Utilities will respond to customer demand for options and flexibility as consumers of electricity. Utility investors will demand the robust and stable distribution grids to deliver their product. And customers will become proficient in managing usage that can lead to efficient utilisation of exiting power distribution assets,” said Gonzalez-Dominguez.

On challenges in shaping up the project, Gonzalez-Dominguez referred to project management and IT tools as the main considerations.

“(It is significant) to have the right partners with clear and effective communications with the overall system integrator and the customer,” said Gonzalez-Dominguez. During the project, Telvent implemented very intensive control, weekly detailed reporting and regular meetings through all stages of the project, looking for ways to improve and quickly mitigating problems in the roll-out plan.

The IT tools in place to track, report and execute the plan, are equally important.

“In a large project like this, with so much material involved, so much customer data to manage and dispatch, it is mandatory to have the IT tools minimise the possibility of human error in the process. For example, the technicians were dispatched with PDAs used to electronically communicate a clear sequence of instructions to follow at each installation site. All this information was sent to the installer as a final outcome of the different work flows generated by utility and system integrator systems, and customer information. The up-front development of these interfaces has been an important part of the project’s success,” said Gonzalez-Dominguez.

Telvent also highlighted that it is very important to define clean-up procedures, check lists and field technician commentary to facilitate early detection of potential problems during the rollout phase while the technicians are still in the field. With a comprehensive set of clean-up routines and the PDA tools to support the installation, the company was able to avoid costly delays and additional field visits that can destroy the deployment plan.

Specifically, on factors taken into consideration while installation, Gonzalez-Dominguez said the two main factors contemplated in the project were: roll-out & logistics and system performance.

In the first one, rollout and logistics, of critical importance is the pre-planning in each geographical zone where the meters were to be installed. This planning demanded accurate customer data, specific installer work orders and route plans, equipment, specific meter types and tools needed to efficiently execute the plans in a timely fashion.

The second critical consideration, system performance and design had to insure a reliable network capable of automatic communication and detection of all meters as they came on line. During the roll-out phases of the project, Telvent’s applications monitored the system in parallel with operations to optimise data flow, ensure integrity and most importantly to validate and confirm performance targets were being met.

“Today, the system is achieving performance levels exceeding 99.70 percent,” said Gonzalez-Dominguez.

When planning a large AMI deployment, it is important to understand the need to define a very precise set of installation routines and related system support.

“Once those routines are defined and validated and the system is ready to accept the remote meter data, the attention must shift to thorough training of the installers and verification of the entire process in a pilot phase. An important milestone is created from the pilot to verify the system and process and make modifications before going into massive rollout,” said Gonzalez-Dominguez.

The AMI network management system plays a key role, with a single interface allowing operators to monitor progress, field devices as they are commissioned and overall system performance on a real-time basis for each geographical area. A powerful AMI management platform and its integration with other utility systems will be key to a successful and uneventful installation.

Work flows between both the work order management and meter data management systems is critical in feeding the overall AMI network management system with validated and high quality data in real-time, according to Telvent.

Intelligent Demand Response for Electricity Summit 2009 is scheduled to be held in Amsterdam on 28-29 January.

For more information, click here:


Abbie Badcock ,
Smart Electric News,

No comments: