To be able to optimize its operations, the power sector has to know exactly how much power each costumer is consuming, and the traditional measures, are surely not able to meet this need.
Understanding how the demand changes minute by minute is important so that companies from the power sector are able to efficiently manage their resources. However, many challenges have to be overcame, starting by the limitations of traditional meters, which do not make available power use information, but by someone doing the manual reading of the information and including it in the data base.
Currently, the power sector needs to measure in real time the power consumption to manage and optimize its generation sources, as well as the distribution strategies. See next how smart meters will help the utilities sector to improve their operations:
Internet of Things and Data Analysis
The power distribution companies have account even more communication technologies options. In this case, companies that invested in digital transformation and were able to restructure good part of their infrastructure to get more flexibility are the ones which are in better position to get more efficiency, reliability and performance from the connected devices.
Through the Internet of Things, smart meters can be more efficient and rely more accurate diagnoses of the networks. For this reason, this technology is even more used to monitor, coordinate and synchronize meters data with other systems to understand the consumption status minute by minute.
New Measurement Models
With more accurate data, instead of the traditional meters, smart meters help to understand the demand minute by minute of the network to manage the distribution in a more efficient way.
The real time measurement reduces the time necessary to the staff restore the power after failures, quickly determining which parts of the network can be restored.
In this context, the meters also allow the concessionaires to develop new measurement and charging models, identifying the peak times and the consumption behaviors of each region to determine different prices to the power consumed at different hours.
Next move ahead allowed by smart meters is the capacity of detecting frauds in a larger context than traditional meters, which there are no resources for frauds detection. In the United States, for example, even small frauds in the power consumption have significant impact to companies, which report that around 1% of their inventory disappears due to frauds – it doesn’t seem much, but the estimated losses may reach US$ 25 million a day.
Through the accuracy of small converters and transducers, smart meters are completely immune to a series of frauds, including magnetic adulteration.
Besides, with smart meters, the staffs can improve the resolution rate in the first visit, reducing costs with frauds inspection vehicles’ travels. The fact that smart meters allow the remote access to all the information available also contributes to reduce the travels costs.
In general, the smart meters’ connectivity includes thousands of wireless remote terminal units, multiple access points and a connection to transmit data to different hubs. Thus, all the information goes to a center dismissing technicians have to go to remote areas to perform the measurements of the power consumers.
Smart meters massive adoption may demand a high investment, which makes their implementation slower due to the need of gateways, routers and repeaters, adding a considerable cost to the installation projects, including the network project and setting. It is not always possible to deploy each meter with its own connection and, in areas where there is a lack of telecommunication coverage, this can be an issue.
A good alternative to overcome these obstacles is the use of a MESH Network. In this case, each smart meter communicates with the closest one, passing data from device to device and then finally reaching a gateway. Thus, each meter has multiple routing options and it is provided with intelligence, continuously optimizing the network topology to fit to the changes or failures in its structure – if the radio frequency conditions are not good in certain area, soon, the meters are reset to send the data through other route.
Therefore, it is possible reduce considerably the quantity of gateways and repeaters, reducing the infrastructure costs. MESH Networks also require minimum settings, since new meters are automatically recognized and set in the network.
Atech offers a series of connectivity solutions for power, water and gas distribution sectors to face the new measurement challenges, promoting more accessibility, reliability and safety. Know Atech’s MESH Network solution and the Measurement Automation System.