Customer Management System

There are tons of systems out there trying to improve business processes of utility companies in general or electric companies in specific.

The key is still doing the re-engineering process well and the application system will just a tool to follow the processes. I put some of my thoughts about Electric Management System in this blog. Feel free to read and comment.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Benefits of Electricity Digital Panel Meter

Electricity Digital Panel Meter or for short Digital Meter has been available in the market by different vendors. The question arises for Electricity or other utility companies in general if they need to invest in digital meters.

Digital meters are NOT all Automatic Meter Reading (AMR). Digital meter is just like analog meters but displaying measures in digital, while AMR is sending the meter reading data to reading center periodically using communication technology like internet, network LAN, GPRS, etc.

In this article, we will discuss only Digital Meters. If digital meters are just like analog meter, so what the benefits to migrate to digital meters? Below are some benefits that electricity companies can have by using digital meters:

# Digital Meter can measure electricity consumption more accurately and reliably. With the digital technology, the problem of meter brakes that could happen in meter analog will not going to be encountered. This way, electricity company will charge the bill to customer more fair. The company can even decides to be as accurate as decimal points in term of electricity consumption.
# Related to previous point, since the mechanical parts are less, the maintenance period becomes less as well. The age of digital meter can be longer than ordinary mechanical/analog meters.
# Most digital meters are designed to be AMR ready. Electricity company has option to read this meter using conventional meter readers or through AMR (network LAN, etc).
# Most digital meters are equipped with probe or scanning device. This is used to transfer reading in semi automatic way. Why semi automatic? because reader should go to the meter with Hand Held Unit / Pocket PC and connect to pocket PC probe to digital meter probe. The digital meter will then transfer all the reading information to Pocket PC. This will be a good way to ensure that the readers are visiting the property instead of doing cheating by inputting reading in "coffee shop".
# Reduce cases of meter tampering. Digital meter is more difficult to tamper, if bypass meter is done, the short circuit can send signal to meter that possible tampering is done.

Before deciding if it is necessary to migrate to digital meters, a feasibility study needs to be done. Simple survey to ask within the company department should be carry out:
1. Does currently the company and client concern about more accurate reading? If the tariff price is high, this could be an issue. If the tariff is very small, it will not make a big difference by having 1-2 kW consumption.
2. Does currently the company spend big budget to maintain mechanical meters?
3. Does currently the company experience a lot of meter tampering cases?
4. Etc.

The feasibility study will decide whether the investment will give more benefits in term of tangible and intangible for future.

Currently, several companies that are producing digital meters are: Centron, GE, GANZ, IKRA, EMH, etc.