New Software for Smart Meters

Feature Article | April 2, 2014 by Gabi Visintin

Foto:

Photo: Yedas

Since the beginning of the economic boom, energy demand in Turkey has been growing annually by an average of 10%. In response to the steadily increasing demand for electricity, the Turkish government has imposed various statutory requirements that aim to optimize the national energy supply. Industrial and commercial customers, for example, are required to provide monthly reports on consumption, load peaks, and supply interruptions. All grid operators that emerged as a result of the liberalization of the Turkish energy market must submit these reports to the regulatory authorities.

Energy supplier YEDAŞ from Samsun in north Turkey has a total of 1.5 million electricity customers, and took the new statutory requirement as an opportunity to restructure how it processes its measurement data. In light of the enormous speed at which the Turkish energy market is reforming, industry experts expect “intelligent meters”, known as smart meters, to be rolled out to private households in just a few years.

Smart meters to send mass data for reports and billings

One of the most important selection criteria that the Turkish energy supplier considered when looking for a solution for reading measurement values was mass data suitability. The supplier wanted to be ready for future scenarios in which tens of thousands of meters send data every half an hour that could then be used for reports as well as for customer billing.

Next page: Measurement Data Request from SAP IS-U to the Meter

Darstellung der Daten in BTC AMM (Foto:)

Photo: Screenshot

Since YEDAŞ decided to implement the SAP IS-U industry-specific ERP tool for the utilities industry, the intelligent meter management software of SAP partner BTC quite “naturally” fulfilled a further criterion at the same time: SAP integration capability. BTC Advanced Meter Management (AMM), the system developed by the German software and consulting firm BTC AG, maps the billing process from the meter through the communication unit to SAP IS-U in an integrated manner. The standardized MDUS services offered by SAP also allow smart meter management software to be used for device installations and deinstallations, as well as for master data changes – all of which can be synchronized.

The uniqueness of the project was down to the target objects: reports had to be created for both industrial and commercial customers. For this reason, the MDUS services developed specifically for the private customer sector had to be implemented with the help of BTC software and SAP IS-U in such a way that they could cover the specific processes of both industrial and commercial customers. “And this had to be done without losing sight of the requirements and limitations of the devices built,” emphasizes Gert Schneider, Development Manager of BTC/AMM at BTC.

Software ensures data request routed to correct communication unit

The project team therefore took measures to ensure that the meter management software acting as the intermediary between SAP-IS-U and the communication unit uniquely identifies the meters at all times. This ensured that a measurement data request from SAP IS-U to a meter is now always routed to the correct communication unit.

Next page: Dealing with the inconsistent metering landscape in Turkey

Stammdaten eines Messsystems in der BTC-AMM-Geräteverwaltung (Foto: )

Photo: Screenshot

Coordinating the device installation process also required special attention. It required the German project team, supported by the Turkish BTC subsidiary from Istanbul, to engage itself not just culturally in Turkey. The thinly populated and mountainous distribution area of YEDAŞ forced the assembly teams to travel up to three hours. For this reason, it was extremely important to immediately establish on site that the installation was successful and operating. Confirmation of the successful communication between the BTC information hub and the communication unit was delivered practically in real time by the software used.

Another tricky task faced by the project team was the inconsistent metering landscape among industrial and commercial customers. Unlike in Germany, customers in Turkey often own the electricity meters. Due to the heterogeneous metering landscape, it was clear that measurement series had to be addressed using OBIS codes. In the end, with the help of a conversion table and the BTC software, the team achieved its goal: the measurement time series data on consumption and energy feeding for the report, as well as the data records required for billing, were available on time.

Turkey: Inconsistent Metering Landscape

Particularly during the process of replacing meters, transformers, and communication units, providing the right values for SAP IS-U with the most exact times possible was of prime importance. Today, BTC AMM interprets the meter reading reasons provided by SAP IS-U through the MDUS services in order to transfer – to the exact minute in some cases – the correct meter reading to the ERP system. “Those who know that the SAP tool actually only recognizes queries to the exact day can appreciate the creative aspect behind the capability of transferring meter readings with to-the-minute precision,” explains BTC specialist Schneider.

Next page: Incident and Alarm Management in the Smart Meter Management System

“Ensuring the timely integration of the measurement time series proved to be an unexpected and difficult task,” reports Schneider. “Even if the meter time deviates considerably from real time, it should not be adjusted, but at the same time, the real meter time should be available for SAP IS-U for the report.” These tasks could also be solved thanks to the creativity of the consultants and the software’s flexibility: the time series are now saved with different time indexes and provided on an as-needed basis.

With the project completed, the BTC software today offers the Turkish energy supplier not only time synchronization capability, but also other “write” functions such as blocking meters or changing the switching times (with the help of the software’s tariff management functions). Even today, BTC AMM configures the communication units to control the number and breakdown of the data series transferred. In this way, YEDAŞ can now influence the data volume incurred on a meter-specific basis at any time – and independently – and respond to changes in transmission costs.

Incident and alarm management in the smart meter management system

Manipulation of meters and communication units as well as electricity interruptions, which occur more frequently in the distribution area of YEDAŞ than in Germany, give the incident and alarm management system special importance. BTC’s smart meter management system helps here through extremely timely processing of data and configurable escalation of incidents of any kind. The software uses intelligent logic to prevent masses of notifications being sent that would only confuse the operators rather than provide clarity on the cause of a fault. This reduces the amount of work and administrative effort required. Gert Schneider from BTC: “The pursued target figure of 30,000 meters in the distribution area can only be achieved through a high degree of automation.”

Thanks to the scalability of BTC’s smart meter management solution, which manages an extreme scenario of 1.5 million meters simply by adjusting the server environment, the Turkish energy supplier is ideally prepared for the expected rollout of intelligent measurement systems to private customer households in Turkey. Today’s applications are paving the way for the future: freely configurable reports and integration into a customer portal solution that provides industrial and commercial customers with a transparent insight into their consumption profile.

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