Unveiling the Holy Grail of Advanced Metering Interface: The Next Revolution in Smart Metering Management

Shaurya Poddar
Zoya Seth
Prasad Nodu
August 9, 2023
5 mins to read
The technological revolution of smart meters

Among the numerous technological innovations at play around us, smart meters emerged as a ray of hope for the energy industry. What could be better than having accurate consumption bills in a sector where commodity volatility is a significant issue? Since their first rollout in 2011, not only has the adoption of smart meters surged, but the technological interface driving their scale and makeup is also on the rise. 

This is an exciting time because, unlike before when utilities mainly followed factory pre-integrated software from the same vendor, today there is constant innovation and software democratization based on the diverse needs and requirements of consumers, companies, and countries.

The Global Energy Industry Today 🌐

Over the past year, the energy sector has been constantly facing a series of challenges. Instances of power blackouts and outages have surged, alongside persistent worries over the reliability of water, gas and electricity provisions. Amidst all this, there has been a growing awareness concerning environmental issues. 

All of this has led to consumers, governments, and regulators advocating for cleaner power generation, resulting in heightened investments in energy-efficient initiatives, plus a rethinking of how energy supply and generation businesses should operate. 

This is another reason behind the steady rise of smart metering as a promising solution. As the industry navigates through these uncertainties, the role of intelligent, data-driven smart meter solutions that go beyond mere meter readings cannot be overstated.

Let’s Dig into the Technology first: Deciphering Advanced Metering Infrastructure 🔌

The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) rests on two technological cornerstones: the Head-End System (HES) and the Meter Data Management System (MDMS). The revolutionary development of this enterprise architecture forms the foundation of smart metering today. 

What's changing now, is the addition of multiple layers of innovative solutions that scale this technology’s potential to unimaginable levels.

How does a Smart Meter work? 🧑‍💼

In contrast to conventional manual metering setups, HES-integrated meters offer automated acquisition of meter data, coupled with the ability to monitor multiple parameters sourced from diverse data packets, including customer's name, Billing ID, and more. 

This valuable information is seamlessly transmitted to the Meter Data Management System (MDMS) system, whose core function is receiving, validating, storing, and analyzing the immense volume of data generated by smart meters, across various metering systems and billing processes.

In short, the HES temporarily stores consumption data and transmits it to the MDMS, where it creates a digital billing system. Today, with the rise of various analysis requirements, HES solution providers have started offering enhanced interfaces through strategic partnerships and integrations.

Furthermore, utilities are consistently seeking ways to enhance the entire smart meter installation and management process. In response, vendors are striving to provide abundant communication and data points that can be flexibly integrated into the meter's framework.

A Game Changer for Utilities, but is everyone keeping up? 🏃

Undoubtedly, the primary benefit of this two-fold technology lies in its meter-to-cash advantages. 

Utilities can now accurately:

💡 Measure user consumption

🧾 Generate and distribute bills

💸 Collect timely payments

📝 Achieve reliable revenue recognition

🧐 Analyze customer consumption comparison and outage location

🥷 Detect energy theft

However, beyond these well-established benefits, smart meters hold exciting untapped possibilities, turning them into data havens for a host of prospects.

The Democratization of the Metering Industry: A Future of Exciting Possibilities 👏

"India has surpassed the six million smart meters milestone under the National Smart Grid Mission."- National Smart Grid Mission
“The Global Smart Meters market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8.4%, earning revenue of around USD 34.5 billion by the end of 2028.”- Report Ocean
“Investment in smart grids need to more than double through to 2030 to get on track with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) Scenario, especially in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs).”- IEA

Since its inception, the AMI market has matured tremendously, with buyers seeking solutions that are meter-vendor and billing-application-vendor-neutral. This allows utility buyers to assemble custom metering and billing technology portfolios. 

What are the other developments in the smart metering market?

Expanding beyond meter-to-cash ⛰️

With revolutionary global innovations, partnerships are leading to some of the most rich and granular offerings. Consumption data can be studied to the last ratio to obtain insights into asset operating conditions, consumer behavior patterns, and many more aspects that are yet to be explored by many utilities.

The rise of generic IoT communication 📲

There is also a growing need for IoT solutions that can handle various data points and measurements beyond what the smart meter alone can provide. For instance, in addition to measuring energy usage, utilities may want to gather data from other devices within the grid or the broader utility infrastructure. 

This could include data from sensors that monitor the health of transformers, voltage levels, tracking exact load, customer growth, revenue projections, or even weather conditions that may affect energy consumption.

The time of flexible and adaptable platform technology 🧘

Flexible and adaptable platform technology can handle diverse data types from various sources and seamlessly integrate into the existing AMI and utility infrastructure. No-code technology is one of the holy grails waiting to be tapped by the global smart-metering industry.

Unlocking the Full Potential of AMI Data with Smarter Partnerships and Integrations 🎉

All of these growing trends and insights enhance decision-making and operational efficiency, making utilities future-ready. Now, utilities can also get a far clearer picture of where and when demand fluctuations occur, enabling them to fix network problems or outages before they start to impact service levels. However, it doesn’t end here. Let's now delve deeper into the potential of this Holy Grail.

Enhancing Smart Meter Data with an Event Data Management System 🌆

How does your smart meter data reach the next level with the right integrations? To begin with, it needs to integrate with a foolproof EDMS (Event Data Management System) which lets you manage, analyze, and optimize your smart meter event data effectively and securely. 

What is an EDMS? 🧑‍🏭

EDMS is a system that collects incoming events data from smart devices, stores it in a database, processes metrics based on predefined heuristics, and generates alerts and triggers workflows. Let’s get into the details:

Comprehensive Data Acquisition 🍡

  • An EDMS can collect and store tremendous amounts of event data. 
  • This data structure can be easily customized, especially with vendors that offer a drag-and-drop interface.
  • This integration can then support both real-time and historical data retrieval, enabling super insightful analysis.

Data Processing and Event Management 🥯

  • You can create data processing and correlation rules for incident monitoring, which can help utilities track power outages and meter tampering within seconds on an EDMS.
  • These incident reports can then be sent to the relevant stakeholders by setting up notifications and alerts based on predefined rules.
  • As soon as an event is reported, defined conflict resolution workflows and webhooks can be triggered.

Advanced Data Reporting and Visualization 🔭

  • Once you’ve established specific event rules and their corresponding resolutions, the focus shifts to leveraging MDM data for advanced report generation, granting you access to granular data such as energy monitoring, events tracking, meter health, consumption statistics and much more. 
  • By harnessing MDM data, you unlock the potential for comprehensive insights, enabling informed decision making and driving improved energy efficiency across the board.
  • All of this helps you maximize the value of your smart meter data, while customizing your analytical focus—an aspect that we will delve into in detail towards the end of the article.

Workforce and Asset Management: Streamline Large-scale Projects without any Downtime ⛑️

If a vendor offers a powerful no-code field force management solution, you get to create custom field apps without the need for technical expertise or extensive coding knowledge–all the while streamlining the management of your field force effortlessly.

It is also perfect to streamline a host of important use cases for every smart meter project, such as:

Consumer Surveys 🍮

Large-scale projects have survey data that might cross a million data points. By integrating workforce and asset management, you can customize your survey forms, and gather real-time data on asset locations, network strength, internet speed and more.

Installation, Commissioning, and Validation ⚡

You can also streamline the process of deploying, testing, and validating new equipment, such as smart meters or other infrastructure components needed for the set-up. This integration lets you track efficiency accurately and get an overview of all live and running assets.

Manage Inventories 🧑‍💻

One of the highlights of an asset management system is the option to design customized inventory forms. This allows you to capture essential information smartly, all the while ensuring accurate record-keeping and seamless inventory management.

Operations and Maintenance 💨

As smart meters have a life cycle of around 8-10 years, efficient asset maintenance and operations become essential. You can streamline the management of ongoing operations and maintenance tasks for the length and breadth of your program with a defined asset management system. 

Cracking the Magnitude with a Trusted Business Intelligence Engine 📈

Utilities can now monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and effectively visualize data, when paired with a state-of-the-art BI engine. Thanks to strategic partnerships and innovations, all of this is now possible. Smart meter data is triggered at even more frequent intervals, resulting in an immense volume of data packets that need to be analyzed. 

Having a system that can translate this level of data without leaving anything out– all the while making it super convenient and comprehensive to view is the answer.

How do BI Engines work? 👷

Some BI engines follow a Data ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process:

🔍First, data is extracted from one or more external sources using APIs or other data transfer protocols 

🪥It is then stored in a staging area for cleaning and transformation through data normalization, deduplication, and data type conversion

🏋️Before it is loaded into the reporting database to be queried and generate reports

The engine also allows users to create complex queries and formulas through visual query builders, eliminating the need for manual coding. To add, scheduled refresh options ensure that the data used in reports is always up-to-date and accurate. 

You also get to create a variety of customizable widgets (donut charts, line charts, tables and more) to view extensive data in a no-nonsense manner on a BI engine. This data can then be viewed from multiple perspectives with powerful aggregates and master filters. 

Summing up your Chance at a Million Possibilities 😃

With millions of data packets being transmitted by your smart metering system, the future possibilities are limitless. 

Real-time monitoring allows you to check the exact load of each meter and track the growth or decrease in the number of consumers. 

Projecting exact revenue becomes a reality, while precise data on power, voltage, and current empowers informed decision-making. 

With one person installing around 10-15 meters daily, a project involving 27 lakh meters over 27 months requires progressive workforce augmentation, for which efficient data management is crucial.

Once installed, the focus shifts to operations and maintenance. Practicing foresight can only be done with a smartly integrated meter that makes meticulous tracking possible. 

All of this can then be studied intelligently via detailed reporting rules to comprehend the data's magnitude. Business Intelligence (BI) engines visually present this vast trove of insights, allowing utilities to grasp the complete energy consumption of an area and a lot more at a glance.

Seizing the Opportunity of Advanced AMI Solutions 🕓

The significance of embracing feature integrations for leading the smart metering industry cannot be underestimated. Utilities can make use of these insights for seamless ESG management, managing carbon emissions via accurate load control readings and a lot more. By selecting the right smart metering technology and leveraging the potential of AMI data, utilities can pave the way for a more efficient and sustainable energy future.

If you’d like to be a part of this revolution, please feel free to email us at prasad@workongrid.com or reach us at +91 9591447305.

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Shaurya Poddar
Helping miners and explorers be efficient | Founder @ WorkOnGrid, talks about #growthmindset, #nocodelowcode, #enterprisetech, and #operationsmanagement‍
Zoya Seth
A marketing story-teller on her journey to simplify technical aspects into benefit-driven stories.
Prasad Nodu
Bringing a decade of experience, Prasad has cultivated a deep understanding of the technological drivers and their ensuing benefits in the Infra and Utilities sector.
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