conlog

The question of service delivery in the global energy sector is a highly sensitive and widely debated topic that is not unique to a single country or utility.

The energy distribution sector is marred by controversy related to mismanagement of financial resources, slow metering rollouts and the deployment of technology and metering systems that do not align with the core needs of the utility.

The utility of the 21st century must acknowledge the importance of its most valuable asset – its customers – and the electricity meter plays a pivotal role in delivering great customer service resulting in a higher level of customer satisfaction. The shift towards cost reduction and lean procurement processes is a natural occurrence in business and the critical need for a high quality, robust and reliable electricity meter has been somewhat lost. It is vital to acquire a product based on quality and robust technology, as low cost, low-quality products present a significant challenge for technicians and engineers to support in the field and increase customer complaints and dissatisfaction. The electricity meter is the ‘cash register’ for the utility and is often overlooked in the context of service delivery – consistent and accurate revenue collection supports infrastructure growth and electricity distribution projects of the future.

Worldwide, every utility faces the extreme challenge of maintaining profitability and sustainability while ensuring it can actively improve electrification rates and provide access to energy for all citizens. When considering the challenges faced by the utility, it is paramount that investment and expenditure on metering projects is undertaken with a keen focus on solutions that are fit for purpose, reliable, robust and suitable to the operating environment. The utility has one primary revenue collection point in its entire eco-system. Therefore to efficiently and effectively realise a return on investment, the selection criteria must consider metering products that utilise best in industry research and design practices and are manufactured using the highest-grade materials, components, assembly techniques and quality control processes.

While utilities face the fundamental problem of cash collection and revenue management, they find themselves in a position where many technology providers secure contracts utilising proprietary systems and inferior meters that are not aligned with the actual need of the utility. It is therefore critical that the utility adopts a customer-centric approach to service delivery and partner with a trusted and reputable technology provider, such as Conlog, that understands the problem statement of the utility.

In understanding the need for improving service excellence to all citizens, the electricity prepayment model based on the Standard Transfer Specification (STS) deployed by Conlog is the only globally recognised system that has a proven cash collection improvement record. Every electricity meter and revenue management system in the Conlog product range is certified to the STS standard and designed to meet the most stringent electrical and environmental tests. The reliability and robustness of Conlog electricity meters have made them the first choice for utilities around the world that demand a meter that can support a life cycle greater than 15 years in the field – Conlog boasts real-world experience. Customer testimony to meter longevity, support, innovation and reliability speaks directly to our ability to design and manufacture products of superior quality.

Industry leading product innovation

Concern is growing because communication reliability is related to proprietary power line communication (PLC) technologies. These technologies are susceptible to a multitude of factors on the power grid that impact the reliability and performance of the metering solution. Conlog has designed a range of G3-PLC products to dispel the concern surrounding communication reliability. The BEC42(X), BEC44(X), CIU(X) & CBU(X) are designed and manufactured to the exact needs of our valued customers from around the world. The product line was developed to meet the growing demand from utilities and customers that seek a PLC meter that provides classleading, reliable communications, billing accuracy and is designed to be robust and suitable for installation in extreme operating environments. The addition of an evolutionary new product lineup of multi-channel licence free radio frequency (RF) products, the wBEC44(X) and wUIU(X) further extends the smart capabilities of the benchmark RF meter on the continent.

Benchmark quality

Each product is independently tested and certified to comply with both local and international regulations and standards, with a world-class manufacturing plant and highly skilled research and development team designing and producing metering products that firmly stand out, as a yardstick for quality in the industry and competing with global players. Africa is proudly represented by Conlog on the world stage, with a range of products designed to meet the challenges and demands of the modern utility.

The ‘X’ Range is designed and developed from the ground up as an intelligent solution to help utilities reduce nontechnical losses with:

  • a vast array of anti-tamper features
  • improved cash collection rates through a reliable and secure STS metering solution with zero downtime
  • assistance for procurement departments that reduces wasteful expenditure on the replacement of meters that are defective, unreliable and not suitable to the African continents’ operating environment.

The ‘X’ range further adds value to the modern, energy conscious and technologydriven utility, offering utilities a fit for purpose and intuitive AMI solution that provides accurate and relevant data, critical in the decision-making process, and the reduction of non-technical losses through the identification of regions with high levels of supply theft and meter tampering in the network.

The prepayment electricity meter is a device often forgotten in the utility’s infrastructure but it serves as the cornerstone for supporting future development. By providing a tangible return on investment and increasing utility revenue collection and profitability it enables utilities to fund future infrastructure projects. It is therefore fundamental that all utilities place a greater emphasis on the selection process of electricity meters. Procurement and technical assessment criteria must be aligned to a common goal, that of improving the lives of all citizens through increasing access to energy. The selection of a trusted electricity meter for rollout must focus on billing accuracy, meter robustness, product quality, reliability and long term meter support. As utilities come under scrutiny for failed meter deployments it is highly recommended that utilities engage with one another across the continent so that lessons can be learnt and experiences shared. The electricity meter that is fit for purpose is the foundation for improved customer satisfaction and service delivery which ultimately leads to increased revenue and growth. SEI

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Wayne Cornelius is the hardware product manager at Conlog. He has experience in the field of marketing, research and development and manufacturing operations with a focus on product innovation, strategic planning, customer satisfaction and international business relations.

A metering range designed for service excellence

BEC44(X): The compact 4 terminal G3-PLC (OFDM) CENELEC A band, DIN rail split meter is packed with features to protect utility revenue and enhance customer satisfaction by providing an unrivalled user experience unknown in the PLC market, whilst also providing the valuable data needed by utilities worldwide. A variant of the product the BEC42(X) is also available for installations requiring the BS 7856 mounting footprint.

CIU(X): The Power Line Communication customer interface unit provides the perfect companion to the BEC44(X) product range. With an eye-catching modern design philosophy, the CIU(X) is welcome in any residential dwelling. The device is simple to install and provides a reliable communication interface that can operate comfortably up to 200 metres

CBU(X): The power line communication common base customer interface unit provides another perfect companion to the BEC44(X) product range. The device is simple to install and provides a reliable communication interface that can operate comfortably up to 150 metres. The CBU(X) is your answer to reducing non-technical losses with its enhanced antitamper feature set conditions in the consumer’s premise. In addition, the CBU(X) is ideal for replacing the common base combo meter with a split metering technology that requires no additional wiring to be performed in the house.

wBEC44(X): The compact 4 terminal multichannel radio frequency communication, ISM licence free 433MHz, DIN rail split meter is packed with features to protect utility revenue, enhance customer satisfaction and improve communication reliability and range whilst providing the valuable data needed by utilities worldwide. A variant of the product the wBEC42(X) is also available for installations requiring the BS 7856 mounting footprint.

wUIU(X): The sleek and tastefully designed unit is a perfect companion to the wBEC44(X). Traditionally split meters have required hard wiring between the metering device and user interface keypad. The wireless technology makes installation simpler, better and faster. In addition, the use of multichannel RF is assured of a working solution with no interference that can operate comfortably up to 150 metres.