Next generation modular gateway and smart meter platform


While smart meters have been available since the 90s, an understanding of smart meters is largely determined by the development of smart grids, local history,  resources,regulations, and the functional requirements for smart meters in different countries.

This article first appeared in Metering & Smart Energy International issue 3-2018. Read the full digital magazine here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

Undoubtedly, in Europe, the USA and even China, the application of smart meters has been quite successful. In Eastern Europe, power companies have effectively improved local power supply quality based on the power supply quality curve provided by smart energy meters; in China, AMR systems have enabled the State Grid Corporation to save on the high manpower cost of manual meter reading.

However, in the promotion of smart meters, there are many cases of failure, especially in cases where the quality of the local power grid and the level of infrastructure construction to develop smart meters has been neglected.

Communications is one of the key technology requirements of smart meters. Major communications technologies include RF, SFSK PLC, G3-PLC, Hi-PLC and 2G/3G/4G/, although none of these communications technologies can suit various global environments and demands individually.

In fact, the vast majority of smart meter communication networks currently in operation around the world are based on a combination of technologies;

In Japan, 83% of Tokyo Electric Power’s smart meters use 920M RF mesh to cover  high-density areas, 16% use 3G/4G to cover mountain and rural areas and the remaining 1% use PLC technology to cover basement and high-rise users.

In China, among the smart meters of Zhejiang Electric Power Company, 68% use PLC  technology to cover high-density areas, 25% use RS485 to cover high-rise buildings and 7% use RF to cover urban-rural combined areas.

With the increasing demand for reliable power supply quality and real-time energy consumption monitoring by power users, real-time monitoring of power grids and efficient distribution by power companies is becoming more and more urgent. The trend of smart meters seems to be unstoppable.

Based on the above background, Inhemeter’s R&D team decided to explore “a modular gateway and smart meter platform based on open standards.”

The design had to meet the following  characteristics:

  • Based on open standards to ensure compatibility and interoperability
  • Openness, independence, long life and high reliability of metering equipment
  • Flexibly to adapt to current and future communication solutions
  • Easy to install and easy to maintain • Must minimise the complexity of low-pressure collection and copying systems, reduce installation and purchase costs.

The smart metering platform includes a CT meter, 3P-DC meter and 1P-DC meter, all based on the DLMS design. In addition to a highly reliable metering device, the meter itself also supports the standard replaceable embedded module interface.

To ensure the independence of the metering equipment, the metering part of the meter is designed as a completely isolated electrical system.

The embedded gateway device adopts the latest large-scale integrated circuit technology and embeds all the components required for the gateway device in a space the same size as an ordinary power meter communication module.

The embedded gateway device AMI network is an indication that:

  • Smart meters based on the DLMS standard with electrical isolation of the communication interface ensure  openness, independence, long life and  high reliability of metering equipment.
  • The gateway module not only replaces the traditional concentrator/collector, but also makes this AMI platform flexible, easy to install and maintain, and low cost. It is very easy to upgrade the communication technology. MI

About the author

He Zijin is senior R&D project manager with more than 10 years of experience in
the smart meter industry. He has extensive experience in the development and
management of various communication solutions, DLMS, M-bus and other standard
communication protocols.

About the company

SHENZHEN INHEMETER is an international high-tech company consisting of a team
of professionals with years of experience in metering . The company’s goals are to
“Make Metering More Smart” and “Excellent Enterprise in Global Metering Industry”.