It is rarely possible for energy supply companies to use the data delivered by meters and other load profile devices directly for their consumption balance and energy data management. ITF-EDV Fröschl of Germany realised this problem, and reacted by developing products for meter data reading and processing. The company has been extremely successful, with very good growth prospects, because automated data exchange is a fundamental aspect of a liberalised energy market.
ITF-EDV Fröschl has for many years developed modular standard solutions for reading, analysing and processing meter data. The meter data must be converted and prepared, so that it can be processed by billing and EDM systems.
VENDOR-SPECIFIC DEVICE TECHNIQUES – A CHALLENGE FOR COMMUNICATION
This IT tool, which is used as a flexible bridge for data transfer, enables communication between customers and energy supply companies. Because the net stock of meters has developed over the years, the system works independently of the vendor-specific device type, the type of energy, the format of imported data, and the communication network and protocols.
The ITF-EDV software currently supports about 120 kinds of electricity, gas, water and heat meters. The modular device driver concept enables easy integration of new devices, which leads to a continued increase in the number of devices it can support.
In addition to data transmission via telephone or radio networks, network-based transmission types like TCP/IP or GPRS are also supported.
QUALITY ASSUARANCE FOR METER DATA
The system offers a large number of individual adjustable plausibility check functions for the control of the readout process and the meter data. These functions are automatically executed by the system, and the implausible values are marked.
The automatic handling of missing and distorted meter data is very important for optimised data delivery to billing systems. Several functions, from copying of adjusted historical meter data to automatic interpolation, are available for generating substitute values.
During the processing of data ITF-EDV’s IT system even manages jobs of the scope of an EDM system – for example, balancing load profiles, mathematical calculation of load profiles and calculation of deviations from limits or forecasts.
AUTOMATION, FLEXIBILITY AND AVAILABILITY
An essential characteristic of ITF-EDV Fröschl’s IT system is its absolute flexibility and scalability. The customer is able to create a solution, consisting of a basic system and a set of modules, according to his requirements. All the system components, database servers, communication servers and automatic clients necessary for automatic operation can be scalable if required.
Important characteristics like access protection, additional administration of raw data and the logging of all data changes, either by the system or by the user, provide secure administration of meter data, which is useful for billing.
A further quality characteristic is the system transparency offered by flexible user-configurable import and export interfaces. Interfaces for common billing systems also exist and can be customised. Multi-user systems can be configured in a classic client/server or terminal server architecture.
MOBILE METER READING COMPLETES THE SOLUTION
If there is a problem with remote transmission, the integrated mobile meter reading system can be used for collecting the data via handheld units. The meter reading program on the handheld units uses the same proven device drivers as the central remote meter reading system. An optimised route guidance program makes the operation easier for the meter reader.
The system can also be used as a pure mobile meter reading system. Users are able to benefit from the fact that ITF-EDV has over 12 years of experience in this field. All common handheld units with MS-Windows CE (PPC 2000/2) operating systems are supported.
ITF-EDV’s products are already widely accepted in Germany, and further expansion into other markets, especially in Southern and Eastern Europe, is well under way.