Founded in 2000 in Barcelona by two networking specialists, AMR Systems is now putting the finishing touches to an internationally patented system, called StreamNETWORKS. While developing StreamNETWORKS , the company always focused on the five main goals for building an adequate wireless metropolitan AMR solution.
- Low data transmission cost.
- Low deployment and maintenance cost.
- Low consumption for battery powered devices.
- Two-way communications channel.
- Standard Protocols (TCP-IP).
Instead of using the traditional technologies such as telephony, GSM, PLC and one-way RF, StreamNETWORKS combines advanced wireless communication techniques based on multi-hopping with the use of ad-hoc networks. A radio frequency (RF) network was chosen because of its flexibility and low deployment costs. AMR Systems uses a licence-free band to transmit data using RF without paying bandwidth fees. Most countries reserve some RF bands for ISM (Instrumentation, Scientific & Medical) applications, imposing severe restrictions concerning emitted power and channel allocation according to international regulations such as ITU-T, FCC and ETSI.
This restricted power emission usually allows radio links within a reach of 50 up to 300 metres in metropolitan areas in Europe. AMR Systems’ goal of low powered consumption fits perfectly with this restriction, and the company plans to build systems with an operating life of up to ten years.
Network oriented architecture
AMR Systems is all about ‘networking’. To create an online data transmission network, AMR Systems uses StreamNETWORKS. Data acquired from a certain meter is stored and then forwarded by means of a routing technique to a neighbouring network device, where it is stored and forwarded again to another node, until it reaches its final destination.
The great advantage of this approach is that it uses the spread location of the meters, turning every meter into a network node. Because of the short distance between the meters in a metropolitan area, this solution allows low powered emission. The communication is therefore completely two-way, as each device has to be able to send as well as receive data. Using this RF networking principle, transmission costs are brought back to zero. Moreover, the network is perfectly scalable, so networks can be built from a few up to millions of nodes.
The top layer of StreamNETWORKS is built using net nodes, the StreamDATA. The StreamDATA node can provide a direct connection with up to four meters, or it can be embedded within a meter. StreamDATA is a low-cost, battery-powered device with an expected operating life of ten years. Its purpose is to create a low cost data transport network that connects a group of meters with a common data-logger, using other StreamDATA nodes for routing purposes to extend the coverage area.
The StreamDATA network can be used as a low cost walk-thru solution, since the data of entire building blocks equipped with this network can be read from one single point. However, StreamNETWORKS goes further.
The second layer of StreamNETWORKS is a broadband wireless network. It consists of StreamNET devices that act as network managers for the various StreamDATA sensor-networks. At the same time, StreamNET is a high speed wireless node, using the same ad-hoc networking scheme. The flexibility of this concept and the auto-organisation ability of the devices allow a step-by-step area coverage linking together the top level StreamDATA networks.
The StreamSERVER graphical interface was created by AMR Systems to enable easy and efficient remote network management with a minimum of technical training. The network map allows users to target individual devices for readings on demand, device control and software upgrades. Abnormal events in the network such as outages, sabotage, tampering or prolonged difficulty in reading certain devices will trigger a service alert through StreamSERVER.
All data is time-stamped and stored in a RDBMS using standard SQL database format, exportable to any compatible database platform or off-the-shelf reporting package. The built-in reporting capabilities of the StreamSERVER interface allow the user to schedule customised reports to be generated at user-defined time intervals based on geographic area, device type, usage amount, date and events.
AMR Systems is working with the major utilities in Spain. The most important project at present is creating a solution for AGBAR, the largest Spanish water utility, to make the transition from an existing walk-thru application to a wireless two way AMR system. To achieve this, StreamNET data loggers are being adapted to communicate with the currently used BUS system and to build out a solution that eliminates semi-manual data collection.
Recent market studies show that the utility industry is moving in the direction of implementing two-way metering solutions. At a cost lower than that of a conventional walk-thru solution, and making a step-by step investment possible, AMR Systems puts wireless AMR in a completely new perspective, transforming traditional meters into web-enabled meters and lowering the risks for the buyer.