Online technology assessment tool is introduced


Clark Pierce,
VP of Technology,
Northbrook, IL, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 20, 2007 – AMRA, the international voice of the AMR/AMI industry, has introduced the first objective, Internet-accessible tool designed to provide an understanding of AMR/AMI technologies which alone or in combination may best suit a utility’s strategic direction. Many utility professionals new to automatic meter reading (AMR) or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) face a daunting task when researching innovative metering technologies, because of the need to weigh features and capabilities against the needs and requirements of their utilities.

Users of the AMRA on-line Technology Assessment Tool begin by answering basic questions about their utilities to create a profile. Once the profile is created, they can develop a series of scenarios to help them assess their technology needs. A water utility might only have one scenario, while a gas, water and electric utility might create a scenario for each resource or consider multiple scenarios that combine resources. The tool also allows analysis by geographic distribution.

"When designing the tool, the project team, which was comprised of utility professionals from the United States and Canada, understood that utilities providing single or multiple resources might want to build various scenarios when considering metering systems," said Clark Pierce, AMRA vice president of technology. "A gas and electric utility might build one scenario for electric, one for gas and one for both, with the objective being to understand how the different scenarios affect the types of technologies to investigate."

A series of questions aimed at determining the utility’s functional requirements (basic meter reading; advance meter reading; AMR/AMI system installation and operation; data delivery; data storage; revenue protection; service quality; premise control and system control) is asked for each scenario. The questions are directed at only the meter types selected during the creation of the scenario. A final input screen allows users to set the relative importance of each function.

Data from the completed questionnaire is automatically analysed and the results are displayed in a series of graphs organized by technology types. Users can click on each technology to obtain a list of hyperlinks to the technology providers’ websites. They can also follow a link to a list of AMRA member consultants.

"Prior to the introduction of AMRA’s Technology Assessment Tool, utility professionals who needed to learn about AMR/AMI often spent hours sifting through a myriad of technical parameters to arrive at an appropriate AMR technology solution based on little impartial input," said Pierce. "For the first time ever they can narrow down the number of technology options to consider as they start to investigate AMR/AMI."