Conference: Metering, Billing/CRM India
Location: Mumbai, India
Presenter: Luiz Garbelotto
Abstract: Presented by Luiz Garbelotto at Metering, Billing/CRM India

During the nineteenth century human inventiveness brought to existence not only wonderful machines but also lucrative businesses. After all it was necessary to take the inventions benefits to people eager by the news. At the end of that century, together with the electric bulb invention, as it was necessary to supply the user a with power source, it came into being the electricity generation and distribution business.

Since that beginning, electricity distribution operators searched for ways to measure the quality and quantity of energy delivered to their clients, in order to receive the due payment for their investments and services. At that time the solution was to install a metering instrument at each premise and periodically, let’s say monthly, send a person to collect its indication. More than a hundred years have passed and things are still the same!

Electricity is an invisible product that flows through metallic wires, which demand is determined by the user. The sold energy is not witnessed by its seller. There’s only a measure machine, very quickly monthly visited by a person to collect its register.

Automation

In human society there’s a constant searching for welfare. Nature, besides its prodigal benefits, also causes discomfort and sometimes aggression to man. Wind, rain, storm, snow and intense heat always demanded man’s creativity in order to lessen his sufferings.

Man’s limitations also led him to create alternatives that could do great efforts instead of him or that could better his performance. Activities that more frequently demanded physical strength became targets to creative effort to the conception of machines. By this process came the knife, the wheel, the lever. Then man perceived that the same forces of nature which sometimes hurt him could be used for his benefit, if properly controlled. So, man exploited winds, waters, steam and even animal power. Preferred were daily and repetitive tasks.

Much time has passed, as past is Industrial Revolution, then a new technology domain comes: automation.

Automation is total or partial replacement of human intervention in the execution of tasks that otherwise would require more physical or intellectual effort from man. Besides human effort reduction, automation frequently conveys more efficiency, shortens execution time, increases accuracy and reliability, diminish accidents risk and increases uniformity of results. It is not its goal jobs posts elimination, but generally has this consequence. The capitalist enterprise, profits focused, is generally in search of means to reduce operational costs, to which automation has much to contribute.

Meter reading is fit for automation

Meter reading is a centennial practice fit for automation. Around the world millions of peoples still walk around every corner to read meters. The moment for the great leap has come. Technologies are available and their costs are getting down. But, as solutions appear electricity distribution companies are doubtful about what is the right path to follow. What technology to choose? What are the risks involved? What are the impacts to the modus operandi of the company? How much would a full deployment cost? How fast should it be undertaken?

At Celesc, thinking about this, we realized that a reasonable step should be to implement a pilot project. Pilot project is a complete system miniature, operating in real conditions. With a pilot project we can face, in a much lowered degree, technical challenges, human dramas, budget restrictions and proofs of the organizational model.

Celesc’s pilot project aims to achieve several goals: to test the technology, to identify the risks to be faced in a full-scale deployment, to produce unabridged documentation about perceptions, requisites and preferences that will serve as lessons learned, and to test concepts. To that end, the pilot project has the following functionalities:

  • Hourly automatic meter reading to obtain individual consumer load profiles;
  • Remote connection and disconnection of energy supply in case of non-payment at 50 premises;
  • Energy balance at each distribution transformer, allowing evaluation of technical losses, detection of non-technical losses and verification of the transformer loading;
  • Monitoring of faults;
  • Integration with the billing system.

Conclusions

We are living in a new order today. Conventional energy sources are not endless: natural resources are limited and global warming threatens the quality of life of future generations. Rational and efficient use of energy is the theme of the day.

Technology is not an end in itself, so work is not either. They both aim to the welfare of man. The sound principle is: Do not man do what machines can do and do not machines do what man should do. Let’s think seriously: Is it not already time to let machines collect meter data? A train is passing by. Let’s jump into it.