Fighting theft and managing metering faults


Conference: Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America 2006
Location: Rio de Janeiro
Presenter: Welson Jacometti
Abstract: Presented by Welson Jacometti at Metering, Billing/CRM Latin America 2006.

Much has been done in tradition methodologies to identify and quantify energy losses in distribution companies, and much has been accomplished with new metering technologies to inhibit, avoid or directly fight situations that can compromise revenues.

Some of these efforts are related to building solutions around metering environments, such as to protect them from being tampered. Some are related to building more robust metrological equipment, and some are simply applying company’s resources in continuously inspecting the equipment in the field. It is indeed common to have more than one effort being accomplished by a single company.
While it makes sense to build robust metering equipment, we notice that the greatest results on Revenue Protection efforts are achieved not exactly because of the meter itself, neither – in the long run, because the meter is secure from tampering: greatest results are achieved when the company has the information, precisely, of where, when and why a meter is failing, compromised because of theft, tampering or instrument defect.

We have organized our presentation towards showing how an energy distribution company can effectively profit from information that is provided from the field through a number of new technologies and how can it work throughout this information to reveal the truth about the metering scenario: defects, frauds and situations that are somehow not anticipated by the metrological organizations that do, in fact, happen on the field and that can all be avoided in a much more efficient and effective way than regular customer inspections.

We would like to comment on how the customer relationship management of the companies could benefit by avoiding the existing monthly meter-reading cycle, exchanging it by an on-line cycle, and how – once the complete instrumentation of any given company will not be fully accomplished in the medium term, companies may move towards effectively knowing the complete profile of its customers by applying technologies that deal with technical aspects, as well as business processes within the company.

We base our observations on the fact that in companies where we are applying such approach, we have transitioned from a reactive perspective to an active policy that allow our customers to take control over losses and understand, in details, what is going on at its thousands of field installations of electronic metering. It was also noted during this transition that most of the effectiveness of regular inspection, sometimes guided by data-mining solutions that work solely over billing information have, necessarily, a limit that is too low considering the assertion that is required to give significant results: the statistics behind the simplistic model around billing hides a number of pitfalls.

We comment, thus, about several different aspects of the technology and method applied to telecommunications-based Revenue Protection:

  • Private and public networks based alternatives for data communication, including mesh-network projects;
  • AMR versus Automatic Metering Monitoring – a technology for not only acquiring data, but as well, intelligently classify such data towards fighting losses;
  • Why even monthly inspection at customer premises have limited results on fighting losses: a view of what is going on with real customers from 10.000 medium-tension installed base;

The presentation is carried out showing:

  1. Generating customer profiles that will help to identify losses, a technical perspective;
  2. How to interpret technical data made available by different telecommunications technologies allowing an effective understanding of field situations: where, when and how losses happen on a customer;
  3. How to do it with existing installed base of electronic meters, and what should be required from meter manufacturers in the future for a complete coverage of the customer base.