Asia – rapidly moving towards two-way communication technology

Oliver Iltisberger

Interview with Oliver Iltisberger, Executive VP Asia Pacific, Landis+Gyr, Australia

What are the main challenges the utility industry is facing currently, and do you see any specific challenges in Asia?

The challenges faced by our customers across Asia are as varied as the region itself. Some of the key issues include meeting peak demand, improving reliability, increasing efficiency and security, and developing an effective electricity regulatory framework to address the challenges of the 21st century economy.

Peak demand is about addressing the availability of supply for the few days during a year when demand outstrips supply, for example ona 40oC summer day when consumption spikes driven by increased use of air conditioners. To address these relatively short duration demand peaks, utilities have to invest significantly in improving their generation and distribution assets.

Increasing consumer angst against inconsistent and unreliable electricity supply is becoming a burning issue for utilities to address. Another critical issue facing our utilities in most of Asia is curtailing electricity network losses (including leakage and theft), in other words creating an efficient electricity distribution grid.

Underpinning reliability and efficiency is the need for a secure electricity distribution with consideration for including anti-tamper and anti-theft into theregulatory framework as countries look to meet the utility needs required to support an increasingly complex economy.

Regardless, all utilities need to get the balance of delivering higher rate of return on investment to their stakeholders and meeting the ever increasing standards of supply, reliability and efficiency as demanded by their stakeholders.

Landis+Gyr understands the challenges faced by our utility customers – how the evolving needs of their consumers and businesses are influencing the way utilities deliver – with technology transforming the way change is enabled. Landis+Gyr is committed to helping utilities realize the full potential of the smart grid with solutions that are tailored for today’s needs, but that also anticipate what is coming. At Landis+Gyr we call it being “future ready.”

What’s your vision for the industry looking forward and where do you think Asia is heading in particular?
Within Asia, we are observing a rapid move towards two-way communication technology to enable greater transparency of information to manage the growing challenges with electricity distribution.

Our vision, along with our parent company Toshiba, is to manage energy better and make smart communities a reality across Asia. We believe that smart metering is where smart grid meets the smart home, and around which the smart community will evolve. By harnessing our power of innovation and sharing the expertise and capability of our people we are able to deliver total energy solutions that will continue revolutionize energy management and grid operations.

What is on Landis+Gyr’s calendar this year? Do you have specific plans for the Asian region?
2013 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the industry in Asia. The transition to smart metering technology, including prepayment solutions, has stepped up and we are already experiencing a great deal of interest in the industry for smart metering – not just for billing but as a crucial network infrastructure ingredient enabling information expediency and transparency, such as near real time information on power quality.

Landis+Gyr is delighted to be in the forefront of smart metering and AMI in Asia and working towards leveraging our global experiences and expertise in assisting, advising and customizing Asian utilities on their smart metering deployments. We understand that each utility is unique, so our smart metering, smart grid infrastructure and smart community solutions are designed to “make sure it works” by distributing the intelligence across the electricity grid to the “palm of the consumers.”

What are the projects you are most proud of so far?
One of the major projects we are proud of for smart meter deployment is Australia’s SP AusNet’s AMI rollout. SP AusNet’s AMI program is a Victorian government mandated initiative which involves smart meter rollout to all Victorian households and small business over a four year period. The Victorian AMI program is underpinned by technically progressive AMI functionality specification and stringent performance standards.  Landis+Gyr has been successful in SP AusNet as a result of thereadiness of our smart metering technology, our willingness and ability to work together with SP Ausnet and their vendors across a number of communications modules (including WiMAX and 3G), our on-ground support and local capability to resolve issues arising in the field or back-office, and our capability to utilize our local R&D to leverage our global R&D expertise by enabling SP AusNet with a future ready solution.

Other significant smart metering projects we are proud of include Citipower/Powercor’s AMI rollout and Ausgrid’s Smart Grid Smart City program in Australia, and WEL Network WELconnect project in New Zealand.

What makes your company competitive in the market?
Landis+Gyr has over 92 years’ experience in the Asia-Pacific market. During this time, we have worked hard to maintain our leadership position through customer focus, quality (zero defects outcome), strong local presence and knowledge (to understand and innovate). With Toshiba, our horizon has broadened even further and now we are looking at smart communities and all that these entail. As always we will continue to focus on increasing opportunities for our customers to leverage from our global innovation and expertise.

What will be your message at the upcoming event?
Our message at this Metering Asia 2013 is to “be future ready.” We will demonstrate how Landis+Gyr and Toshiba’s technologies – smart metering, smart grid and smart community – can help utilities/businesses in Asia with a sustainable operating model to address the needs of 21st century economy.