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Due to the remotely readable gas meters adopted in Telia NB-IoT network, meter readings are now fixed automatically and for the consumers the entire process has become simpler.
Energate OÜ is installing thousands remotely readable gas meters, supported by Telia NB-IoT network. Due to the data communication technology, the units have good coverage even in basements, and data exchange takes place over NB-IoT. Life of the battery of the meters transmitting data once daily is up to 16 years.
The requirement that all companies providing gas network service shall use remotely readable meters starting from certain volumes is proceeding from the law, therefore almost all gas networks are currently in the transition phase.
The major challenge arises from the fact that no commercial project based on a new data communication technology had formerly been performed in Estonia in such scale. Anything new had to be subjected to thorough testing and research, in order to ensure operability of the system: the manufacturer of the equipment learned and made corrections, while Energate studied the peculiarities of the solution. Among other things, it had to be ascertained, how the equipment reacts to network maintenance; here, the in-depth approach reached even software version of the manufacturer.
As common result was searched through cooperation between different countries and nations, another challenge was finding a smooth communication model. Minor communication errors were encountered, but specialists say that complicated projects require readiness for such things, otherwise it would be impossible to launch major projects.
Telia started testing and integration of the meters implementing the latest technology in spring 2018, and this phase took six months. After that, testing was started in the new residential area of the first major customer, Energiate OÜ. The test project included five buildings, whereby the meters were certified and operation focused on checking the integral chain.
On 20 December 2018, Telia opened the first 5G test area, and on the same day also the first official meters of Energate started operation, which were no longer test versions.
Thus, the solution was implemented successfully; minor obstacles were rather related to the fact that data communication technology is becoming increasingly popular and chip technology does not keep pace as fast as required, therefore short-term problems were encountered with the supply of components.
Corona virus had also impact on the supply – many components are made in Asia, while meters are manufactured by an Italian company, with factory in Poland. Therefore, supply problems arose for small final quantities, but otherwise the implementation was performed according to the plan.
The role of Telia is to communicate with Energate, data storage and the manufacturer, and to send their SIM- cards to the factory. Energate in turn installs the equipment and keeps account over the serial number ans customers – in this respect, there are fortunately no technological complexities.
Results and benefit
By now, the network has been in operation for eighteen months – during that time, thousands of meters have been installed, data are transmitted from the created information system automatically into the national database, relationships with settlement systems are functional.
Implementation of the project led to fulfilment of legal requirements set in the law. Remote reading is a direction actively developed by Telia.
To one customer of Energate, Telia has also provided a view, where the customer can see the electricity and gas account of their industrial object and learn precisely, how the consumption is changing, and which, why and how long energy is consumed. In case of an industrial object it is good to know the content of the energy balance. Data are not only needed for sending invoices, but the customer also gets benefit, when they understand their energy consumption and can also plan any changes, if necessary.
Remotely readable meters also enable to measure water and electricity consumption. Contemporary water meters actually have more common features with a mobile phone than a gearwheeled clock, which the old meters were resembling. Average estimated life of a water meter, which operates with the same technology as a gas meter, but is used for measuring water consumption, is up to 15 years.
Text by Meediapilt, photo by Telia. June 2020.
Industry 4.0 best practice examples articles are created within the framework of the DIGINNO BSR project (European Regional Development Fund).