Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)

True Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) are systems that measure, collect, and analyze energy usage, and communicate with metering devices such as electricity meters, gas meters, heat meters, and water meters, either on request / schedule. These systems include hardware, software, communications, consumer energy displays and controllers, customer associated systems, Meter Data Management (MDM) software, and supplier business systems.

The intelligent network between the measurement devices and business systems allows collection and distribution of information to customers, suppliers, utility companies, and service providers. This enables these businesses to participate in demand response services. Consumers can use information provided by the system to change their normal consumption patterns to take advantage of lower prices. Pricing can be used to curb growth of peak consumption

This AMI system is composed of management software, remote communication channel, Power management terminal, the regional summary meter, the local communication channel, the user power meter and other equipments. Power companies can build AMI system to replace manual meter reading to save human resources, reduce meter reading costs and improve meter reading efficiency and success rate. The AMI system reduces the error rate, the electricity loss and eliminates the false meter reading by personnel. The AMI system also can monitor the status of the users and find the abnormal information to alarm in time. It also collects data from meter and line losses can be calculated. The system has excellent openness, scalability, flexibility and high reliability. Many advanced computer and communications technology is used on this AMI system to satisfy the needs of power companies in different environments.

AMI also allows increased functionality to also include integrated disconnect, ability to implement advanced time-based rates, distributed generation detection and control, remote meter programming, power quality monitoring and reporting, home area network interfaces, and enhanced security compliance.

Differences and Benefits with AMI

Advanced metering is at an early stage of development and integration into energy utility markets. Product descriptions, or definition of terms, vary not only among markets such as Asia, Europe, and North America but also within markets. However, these descriptions become more clearly defined as products enter the market, and stakeholders form industry user groups to create accepted terms and functionalities.

With AMR and AMR Plus solutions, assessment of the benefit possibilities arising from one-way or limited two-way communication between back-end systems and the digital meters offers obvious operational efficiencies. True two-way communicating AMI solutions are capable of measuring and recording interval usage data, including half-hourly or less, and enable the full range from larger commercial consumers to smaller residential consumers, thereby creating consumer engagement, and allowing them to participate in energy efficiency, demand response, and critical peak pricing programs. The use of two-way communication functionality allows communication with customers to encourage them to reduce or shift their electricity use during peak demand times. AMI solutions also provide other data and functionality that assist with power grid stabilisation issues specifically addressing power reliability and quality issues.

AMI technology represents significant future potential, and is a core component and enabler of tomorrow's smart grid functionality. A general market trend for energy utilities that are assessing advanced metering is to focus on the greatest amount of functionality that provides a positive financial business case, leading many to pursue the AMI path, rather than AMR or Advanced AMR. Another trend for energy utilities that are considering advanced metering investment is to ensure future-proofed flexibility of their advanced meter deployment through AMI solutions addressing and ensuring future functional upgradability.

Functionality of the various technologies


We generally see the advanced / smart meter as the key enabling technology that will allow, over the time, utilities to tailor better services for customers. The general description of advanced metering products has increased in variably, as new features arrive in the market, and manufacturers look to formulate enhancements of their product. Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) features extensively vary between technology providers of smart meters in deployments today. Many of the advanced meter deployments currently in the field lean more towards Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) type product rather than true AMI.


Automatic Meter Reading (AMR)


Automatic or automated meter reading (AMR) is a concept that allows information to be read from the meter without a person physically present / viewing the meter. AMR is applied to read and collect power consumption information from meters by host station through communication technology; GSM/GPRS, CDMA, etc. are used to transfer data for long distance communication between host/database server concentrators. For short distance from concentrators to meters, RF,PLC, RS-485 may be used. AMR also supports switching on/off the meters remotely.


Power companies are now adopting to meter reading and management system to replace the existing residential manual meter reading system, which is able to save the cost of human resources, cut down the meter reading cost, meanwhile realize real time reading efficiency and improve successful reading rate; besides, automatic computer meter reading could decrease the manual reading error rate; to prevent fraud from dishonesty manual meter reading operator, cut down the cost of power companies, to monitor residents power consumption status, timely alarm will be sent once discovered abnormal event; At the same time, able to read and collect general zone meter data, line loss can be calculated and analyzed.

Smart System design takes full account of the current wide distribution of power company customers, more access points, as well as large differences in scale of electricity supply, it has good opening, scalability, flexibility, high reliability and so on. Adopting a large number of advanced computer technology, communications technology; it can meet the need of the power company for AMR management under new environment very well.


Types of AMR Systems


Automated meter reading one-way communications


AMR involves, one-way communication, typically through mobile radio frequency where information is collected by passing / moving vehicle from the meter or, in some cases, a one-way data system being passed to a vendor's office systems. Functionalities are generally limited to monthly meter reads, tamper reporting, data aggregation, load profiling, and meter diagnostic reporting, etc.


Automated meter reading two-way communications


Automated meter reading two-way communications is a more advanced AMR system that involves two-way communication. Functionalities have been increased over AMR meters as the Advanced AMR meter stores more information, and provides more detailed information on usage. The meter reads can occur from fixed locations and from greater distances than standard AMR devices. Functionalities are expanded to include features such as daily or on-demand meter reads of hourly interval data, outage notification flags, and other commodity reads.

Functions & Features


Features:

1. Open System architecture and scalable system size.

2. Concentrative data management platform.

3. Topological Network logics suitable for various system implementations.

4. Network routing Management for System level implementations.

5. All-around line losses analysis function.

6. Compliant with DLMS/COSEM and other protocol.

Function:

1. Meter data reading.

2. Data analysis.

3. Power grid quality analysis.

4. Comprehensive line loss analysis.

5. Anti-tamper management.

6. Load control management.

7. Meter working status real-time monitoring.

8. Energy measurement equipment monitoring.

9. Remote control (electricity cut-off/switch-on).

10. Connection interface with other system.

11. Communication mode diversification (GSM/GPRS, CDMA, PLC, RF, Zigbee, RS485)

Communication capabilities

Optical, Infra-red and RS-485/RS-232 for Local Communications

Radio-Frequency, Bluetooth, Ethernet and M-Bus for Home Area Networks (HAN)

Plcc, Long Range Radio-Frequency and Wi-Fi for Wide Area Networks (WAN)

GSM/GPRS for Global Area Networks (GAN)

Smart metering solutions and applications


In AMR Enabled smart meter technologies, communication technology is main challenge and most critical part, keeping mind feature, requirement of utility and end user. Each and every meter must be able to reliably and securely communicate the information collected to some central location. Considering the varying environments and locations this problem can solved, using different type of communication, cell and pager networks, satellite, licensed radio, combination licensed and unlicensed radio, and power line communication. Not only the medium used for communication purposes, but also the type of network used, is critical. As such, one would find: fixed wireless, mesh network or a combination of the two. There are several other potential network configurations possible, including the use of Wi-Fi and other internet related networks. To date no one solution seems to be optimal for all applications. Rural utilities have very different communication problems from urban utilities or utilities located in difficult locations such as mountainous regions or areas ill-served by wireless and internet companies.

An advanced metering solution is one of the key elements of smart grid. Where a Transmission Distribution and System Operator / Company is publicly / privately owned and can offer its own revenue generating services (such as Internet access and IPTV services), fiber can be provided directly to customers at the access level, using technologies such as Gigabit Passive Optical Network that enable the installation of Ethernet-capable smart meters. Transmission Distribution and System Operator / Company are limited or prohibited from offering additional services may choose to use a customer’s existing broadband connection. However, Transmission Distribution and System Operator / Company’s wishing to deploy a smart metering solution that relies on third-party broadband access face a number of challenges, including the fact that it is far from certain that every customer will subscribe to, or stay subscribed to, that particular third-party broadband service. As a result, it may be better to invest in wireless access networks (whether narrowband like 900 MHz or broadband like WiMAX) to guarantee access to smart meters.

Other options for carrying low bit rate, high-density smart metering traffic include PLC (wireline) or RF mesh over an unlicensed spectrum at 900 MHz ISM2 and 2.4 GHz (WiFi). Technologies such as 900 MHz ISM, however, are cost-effective only in high-density urban and suburban environments where signal coverage can take advantage of shorter hops between meters and/or numerous towers. As real-time demand response becomes a reality, these low bit rate, unlicensed network systems will require migration to other technologies that support broadband communications (such as WiMAX and LTE). Also, as latency-sensitive, real-time telemetry control applications are deployed across the distribution grid (such as syncrophasor control and other real-time sensors), spectrum interference in unlicensed bands or across commercial carrier networks will inhibit the deployment and usefulness of unlicensed radio systems.

In addition to smart meters, buildings on the electric grid may also feature local electricity generation facilities (such as photovoltaic cells or uninterruptible power supplies) and storage facilities (for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, for example). These facilities may be connected, along with the meter, over a local area network (LAN) or a home area network (HAN) to manage the building’s energy usage through protocols such as Zigbee and HomePlug. As buildings also gain smarter management capabilities, bandwidth needs will increase — putting pressure on 900 MHz RF and PLC technologies and accelerating the need for broadband connections directly into these high-traffic sites.

In addition to the grid control applications described above, some Transmission Distribution and System Operator / Company’ s are using 220 MHz and 900 MHz licensed spectrum for smart metering applications. Other manufacturers are building smart meters with 3G radios so that the meter can communicate directly with the commercial wireless provider’s network. Although smart metering is the primary application, this solution can also carry smart grid traffic from other distribution grid elements, such as feeder-mounted voltage sensors.

Currently, unlicensed spectrum is the dominant solution for private network communications of wireless meter applications in the United States. Many current smart metering solutions use 900 MHz unlicensed spectrum with channels in the 902 to 928 MHz band with several hundred kilohertz per channel. Zigbee (2.4 GHz) is generally used in home area networks in the United States but has been used for smart metering in other countries. WiFi mesh is another possibility, along with WiMAX in the lightly licensed 3.65 GHz band.