Keeping the invisible unnoticed
Keeping the invisible unnoticed
What would you do in case of an electricity outage during your workday or even when binging on a series in your free time? For a while, we would be OK with all the wireless devices and batteries. But if we talk about hours of not having electricity, most of the modern world in the digital era would come to a halt. Of course, this is a rare occasion, and one of the things we can thank is a device we use daily without even realizing it; your electricity meter. What’s special about it is that if they are smart – they communicate with the whole grid enabling companies to distribute energy exactly where it’s needed, detect, pro-act, and react to changes in usage and multiple issues. This makes power consumption efficient and reliable.
There are multiple ways to arrange communication between the smart meters. In smart metering installations, we talk about quantity – tens or hundreds of thousands of meters in one network alone – this means that any costs or extra visits due to failures or errors multiply over the course of installation and time. To streamline the whole process from initial deployment to use and maintenance, Aidon, and tender providers had some outlines. The data collection needs to be almost 100% reliable at all times. On top of that, the installation must be fast, and maintenances on the spot are happening as infrequently as possible. Not to mention that with smart metering, the rural areas may not be the biggest challenge for connectivity, but the densely packed meter rooms may become an even bigger challenge in getting the data forward.
Truly field-proven large-scale networks
Connectivity solutions for smart meters come in all shapes and technologies. One way that is thought to be reliable and inexpensive is communication through radiofrequency (RF) technologies. At first, Aidon was searching for a proven communication software stack. Building something from scratch is always the hard way, and Wirepas offered its connectivity stack without ties to a specific platform. It was a partnership with huge potential.
Maintenance and installation visits are something that Aidon wants to keep to a minimum. All visits to the meters are a nuisance to the end customer, so they need to be planned so that there are as few visits as possible. It starts with the installation that should be done flawlessly already in the first visit and as fast as possible to avoid interference to people’s daily lives but also to keep costs to a reasonable level. With the Wirepas Connectivity Suite, Aidon’s installers can do it right from the start as the connectivity handles the setup in only a few minutes. No external tools are needed for the installation; everything is built-in. With the Wirepas software, the meters create the connections and send diagnostics and status updates of the installation. This leaves less room for human errors, making the user interface as simple as “Just look and confirm.” Sometimes an extra antenna is needed to ensure the connection is flawless, but about 80% of the time, the antennas on the devices do the trick.
Aidon’s most extensive single network with the Wirepas connectivity consists of over 920 000 smart meters. That’s large. With that amount of devices, the meter rooms, where meters for a whole building are located, could become a considerable challenge. If all the devices tried to send data simultaneously, the connection could get crowded, making the data collection a bottleneck. Turning smart meters not-so-smart. With the Wirepas stack, all meters are not trying to communicate all the time nor with their full power. Instead, they send data to a router that communicates with a gateway, making the data transfer smart and efficient. This leads to stable connections even in large networks.
Working together towards reliability
The journey of Aidon and Wirepas started in 2015. The partnership has been time to evolve and update products after experiences in the field thanks to the good time-to-market Wirepas-enabled products provide and because the network works as promised. In 2022 Aidon and Wirepas are involved in over 50 utilities in the Nordics. These products are not just lab rats. The actual experiences are what make the difference for reliability and efficiency.
We can’t physically see the results of using these products. And that’s the point. When things are working smoothly, there is no interference in the electricity supply or interruptions due to maintenance. That means everything works as intended. We could see the savings through installations that go right from the start and are fast and easy. Even bigger is the saved money on connectivity costs as there are no monthly subscriptions on all the meters. Among all the savings, the partnerships provide able smart metering and stable networks. That’s what we all want, stable electricity supplies.
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This is Oula Välipakka, our expert. He can tell you more about the case and our expertise in this field.