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Prepare optimally for the smart meter ramp-up

After the legal uncertainties as a result of the decision of the Higher Administrative Court of Münster in the spring, the revision of the Metering Point Operation Act and the technical guideline BSI TR-03109 and the recertification of three smart meter gateways have again ensured increasing dynamics in the rollout of intelligent metering systems in Germany. This impression was confirmed not least by the metering days 2021 , at which various companies reported increasing installation numbers.

Jörn Lutze , Managing Director of TMZ Thüringer Mess- und Meterwesen GmbH (TMZ) , comments on the upcoming challenges in metering point operation as follows:

“Since we are now continuously installing iMSys, the permanent monitoring of the ongoing iMSys operation, which is optimized for this mass process, as well as the handling of malfunctioning measurement systems are becoming more and more important for us. Conventional incident management or ticket systems that are not geared towards the energy sector quickly reach their limits here. In addition, such a system must be able to cope with the complexity of the disruptive factors and sources of error in the intelligent trade fair system and be multi-disciplinary and multi-client capable. Last but not least, the requirements from the extended product environment of the iMSys such as IoT gateways, sensors, control boxes, etc. must be mapped and monitored so that we can meet the requirements of our customers, the market and ultimately future regulatory requirements be able.”

Get a grip on the failure rate in intelligent measuring systems

In fact, everyone familiar with the subject should have by now made the experience that ordering, installing, operating, changing and expanding an iMSys are complex processes in which the interplay of hardware (including the hardware is still at the beginning) existing firmware versions) as well as GWA, MDM and ERP system often have to be coordinated in a very demanding way.

It is therefore not surprising that current observations from the market show a failure rate of at least 10% with installed iMSys. The causes are varied and depend on the components used, but can often be assigned to the following areas:

  1. Error in the assembly of measuring systems
  2. Defective hardware (measuring devices and SMGw)
  3. Faulty firmware (-induced errors in measuring devices and SMGw)
  4. Incorrect communication (e.g. disruptions when using cellular technology)
  5. Process / IT errors between GWA, MDM and ERP system (interface problems, system updates, operator errors).
  6. Manipulation of the hardware by third parties (e.g. breaking seals on mME)

The challenge here lies in the rapid analysis of the fault, the precise and rapid identification of the source or cause of the fault and, subsequently, the fastest possible and targeted derivation / commissioning of measures for troubleshooting up to the registration of the troubleshooting.

Martin Kloppenburg , Head of Metrology at Westfalen Weser Netz GmbH (WWN) , therefore also defines clear requirements for a tool for monitoring iMSys that are in operation:

“We have now installed over 2,000 iMSys and in the course of this we have jumped the first technical hurdles. In order to be able to react as effectively as possible to malfunctions, it was important for us to use software that can assign occurring errors to the FNN main or support processes and initiate solutions largely automatically. “

Joint development

Together with TMZ and WWN as well as EAM Netz GmbH as a third strong partner, iceBaum GmbH , a software company specializing in the energy industry and part of HORIZONTE-Group AG, began early on with the development of a solution that largely met the aforementioned criteria Fulfills.

The result is the “measurement, analysis and control system” or MAS system for short, which combines the functions of a classic ticket system with the requirements for monitoring an iMSys rollout identified among these renowned partners. A great deal of experience from use in operations has already been gathered and used for the further development of the system.

One central dashboard

At the center of the application is an individually configurable dashboard that graphically presents the user with the most important key figures on the status of the installed iMSys and open incidents at a glance. Incidents can either be entered directly in the system or received via connected peripheral systems (GWA / MDM, e-mail, etc.). The user is then able to categorize and prioritize them.

An integrated map tool can display the existing incidents locally in order to quickly make any regional error clusters (failed radio mast, etc.) visible.

Another important function of the MAS system is the definition of workflows. It allows the user to define automated processing sequences as soon as the incident meets selected criteria. For example, it can be determined that if the connection between the iMSys and the GWA system is interrupted, the system waits 24 hours for a status change before a message is generated and sent to the relevant employee group.

Robert Haastert (Head of IT) and Thomas Beaupain (Head of Metrology) at EAM also underline the adaptability and sustainability of the MAS system:

“It was important to us to operate this solution in the Azure cloud in order to easily integrate data from other programs that are also in the cloud and to use Microsoft services such as artificial intelligence or big data approaches to reduce the failure rates in the future be able.”