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Automatic meter reading, or AMR, is the technology of automatically collecting consumption, diagnostic, and status data from water meter or energy metering devices (gas, electric) and transferring that data to a central database for billing, troubleshooting, and analyzing. This technology mainly saves utility providers the expense of periodic trips to each physical location to read a meter. Another advantage is that billing can be based on near real-time consumption rather than on estimates based on past or predicted consumption. This timely information coupled with analysis can help both utility providers and customers better control the use and production of electric energy, gas usage, or water consumption.
AMR technologies include handheld, mobile and network technologies based on telephony platforms (wired and wireless), radio frequency (RF), or powerline transmission.
Advanced AMR and AMI:
Originally AMR devices just collected meter readings electronically and matched them with accounts. As technology has advanced, additional data could then be captured, stored, and transmitted to the main computer, and often the metering devices could be controlled remotely. This can include events alarms such as tamper, leak detection, low battery, or reverse flow. Many AMR devices can also capture interval data, and log meter events. The logged data can be used to collect or control time of use or rate of use data that can be used for water or energy usage profiling, time of use billing, demand forecasting, demand response, rate of flow recording, leak detection, flow monitoring, water and energy conservation enforcement, remote shutoff, etc. Advanced Metering Infrastructure, or AMI is the new term coined to represent the networking technology of fixed network meter systems that go beyond AMR into remote utility management. The meters in an AMI system are often referred to as smart meters, since they often can use collected data based on programmed logic.
Benefits of advanced metering
Advanced metering systems can provide benefits for utilities, retail providers and customers. Benefits will be recognized by the utilities with increased efficiencies, outage detection, tamper notification and reduced labor cost as a result of automating reads, connections and disconnects. Retail providers will be able to offer new innovative products in addition to customizing packages for their customers. In addition, with the meter data being readily available, more flexible billing cycles would be available to their customers instead of following the standard utility read cycles. With timely usage information available to the customer, benefits will be seen through opportunities to manage their energy consumption and change from one REP to another with actual meter data. Because of these benefits, many utilities are moving towards implementing some types of AMR solutions.
In many cases, Smart Metering is required by law, with Pennsylvania's Act 129 (2008) an example.
The benefits of smart metering for the utility.
Accurate meter reading, no more estimates
Accurate profile classes and measurement classes, true costs applied
Improved security and tamper detection for equipment
Energy management through profile data graphs
Less financial burden correcting mistakes
Less accrued expenditure
Transparency of “cost to read” metering
Improved procurement power though more accurate data - “de-risking” price
In cases of shortages, utility will be able to manage/allocate supply.
The benefits of smart metering for the customer.
Improved billing and tacking of usage.