Automated Meter Reading (AMR) refers to the technology used for automating collection of water and energy (electricity or gas) consumption data for the purposes of real-time billing and consumption analysis. At any given time, the AMR system gathers real-time data and transfers the information gathered to the central database through networking technology.
Benefits of Automated Meter Reading
The primary benefit of this technology is more accurate and precise measurement of water, electricity or gas consumption. Consumers will be billed the amount that exactly corresponds to what they have consumed. On the other hand, utility companies will have more efficient operations. Less manpower and resources are needed in meter reading and data gathering; they only need to access the main database to get the information that they need for billing and analysis.
How Automated Meter Reading Works
AMR operations are simple on the surface but rather complex underneath. First, the meter must be read by the meter interface. After that, this same interface has to translate the data into digital information to facilitate transmission. There must also be a code added to the meter data reading so that the data can be attributed to the correct subscriber.
Once the data is ready, the data has to be picked up by a meter person. Picking up meter data, however, involves digital transfer from the meter interface to a device that the meter reader controls. After that, data collected is downloaded in the office. Data can also be automatically transmitted to the database through automatic data transmission protocols.
Technological advances have expanded the scope of AMR activities. Other possible uses for the AMR include monitoring for leaks and theft and detecting meter tampering. Consumer profiling (especially on such points as peak and lean periods of use), providing empirical data on the effects of energy saving devices and mindsets, and so on can also be done.
The Elements of Automated Meter Reading
An AMR system has a meter interface apparatus. This is generally an integrated component containing power supply, sensors, and control electronics and communications programming. At its heart, the meter interface module aims to translate data gathered from the movement of mechanical dials into digital data as well as to properly identify data for the purposes of correct billing.
An AMR system also has a transmission and communications protocol in place for transferring or transmitting data from the meter to the central office. Among the systems developed for AMR are handheld devices (utility company personnel merely have to touch or point their stylus to the meter interface for data to be 'read') or vehicle-mounted devices (the meter readers need to pass by the meter for data to be picked up and transmitted). Data is temporarily stored in their device until it's downloaded at the office. Data transmission may also be sent to the office through wires (data is transmitted through Ethernet cables, broadcasting cable, or power lines).
Finally, the central office must have the software and hardware for transmitted meter data reception, allocation, analysis and automatic billing.