Nuri Telecom

Architecting the Solution

Gas Natural selected historic cities of Lorca and Mula in the province of Murcia in Southeastern Spain for deploying pilot projects using Nuri's ZigBee compliant AiMiR wireless mesh network AMI. The two sites selected, were a good mix of crowded urban areas where gas distribution was well established and the areas where customer density was low and gas was recently supplied.

The main objective behind pilot projects was to validate systems viability, ease of installation and operation and viability of mass deployment of Nuri's AMI system in residential areas throughout the country.

Working in close collaboration with Gas Natural and keeping their requirements in mind, Nuri architected an end-to-end, two-way AMR communications system enabling Gas Natural to remotely read individual meters at any time on demand. The solution was designed to remotely collect metering data periodically from its 5,000 residential customers in the cities of Lorca and Mula in Southeastern Spain using Nuri's AiMiR ZigBee compliant 2.4GHz wireless mesh AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) technology. The system was designed with the utmost flexibility to support already in place gas meters. Gas Natural decided to use GPRS wireless network to backhaul meter data to the AiMiR Head End servers located at its control centers.

The following items were considered in architecting the solution:

  • Improved revenue collection. All meters linked to summary billed accounts to be read on the same date. Eliminate "Exceptions" - delayed bills, estimated bills, inaccessible or inaccurate meter reads
  • Increase operation efficiency, accuracy and authenticity of meter read assured - eliminate dependency on manual meter reads
  • Revenue protection, immediate Identification of stopped/dead meters
  • Programmable meter reading interval to prolong battery life.
  • Flexibility to expand system capability beyond remote meter reading by adding functions for monitoring pressure, temperature, remote gas shut-off, etc.
  • High-availability (HA) Network

Nuri's AiMiR AMI system solution consists of:

  • Nuri RF mesh network modules for the gas meters
  • RF mesh network infrastructure devices
  • AiMiR head-end servers
  • Metering, meter data management and network management software

Solution Deployment

Achieved over 99% of daily meter read and nearly 100% of monthly meter read

The pilot deployment was divided into three phases to ensure that it meets Gas Natural desired objectives as mentioned earlier. In the first phase Nuri's AiMiR AMI system was tested in the libratory environment to validate systems conformance to the target specifications. During the second phase, a test pilot was setup to achieve small-scale validation involving system reliability, installation, and operation over two to three-month period. Upon successful completion of phase 2, phase 3 was initiated to demonstrate systems performance and reliability, installation and maintenance procedures, direct involvement of Gas Natural personnel, and the integration of AMI with business processes, extending AMI to 4,500 customers.

The following benefits were successfully demonstrated as a result of the pilot deployment:

  • Realized meter reading savings – significant reduction in labor and associated vehicle, fuel and maintenance costs
  • Improved metering and billing services – Nuri AMI provides two-way communication and interval data from every meter in the network
  • Increased operational efficiencies – reduced costs and improved cash flow
  • Reduced customer contact center costs – customer service representatives use "most recent" meter read for to resolve high bill complaints, complaints about missed or esti mated reads, meter access problems, etc
  • Load monitoring and forecasting – AMI provides daily inputs to the load forecast. Interval data collected is used for load forecasting
  • Tamper and theft detection – mechanism is in place to detect theft or diversion using tamper alarms and data analyses on meter interval data
  • Empowered customers to manage their energy use – provide meter interval data to customers to make informed decisions about ways to better manage their energy use
  • High-availability (HA) Network – achieved interruption free service 24 hours/365 days, reduces operational expenses and revenue loss due to service interruptions
  • Foundation prepared for future enhancements such as flexible tariffs, integration of pre-payment meters, pressure monitoring, remote gas shut off, etc.