- Rian Sullings
5 Steps to Successful Smart Metering - 1. Define Your Requirements
All successful projects follow a plan. This article highlights 5 key steps to ensure smart metering projects meet their goals and requirements. These steps are:
1) Define Your Requirements
2) Choose the Right Solution
3) Analyse Data and Gain Insight
4) Take Action to Improve Efficiency
5) Ensure On-going Success
Over the coming weeks I will be posting these steps as short individual articles before compiling them into an overarching article.
Step 1) Define Your Requirements
What is the problem you are trying to solve? What benefits are you seeking? All smart metering systems should give you a deeper insight into your utility use than that which you can see from your bills and manual readings. Defining the type of data you require and how you will interact with that data is the first step to planning your smart metering project. The data you collect will be used to identify and solve problems and improve efficiency. Most successful smart metering projects solve more than one problem, often without the user intending it to from the start.
Here are some examples of problems that smart metering can solve:
“Our university has unusually high water bills and we don’t know what is causing it. I need greater visibility.”
“I know that our organisation could greatly improve our sustainability performance and reduce our utility bills but we don’t have the expertise or resources to deliver results. I need engagement with a specialist.”
“We are spending too much time reading meters and creating bills for the tenants in our building. I need to automate meter reading and billing.”
“Our utility needs to ensure our supply meets the demand. I need 15 minute interval usage data from a sample of our customers to understand peak demands.”
“Our factory’s boiler is old and I know it is inefficient. Upgrading it will be costly so I need to build a business case. I need data to demonstrate the benefit of new equipment. “
“I manage an aging facility and can’t afford to risk unexpected down-time or structural damage if a water pipe breaks. I need alerts as soon as there is a leak.”
“I report water and energy usages every month as part of our corporate sustainability commitment but utility bills are only sent quarterly and give very little information. I need more detailed data and ideally, software to make my reports for me!”
List any possible use cases you may have for smart metering. Detail why they are important and what the potential benefits may be. Which capabilities are essential for your system? Which are desirable? Consider them in order of priority.
Consider the people who will be involved with the smart metering system. Who will be responsible for it? Who will operate it? Who will benefit from it? Will these people be internal to your organisation or external? Who will pay for it? Identifying stakeholders and ensuring their engagement is a key part of defining your requirements. Your use cases and requirements may evolve through this process.
Once you know what you want to achieve and stakeholders have been considered, you are ready to start mapping out your metering locations. This is where your metering data will come from. Map out your locations taking note of;
Geographic areas, site maps
Total number of sites
Total number of monitoring points at each site
Location of the monitoring points e.g. metering to be installed in basement, at entry to site, on roof top cooling tower, etc.
When all these items have been considered and you understand what data you need to collect, you are ready for Step 2) Choose the Right Solution. The next steps will be published over the coming weeks.