Landis+Gyr Developing Open and Interoperable Industry Standards
Industrial and Commercial Metering has a new and open industry standard in Germany. This shows what can be achieved when leading companies join together, working towards a common goal.
In 2004 RWE embarked on a project to develop an open industry standard for Industrial and Commercial Metering. The goals of the project were twofold. The new metering points had to use the internet for communication, and to have standard processes. RWE was confident that work efficiency would be greatly improved with these stipulations. An E750, SyM2-compliant meter being assembled and tested in Landis+Gyr’s manufacturing facility in Zug, Switzerland (right). And a newly installed meter with communication device, showing the modular design of the SyM2 specifications (bottom). This initiative attracted the interests of EnBW and E.ON. The three companies formed a consortium to drive the project and also to invite the best-in-class to participate in the development of what is perhaps the first open industry standard for I&C Metering. After a tendering process Landis+Gyr was invited to join the development consortium. The SyM2© metering standard became the result.
The main driver of this program was the theme of openness. With the SyM2 open specification, utilities will be able to purchase metering devices from any manufacturer that supplies SyM2-compliant units, and know they will work seamlessly with their current processes and systems. Their technicians will already be familiar with the metering base unit and devices and not have to be retrained.
The interoperability comes through the most open standard in the world, that of the internet. One demand of the project was that the meters use the internet for communication. This immediately means that this entire facet, which can be a significant portion of costs, will be greatly reduced. It also means that the chance of mistakes through lost or faulty data is greatly lowered. It means that data will now be sent to the utilities in the form of standard internetcompliant messages, which will be deposited on a standard server.
SyM2 has also been designed with maximum cost efficiency in mind. By using a modular design a utility can order exactly what they want. For example, if they need a GSM modem, this can be attached easily and effortlessly. It also means that other communication devices, such as PLC, do not have to be attached. The whole basis behind the cost efficiency is that a utility does not have to purchase functionality that they will never use. If all the functionality was hard-wired into the base unit, a utility would have no option but to purchase the entire unit, whether they use all the functions or not.
One other operation that is greatly reduced is that of configuration and installation due to the standardization of processes. It has already been shown that to test a meter and configure it takes only two and a half hours as compared to six hours with the older-generation I&C meters that are being replaced. This is obviously a huge increase in efficiency. Also, much of the software functionality has been placed on the central server rather than in the meters themselves. What will also contribute greatly to a reduction in time is the mechanism for firmware upgrades. This will all be handled centrally by downloads from the central server and not have to be done manually, from meter to meter.
One other simple, yet significant benefit is that of the spring-loaded clamps to affix the wires to a meter. Normally a technician has twenty screws they have to loosen and tighten in order to attach the wires to an I&C meter. SyM2 metering devices use spring-loaded clamps instead. Technicians absolutely love this improvement and say it saves them a lot of time and frustration when attaching the wires. Plus there is no risk of electrocution, obviously a significant benefit to the technicians.
Again, the benefits are further enhanced when the openness of the specifications are considered. Any technician who has been trained in the SyM2 system will be proficient with all compliant devices.
The E750 family is the SyM2 metering system from Landis+Gyr and is in fact the first of the class. The contract to develop the specifications started in 2006 and was completed in 2008. Now the E750 and attached ancillary devices are being rolled out to the utilities in the consortium and are already showing a great increase in productivity and efficiency.
The three utilities in the SyM2 consortium are delighted with the result and can see the SyM2 specification becoming the de facto industry standard for I&C meters. “We have been active participants in this project from the very beginning,” says Jürgen Kramny, Head of Metering Systems and Meter Certification at EnBW, Karlsruhe. “When RWE proposed this new industry standard we actively pushed to form the consortium and make this vision a reality. Now after several years of development it has come into existence and all interested parties will benefit. Not just the utilities but also the consumers.”
The rollout of the E750 metering family is proceeding ahead and all indicators are positive. This further shows Landis+Gyr’s leadership status in the broad metering market, proactively and innovatively developing such standards.