Planning for AMI

Building the Automated Meter Infrastructure involves a lot more than just installing a Smart Meter. You have to analyse the existing grid infrastructure and topography. The right solution for one grid is not necessary the best one for all grids. There are a lot of communication techniques to choose from and the best choice depends on where the delivery site is located. It’s also wise to think about your employees. Will they be able to handle all meter- and terminal changes etc. by themselves or do you need to hire an entrepreneur to do the job?

Before you start you need to find at least one lawyer or consultant that will help you with the contract text just in case if something goes wrong during the rollout project. There are a lot of good consultants with experience from other rollout projects that will be able to help you.

It takes more time than you expect!
When you set up the schedule for your project it is best not to be too time optimistic. There will always be certain metering points that just don’t want to communicate. You will find problems you didn’t expect or think of when you started. So add some extra time in the project schedule from the start.

It can be wise to sit down in a group and discuss why you need to upgrade your grid in the first place. I suggest that you learn about the User Story technique that briefly works like this:

On the front page of a card, continue these 3 sentences.

As a …
I want to …
In order to …

On the back of the card you write down the confirmations, explaining how to validate that the user story has been implemented correctly.

Example 1:

As an end customer
I want my utility to report my households meter readings as hour values.
In order to analyse my consumption and save energy.


The end customer receives hour values on invoice.
If customer uses the Utility website, hour values are presented for the customer when values are quality assured.

Example 2:

As a grid owner
I want to be informed about a grid blackout as soon as possible
In order to locate the source of error and fix it


In case of blackout, the source of error will be displayed on a digital map.
In case of blackout, we will get information about delivery sites affected.

All user stories should be prioritized from Low, Medium and High.

When you have discussed all User Stories together in a group you have created a good study of what you are looking for which will make it easier for you to start searching for solutions.

It’s important to analyse the metering process when planning the system infrastructure. A normal situation is that the meter reads the consumption; the terminal saves it until the Collector collects them and finally the meter reading systems can save the meter readings/values with included time stamps. Some companies use a Meter value database that holds all meter readings/values for several years.
A Billing and Management system needs the meter readings to be able to create the invoice.
If you for example have lost communication with a meter and the metering system you need to send out a work order which means that you also need a Work Order Management system to create and keep track of the orders. All systems should be integrated so that you don’t have to do certain tasks more then once.
As you can see, it’s important to have an IT-unit with fantastic support working side by side with the project!

Information is more important than you might think of. You need to inform your customers about the rollout. Why it’s done, how it works and when you will come to their delivery site etc. It’s also important to inform your staff. Not only the ones working in your unit, but the whole company. Make someone responsible for all information inside and outside the company.

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