Powercor have been installing smart metering technology now for some years and are partnered with ecoDriver in delivering a full turn-key service to our customers to provide physical monitoring solutions with a live published and interactive web-view software program.
The monitoring and transmission equipment we use is all RF based; limiting the need for data cabling thus making installation easier and more cost effective.
The focal point of the hardware installation is what’s known as a Data Concentrator, this is effectively the central hub which collects all of the data wirelessly from transmitters that are connected to meters. In-turn, the hub which is equipped with a service provider sim-card sends this data over the mobile network to be collected by ecoDriver. They in-turn translate the data and display this interactively over their web-based software program.
Radio signal strength is obviously the main player in successfully linking the transmitters to the central hub so if there is no signal strength then the data is not collected.
Similarly mobile signal strength is a necessity to enable the hub to effectively send the collected data to ecoDriver.
With this in mind you can understand the importance associated with making sure good signal strengths are delivered. Firstly a wireless survey is carried out on the site where equipment is to be installed to establish strength and determine where equipment is to be located. Sometimes signal repeaters are required to boost signals that drop over distances. In other instances additional hubs are required when signals cannot be boosted. There is obviously a time and cost association with signal proofing and boosting equipment and it forms quite a substantial element of the package provided to the customer.
On a smaller scale there is also the potential issue of down-service on the mobile network, so if a hub is equipped with an 02 sim and there is maintenance or other issues on their network which affect signal then live data transmission is prevented and delayed.
Recently there have been some technological advances in wireless collection and transmission equipment which provides (a welcome) simpler approach to the physical installation of equipment and delivery of more constant high strength signals.
ASL now offer a range of monitoring equipment which have built-in data sims thus enabling not only the collection of data from the connected device but also the transmission of the data directly over the mobile network. Using this type of equipment not only negates the need for a central hub but also the requirement for a wireless survey resulting in reduced labour and possible signal boosting equipment.
In addition the data sims provided in ASL equipment are cross-network roaming sims which basically means if it is operating on o2 and the o2 mobile network drops out, it will automatically cross over to another network provider, thus no prevention or delays to live data transmission.