Mobility Solution for AusNet Services rollout of smart meters - Select Solutions

Select Solutions relies on GT mobility solution to manage all workflows related to the exchange of 620,000 AusNet Services electricity meters for new smart meters
Select Solutions, Victoria Australia

Business Challenge
Select Solutions, a division of electrical distributor AusNet Services (formerly SP AusNet), is a leading provider of specialist end-to-end services for utilities, government, energy and water retailers.

In 2009, Select Solutions began the rollout for AusNet Services of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to replace manually read electricity meters with ‘smart meters’, systems that not only can be read remotely but can measure, collect and analyse energy usage. The Victorian State Government had mandated that all residential and small business electricity customers must have a smart meter installed by the end of 2013 to improve electricity delivery and management. To meet this deadline would require a massive logistical effort to replace 620,000 meters already in use.

As an existing user of Geomatic Technologies’ (GT) Field Mobile Computing (GT FMC) solution, Select Solutions was confident in FMC’s broad capabilities. On behalf of AusNet Services, Select Solutions utilises an externally hosted web/mobile GT FMC solution for vegetation management around power lines. By adopting GT FMC, AusNet Services is able to realise efficiency gains with the streamlining of works planning, packaging and allocation. It is also able to provide traceability of all activities for auditing purposes. The positive experience Select Solutions has with GT FMC led it to consider adapting GT FMC to the AMI rollout.

Solution Overview
Select Solutions engaged GT to provide a mobility solution to be utilised by internal staff and contractors engaged in the smart meter rollout.

The Government had laid down rigid schedules, a two-step customer notifications process with the meter replacement having to occur within a 10 day timeframe following the second customer notification and customers’ electricity retailer having to be notified of the meter installation schedule window. These deadlines were configured into the GT FMC Contractor Management module as business rules, aiding schedulers in allocating work and notifying schedulers when a field crew was falling behind so that work could be reallocated. Scheduling tools also incorporated route planning based on established meter reading routes, recognising that routes in rural areas needed more time to complete than urban ones due to longer travel times.

The GT FMC Mobile application was configured for two site visits with provision for a potential third visit. Key features included:

  • Recording of a GPS or Global Positioning System location at the initial site inspection as some rural meters can be difficult to locate.
  • The ability to photograph hazards or obstructions to meter locations so that a call centre could arrange with the customer to have these issues rectified.
  • Recording of photos of final meter readings prior to fitting new meters.
  • Random inspections as part of an audit process to verify that completed installations met agreed standards.

As each smart meter communicates over a WiMAX or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access network the device’s ID needed to be associated with the correct address. GT FMC recorded unique asset IDs by barcode scanning and tracked the location of each individual meter from warehouse to where it was fitted.

A GT FMC interface was set up to aid the call centre in handling queries and liaise with customers to remove any obstructions to meter locations that were photographed during the first inspection.

Outcomes

  • GT FMC helps AusNet Services to comply with regulatory requirements for the installation of smart meters.
  • GT FMC provides efficiency gains with the streamlining of works planning, packaging, allocation and stock control.
  • GT FMC provides for traceability of all activities for auditing purposes. It provides ‘Who did What When’ information to support tracking against targets and to attain regulatory compliance.