As an Australian design and development company, Intermoco Limited commenced operations in Melbourne, Australia in 1999 and worked initially in the home and building

Figure 1: Intermoco's Smart Meter Interface unit

automation market. Over the past four years, the company has developed a unique end-to-end solution that delivers cost savings and generates real profits for utilities and businesses interested in increased efficiencies in energy monitoring, metering and management.

INNOVATION THROUGH COMBINED TECHNOLOGIES

The rapid deployment and adoption of AMR has often been hampered by a number of factors, including the limitations of any single technology.

Combining the use of Power Line Communications, attractive because it requires no additional cabling and infrastructure, wireless GPRS networks, which deliver cost-effective data transmission, and the power of the Internet, the Intermoco Utiligy system – as it is known – delivers the goods.

In developing its unique solution, Intermoco set out to capitalise on the key benefits of a number of technologies, each with their separate attractions, and to bring them together to deliver a powerful, cost effective system capable of reading meters anywhere in the world and delivering data to the customer without the need for costly software and infrastructure.

REAL TIME INFORMATION

The Utiligy solution can deliver meter data in virtual real time using the capabilities of smart interval meters with RS232 and RS485 communications, coupled with the innovative combination of technologies including GPRS communications. Intervals as frequent as five minutes have been configured for some customers, who want data fast because of the benefit real time data has in their businesses.
Electricity customers, however, typically require half-hour interval data that includes load profiles, meter events, individual phase voltages and – where available – power factor and current. This data can be collected and presented in a range of frequencies, including half-hourly, hourly, two-hourly, four-hourly and daily, depending on customer requirements and cost expectations. All data is presented to the customer via his own secure, customised website that provides access anywhere, anytime. Costly special meter reads are eliminated with a daily register reading taken in addition to the rest of the meter register contents described above.

FLEXIBLE DESIGN AND CONFIGURATION

Retrofitting into existing infrastructure is easy, with cost savings delivered through innovative and flexible design, the use of a combination of technologies and different configurations for different customer requirements.

The flexibility of power line communications over a free topology network of existing low voltage power cabling allows data to be collected and transmitted to a local meter data concentrator before transmission over the wireless component of the Utiligy system. GPRS then delivers an ‘always on’ packet-based data network that allows real time data at cost effective

rates for the first time. Finally, the data is presented to the customer via the Internet, eliminating the need for costly application software and IT hardware at the customer premises that limits access to metering information throughout a utility’s business operations, as well as increasing the costs.

Data concentration of this nature delivers the benefit of allowing fixed communications costs to be amortised across a larger number of meters, thus reducing the overall communications costs per meter for the project.

Intermoco’s Utiligy system has been installed in a number of utility and non-regulated customer sites throughout the Asia-Pacific region. In Australia, customers leading in the application of this technology include Victorian utility CitiPower, which has used the system in secure apartment developments in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct. Other utilities using the system are Integral Energy and Western Power. Projects have also been undertaken in Malaysia and New Zealand, with pilots underway in other international markets throughout South-East Asia.

There is also keen interest on the part of customers looking for energy management with billing capabilities, and a number of installations of the Utiligy system have been completed for sub-metering or embedded network clients. These customers use the system for the on-selling of energy, making use of the powerful yet simple billing application developed by Intermoco to complement the AMR system. Customers in this segment include retirement village communities, shopping centres, government departments and commercial and industrial customers.

By using the Intermoco Utiligy system to manage the on-selling process, these customers are able to pass on cheaper electricity costs to residents. At the same time they can retain generous profits, thanks to the powerful, web-based capabilities and billing functions of the Utiligy system.

MULTI-UTILITY ATTRACTION

The Utiligy system is also attractive to utilities offering multiple services, since it has been designed to work for electricity, gas and water. The system can be configured for electricity alone, for example, or customers can add gas or water or both.

Meter data for all services can then be presented on a combined basis, or split and sent to the various utilities for billing and other uses such as network planning. This is of great attraction to utilities offering electricity and gas, electricity and water, or all three services.

For a truly scalable system, capable of monitoring data from a single meter to a network of hundreds or thousands of meters, the flexible combination of technologies designed by Intermoco delivers the goods. Cost effective, real-time data without expensive software and infrastructure is now available for utilities and businesses alike.