EnergyICT is rapidly establishing itself as a major supplier of data warehousing, data collection and IP logging solutions for both utilities and end users throughout Europe and the USA. A specialist manufacturer/developer, EnergyICT has a reputation for providing the most advanced solutions (hardware and software) to many blue chip organisations.

EnergyICT has the in-house capability to react quickly and effectively to new market requirements and challenging applications. Expert in energy management using IP hardware solutions, EnergyICT is now being asked to transfer its hardware knowledge to utility data collection applications.

DATA COLLECTION USING CUSTOMER IP NETWORKS?

EnergyICT has provided IP data collection for European customers for over five years, and over that time has encountered many different IT requirements. This experience has ensured that EnergyICT has adapted and streamlined its IP equipment to provide comprehensive and robust solutions for metering within customer Intranet and IP networks.

IP data collection already accounts for 95% of EnergyICT’s commercial and industrial applications, and we are now receiving more requests for IP-enabled revenue grade or tariff metering using customer IP net-works.

The EIWeb modem

The main issue when fitting equip-ment within a customer network is the fear regarding system security and data integrity. This is understandable; the perceived risk to other business-critical operations can often be a show stopper in the minds of IT departments. This attitude has to be sympathetically addressed to get IT departments on board – without their backing it is difficult to implement an IP solution.

Internet and e-mail programs are essential tools for everyday business and customers would baulk at the suggestion of removing them. It therefore makes sense that, as a supplier of IP solutions, we strive to have our equipment accepted in the same manner as standard IT tools. To achieve this we have to address two issues:

  1. The perception of risk.
  2. The technical IT requirements.

Once these are addressed, IP solutions are quickly adopted and become an essential requirement for future data collection applications.

It has long been the practice of EnergyICT to provide state-of-the-art solutions based on industry standards – it is essential to adopt new technology whilst still adhering to standards and accepted IT practices.

WHO WILL WANT IP SOLUTIONS?

Larger organisations or grid companies may want access to real-time data. Collecting data remotely to a data warehouse and presenting it to a customer as real-time is simply not acceptable for demand response applications or load control. Multi-site companies will also have requirements for prompt energy management data; these companies have extensive energy management needs and often tightly control their energy budgets.

IP solutions will become more prevalent and will greatly benefit metering companies wishing to win new business by allowing them to offer additional services. The required solution must be acceptable to all parties – one that adheres to standard IT security, adopts standard IT principles and operates in the same manner as existing network equipment (PCs, servers and so on). A device is required that gives the necessary level of access to the metering device but does not compromise the customer security, policies and system requirements (firewalls, restricted ports etc).

IP ENABLING REVENUEW/TARIFF METERING

EnergyICT has developed the EiWeb protocol, which is used throughout the product range and allows secure data transfer within IP networks and the Internet. RTU+ loggers are suitable for connection to industry standard inputs (pulse and analogue), remote comservers for distributed data collection systems and the OEM device EiWeb modem. The EiWeb protocol is proven in customer IP networks.

The EiWeb modem can be provided as an external device or engineered to fit within existing metering equipment. It is suitable for electricity, gas and water meters.

The product concept is based on careful analysis of real applications. The EiWeb modem can provide all the required meter data whilst still conforming to customer IT requirements; it is capable of operating within local or wide area networks, Internet and GPRS etc. For basic pulsing meters the standard WebRTU V2 is suitable for connection to gas, electricity and water meters. The same web features and communication options can be used.

HOW DOES EIWEB MODEM WORK?

The EiWeb modem operates as a small web server within the metering device. On the metering side it communicates directly to the meter using the required meter protocol – the same Java code that is used by our data collection software, which means that any protocol approvals are common for all products. The device ensures that serial communication is local between EiWeb modem to meter and that the data transfer via the IP network is sent in efficient packages. The EiWeb modem uses significantly less bandwidth than standard converters and can operate across routers, switches, proxy servers and firewalls.

On the network side the EiWeb modem is a web server with Internet browsing capability, html, e-mail, time server and remote protocol initiation. The meter data can be made available to local computers using a standard Internet browser. The meter thinks it is connected to a serial device and can be read for any parameter, profile, register, error code and flags. Standard configurations can also be carried out (time resets, flag resets etc., depending on market regulations).

The customer network will see the device as a web server adhering to IP standards (static or DHCP), firewall, addressable ports etc. The device will work throughout a customer Intranet, LAN or WAN. It is also suitable for use with GPRS permanent mobile connections where remote real-time IP solutions are required.

The EiWeb modem is a highly configurable and customisable device. However the basic device for collection of revenue or tariff metering allows two-way encrypted communication using standards such as SMTP and POP3 for e-mail and XML/HTML. It is capable of initiating the communication and has mechanisms to fall back to alternative communication links as required. It automatically sets up the communication path and allows, passes and translates XML commands to the meter and back to the central data collection system. All data passed is encrypted and secure using SSL.

The future will almost certainly dictate that IP networking is more widely used and accepted for energy and general data collection. The technology is moving fast and customers can have confidence that EnergyICT will remain at the cutting edge of energy data collection.

EnergyICT – providing tomorrow’s IP metering solutions today.