The MeterLink power line carrier smart metering system utilises communication hardware and software produced under the MeterLink name.
Electricity meters communicate with Local Data Concentrators (LDCs) using the low voltage power supply cables between the meters and the 11kV transformers in the distribution network. This arrangement is configured to establish local area networks (LANs). Normally sited at an 11 kV transformer, each LDC has capacity to monitor and communicate with up to 1000 electricity meters.
Standard LDCs communicate with electricity meters installed at consumer premises up to a distance of approximately 400 metres. Where distances exceed 400 metres, MeterLink electricity meters may be programmed to function as repeater units while continuing to perform metering operations normally. Application of repeater units enable electricity meters and LDCs to communicate over virtually unlimited distances along connecting LV supply lines.
Management of the AMR system is performed from a PC workstation installed with MeterLink software, referred to as the Central System Controller. Where required, data held within MeterLink software may be exported to other databases and computer systems.
Communications between LDCs and the Central System Controller may be provided by virtually any standard wide area network (WAN) medium, including PSTN telephone lines, GSM, X-25 packet switched radio and microwave links.
Meter readings may also be downloaded to a portable data collection unit from a LDC for transfer to a Central System Controller. This arrangement enables the meter reading functionality of the AMR system to be implemented, where a wide area network is either not available or is in the process of being established.
MeterLink operating software provides supervision of the whole AMR system, from connected meters through the local and wide area networks and associated network equipment.
In standard configuration, MeterLink software will provide system control and functionality for up to 250,000 customer connections, above which data may be exported to larger capacity utility software packages as a relational application layer.
Standard MeterLink AMR software provides functionality under the following application headings:
- Meter registrations: serial numbers, meter types, location and programmed data.
- Local Data Concentrators: location, serial numbers and programmed functions.
- Customer details
- Customer transaction records
- Tariff structures and prices
- Invoice generation and maintenance
- Payment transaction records
- Meter data extraction: maximum demand tables and graphs.
- Error logs and message texts
- System activity and maintenance logs.
- System administration records.
MeterLink software is available with optional application layers that include:
Pre-payment: tokenless and without keypads or swipe card readers attached to meters. MeterLink software facilitates the direct transfer of credited amounts from a payment terminal to the consumer’s meter. Credit transfers are displayed at the meter in cash amounts that reduce as electricity is consumed. A ‘low credit’ warning may be programmed at a pre-set level to advise the customer to purchase further units of credit.
Mini-SCADA: provides tables and graphs showing power loss along monitored low voltage (415v) and 11 kV power supply feeders. Power consumed at each metering point is aggregated and compared to the amount of power supplied to connected meters to display and identify power losses.
GIS mapping: provides a graphic display of the smart metering system and metering points within a defined geographic area. AMR equipment is identified on a map and colour coded to display its status and condition.