Meter Data Acquisition
While many of the transport and protocols used in metering networks share common technological underpinnings with other industries, metering introduces some unique challenges.
There is the high prevalence of direct pulse inputs, the use of local sampling and non-volatile storage (to protect the record of consumption during network interruptions), and the need for communications protocols to handle retrospective transfer of that consumption record after communications has resumed. Add to this the frequent need for remote reading of water and/or gas meters via wireless links, the presence of metering-specific interfaces such as Mbus, and the prevalence of non-standard extensions (e.g. historical data transfer handshaking implemented on top of Modbus) or proprietary protocols (often used by utility meters), and it's a landscape that can get very complex, very quickly.
VRT have been involved in complex multi-transport and multi-protocol meter data integration projects since the 1990's, and have unmatched expertise in meter data acquisition systems.
We routinely take on the role of “master systems integrator” (or building systems integrator) and take responsibility for ensuring that all required systems are integrated and work well together (power network control system, building management system, fire, security & access control etc.).
This routinely involves the integration of systems as diverse as BMS, EMS, VOIP (intercom & access control, emergency help stations), CCTV, network monitoring, fire and ventilation systems, paging systems, equipment and personnel tracking systems, lighting and lift control systems. We deal with networking technologies that span utilities, process plants, buildings, data centres, transport systems and defence facilities, all with their own industry-specific protocols and interface standards. This breadth of coverage requires an in-depth technical knowledge, not just of the wire protocols themselves, but IP networking, web services and other principles of technology integration.
Illustration 1: An example of the extent of MDU tenant metering integrated with smart apartment control functionality and community engagement systems
Integrated Communications Networks
Just as we're experts in our field of energy systems integration, we recognise the importance of drawing on the talents of specialist networking expertise – from companies such as Opticomm – when it comes to the design, delivery and support of converged IP networks (GPON, VLAN) that are becoming the norm in modem development projects. VRT have worked with Opticomm on major construction projects such as the Barangaroo development in Sydney, and value our ability to draw on their expertise in the delivery of integrated communications networks (ICN) in other projects in which we're involved.