SA Government implements WideSky for Energy Management - Mile End Bus Depot


The South Australian Government owns the Mile End Bus Depot, located on the outskirts of the Adelaide CBD.

The site is a key operational base for the city’s bus network and a range of other tenants.

VRT Systems deployed its partner platform, WideSky, on an earlier project for the South Australian Government. It involved the conventional submetering of several buildings in the Adelaide CBD. The primary purpose was to provide accurate energy billing to tenants, while the second one was to measure the individual greenhouse gas emissions to see where improvements could be made.

The project

Following the success of the initial project, the South Australian Government approached VRT Systems to install an energy metering system at the Mile End Bus Depot, to facilitate the remote reading of data and improve billing.

The South Australian Government required the following:

  • Real-time and accurate monitoring of 22 energy meters installed at various locations onsite
  • Real-time and accurate monitoring of one gas and one water meter, the latter of which was installed on the far side of a 30-metre concrete span
  • Collation of all data into a centralised, cloud-based storage platform, so it could be accessed remotely and fed into consumption reports.

The solution

Because of the operational nature of the depot, it was not a typical metering installation. As a result, VRT Systems opted to use WideSky Hubs to deliver the project wirelessly.

There were several reasons for this:

  • Significant investigative works would have been required to determine the feasibility of communications runs within the building, as the circuits were installed beforethere was a requirement to monitor energy consumption
  • Communications cabling had not previously been considered, and as such, would add significant cost to the project
  • The span between several of the meters was vast and would require an extensive network of wiring to connect each of them to a cabling system
  • Due to the location of the water meter, a 30-metre concrete trench would have been required to connect it to the rest of the infrastructure. This would have been costly and disruptive to the depot.

WideSky Hub operates using the Thread wireless mesh protocol, which enables meters to communicate without the need for cabling. There were six pieces of hardware installed at the following locations:

  • Two hubs at the main switchboard
  • One hub on a remote distribution board to service two meters and the gas meter
  • One hub at the water meter
  • Two hubs functioning as repeaters to bridge the gap between the hubs at the edge of the site.

The hardware, with its two communication ports and pulse inputs, connected to the meters and the interface to the pulsed outputs from the water and gas meters.

The meters were configured offline and remotely, allowing for automatic downloading as soon as each hub registered on the network.

Once the hubs were powered on and connected to the energy meters, data started being collected from the Thread protocol wireless mesh network and routed to the WideSky Cloud software via the WideSky border router.

The outcome

While the Thread protocol was initially built for the smart-home market, through this project WideSky showed it could be deployed in smart buildings and cities. It was the first company to successfully deploy it in a commercial building scenario.

Additional hubs and meters can also be added to the same wireless communications network over time, allowing the mesh to expand automatically without resulting in additional configuration costs.

The installation of the WideSky Hub hardware resulted in significantly lower costs and minimal disruption to services at the Mile End Bus Depot. Metering data has since been reliably routed from each of the six hubs through to WideSky Cloud.

In the event of network or meshing issues, the hubs have been able to locally record the data and then automatically backfill it to WideSky Cloud once the situations are resolved.