What is Automatic Meter Reading (AMR)?
Energy data can come from your monthly utility bills or from manual meter checks taken monthly, weekly or even daily. Although these methods of monitoring consumption are correct and provide some insight into your energy consumption, it is proven that ultimately these methods are unable to bring significant benefits and can be unreliable (errors can occur when reading the meters and when manually entering the readings into the database) and to be honest who has the time to check all their meters (water, electricity, gas, etc.) on a daily basis?
Furthermore data collected on a monthly, weekly or daily basis lacks the amount of detail necessary for effective energy management; weekly or monthly meter readings cannot show you how much energy or water your business is using at different times of the day, or on different days of the week, which is vital identifying consumption patterns and routine wastage at your site.
Automatic meter reading (AMR) is the technology of automatically collecting consumption, diagnostic and status data from water meters or energy metering devices (gas, electric, steam, fuel oil) and transferring that data to a central database for billing, analysing energy consumption and system troubleshooting.
The term telemetry (from the Greek words tele = remote and metron = measure) is also used to refer to automated communications processes by which measurements and other data are collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring purposes and the ever more frequent term Internet of Things (IoT) also refers to physical devices and everyday objects that communicate and interact with others over the Internet, and can be remotely monitored and controlled.
So how does Automatic Meter Reading work?
Every AMR system consists of hardware and software that allows you to collect and process consumption data remotely.
- Firstly, it is necessary to fit impulse or M-Bus readers to existing analogue or digital meters (water, electricity, gas and thermal energy meters, and temperature and pressure sensors, etc.) the consumption or status of which has been identified for monitoring and to install the AMR system that will collect data from the impulse readers and send them to a central unit also installed on site. The system can use wired M-Bus, wireless M-Bus OMS, Mod-Bus, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT technology. In rare cases, the existing meter is not compatible with any AMR technology available on the market and it is necessary to replace it.
- Consumption data collected hourly, seven days a week, by the central unit can then be wirelessly transmitted to a server over radio frequencies, telephone or computer networks, optical link or other wired communications such as power line carriers (PLCs). Many AMR systems take advantage of the low cost and ubiquity of GSM networks to receive and transfer data via SMS.
- Finally, you need a software solution – a web, desktop or mobile application accessible from any smart phone, tablet or computer with Internet connection – that allows you to view and analyse all the consumption data from the server in one place in easy-to-read formats such as graphs and tables. By analysing the data you can identify wastage and take steps to use energy and water more efficiently, which ultimately saves your business money. Additionally, most software solutions offer an alarm system, which alerts you immediately of any unusual consumption so you can react quickly.
Automatic meter reading offers several advantages. It offers consistency, convenience, accuracy, control and, as long as the data is used as a basis for introducing savings measures, in a short space of time you will get a return on your investment by reducing your energy and water bills.