Most governments have paid attention to the utility industry as part of the drive to improve important infrastructure. Countries in the Australasia region are facing challenges such as privatisation, deregulation, power shortages and ageing distribution systems and are turning them into opportunities to enhance efficiency and improve customer support.
The region is also very diverse. Countries such as Japan, Australia and Singapore are well established; China and India are emerging as new economic powers. Whatever the situation, there is a greater focus on how technology can improve operational efficiencies, reduce costs, conserve vital resources and deliver better value to customers.
One of the key areas of focus is the use of new technologies to better explore the value of their meter data. From the meter itself to the collection of data and the software available to perform advanced analytics, utilities are looking for solutions that give them greater access to, and control over, one of their most valuable resources – data. Technologies being deployed include:
- Solid-state metering: More utilities will install solid-state meters, which improve the accuracy and reliability of the data at the collection point and greatly reduce the risk of tampering and theft.
- Improved manual and automatic meter data collection: AMR technologies are helping utilities to gather meter data faster, more accurately and more efficiently. Asia currently ranks third after North America and Europe in AMR deployments, and the region will likely see aggressive growth in this sector over the next decade. The short-term focus is centred on improving C&I customer data collection and management.
- Establishing meter data management: Utilities realise the importance of a central data repos- itory that can be used for multiple business objectives. From billing and customer service to planning and maintenance, access to accurate and timely meter data is critical.
- Improved customer information systems: The billing and customer service functions have been changing rapidly. Deregulation and privatisation in the region are driving innovation in this area, and traditional large and in-house developed systems are on the way out, with more flexible and easy to configure systems being introduced.
Many utilities are implementing these new technologies in phases. Careful planning, economic assessment and the right technology partner selection are key to a successful technology deployment.