The Euridis Automatic Meter Reading System
One of a distributor’s main tasks is to read energy meters for residential customers. In many cases, the meters are not easily accessible, and when they are, gaining access to premises may disturb customers. In addition, manual readings can result in entry errors and also involve significant cost because of time factors.
The EURIDIS technology, introduced at the beginning of the 1990s, is an efficient and low-cost solution and is now well proven in many countries. The EURIDIS protocol also complies with the IEC 62056-31 standard, which guarantees openness and inter-operability between the equipment of different manufacturers.
The Eurodis Meter reading Solution
By using a magnetic coupler and a handheld terminal, meters connected to the Euridis bus can be read at an easily-accessible location. Such a solution offers considerable time saving – 100 meters can be read in five minutes.
The spread of electronic meters has meant that the Euridis solution has expanded rapidly all over the world. Today more than 7 million communicating devices are installed in such countries as Algeria, Brazil, France, Spain, Morocco and Norway.
France – The EdF Experience
Electricité de France (EdF) was the first electricity company to use Euridis automatic meter reading, starting with small business customers in 1990 and expanding to include residential consumers in 1993. Over the years EdF has systematically moved from electromechanical to electronic meters, integrating the Euridis communication software for remote reading and programming.
The EdF strategy has varied, depending on the type of customer. More than 50% of the meters used by business and small industries (called Yellow Tariff) are now electronic, representing 120,000 meters throughout France. All these electronic meters are connected to a Euridis bus for the setting of parameters. 54% of them are read monthly by the Euridis telereport system; the remainder are directly read, using the customer’s own phone line.Nearly 6 million of the 30 million domestic customers (called Blue Tariff) are now electronic, and electro-mechanical devices continue to be replaced by electronic meters at a rate of 1 million a year. The Euridis system is always used in new housing developments, both residential complexes and individual homes, because installation of the Euridis bus is both low cost and easy.
The Euridis technology offers the advantages of speed and reading reliability for both residential and commercial customers. Reading errors are eliminated. Meter readers appreciate the fact that they no longer have to disturb customers in order to read meters manually. The installation phase, when all the meters are fixed and connected to the Euridis bus, is of particular importance in ensuring that meters will be correctly read. Finally, the Euridis system is used to program and configure all the parameters of the meter (tariff options, power demand, reset mode and so on).
All the information stored in the meter can be collected and analysed in the technical centre, so that consumption abnormalities, internal meter failures, attempts to defraud and the like can be detected. Technical operators find the Euridis technology and its tools easy to understand and use, without having to attend lengthy training sessions. After ten years of experience with Euridis, EdF has successfully achieved its objective of reducing the cost of meter reading and improving customer satisfaction.
France – Benefits for a Local Utility
Electricité de Strasbourg (ES) is a local utility distributing electricity to 430,000 customers in a region in the east of France. ES has been using Euridis meter reading since 1995, and today 42,000 electronic meters are read this way. The Euridis cable is always laid in new housing and when existing houses are restored. According to Vincent Wolf, manager at ES in charge of the communicating interfaces for domestic meters, Euridis is a good solution when meters are inaccessible, or when entry to residential premises is a problem.
When the laying of the Euridis bus is not easy, especially in old housing, radio technology can be used. Since 1998, ES has been using a Euridis radio gateway module, which is connected to the meter and can be read by a laptop computer equipped with a radio interface. Modifications to the meter are unnecessary in this instance. Almost 4,000 meters are now equipped with this radio solution. Wolf is confident that the future will see the integration of the radio interface inside the meter, in order to solve the problem of battery supply for the radio module and to reduce the cost of the whole metering system.
Spain – A Commercial Solution
Since 1995, the French metering manufacturer SAGEM has installed 1,800 electronic meters in the city of Barcelona, Spain, in buildings, shopping centres and student residences. All these meters are placed inside the office or shop, to make space configuration modifications easier. The meters are all connected to a Euridis bus, and a concentrating computer integrating a phone modem for the remote reading of the building is installed at the base of the bus. Metering data is collected daily and stored by the concentrator, available to the electricity supplier at any time over the phone line.
Such a system reduces both meter reading and operational costs, and in addition offers increased flexibility for customer management.
The EURIDIS system
The EURIDIS local bus consists of a two-wire cable connected to a magnetic coupler, generally installed at the boundary of the client’s installations. The operator connects a hand-held unit to the magnetic coupling socket, through which the unit emits signals to contact each meter (or other remote terminal) on the network in turn and access its data. For security each transmission of data is preceded by an authentication, based on an exchange of random numbers ciphered using a secret key specific to each meter.
EURIDIS also offers, for particular applications, programming with no authentication and broadcast remote transfer. A “forgotten station call” facility detects new meters.
EURIDIS accepts a wide range of products, including single-phase and three-phase domestic meters, industrial meters and residential gas meters.
A second architecture, EURIDIS+, has also been defined to allow operation of the DLMS services. This is fully compatible with the standard EURIDIS bus, allowing the possibility of mixing both types of device on the same bus.