As our lives become more digital and interconnected, our dependency on electricity is increasing. However, effective monitoring, accurate measurement, billing, and remote access control are difficult to be achieved over the legacy energy meters. By industrial cellular router, telecom operators can help energy providers and consumers to get visibility and control over their energy usage and expenses through automatic reading data of prepaid energy meter, including the deduction amounts, energy consumption, frequency, and voltage fluctuation. Thus, telecom operators and energy providers are capable of detecting low in credit, energy theft, defective meter unit for taking preventive actions in MSANs to optimize their operations and services.

prepaid_energy_meter_MSAN

Background

The benefits of cellular technology offer a strong opportunity for telecom operators to support energy providers to deploy smart solutions. Telecom operators can provide an array of key services such as connectivity to more sophisticated customer interfaces such as delivering messages to subscribers.

MSANs (Multi-Service Access Node) offered by telecom operators are the very important and essential parts of providing a host of services such as ISDN, broadband, and the telephone. Usually, you can find two types of MSAN installation, one of which is cabinet-based and installed on the roadside. Another is exchange-based MSAN is installed inside the telephone exchange of a telecom company.

Objectives

Through the new IoT based solution, the famous operator wants to hit the goals below:

    • Optimize the operations with higher efficiency
    • Improve service quality to his customers
    • Smartly manage the expenses with visibility from top to bottom
    • Reduce the human resources to read data info automatically

Challenges

There are too many headache issues, such as how to realize the pre-sales of electricity? What are the data ingestion methods? Is the deployment environment friendly? What are the best protocols?

In this case, it was the MSANs on the line if credit runs dry.

  • Connectivity: MSAN enables connectivity for mobile subscribers. Once the credit in the energy meter expires, subscribers can not enjoy the service anymore. When the fiber cable cuts, it lost the connection between MSAN and the central system.
  • Security: Electricity theft, battery packs theft
  • Visibility: Difficult to know the energy usage in real-time
  • Alarm: abnormal usage caused by a faulty prepaid energy meter and timely notification when credit runs out
  • Quality: maintain the good quality of energy received
  • Convenience: Additional resources are required to charge credit on meters

With the help of the IoT solution, we can eliminate almost all of the listed problems and realize our objects by knowing the energy usage 24/7.

Solution

In this pilot project, we are installing the Ursalink cellular router into the exchanged-based MSAN inside of a well-known telecom operator in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The PoC is composed of several IoT devices including a digital energy meter having Modbus to collect metrics, a door sensor of MSAN cabinet, several other sensors, an IP camera, and a cellular-based router with 4G LTE fail-over.

And when we overcame the power supply issue, the limited installation space, and unevenly distributed national wide, finally we got the inside look of the MSAN cabinet.

MSAN_prepaid_energy_meter

 

The data information like AC mains, energy usage, door status can be read through the RS485 interface on Ursalink UR35 industrial cellular router and finally be published on a platform remotely through MQTT protocol over wireless LTE. In the meantime, commands from the monitoring center can be received and executed in the MSAN via the same LTE channel. Thereby, the full-duplex two-way communication comes into the real world.

For example, if the thief is attempting to open a door and to steal the battery pack, or when the billing against the energy usage, the remote admin will receive the triggered alarm by SMS, email, a mobile push, or a combination of these.

prepaid_meter_msan_topologic

Featured Products

  1. Lovato digital low footprint energy meter
  2. Ursalink UR3X cellular router with Python SDK
  • Provides real-time critical alerts on the edge data analysis
  • Keeps sensors and their connectivity through rich industrial interfaces
  • Remote management of the router for firmware/config changes
  • Configurable data polls and frequencies of messages
  • Data queuing in case of connectivity issues while trying to establish a new one with proper watchdog

Achievement

Now admin can sit behind a screen and monitor the energy consumption, quality, and other critical data smartly.

prepaid_meter_achievents

  • Zero Downtime: Sends notification and estimation before the meter runs out of credit 
  • OptimizedService: Recharges hot meters before running out of credit
  • Effective identification: Detects the faulty meter or electrical power theft
  • Alert: Alerts when AC mains go above or below threshold settings
  • Interactive management: MSAN status is visible in the dashboards of with different color coding on the severity of alerts
  • Application of data science possibilities with the data flowing in over a period of time

The designed solution makes the telecom company and energy provider able to access any prepaid energy meter in the unified area through MSANs and control the measurements of this meter. As a result, the stealing of electricity can be prevented. Also, companies can communicate with the consumer by sending text messages for recharging the energy or alarm the user before the whole credit is consumed.