Monitoring Electrical Consumption through Connected Devices
Electricity meters, the familiar device that measures the amount of electricity consumed by a residence or business, are ubiquitous and are deployed by utility companies throughout the world. Traditionally, technicians are required to observe and report on the readings of each meter allowing the utility to invoice for the electrical consumption – a time and labour intensive process. An India based manufacturer of these units, Allied Engineering Works, identified an opportunity to meet a growing demand and government pressure to shift to “smart metering” in their South Asian and European markets. These new meters, making use of emerging IoT technologies and standards, would provide an easier and more efficient method for monitoring and reporting on consumption data for both the utility and the home owner.
While experienced in the utility metering space, Allied quickly identified internal knowledge and experience gaps that Tangent was positioned to fill. The company had a robust engineering team but lacked expertise in networking and evolving IoT standards that would be necessary to develop a connected smart meter.
Hired under a collaborative CIIP grant, the Tangent team of electrical, software and firmware engineers began to develop the core networking technology and to integrate this into the new smart meter that would be manufactured by Allied.
Developing a new technology in an area where standards are emerging and protocols are new means that the tools required for development are incomplete and the path forward is unclear. Many solutions and approaches to development might be possible, but none have been selected as a standard. In this case, several networking solutions had been proposed as a part of research projects, but none had been proven as reliable for use in a commercial product.
The Tangent project team used expert IoT knowledge and industry experience to select and code a small number of critical stack components in order to meet the requirements of a massive scale IoT network based on 6LowPAN. This allowed the team to customized a mesh networking technology that had previously existed in the research space and successfully transfer it to a commercial application.
Allied Engineering Works began with a desire to meet a market and regulatory demand for connected Smart Meters, but encountered difficulties due to a lack of familiarity and uncertainty surrounding the required technologies. Tangent’s willingness to work with emerging technologies in combination with our own robust IoT development stack made us the ideal partner for this project.
Tangent and Allied are currently exploring opportunities in the Indian utility market and are in the planning stage of a paid utility pilot of the new technology.