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Remote wireless water meter reading solution based on the EN 13757 standard, providing high autonomy, interoperability and range

Final Report Summary - WIMBEX (Remote wireless water meter reading solution based on the EN 13757 standard, providing high autonomy, interoperability and range.)

Executive Summary:
Utility companies are among the largest CO2 emitters. Smart grids and smart meters will play a critical role in helping utility companies reduce their carbon emissions, allowing them to manage their distribution grids more efficiently. This requires less power to be generated, creating fewer emissions and reducing the frequency and duration of outages.

In the last five years, 53 million automatic electric meter readers have been fitted in Europe. These provide customers with real-time data on their energy consumption and can help them to reduce their electricity use, and bills, by up to 15 %. Such automatic meter reading also helps utility companies to acquire more accurate and regular readings and billings and to reduce wastage across their networks.

The WiMBex consortium SMEs identified a clear need for water meters to acquire the ‘smart’ features which are widespread in electricity meters. The consortium SMEs developed a new concept for remote water meter reading adaptable to all water utility networks. At the heart of the new equipment is the “Wireless M-Bus” standard specification.

The European Standard EN 13757 “Communication systems for meters and remote reading of meters” defines a Wireless Metering Bus (commonly referred to as “Wireless M-Bus”). The Wireless M-Bus is an open standard, specifically designed for the needs of EU utility companies for the remote metering of electricity, gas, heat and water usage.

The aim of the WiMBex project is to add a powerful new set of new features to the Wireless M-Bus platforms developed by the consortium SMEs, to enable them to keep pace, and even surpass the needs of the emergent Automatic Water Meter Reading (AWMR) market in Europe.

WiMBex will exploit powerful new features of the EN 13757 Wireless M-Bus standard, and in this manner, extend the use and impact of the European standard.
Project Context and Objectives:
Water meters are the first link in the chain of water utility billing systems. Traditional water meters require manual reading, typically on a monthly basis. Using this approach, incorrect readings are not uncommon, and create customer dissatisfaction and increase utility company costs.

The aim of the WiMBex project is to provide water utility companies with an automatic, remote water meter reading solution to increase company competitiveness and customer satisfaction. It addresses the special needs of home utilities, providing a remote metering solution independent of the electricity infrastructure, both for data communications and as a power supply.

The WiMBex Automated Water Meter Reading (AWMR) technology provides a cost-effective solution which suits existing and emerging industry requirements, using a wireless technology and a novel hardware and software approach.

Project Objectives

 To develop a multi-band (169MHz/868MHz) radio front-end

 To implement a Wireless M-BUS multi-hop Q-mode protocol as defined in the EN 13757 standard

 To develop an effective Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) scheduling scheme

 To develop a robust, flexible and self-healing two-way energy-aware routing protocol

 To develop a harvesting power supply based on a rotational energy harvester

 To implement DLMS specification

 To implement an enhanced network security architecture (security suite)

 To implement an active Inspection service and a Remote Network Programming service

 To implement an event-driven WiMBex network simulator (WiMSim) based on an open-source license-free application
Project Results:
The Foreground of the project is the WiMBex AWMR technology, consisting in:

1. An extended wireless M-BUS software stack including:

1) TDMA-MAC protocol based on Wireless M-BUS mode-Q:

2) Energy-aware routing protocol:

3) Security Suite:

4) Active network inspection service for network deployment; and 5) Remote firmware update in accordance to Wireless M-BUS specifications.

2. A multi-band hardware platform: A platform to enable the tests with the WiMBex stack has been developed. The design was based on the SyncSen hardware prototype platform provided by partner JCB. The new platform has been designed to reduce the size and energy consumption of the previous platform as well to allow the use of different wireless bands (169MHz/868MHz). The platform also incorporates a power amplifier which provides up to 30dBm (1 Watt).

3. A rotational energy harvester power supply: A rotational, radial-flux energy harvester incorporating a three-phase generation principle for converting energy from water flow in domestic water pipelines has been developed. The energy harvester together with a power management circuit and energy storage is used to power a smart metering system making it independent from external power supplies or depleting batteries. The design of the radial-flux energy harvester is adapted to the housing of a conventional mechanical water flow meter enabling the use of standard components such as housing and impeller. The energy harvester is able to generate up to 720 mW when using a flow rate of 20 l/min (fully opened water tab). A minimum flow rate of 3 l/min is required to get the harvester started. In this case a power output of 2 mW is achievable.

System Validation

In order to test the WiMBex tecnology a real field validation (100 SyncSen motes) took place during the second year of the project and was performed in real installations provided by MHWS in Meath Hill, Ireland and by LBS in Huntington, UK.
Potential Impact:
The European water supply market is highly varied and complex. A range of business models exist, from 100% privately owned, to fully public, and everything in between. Taking this singularity into consideration, WiMBex will provide a tool that will help SME metering companies compete in these complex market structures, as well as prepare themselves for upcoming changes associated with the inevitable introduction of smart water grids.

The need for WiMBex technology is clear and its development and implementation will result in direct economic benefits to consortium SMEs. The project has developed an Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system for water distribution companies and meter reading companies. The technology is easily adaptable to any meter type, availing SMEs of the full potential of the water meter market (new and retrofitting market). Given that the new technology is enabled for two-way communication, the system permits additional services of management and control (i.e. advanced tariffing, remote disablement and enablement of supply; and low installation and maintenance costs).

Summary of WiMBex benefits:

 Provides SMEs with an Automatic Water Meter Reading (AWMR) technology, suited to existing and emerging industry requirements, offering: frequent (once per day) meter readings, on-demand services, long radio range (no repeaters), ease of installation, remote maintenance, independence from the electricity grid and battery-free operation (via a cost effective integrated energy harvesting system).

 Suits the needs of water utility companies, manufacturers, integrators, distributors and regulatory bodies.

 Provides direct economic benefit for SMEs via the integration of WiMBex technology into SME wireless water metering products for this high growth market, and by licensing the technology.

 Promotes the multi-vendor open European standard (EN 13757) as a means by which metering system SMEs can compete with market leaders – primarily Large Enterprises (LEs) and non-European companies.

 Provides a first-time implementation of the Wireless M-BUS relaying Q-mode for smart metering according to EN 13757-5:2009.

 Compliance with EN 13757 ensures interoperability. WiMBEx will also comply with the DLMS standard to enable easy interconnection of meters.

 Secure and robust multi-band networking technology operating in the license-free ISM band of 868MHz (available since 2005) and 169MHz (available since 2012).

 Low-cost due to the use of cost effective and best available off-the-shelf hardware components.

 Manufacturing costs in volume are expected to be €5-10 for the wireless module and €5-10 for the energy harvester module.

 In addition to water, WiMBex could be readily applied to electricity, gas and heat utility metering and services.

 Provides environmental benefits via reduced water usage, detection of leaks, and reduction in CO2 emissions.

A large number of dissemination activities were performed during the two-year project period, including: Official Web Page, Research Connection Congress, Project Brochure, Metering & Billing/CRM Europe Conference and Exhibition 2009, Project White-paper, Dissemination Survey, Metering & Billing/CRM Europe Conference and Exhibition 2010, Live Web Application, Dissemination Slides and Poster, Research Articles, etc., have been carried out by the WiMBex consortium to communicate project existence, contents and results to the outside world.
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