AMR metering is not an entirely new metering technology. Itron created AMR to reduce the man-hours and increase the accuracy of meter reading. The abbreviation “AMR” stands for Automated Meter Reading. Remote AMR meter reading technology uses ERT modules that are used to communicate the meter readings back to either handheld meter reading devices such as the FC 200, FC 300 or the ReadOne Pro as well as other handheld and mobile collectors. Electric, water and gas meters all have these ERT modules installed under glass.
Electromechanical electric meters as well as digital electric meters both take advantage and use ERT modules to communicate readings back to the mobile collectors. ERT modules are also used on mechanical and digital water and gas meters as well. Electric AMR meters typically use 41 series ERTs and 45 series ERTs while water AMR meters use 60w and 100 w ERTs. Gas AMR meters have 60g and 100g series ERTs. There were also 40 series ERTs for gas and water as well.
So, in an AMR metering system the ERT collects the data from the AMR meter and then transmits the information to the collection device. For an electromechanical meter to work in an AMR metering system, the meter will need to be retrofitted with the ERT module. In electromechanical meters the ERT can be thought of as a second meter register. In electromechanical meters, the disk that spins, has a black dot that is painted on it. This black dot passes over a sensor in the ERT module. This counts the number of times that it sees the black dot and uses preprogrammed information to determine how many Kwh have been used. This can also be used as a way to detect meter tampering in an AMR metering system because the mechanical register and the ERT register should always match. If they are very different then it is possible that the customer has been tampering with the meter by turning the meter upside down.
This is because since the ERT only counts pulses it does not matter which way the disk turns. As long as the black dot passes by the sensor the ERT counts it as being one revolution. ERT modules also give us tamper counts to let us know if the position of the meter has changed since the last time the meter was read. For instance, if the meter was read last month and the ERT sent out a 1 and this month it is sending out a 0 then it needs to be looked at because the meter has moved. It could be that a new customer moved in but it is worth a check.
As AMR metering has progressed new features have become available for water and gas meters that were not there in the beginning. Now you have the ability to detect if there are any water or gas leaks and it is possible to log on to the meter to see what is going on with it.
AMR modules are also on digital meters as well. Although you may think that you would have more functionality with an ERT on a digital meter in an AMR metering system, there really is no difference. It is basically the same. The ERT ties into the digital register of the digital meter. The digital meter then transmits the reading based off of what it sees. The difference is that the ERT in a digital meter should match exactly what the register says.
Another thing that you can do with an AMR metering system is read demand meters. This is always a difficult decision to make because of how the demand is calculated. The decision has to be made on how to reset the demand on the demand meter. There are different options that are available. You can still send someone out to reset the demand. Alternatively, you can program what day you would like to reset the demand. This is usually determined by the billing cycle. The reset date can be a specific day of the month. The 15th of every month would be an example. Or, you can customize which day of the month you want the meter to reset.
Mobile collectors make reading AMR meters much faster than walking. But the real value is in the accuracy of the readings. Reading meters with AMR is much more accurate than entering the meter readings in manually. While we meter techs and meter readers are generally very good at what we do, we are human and we can and do make mistakes from time to time.
Meters are now available that can act as collectors. Collectors bring in and store meter readings. The readings are then sent back to the office via cellular communications, or Ethernet, or really any type of network back haul. These can save time and truck rolls. There are a few companies out there that are producing these collectors. Tantulus and Nighthawk are two of the leaders. There are others as well.
An AMR metering system typically uses MV-90. MV-90 is a software package from Itron. It brings all of the information in and makes it readable for a utility’s billing system.
AMR is a great system for utilities who serves electric customers. Utilities with electric and water customers and electric, gas and water customers can benefit as well. This makes it a great solution for municipalities who have their own utility systems.