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Smart Meter Operational Services Deployment In The UK


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Smart Meter Operational Services Deployment In The UK

  1. 1. Energy, Utilities and Chemicals | the way we see itSmart Meter Deploymentin the UKMeeting the challenges of mass rollout
  2. 2. The government is currently consulting on themandatory deployment of smart electricity andgas meters to every home in the UK by 2020. Thisrepresents one of the greatest challenges andopportunities that the UK energy industry has everfaced. The wide-ranging issues being addressedduring the consultations include technology, tariffs,data management and finance.2
  3. 3. Energy, Utilities and Chemicals | the way we see itHowever, the issue that is arguably most critical to network operators (DNOs). The deployment of meters needs to bethe overall success of the programme is the physical properly integrated with the networkdeployment of the meters themselves. Mandatory implementation (see panel overleaf).deployment of gas and electricity meters will require The UK deployment challenge presentsa visit by engineers to every home in the country some unique physical and engineering challenges when compared withover an eight-year period, starting in 2013, to replace programmes in the US and Canada.25m electricity and 22m gas meters and (possibly) For example, in contrast with North American practice, electricity and gasinstall in-home displays for every household. This will meters in the UK tend to be locatedbe a massive undertaking in terms of complexity as inside dwellings and commercial premises, presenting access problemswell as size. for engineers and potential issues Our view is that a regionally with network connectivity. Also, organised, franchise-type approach UK electricity meters are typically to deploying the meters and mounted on to the back board and implementing the underlying network hard-wired to the incoming line using is likely to emerge as the best option ties; they will therefore need replacing to maximise time to value, minimise by trained electricians, each of whom costs and keep customers on-side. will probably only be able to replace Such a model is equally feasible a maximum four to five meters per whether deployment is retailer day based on the time required for or DNO led. Other prerequisites the tasks. In North America, meters include rapid expansion and training are generally socket-based, meaning of the deployment workforce, that non-qualified staff can be used, the development of alternative replacing up to 40 a day. customer service channels, and the introduction of sophisticated field Many antiquated electricity meters force and work scheduling systems. are still in place here, connected to even more aged infrastructure. Some Analysing the challenges will require considerable additional Our experience of carrying out mass work to ensure safe and compliant smart meter deployments around installation of a smart meter. Since the world gives us insight into the meter engineers will not usually know scale and nature of the challenges which dwellings require this work involved in this programme. These until they get on site, follow-up visits challenges include complexity and will be necessary. Gas meters will have cost, shortage of implementation skills, similar issues: perhaps greater ones in the additional customer service burden terms of safety checks. Relatively few and the need to capture information to engineers today are qualified to deal support resource allocation. with both gas and electricity meters, a fact that could cause additional Complexity and cost of complexity and increase the frequency physical deployment with which multiple visits to the same This is one of the most complex property are needed. logistical challenges attempted in the UK. In addition to the Cost is a critical issue for the installation of the 47m meters and entire smart meters programme, the associated in-home displays, particularly as it will influence a central communication network customer perceptions, which are key may also be architected, designed, to the success of the programme. built, commissioned and integrated Uncoordinated nationwide to manage the meter data and deployment, is likely to be inefficient disseminate it to retailers and other (see panel). Such an approach would industry bodies such as distribution increase costs, complexity and risk ofSmart Meter Deployment in the UK 3
  4. 4. Our experience of mass poor service, and thereby alienate the are out at work will often need to be public, whose support is critical to the scheduled for evenings and weekendsdeployment in other programme. (further limiting the numbers ofcountries, together with meters that can be deployed in a given A final source of complexity is the time by given resources). Engineers,our knowledge of the fact that the deployment process is meanwhile, will need to be equippedUK energy industry, also the energy companies’ primary to deliver training, to answer customer opportunity to educate customers questions, and perhaps to promotepositions us to develop about smart meters and their effective other energy conservation services.potential approaches use. That means that each customer will need to be present , not just to Shortage of implementationand solutions to the let the engineers in but to receive skillschallenges raised. their introduction to the new smart The resources required to meet the technology. This would apply to initial 2020 deployment target will be visits and any necessary follow-up approximately three times the level visits, and would eliminate options of the existing workforce. A massive such as, for example, leaving the recruitment and training effort will be key with a neighbour for access. required, but is unlikely to start until a This need for customer interaction mandate is agreed – a factor that could means that visits to customers who jeopardise the 2020 completion target. The case for a regional deployment model The proposal that each retailer should deploy to their own customers would involve multiple supply chains, workforce management and customer systems. Most retailers have customers nationwide and so, given the number of non dual-fuel customers, it could well be envisaged that multiple workforces could turn up several times to the same houses in the same street. This pattern has already been seen in European deployments and has a major impact on costs, as well as increasing the risk of customer perception and bad service. Additionally, some retailers are reluctant to undertake replacement of meters in areas where they do not currently have workforce coverage or third-party arrangements in place. It is clear that a franchise model or a DNO led deployment would simplify many of these challenges. However, there are other technical issues that also compel examination of regional and more logically driven roll out such as the Network requirements. Depending on the type of communications technology selected, it is possible that implementation of the network will need to be integrated with meter deployment in order to avoid network reliability and redesign issues. Also, retailers may be reluctant to deploy smart meters without a network connection present as this will mean they are effectively putting in a “dumb” meter. In this situation the engineer would be unable to demonstrate the meter fully to the customer, and there would probably have to be more customer calls during switch-on, and possible revisits once connection is made to address customer and performance issues. Therefore, it is a fair assumption that the network needs to be available before meters are deployed. However, if a network architecture like PLC or mesh is chosen, the network could not realistically be deployed across the country in one step. It would typically be deployed in logical areas, and by default meter deployment would follow its availability. (Note that this problem would not arise if nationwide GPRS were used as the sole infrastructure; however, GPRS has potential problems of its own, such as uneven coverage, and reception difficulties underground or in dense urban structures, and so it is likely to be used as part of a portfolio of different network architectures.) We believe that these issues, combined with the very real constraints on cost, mean that it is almost inevitable that some kind of regional deployment will emerge, and that it is preferable to plan and optimise this deployment model up-front rather than letting it evolve in an uncontrolled way.4
  5. 5. Energy, Utilities and Chemicals | the way we see it Training of engineers who can install is a high risk of losing control of the both electricity and gas meters is likely deployment, with substantial financial to be a priority. and reputational costs for the utility and for the deployment as a whole. Additional customer In addition intelligent use of existing service burden data about the housing stock will Positive customer perceptions are make it possible to plan the roll-out in vital to the success of the programme. a more effective manner. For example, Customers will be aware of the by pinpointing older properties that costs of installation, and realise that are likely to have outdated gas and those costs are likely to be added to electricity meters and connections, their bills. They will therefore want companies can forecast which houses to understand how they can get are likely to need extra installation something back from the devices: and safety work. Longer visits can be how to use them, what tariffs are scheduled for these cases minimising available, the billing arrangements, the need for return visits. and so on. Customers will also demand prompt service and well Our conclusions managed appointments. Unless these Our experience of mass deployment expectations are met, they are unlikely in other countries, together with our to support the deployment. knowledge of the UK energy industry, positions us to develop potential Satisfying these requirements will approaches and solutions to the necessitate an enormous customer challenges raised. Below we discuss services capability across the UK. the main requirements for a successful Customer interactions will begin pre- deployment. deployment, when utilities will need to work with each customer to plan A regional, franchise-based appointments and answer questions. approach Immediately post-deployment, Experience and insights from both the customers will probably have queries UK industry and other deployments about the operation of the devices, abroad suggest that a regional even if they have seen a demonstration approach to both meter deployment by the installation engineer; these and network implementation will be queries might relate to faults or energy the most cost-effective and efficient conservation. On an ongoing basis, the in terms of both resources and extra data provided by smart meters customer management. It allows will prompt customers to interact a single capability to be used for more frequently with their utility. coordination, planning, supply chain, The additional interactions could workforce management and customer potentially overwhelm utilities, leading management, rather than duplicated to considerable additional costs. capabilities which would necessitate a further layer of complex coordination. Capturing and organising information to support A logical approach for a regional resource allocation deployment could be to use the 14 Another important task will be to distribution zones to demarcate align the available resources accurately the rollout zones. As each zone is with the work that needs to be done. complete, smart grid capabilities can The frontline workforce – engineers be tested and rolled out. This approach and customer service staff – will be also offers the option of splitting the the first to uncover issues such as communications hub and meter data missed appointments, installation management across smaller regional and engineering problems and billing subsets if this proves more cost discrepancies. If these issues are not effective and/or reliable than having effectively captured and managed there one large UK-wide hub.Smart Meter Deployment in the UK 5
  6. 6. One way to tackle regional deployment Enhancement of customer would be with a franchise model, service channels whereby a single deployment entity To manage increased customer approved by the retailers in scope contact, and to avoid customer service works on all the meters in a given centres and existing channels being region. Such an entity could be the stretched and incurring additional dominant retailer in a specific region, costs, retailers will need to ensure or one of the licensed meter operator they have the right channels and and services companies. Compared capabilities in place. Many retailers with a situation where each retailer are already investing in these types would have its own deployment team of capabilities, including web portals in each region, this would make for and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) a more efficient, cheaper and more systems, and this investment will coordinated deployment, with a need to continue and in some cases clearer path of communications for be increased as mass roll out begins. end customers. While this method While this is necessary to ensure could appear at odds with the that customer interaction can be competitive deployment ethos of managed efficiently, it also brings the consultation documents, it can the opportunity to take advantage drastically reduce overall programme of the “smart revolution” to roll out costs, length of deployment and additional offers and capabilities to time to benefits, as well as the risk of customers via multiple channels. customer disruption and alienation. It has no impact on retail competition for Field force and work energy or energy services at all, and in scheduling systems fact provides a better deal to customers Our experience shows that an and retailers through lower cost. integrated field force and work Therefore, a regional approach is likely scheduling system is the only way to be an attractive option. We believe to coordinate, schedule and track a deployment models must be agreed deployment of this scale. We have as soon as possible to allow effective designed and rolled out systems deployment planning, process and that combine the work scheduling, systems design and resourcing to start. meter supply chain, meter location and billing capabilities into a single Rapid expansion and training Control Centre for the utility to of the deployment workforce manage their deployment. The field Another argument for completing force is managed and optimised using consultations as soon as possible is the bespoke handheld devices for the need to plug the resource gap. Once a engineers. This device is integrated deployment approach and governance into the deployment management have been defined, funds should be systems, billing systems and made available to start recruitment procurement and warehouse systems and training to achieve the necessary to ensure that information from the increase in the number of engineers frontline is instantly available to the available. Retailers and government relevant business units and vice versa. must work together to launch the recruitment campaigns and initiate the training schemes required.6
  7. 7. Final comments Based on our past and current involvement in the strategy, planning and execution of the deployment of millions of smart meters globally, together with our deep knowledge of the UK energy sector, we believe that only by building on the principles above can a mass deployment across the UK be successful. Even then, the scale of the undertaking must not be underestimated. Outstanding programme management will be needed if crippling cost overruns are to be avoided. The UK is contemplating one of the largest smart meter deployments in the world. If we take this opportunity, let us make sure we put in place the capabilities and governance to make it the most successful in the world.Smart Meter Deployment in the UK 7
  8. 8. About Capgemini Capgemini, one of called Rightshore®, which aims to get the world’s foremost the right balance of the best talent providers of consulting, from multiple locations, working as technology and outsourcing one team to create and deliver the services, enables its clients to optimum solution for clients. transform and perform through technologies. Capgemini provides its Present in more than 30 countries, clients with insights and capabilities Capgemini reported 2008 global that boost their freedom to achieve revenues of EUR 8.7 billion and employs superior results through a unique over 90,000 people worldwide. way of working, the Collaborative Business Experience™. The Group More information is available at relies on its global delivery model ReynoldsPractice LeaderSmart Energy 416.732.2200© 2009 Capgemini. No part of this document may be modified, deleted or expanded by any process ormeans without prior written permission from Capgemini