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Simplified Meter Connection Process Delivers Savings for Ergon Energy

 

With 150,000 kilometres of powerlines reaching over 650,000 customers Queensland-wide, Ergon Energy relies on a network of tens of thousands of remote power meters for billing and power network management

Ergon identified that a shortcoming of the system is there is no uniform way to connect to all remote meters.   Different technologies are used to physically network meters, each with specialised connection hardware. 

With 80% of Ergon’s revenue coming from customers fitted with remotely-read power meters, plus the need to assess the operational status of the network, the remote meters are integral to Ergon Energy’s business.

Power linesErgon developed a project with the key objective of solving this problem by creating a transparent interface server between a serial modem and a network port.   With a project of this scale it also required support for various modem hardware, a database to store network connection details and appropriate software documentation.

Following an application and interview process through CEED, Ergon recruited Brodie Blackburn, a final year UQ Electrical Engineering student in March to work on the project to simplify the meter connection process.

Ergon identified that they primarily required software of reasonable reliability to provide an interface between a network connection and serial communication.    The system must also work with Ergon’s specific hardware devices. 

Andrew Macaulay, Metering Engineer, Customer Service Metering, Ergon Energy said that the company wanted a communications interface for multiple meters simultaneously.

This new system is a starting point in simplifying the meter connection process,” said Andrew.

 Brodie Blackburn (CEED student) at work on his project with Ergon Energy - 2010
 Pictured is Brodie Blackburn (CEED student), at work during
 his project with Ergon Energy.

In approaching the project, Brodie applied the usual project management phases but said that implementation has really tested his project management skills to the ‘max’.

“It is not that the project is really difficult, more that it is quite a complex process due to all the systems involved.  It has certainly helped me appreciate theoretical methodologies in practical terms,” said Brodie.

In terms of other benefits, Brodie said that being in a business environment has contributed to building up his corporate and networking skills.

The project is due for completion in November this year.

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