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Techem increases energy efficiency

Case Studies | July 2018
 

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A reliable and cost-effective way to increase energy efficiency.

Business Need

As the market leader in remote radio metering of energy consumption in homes and commercial buildings, Techem is driving integration and digital processes in the property sector. The company had been using radio-based technology for this for many years. Meter readers used a ‘walk-by’ process to collect readings from electric meters using mobile devices. Plausibility checks were then carried out to avoid transmission errors and other issues. In certain circumstances, Techem also used a stationary radio solution to read meters.

Both processes worked well and reliably in practice, but there was still room for improvement. The main disadvantage of mobile data collection was that the company still had to send an employee to the relevant property to take the meter readings. With stationary collection, every master data collector needs 230 volts power supply. Its location also must be chosen carefully to ensure that it has sufficient mobile coverage. Plus, the radio standard currently in use has limitations as it is unable to penetrate thick concrete walls and transmit signals from deep cellars.

For these reasons, and to further improve and digitise its processes, Techem decided to look for a simpler and more flexible solution when collecting meter readings.

Solution

Techem tested a number of different technologies before deciding on a solution based on LTE Cat NB1 (Narrowband-IoT) and a close partnership with Vodafone. Unlike the other technologies they tested, Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) impressed the development engineers at Techem with its low energy consumption, highly reliable data transmission, ability to penetrate building materials, and the Europe-wide consistency and availability of its radio network.

Together, the experts from Techem and Vodafone carried out laboratory tests and developed devices and applications for operation in the live Vodafone network. The first step was to swap the fixed, stationary data collectors for devices with integrated NB-IoT. Master data collectors were then no longer required as every device could transmit the readings it collected to Techem itself at determined intervals.

Business Benefits

  • Considerable improvement in radio communication within buildings
  • Simple, robust and energy efficient transmission of meter readings
  • Foundation for further digitisation of business processes, new applications and business models
  • Helping to lower energy consumption, reducing CO2 emissions and protecting the environment

Techem increases energy efficiency

“As we were already working with Vodafone on our existing solutions and saw the company as a leader in the development of IoT solutions and Narrowband-IoT, we decided to work with  them again when we tested the technology.” Carsten Plachetta, Head of Smart Systems & Monitoring, Techem

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