How eSIM technology can help improve meter data management
Author: Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Industry 4.0—the Fourth Industrial Revolution—ushers in a new era of digitization in manufacturing. As this new era fundamentally changes how businesses get work done, the need for advancing to modern next-generation smart grids to deliver reliable energy, water and gas utility services is critical.
Companies and organizations that manage their own energy consumption and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that offer meter data management need to safely deliver critical services to their communities and customers. These organizations depend on meter data as the cornerstone for service distribution and analytics. However, utilities face numerous challenges with meter data management and utility metering solutions.
Utilities must ensure that all meters are consistently reliable and working because meters can only provide accurate information if they are constantly functioning properly. After meters collect the data, many organizations struggle with data silos, which prevent them from using data to its fullest potential to provide the most energy-efficient and reliable services.
In today’s environment, utility team members, who can be far away from meters deployed in different cities, or even countries, need access to meter data management and utility metering solutions from wherever they are, on whatever device is in their hands.
Smart meters: The cornerstone of modern energy data management
Intelligent, energy-smart metering enables utility and manufacturing organizations to better pinpoint outages and manage services. They can then easily perform all metering capabilities, including configuring, monitoring, control and management.
Smart meters help to make it possible to perform all billing and operational functions remotely, streamlining operations for global businesses. Additionally, many previously manual processes such as meter readings can be automated, which reduces costs and speeds up processing, especially in global organizations.
But one of the greatest benefits of smart meters is data. Firms with access to data in near real time can make changes based on the need to deliver and distribute energy more efficiently. The data that smart meters deliver is more accurate than manually collected data, which increases customer satisfaction due to more accurate billing and improves operational efficiency.
Smart meter data management technology converts data to an industry standard format, to help monitor both consumption and supply quality. Organizations can also use automated alerts to notify customers who exceed certain usage levels. Smart meters can even detect events and failures in near real time.
Challenges of physical SIM cards for global utility firms
Utility companies used to be local, or at best, regional. Today, many utility companies and manufacturing organizations cross state or even country borders. While this improves efficiency and uses resources more effectively, it also adds additional challenges with using technology to manage smart meter data.
Because meters are power sensitive, the technology requires narrowband networks such as LTE-M and Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT). Each region typically has its own carrier and network, which often results in expensive roaming charges or limited use.
When a smart meter uses a traditional SIM card, that card must be physically swapped out for changes, changing network carriers or creating new SKUs for multi-country deployment. From a resource and logistic perspective, maintaining a global network of smart meters that require physical administration is cost-prohibitive. Organizations that use this model also severely limit their ability to adapt to market changes, such as new devices and regions.