Gas metering and smart solutions nowadays are increasingly in the spotlight. Everyone talks about improvement, innovation and technological advancements and in the gas industry 2 questions arise: Where does all this excitement come from? and Who is really trying to do something different in the gas sector?
Gas Metering in the past
It seems a platitude, but sometimes, it is necessary to slow down, take a minute and think about ‘how we operated before’, in order to understand what we will be able to do in the future.
The concern over something which is not yet completely clear is absolutely legitimate and it is what normally goes with innovations.
The world is changing and we are increasingly surrounded by new technologies and communication protocols, which are literally dominating our lives. Today, our smartphones are amazing pieces of technology, they can do all we want them to do: receive calls, texts, get weather alerts, remind us of dates. Thanks to them, we can practically have any information we want, almost instantly, but it has not always been like this. Our relationship with these tools has been evolving over the years. At the beginning, they seemed very expensive to operate and we were not used to bringing them with us. Now, they are a sort of an extension of our arms, without which we think we would be lost.
This is just an example, but it gives a clear idea of the process through which the society evolves, day by day, thanks to the technological innovations and it is something that is valid for the gas industry as well.
For many years we have been used to standard meters. Diaphragm meters mechanically measure gas passing through them and the measurement is represented on a physical dial. Sometimes, electronic readers are added to the system, but it is still a mechanical process, with moving parts that wear out over time and cause the accuracy of the meter to drift from its original calibration. Diaphragm meters work well when a load is decent, but the accuracy is lower for small loads and pilots. The result of the drift of accuracy over age and the presence of small loads mean there is often a significant difference between gas delivered and gas measured through the meter.
So, in a world where we are used to counting on almost perfect devices which guarantee high performances, how could we settle for something that is not as high performance as the tools we generally use? Simply, we cannot! Especially if we are talking about gas consumption, where less accuracy results in a waste of money and time.
So, here we are! At this point we see a new need that must be satisfied and the technology lends us a hand. The game changer we have been waiting for in the gas supply industry!
Smart Gas Meter
We can do whatever we wish by clicking on a device: talking, shopping, meeting friends…even eating! Why should we not remotely control our gas consumption? The solution developed by Cavagna Group is called Prodigi and IT IS NOT JUST A SIMPLE SMART GAS METER for residential use. In fact, it incorporates a high-performance ultrasonic sensor and it has IoT capabilities.
How does it work? Actually, it is a very easy process. The gas flow is measured as it passes through an ultrasonic sensor. The measurement signals are then stored until the smart meter sends the values to OTUS, the Cavagna Group’s asset management platform, using the RF, GSM, ISM, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT or LTE Communication. This passage happens electronically, without the need of someone physically reading the meter. The cooperation between a smart gas meter and a data management platform allows us to change the way we have always looked at gas metering operations.
Gas Metering today
In light of this, what does gas metering mean today? The Artificial Intelligence plays a prominent role in our lives and it helps us manage many of our daily activities. Applied to the gas industry, it offers innovative solutions which are useful from many points of views.
Smart gas metering gives the chance to gas companies to better plan their internal operations, manage deliveries and the gas supply in an optimized way, offering their collaborators the chance to work in a less stressful and safer way. By counting on a smart gas meter – like Prodigi – with a remotely controlled shut off valve, gas providers can monitor their customers consumption and, if it is necessary, also remotely interrupt the gas flow, without necessarily being on site.
At the same time, the final consumers enjoy other benefits, such as knowing their actual consumption and paying just for the gas they really use. Moreover, when all the parameters measured by a smart meter are shown through clear overview like the one offered by the platform OTUS, the final consumers can easily get familiar with the gas market. They begin to understand it better and the smart gas meter will soon become the new ‘must have’ device that every family needs.