Nine utilities
– one smart grid platform

The MV Group, Denmark

The investment in a shared intelligent multi-utility system has not only meant significant benefits and savings for the members of the MV Group and their customers. The system’s flexibility has also made it possible for a number of smaller utility companies to become part of the collaboration.

In 2013, when the MV Group consortium made the decision to invest in a comprehensive smart grid platform for joint reading and handling of consumption data, the motivation was primarily financial. However, the multi-utility solution would soon prove to provide other and more far-reaching benefits. Today, the MV Group counts nine primary members as well as a number of smaller companies who all enjoy the benefits of this collaboration.

From smart idea to intelligent solution
At electricity company RAH service they had been playing with the idea of a smart grid for a while, but the incentive to go from thought to action came in the form of the statutory requirement for remotely read electricity meters by 2020. 

The idea of a joint solution grew out of a couple of cups of coffee with the nearby water and heating utilities, but rumours of the cooperation spread rapidly, and in no time, eight utility companies were involved in the project. Soon after, the MV Group became a reality.

The primary motivation was the prospect of joint procurement for the replacement of the mechanical meter park, but also the opportunity to offer consumers a single platform across all supply types was weighted heavily. 
 
"Our original thought was that the more meters we had, the better terms we could get in a contract. But it was also important for us to be able to present our customers with a shared platform that shows the household's energy and water consumption in one place," says Lars Kristensen, Contract Manager at RAH Service.
 
Today, all 192,000 metering points are remotely read and handled in one intelligent system that manages all supply types and delivers large amounts of operational data to the utility companies. In addition to the system itself, the consortium’s now nine primary companies co-own the entire infrastructure, which consists of a radio network.

"It is crucial for us that the system ensures a strict division of data for each utility. Also, this set-up means that we can quickly add more companies, whenever and whenever we want, without compromising security and data access," 
says Lars Kristensen.

Economies of scale for small utilities

Several of the original members have established various forms of collaboration on data collection, administration and billing with smaller utilities in their local area. Although the utility companies use the same solution, the system and hosting set-up ensure that the collected meter data is separated so they can be sure to comply with personal data legislation.
 
In addition to the financial potential and the technical solution, it is the opportunity for the companies to exchange experiences and get competent feedback that drive the interest in collaborating. "Especially the smaller utilities want to be part of a community with a shared cause – both to strengthen their position and to get advice and guidance," explains Lars Kristensen.

Lower operational costs and better quality of supply

The switch to remote reading has meant significantly lower annual costs for all nine utility companies. For one thing, manual handling of annual meter readings is now done automatically and leak monitoring is more efficient and an integral part of the system.
 
The cost of operating and monitoring the meters has also decreased, and the implementation of a completely new system means that fewer people are needed in the field. "Naturally, we have reduced our costs because the meters now all belong under one system as opposed to before, when we had to handle three systems," says Lars Kristensen.
 
The large amounts of data that the system delivers also give the utilities a much better overview of the network and the end users’ consumption so that they can better monitor and optimise the supply. In addition, they are able to quickly detect and correct errors they would not necessarily have caught previously.

"We can take action immediately. In the past, many years could go by before we found out something was wrong. It was only when we got physical access to the meter. This really complicated our discussions with customers about additional payments and what is right and reasonable."
 
Finally, the high quantities of data enable more precise dimensioning of the grid. Lars Kristensen explains: "Our technicians can now base their calculations on facts from the network rather than estimates. This means we get much closer to what is actually required and therein lies obvious savings."
 
The entire project has been characterised by a close cooperation between Kamstrup and the MV Group. A direct result from this is the development of a Performance Centre requested by the technicians in the MV Group, who felt they would be able to do their job more efficiently with a better overview of each meter and its performance.

In the Performance Centre, RAH Service can stay updated on the status of data collection, and every day they get an action list that makes it easy for them to prioritise their efforts.
 
"The Performance Centre and especially the action list help us immensely in our everyday work," explains Lars Kristensen.
 
Customer guidance based on hourly values 
The utilities have also been able to increase their level of customer service significantly. "There is no doubt that we have achieved considerable savings, but what perhaps means even more to us is the service we provide when talking to customers. 

If there is something on their bill they cannot understand or a question about their consumption, we can now guide them based on hourly values," says Lars Kristensen.

Moving towards real time

About a year into the operational phase for the majority of the solution, the focus is still on using and gaining full benefit from the data the utilities now receive. Looking further ahead, Lars Kristensen has no doubt about the direction in which the utility industry is moving: 

"We see a world where we are constantly getting closer to real-time data. And obviously, the closer we get to reality here and now, the more specific and efficient we become." 

9 utilities – 192,000 metering points


Kamstrup’s delivery

  • OMNIA smart grid platform
  • OMNIPOWER single-phase and three-phase electricity meters
  • Smart water meters
  • MULTICAL 402 heat meters
  • Service, support and operations agreement
  • Remote reading with Radio Mesh Network and GPRS 
  • Intelligent leak monitoring
  • Performance Centre for easy overview of data collection as well as which meters and network components require attention
  • Time frame: The roll-out began in the summer of 2014 and the majority of the meters, as well as the radio network, has been in operation since the summer of 2016

Read about our combi solutions here

Introducing a flexible and efficient multi-utility metering solution that meets the requirements for reading and handling smart electricity, water and heat meters.
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