Heat meters serve as sensitive sensors in district heating network

Since an incident with defective substations, in Pirmasens minute values are now being read from the heat meters for the purposes of network management.

Automated network management

In 2012, Mr. Volker Weiland, department head at Stadtwerke Pirmasens, encountered a serious problem which almost brought the district heating network of the city to a standstill.

Sharp increases

Sharp increases in the flow threatened to overextend the district heating network and to endanger the security of supply in other parts of the network.

In order to find a solution, the error source first had to be found, and for this purpose, thorough analytical work was required.

For the analysis, Mr. Weiland needed a highly detailed recording which could document

time limited peaks. As a result of the very good cooperation with the meter manufacturer and a precise error analysis, the problem was solved.

Troubleshooting

Mr. Weiland immediately presumed that a technical error had occurred in the heat substation as very short increases are not regulatory requirements.

The first visits at the eligible customers remained unsuccessful as the customers denied to have hydraulic problems.

A more thorough troubleshooting was initiated. Starting with a reading of the data logger of the heat meters. 

The meter registers the consumption at specific intervals and thus the consumption patterns. But also this initiative had no success; the configuration of the heat meter only allowed a reading of hourly values, and hourly values are mean values and therefore, the temporary extreme consumption peaks blurred.

Since 1996, Stadtwerke Pirmasens has been a customer of Kamstrup. The ultrasonic meters are completely wear-free and counts more precisely than impeller meters. Looking back, it can be ascertained that for 20 years, there have not been any problems with the Kamstrup meters. After a revision, all meters are inserted again and have already been in use for more than 15 years.

The solution

Automated meter reading of minute values

Preparation of the heat meters

To gain detailed insight into the consumer side, ten selected heat meters of the type MULTICAL® 602 were each retrofitted with a programmable data logger and a GSM module. The programmable data logger should save minute values and thus document an extremely finely woven consumption profile. With 1440 minutes per day, an enormous amount of data was generated with this method so that the saved data had to be sent wirelessly via the mobile network to the public utility once a day 

in a data package. There, they were automatically read and evaluated by the software.

Through the very detailed graphics, Mr. Weiland could now provide the affected customers with evidence that a problem had occurred in the district heating substation and that the primary engine valves had to be replaced.

An optimal system for network management

Since the incident, minute values are now being remotely read at all major customers.

Mr. Weiland explains: “The manual reading is very time-consuming and not effective for an error analysis. Our greatest challenge as

district heating supplier is to run the heating plants economically. 

Therefore, we have to know what is happening on the consumer side. With the powerful meters and remote reading, we now have an optimal system in order to perform effective network management. 

Helpful are among other things load profiles, peak values, return temperatures and current meter counts. Thereby, we also use the full capacity of the meters for our network optimisation and can provide our customers with energy advice and information about the optimal setting of the customers' installations.”

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