A trendsetter in energy supply – a case story from Ulm

A ‘carefree package’

Wireless meter reading ensures reliability of supply and customer satisfaction

In the town Ulm in southern Germany, Fernwärme Ulm GmbH (FUG) provides both environmentally friendly heating and cooling. Reliability of supply and customer satisfaction are of equal importance to this provider. The product it offers is entirely in line with the energy revolution, with more than 60 % coming from renewable fuels, rising to in excess of 80 % for combined heat and power. The company also utilises remote meter reading to provide its customers with better cost effectiveness and convenience.

Wolfgang Klingler from the sales/service department says: "Our customers have no heating units or chimneys. There is no call for inspections and compliance with emission values at customers' premises. We deliver the energy as a finished product with integrated environmental protection directly to the house, a carefree package, you might say."

Linked by heat meters

The 'carefree package' includes the meter reading. The heat meter serves as the link between FUG and its customers, and both the reading of the heat meters and the billing are processes which are key to the relationship between customers and the energy supplier – and not least because of the cost effectiveness of the energy supply. Naturally, this role as a link places high demands on the technology.

Wireless meter reading immediately means improved customer service

Prior to the introduction of wireless reading, FUG had a few problems with meter reading. Meter readers often had to make appointments with customers in order to gain access to the meters. As is frequently the case, particularly in newer residential areas,

no one is home during the day, so it became increasingly difficult to read meters in homes. The common practice of having customers read their own meters was not advocated by FUG because it is not very customer-friendly. In addition, the return of the meter reading cards is often slow and there is an increased risk of misreading.

A wireless solution is a practical and customer-friendly means of obtaining the required meter readings as well as additional data such as monthly and maximum values. As it is not necessary to enter customer property, the meter reading is not perceived as an annoyance or unwelcome intrusion. Since the introduction of the wireless meters, the reading process has become significantly faster and more flexible.

In trials, the meters were installed in reinforced concrete basements and read using hand-held terminals. The Kamstrup wireless connection was convincing with FUG deciding on the MULTICAL heat meter. As a bonus, MULTICAL is also an ultrasonic meter which can be upgraded twice, thereby promising a service life of at least 15 years.

Convincing wireless reading

Wireless reading heat meters since 2002

FUG has more than 2000 Kamstrup meters in use which are read wirelessly using a hand-held terminal. This terminal is then connected to a PC at FUG where the data is processed by the associated Kamstrup software and transferred to FUG's SAP IS-U billing system.

The meters are read according to a rolling system by a meter reader driving through the town in an electric Smart car. The wireless reading works well even when the meters are installed in basements and substations with metal housings.

The company first contacted Kamstrup in the beginning of 2002. FUG specifically wanted a manufacturer of heat meters which could also offer wireless reading and had approached several providers. Above all, the company placed great importance

on a fault-free wireless connection. In trials, the meters were installed in reinforced concrete basements and read using hand-held terminals. The Kamstrup wireless connection was convincing with FUG deciding on the MULTICAL® heat meter.

A few district heating customers were worried about wireless radiation when the meters were installed. However, as the meters only 'wake up' to be read by the hand-held terminal, they only transmit a wireless time for the brief period during which they are read. For the remainder of the time, as long as the meter is 'sleeping', there is no wireless signal and the meter only records the consumption data. As a result, the concerns of the customers were quickly dispelled.

Combined heat and power for more than 60 years

FUG markets its product as green energy – and with good reason. Energy awareness among the general population has increased significantly in recent years, particularly in the wake of the energy revolution. As a consequence of this newly awakened awareness, energy-efficient combined heat and power is seen as something very modern. This slightly surprises Mr Klingler: "Here in Ulm, we have been supplying combined heat and power for more than 60 years," he says.

Currently, more than 60% of the energy generated by FUG comes from renewable energy sources, the largest of which is locally sourced wood. FUG has therefore already achieved a reduction in CO2 emissions of up to 80% in comparison with 1990 levels.
District heating Ulm, Germany

- More than 2000 MULTICAL® heat meters.
- Wireless reading via hand-held terminal

Fernwärme Ulm GmbH (FUG) was founded in 1995 and with its 200 employees is the district heating supplier for Ulm. The shareholders are EnBW Erneuerbare und Konventionelle Erzeugung AG and Stadtwerke Ulm / Neu-Ulm GmbH each with a 50% holding.

FUG has approximately 2900 house connections. These range from residential homes and retail and commercial premises to industrial companies, with FUG supplying around 50% of the heat requirement for Ulm. With its investment in two biomass combined heating and power plants, FUG seems well prepared for the future.

Contact for more information

Fernwärme Ulm GmbH

Magirusstrasse 21

DE-89077 Ulm

Phone: +49 (0)731/3992-0

Email: info@fernwaerme-ulm.de


Kamstrup Germany

Werderstraße 23-25

DE-68165 Mannheim

Tel.: (+49) 621 321 689 60

Email: info@kamstrup.de

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