Massive smart meter rollout with attention to detail

Radius, part of the Ørsted Group, Denmark

From the get-go, “planning” has been the keyword for the Kamstrup-Radius’ cooperation on roll-out and operation of 1 million remotely-read electricity meters. That has kept the project on schedule in terms of both time and budget despite its massive size and complexity. With one foot already in the operation phase, Radius is now working on maximizing the value of the large quantities of meter data.

With less than one tenth of the meters left to replace, Danish energy company Radius is entering the final phase of Northern Europe’s largest smart metering project. However, the scale of this project is not the only thing that makes it stand out. Thanks to extremely thorough preparation, it is running entirely according to plan in relation to both time schedule, budget and safety level, which are three of Radius’ primary success criteria for the project. This is in large part due to the meticulous planning, which was part of the tender.

“The key to such a massive project is the planning. The meters must be delivered on time, you need different IT systems to work together and the entire physical roll-out has to be in place before visiting 1 million customers. It’s all about planning, planning, planning,” says Steen Hansen, Senior Manager at Radius.

Complexity takes time

Due to the complexity of the project, with an abundance of integrations across different IT systems, the project plan included dedicated time for testing in the beginning of the project and throughout. “The integration work has been managed closely, with sub-tests, factory tests, site tests and joint tests, and we have had test managers – at both Kamstrup and Radius – who went through everything and truly understood the importance of cooperating on this,” explains Steen Hansen.

The IT system is still the area that demands the most attention. “The system also needs to perform when we reach 1 million meters. After all, that is the whole purpose of this project: to collect meter data from 1 million electricity customers, validate them and forward them to the national DataHub system that collects meter data for billing.”

The scale of the project and its success so far has attracted great interest from DSOs all over the world wanting to hear about Radius’ approach, and the company is happy to share its experiences. “Instead of listing specifications for our metering and communication solution, we focused on the big picture: the meter data we need to be able to meet the requirements from the world around us. And Kamstrup is actually performing better than what we specified in our contract,” says Steen Hansen and continues: ”Opting for thoroughly-tested standard products was a conscious decision – and this is of course also part of the reason why we are on budget.”

Initially, 1,500 meters were scheduled to be installed every day – in itself an ambitious target – but on good days, the number of replaced meters reaches 2,500. “Kamstrup replaces more than 40,000 meters a month in 20 working days. That’s impressive! It’s really something to be proud of,”

Steen Hansen, Senior Manager at Radius

2,500 meters a day

Initially, 1,500 meters were scheduled to be installed every day – in itself an ambitious target – but on good days, the number of replaced meters reaches 2,500. “Kamstrup replaces more than 40,000 meters a month in 20 working days. That’s impressive! It’s really something to be proud of,” says Steen Hansen.

When Radius chose to put the project to tender as a turnkey delivery, this was, in part, because of the enormous logistics task that the company knew would be critical to the success of the roll-out. “If the meter supplier suddenly failed to deliver, we would be left with 180 people standing in the parking lot, and the roll-out would come to a standstill. That risk should never be underestimated – we need the meters ready for the installers and the consumers ready to open the front door. Kamstrup absolutely rose to that challenge.”

Now, with the roll-out nearing completion, the planning has clearly paid off: all the important project milestones have been met.

About Northern Europe’s largest smart metering project

Data changes the playing field

With hourly values from the first 900,000 meters already coming in, Radius is beginning to focus on utilizing all the data they receive. “The large quantities of data give us a better understanding of the load in our low-voltage grid and enable us to better identify theft, handle faults and guide our customers in case of outages so we can troubleshoot faster,” says Steen Hansen.

Another very tangible advantage with the new meters is that they include a circuit breaker allowing Radius to remotely disconnect and reconnect customers. “Not having to send an employee out to the customer is the big business case for us. Today, we do between 200 and 250 disconnections a month and the same number of reconnections, so that brings significant savings – not to mention the ability to react quickly when we are given this task.”

More intelligent grid planning through digitalization and improved grid insights is also something Radius is looking into in what Steen Hansen calls “the new world”. “If, for example, there is a boom in electric cars, we can use our data to quickly analyze where to take action first, identify unknown bottlenecks and possibly distribute load. That way we can focus our efforts and stage our investments in expanding the grid.”

More data also leads to new opportunities for consumer-oriented initiatives, which is an area that is expected to develop a lot in the coming years. “Time-of-use tariffs will allow us to shift some of the consumption to off-peak hours and consequently balance the load on the grid. This is one of the things we’re looking at now on the basis of the many opportunities and large quantities of data we get with the new meters.”

And if consumers are sufficiently incentivized to even out their consumption, it will generate substantial benefits for Radius as a distribution company. “We may be able to avoid having to increase the capacity in the grid or at least postpone some investments. This changes the playing field entirely and holds great potential for optimization.”

Radius gets:

  • Meter data delivered in accordance with SLA (Service Level Agreement) requirements
  • Kamstrup’s OMNIA smart metering system with smart electricity meters and RF mesh/P2P communication
  • Integrations to the Landis & Gyr MDM system, SAP, device exchange management system and consumer portal
  • Complete installation of meters and infrastructure, including planning and customer service towards consumers
  • Complete IT setup with extra security
  • Operation of meters and system until 2035