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Changes in the gas and water supplying industry and the effects on the meter management

A larger radical change is approaching for the meter management in the gas and water supplying industry in Germany, or it is partly already in process.

With the MID and the Energy Law of the European Union, which was put into German law as the Energy Industry Law, many changes in the meter management can be expected. Especially at gas and water meters, which are equipped up to today maximally with pulse sensors as electronic parts, did decades nothing. Contrary to electricity meters, an auxiliary energy is necessary, mostly supplied by batteries. The capacities of batteries were in relation to the power requirement still too small and electronic meters in relation to the mechanical devices to expensive. In that case that new functions like for example a temperature measurement in the gas meters were not really necessary, the more economical mechanical meters were used. Here should be here should be reminded of the domestic ultrasonic meters in the middle of the 90th. These meters worked more exactly and temperature-compensated, but they were also approx. 50 to 100% more expensive than the diaphragm gas meters. Additionally the recalibration periods of electronic meters were shorter than those of the mechanical devices.

Rapid developments of electronics offer now new possibilities, for example electronic meters, operating more than 10 years with a battery. The standardization considers also the new technology. Electronic counter as a main counter became more simply to certify. Interfaces and data communication possibilities became safer and faster. The Smart Metering, remote reading of the meters up to live transmissions of the consumption via Internet up to the final customers, opens completely new possibilities.

A further thrust comes by the energy law, which came by the splitting of the sales companies from the supplying network companies. On the one side transportation should not become by inaccurate measurements a losing transaction. On the other side the measurement management with data acquisition and data transmission represents a service, which goes beyond the transportation business.

For these reasons the mechanical meters are slow on the retreat. Electronic accessories at diaphragm gas meters for temperature compensation and data transmission have similar costs like electronic meters. Longer than the mechanical measurement cartridges of gas meters, the use of mechanical water meter cartridges will be expected.

A larger advantage for the consumer will represent the increasing accuracy of the new meter types. Not only an improvement by the measurement principle will have these effects, but also additional correction options of the simple operating measured values with meter electronics. This is supported also increasingly by a changed standardisation. In that way the customer is not only in the position to control and adapt his consumption, but also in relation of the rising costs of gas and water, the more exact consumption information offers a fair cost load for the consumer.

Last end this will have effects also on the big gas- and water meter technology. The supplying network companies especially in the gas area must exactly know, where and how much it will be delivered and supplied, in order to have no losses. It will be to register an increase of the number and the quality of measuring points. In the gas section, the measurement of the supplied energy will become determining where today still over standard volumes accounts are settled.

Also the test and calibration technology is affected by this. The renewal of testing equipment is necessary from point of the requirements at accuracy and new measuring requirements, as well as the test quantity. In the big gas meter technology one could see the effects. The requirement of the high pressure calibration of all meters with an operating pressure over 5 bar showed the problem of the small number of available high pressure test areas by the increase of the waiting periods. Also within the range of new domestic meters new types will be developed, which cause also higher requirements to the test facilities.

An effect of the introduction of Smart Meters already can be seen with the meter manufacturers. The classical splitting of gas, water, heat and electricity meter manufacturers will be changed. Since the interface systems are generally manufacturer specific, the meter manufacturers works also similar to the town energy and water supplier with all media. Water and heat meter manufacturers take up the gas meter production and in opposite direction. With electricity meter manufacturers mostly co-operation were established.

The whole industry is in a radical change. Engineering offices such as IMBUS will contribute their part, whether in the development or consultation, in the measurement technology or test facilities. This concerns not only the European Union. This development will appear also rapidly global. We here in Central Europe can mainly arrange this with.