There’s a global consensus: smart meters save money. And they save money right across the supply chain, from providers to consumers -and everyone in-between.
In fact, an Australian study last year found the operational savings for water utilities ranges between 45 and 100 percent.
There are however, plenty of examples of digitisation programs costing horrendous amounts of money. Naturally, this is enough to scare anyone off of the bleeding edge of smart metering.
Regardless, faced with increased government and consumer pressure to digitise services, most Aussie utilities have a smart meter roll-out underway, or in planning stages. No matter if you’re in electricity, water or gas, or the size of your fleet, you want to ensure your upgrade process is as competitive as possible. That is: you’re fast, scalable and your installation is fool proof.
It’s important to factor in cost considerations, and ways to save money on your smart meter roll-out.
What’s invested in your existing metering infrastructure?
Depending upon how recently analogue meters were installed, you may have more than two decades of life in legacy infrastructure.
Multiply this by the number of assets in your gas, electricity or water network and you’re likely to be losing thousands of years of life invested in your infrastructure.
So it’s a good idea to consider how you can extend the life of existing investments alongside a smart metering strategy. Which brings us to the next consideration: retrofit vs swap-out.
Are you switching old meters for new?
Going both feet in and switching analogue meters for new digital meters is a bold strategy, and as it stands today, it is expensive.
First to consider is your hardware costs. Australia’s smart meter market has been plagued by a lack of inventory ever since the Aussie-based investment group, Bayard Capital rolled up 14 smart meter manufacturers into Landis+Gyr and sold it to Toshiba in Japan. This, plus the standard evolution of technology means every smart meter unit sold today is expensive compared to what it will be in 1, 5 and 10 years.
If you can, you want to be purchasing larger volumes of meters once the market has matured, and competition and availability has pushed down prices. Today, a smart meter costs around $500 – and that’s just hardware.
Your second major consideration is the cost of services to switch a legacy meter for a new digital device. This costs between 30min – 1 hour of downtime on services (income) and licensed trades (approximately $100/p/hr). This brings the total cost per smart meter to an average $600 for the Aussie homeowner.
A Griffith University study last year found “The more complex the (smart metering) technology, the greater the cost to establish and operate.”
Balancing consumer demand for digital services with Cost
One option is to retrofit or convert analogue meters, updating them with new, low-cost digital reading technology.
The option to digitise by retrofitting those analogue meters with life still left in them is also a more sustainable option, and you’ll make savings by extending the life of your existing asset investment.
As for costs, with a digital reader there is no interruption to services or requirement for licensed trades, instead, your customer or the labour you already have can apply the solution.
Saving Time & Money on a Fool-proof Installation
It’s important to consider how complex ‘new for old’ swap-out processes are. Among other challenges, unforeseen delays of new smart meter installations caused by unsafe work environments requiring site revisits or remedial works quickly add to your smart metering costs.
Saving Time, Money & Effort by Digitising Faster
Recent research demonstrates smart meter cost savings is between 5-10% for the consumer, and between 45-100% for the utility. These costs include: reduction in labour costs, OH&S issues, reduced meter reading issues, leak alerts and improved cashflow with greater revenue forecasting and cost recovery.
Customer service improvements such as more accurate billing, faster leak detection and insights into real-time consumption benefit the utility and the consumer by improving customer ‘stickiness’ and reduced customer churn. Further, fewer billing disputes, less bill shock due, more accurate reads benefit all in the supply chain.
The accumulative cost savings, operational efficiencies and improved data available for further service packaging, prioritising network infrastructure improvements and customer services all make the decision to go digital sooner rather than later a smart one.
The cost side of a digital metering rollout is subject to the technology selected, the extent of the implementation, and the purchasing processes of utility; Snapi is a new, exciting, and just a smarter way to convert legacy assets into smart meters. With a ‘peel and activate’ snap-on device, your meter reader will digitise your meter in <10seconds. No downtime. And no licensed trades. Forget tossing out analogue meters with life still in them. Further, the digital visual reading (vs pulse) technique is 99.9% accurate. It’s greener, leaner and smarter metering – in a snap.