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May 4, 2019Chris Bui

Case Study: SAP AMI Implementation Transforms a Multi-Service Utility for the Future

Upgrading technology to align with corporate goals is imperative for forward-thinking utilities. In particular, utilities that implement an advanced metering infrastructure program are laying a strong foundation for their future, and in reality, making business transformation possible.

The following case study details how Utegration helped a mid-sized multi-service utility to successfully implement their AMI metering program across multiple service lines to transform their business processes, maximize efficiency and improve customer service and revenue across various streams.

Client & Project Overview

The utility is a municipally-owned entity that distributes electric, gas, and water to residential, commercial, and industrial customers over an 800+ square mile service area serving over 150,000 electric customers, more than 90,000 water customers and nearly 55,000 gas customers. The utility’s AMI integration is the first of its kind SAP AMI MDUS implementation in North America in that it covered three services: electric, gas and water meters. Utegration served as the prime system integrator; we performed the SAP AMI MDUS integration, defined the new end-to-end business processes, and assisted with the organizational change management for the entire organization. Siemens Omnetric implemented EnergyIP V8.3 as the MDM solution. Landis+Gyr provided their head-end solution, Command Center (CC) V7.4, for monitoring and collecting data from the AMI network. The program started during summer of 2015, and it featured multiple releases to ensure a measured and successful rollout. The phases were:

  • Release 1 – Initial or Pilot deployment (August 2016) to deploy AMI head end for a small territory and install small set of 1000 meters (electric, gas and water);
  • Release 2 – Residential readiness (September 2017) to deploy residential customers for remote billing and remote disconnect/reconnect;
  • Release 3 – Commercial & Industrial readiness (May 2018) to support deployment of commercial & industrial customers and remote billing.

Business Drivers

The utility’s business case defined the corporate goals and strategy for the AMI metering program, emphasizing the pain points which inhibit them from achieving their operational KPIs and expressing their business vision for the future with the new technology. The following were the key business drivers and goals that led the utility to begin the AMI metering program:

  • Reduce billing exceptions – To eliminate manual read process and increase meter accuracy with automated reads
  • Increase operational efficiency – Reduce overhead cost on manual read collection and operational work on service connect & disconnect, etc.
  • Improve customer service – Provide customers with access to usage data on their daily consumption, demand and other metrics to advocate customers on minimizing their usage. Provide customers with real time about utility outage and restoration
  • Improve operational capabilities - support remote disconnect/connect, advance outage reporting, detect power quality and energy theft and tampering safety concerns
  • Roadmap for future initiatives - provide the foundation for smart grid management to facilitate integration of distributed generation & automation and energy conservation for voltage reduction

These business drivers led to the development of an AMI roadmap which stipulated the delivery of enhanced business capabilities over the aforementioned phases. Each business driver correlated with a key performance indicator (KPI). These metrics touch upon business activities such as daily read collection rates, billing exceptions, meter read validations, remote disconnection and reconnection failures, and field work for AMI events.

Solution Capabilities

The AMI project delivered the following core capabilities:

  • Automated remote read collection for electric, gas and water meters
  • Support remote billing for residential and commercial customers
  • Controlled remote disconnect process to support dunning disconnect and customer moves
  • Real-time payment integration to support automated immediate reconnection
  • Monitor and manage meter events near real time and automate field work
  • Automate on demand meter status and reads to support customer inquiries
  • Provide seamless integration to view daily usage data from MDM
  • Enhanced customer service with access to usage data and remote connect/disconnect

AMI for Process Transformation

AMI is disruptive technology with the potential to upgrade many facets of utility operations. That said, the benefits to customer service, meter operations, billing, meter engineering, etc. aren’t guaranteed; they have to be engineered. Utegration treats every AMI implementation not as not just a technology installation but rather as an opportunity to transform the business. As we always do, Utegration brought AMI-enhanced end-to-end business process flows and validated them against the utility’s requirements. The flows represent the future state of utility business operations and encapsulate many of the benefits.

In addition to defining process maps, Utegration worked closely with the Utility’s personnel to define the changes in the organizational structure and the impact to their current workforce.

Conclusion

In order to execute a truly successful AMI program, commitment to business process transformation is required from top to bottom of the organization.

This implementation was the first of its kind—an AMI MDUS solution implementation across all three (electricity, gas, and water) service types. The AMI implementation was a successful and rewarding project for the utility. In replacing their traditional metering process with AMI, the utility was able to step into the next generation of advanced metering and smart grid initiatives.

Utegration’s partnership with the utility provided more than technology expertise; a depth of industry knowledge and understanding of AMI’s power to transform the business was the underlying success factor in design and deployment, as well as adoption in the organization.

Since the AMI implementation was completed, the utility has mitigated its pain points around service delivery, meter-to-cash, and customer services. Now it’s able to achieve things that were simply not possible before AMI was implemented, including helping its customer to effectively manage their cost and consumption.

To learn more about how to make your AMI implementation successful, read Tips on How to Prepare Your Organization for an AMI Project.