The Advanced Meter Infrastructure ES bundle uses enterprise services to communicate between SAP backend systems and a metering system platform that is connected to smart meters, allowing information to flow back and forth between the call center, customer service department or backend office of a utility, and a customer's electric meter. This ES bundle provides enterprise services that allow utilities to automate time-consuming and expensive manual tasks such as disconnecting/reconnecting a meter, uploading profile data from a meter, and uploading discrete meter readings..

For a long time, utilities employed unsophisticated meters to track their customer's usage. These meters were read by a meter reader or by the customers themselves. Today greater strains on the power grid, environmental concerns, liberalization of utility markets, and new government-mandated billing systems mean that power suppliers must upgrade their metering systems.

Meters that had to be read manually then gave way to Automated Meter Reading (AMR) systems. These "smarter" meters would transmit data to the utility company. However, this communication moved data in only one direction: from the meter to the utility. AMR was certainly an improvement, but unidirectional communications meant that some types of common transactions, such as disconnection and reconnection, could not be performed automatically.

An Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI), on the other hand, provides two-way communication between meters at the customer site and the utility company. The communication is frequent as well. Utilipoint International, Inc. defines an AMI as "a communication network and meters providing interval usage (at least hourly) and collected at least daily."

SAP for Utilities now provides a way to communicate with an AMI through the Advanced Meter Infrastructure ES bundle. This ES bundle provides enterprise services that allow information to flow back and forth between the meters, the metering system platform (also known as the AMI), and SAP back-end systems. Using these enterprise services, utility companies can disconnect and reconnect customers, as well as uploading profile data from the AMI into SAP ERP 6.0. 
Figure 1 provides a graphic of the components involved in this business process. The technical processes are the province of the utility companies. The SAP backend systems communicate with SAP NetWeaver Process Integration (SAP NetWeaver PI, formerly called XI, using the enterprise services in this ES bundle. Depending on the metering system platform in question, SAP NetWeaver Process Integration formats the XML message to transfer the data from the SAP backend systems to the metering system platform and back again.
In the case of a regulated electricity market (as in most U.S. states except Texas), a single utility would own the entire system landscape, including both the technical processes and the commercial processes shown in Figure 1. In a deregulated market (as in most of Europe), this infrastructure would be run by multiple businesses such as a power supplier, distributor, and meter reading company (see the Market Communication ES bundle for details on market role based approach to handling the complexity of deregulated utilities). This ES bundle's enterprise services are the link between the technical and the commercial processes.



What the Advanced Meter Infrastructure ES Bundle Does

The Advanced Meter Infrastructure ES bundle enterprise services handles tasks in the following areas:

  • Technical master data exchange
  • Meter reading processes
  • Disconnection and reconnection

Technical Master Data Exchange

When a smart meter is installed, several steps are involved. First, the device must be created in SAP for Utilities and the meter must be initialized. Next the meter must be physically installed, followed by technically installing the meter and setting various parameters, such as how usage data will be collected. All of this master data exchange involves communications between SAP for Utilities and the meter data unification and synchronization system (MDUS). The MDUS then in turn communicates with the meters.

Meter Reading Processes

This ES bundle supports reading meters on a given date, either in bulk or singly (on-demand read). It also supports gathering time series data, which is critical for creating accurate pictures of usage for billing and reporting.

Disconnection and Reconnection

Services in this ES bundle allow a call center or backend office to remotely disconnect/reconnect a customer's meter. This means utilities won't have to take the time-consuming and expensive step of sending a technician to a customer's house to disconnect or reconnect a meter. For customers, it means their power will be reconnected more quickly after they pay a delinquent bill.

Further, the enterprise services offered in this ES bundle help companies meet emerging regulatory requirements. For example, in Sweden, regulatory policy mandates that all customers must receive a monthly bill based on actual consumption and not on estimates. In the US, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that all retail customers must be provided with an Advanced Metering Infrastructure and that they must have the option of taking service under time-based rates. In Germany, process efficiency includes a requirement that utilities must be able to remotely connect and disconnect customers who exhibit delinquent payment behavior.
The AMI ES bundle leverages enterprise SOA by sending web service messages from SAP for Utilities to SAP NetWeaver Process Integration. PI messages are then mapped to the XML required for a particular third-party metering system and this metering system in turn communicates with the customer's meter.

How To Use This ES Bundle

This section will explore use cases for the Advanced Meter Infrastructure ES bundle. Each use case will show how different outcomes can be achieved by using theenterprise services in different combinations. While these examples illustrate a few of the ways that this ES bundle could be used, the intention is to show the flexibility and reusability of these business objects and enterprise service operations so that you will have a clearer understanding of how to best deploy them in your own environment. This wiki is also a space for you to share knowledge and collaborate with others who are implementing the Advanced Meter Infrastructure ES bundle.

Use Case 1: Device Initialization Process

Before a smart meter can be used, it must be initialized to set up a bidirectional communication between the smart meter, the MDUS, and SAP for Utilities.

The process starts when a clerk enters a goods receipt for the smart meter in SAP for Utilities, which also creates the device's master data. At this point, SAP for Utilities sends a request to the MDUS system to create a representation for the device in its system. This request is sent using the Request Utilities Device Smart Meter Creation enterprise service, whose business object is Utilities Device. The MDUS sends back a confirmation message, using the Change based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Creation Confirmation enterprise service operation.

Later, when the smart meter is physically installed at the customer site, the MDUS system sends a notification back to SAP for Utilities using the Change based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Registered Notification, telling SAP for Utilities that this meter has been registered within a specific AMI system and that it can now be used for further processes.

Next, in SAP for Utilities, a clerk technically installs the smart meter. This process, with which users of SAP for Utilities will be familiar, entails assigning a measurement task to a device. A Utilities Measurement Task indicates why type of measurements should be taken using this device (for example, measuring consumption, energy, volume, or power periodically as indicated). It associates the physical meter with this measurement task, which can also be thought of as a logical representation of the meter's function. Technical installation also includes configuring the meter in SAP for Utilities, specifying how many registers there are, for example, for measuring energy use during different time blocks, such as daytime and nighttime usage, for example. Performing this task in SAP for Utilities invokes a request to the MDUS, which is carried by the Request Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Creation enterprise service operation. The MDUS then sends back a confirmation, using Change based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Creation Confirmation.

The device has now been both physically and technically installed; the final step is to install it from a billing perspective. At this point, the customer has a contract with you and the Point of Delivery has been assigned to this customer. SAP for Utilities informs the MDUS that the Point of Delivery (the customer premises) has been associated with this particular meter. SAP for Utilities communicates this information by invoking the Notify of Smart Meter Utilities Measurement Task Point Of Delivery Assigned enterprise service operation.

Please note: If multiple devices or measurement tasks are involved, this triggers the corresponding bulk services.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated Enterprise Services:

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: Purchase smart meter (No enterprise service is invoked in this step)
Step 2: Book goods receipt for smart meter within SAP for Utilities, which sends a message to MDUS Request Utilities Device Smart Meter Creation
Step 3: MDUS sends back a confirmation message Change Based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Creation Confirmation
Step 4: Install smart meter at the customer's site, after which MDUS sends a message about the registration of the meter Change based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Registered Notification
Step 5: Install smart meter technically in SAP for Utilities, which sends a message to MDUS Request Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Creation
Step 6: MDUS sends back a confirmation message Change based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Creation Confirmation
Step 7: Set up smart meter billing in SAP for Utilities Notify of Smart Meter Utilities Measurement Task Point Of Delivery Assigned


Use Case 2: Change Technical Master Data

In use case 1, we set up the smart meter so that it is functioning, reading consumption information for billing the customer. But even after a meter is installed, a company may decide that they want to change how they measure their customers' consumption. For example, it may be that initially, total consumption by day was being measured. Now, however, they want to measure usage in two segments: daytime usage and nighttime usage. These segments are called registers and the registers are an attribute of the business object Utilities Device.

To change the number of registers, first the change is made in SAP for Utilities, which invokes the enterprise service Request Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Change is invoked. The MDUS makes the corresponding change in its metering infrastructure and then sends back a confirmation message: Change Based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Change Confirmation.

Please note: If multiple devices or measurement tasks are involved, this triggers the corresponding bulk services.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated Enterprise Services:

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: Change the number of registers in SAP for Utilities, which then informs the MDUS Request Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Change as Bulk
Step 2: The MDUS makes the change in the number of registers and sends back a confirmation Change based on Utilities Device Smart Meter Register Change Confirmation as Bulk


Use Case 3: Reading a Group of Meters: Discrete Meter Reading Process

To bill customers for consumption, you have to find out how much energy they have used. In this use case, the utility company sends out a bulk request to read all the meters in a particular group (defined according to your setup) as of a given date, which may be in the future or in the past.

SAP for Utilities sends out this request to the MDUS by invoking the enterprise service Request Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation as Bulk. MDUS then acknowledges the request (perhaps the next day) by invoking Change based on Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation Confirmation as Bulkenterprise service operation. This confirmation message is not simply an acknowledgment of the request, however; it also includes application level details, such as the fact that a particular point of delivery is not known to the MDUS. In other words, the MDUS is saying, I will read all the meters except for this one and that one, which I don't have information on. (In the optimal case, all meters are known to the MDUS and no such exceptions occur.)

The MDUS then reads the meters according to the date the read was requested: either as soon as possible (for a present or past date) or on the specified date (in the case of a future date). The MDUS sends the meter readings to SAP for Utilities by invoking the Create Meter Reading Document Result as Bulk enterprise service operation, which uses the Meter Reading Document business object. After SAP for Utilities has uploaded the meter reading documents, it sends a confirmation message back to the MDUS, invoking the Confirm Meter Reading Document Result Creation as Bulk enterprise service operation.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated Enterprise Services:

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: SAP for Utilities sends a request to MDUS that a group of meters be read as of a given date, past or future Request Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation as Bulk
Step 2: The MDUS acknowledges the request and informs SAP for Utilities of any exceptions (meters that do not match its information) Change based on Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation Confirmation as Bulk
Step 3: The MDUS performs the readings and sends them to SAP for Utilities Create Meter Reading Document Result as Bulk
Step 4: SAP for Utilities confirms that it received and uploaded the readings Confirm Meter Reading Document Result Creation as Bulk


Use Case 4: Reading One Customer's Meter: On Demand Read

A utilities customer is moving out (or changing suppliers), so this transition requires reading that customer's meter on a certain date. This use case is very similar to use case 3, but it simply handles one customer versus a larger number.

SAP for Utilities sends out a request to read the customer's meter on a given date to the MDUS by invoking the enterprise service Request Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation. MDUS then acknowledges the request by invoking Change based on Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation Confirmation enterprise service operation, either confirming that it will read the meter as scheduled or that it can't read the meter in question because it doesn't have POD data.

The MDUS then reads the meter on the date the read was requested: either as soon as possible (for a present or past date, since it is presumed that the MDUS has readings for past dates already stored) or on the specified date (in the case of a future date). The MDUS sends the meter reading to SAP for Utilities by invoking theCreate Meter Reading Document Result enterprise service operation, which uses the Meter Reading Document business object. After SAP for Utilities has uploaded the meter reading document, it sends a confirmation message back to the MDUS, invoking the Confirm Meter Reading Document Result Creationenterprise service operation.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated Enterprise Services:

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: SAP for Utilities sends a request to MDUS to read a certain meter as of a given date, past or future Request Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation
Step 2: The MDUS acknowledges the request and informs SAP for Utilities of any exceptions (such as the meter ID does not match its information) Change based on Smart Meter Meter Reading Document Creation Confirmation
Step 3: The MDUS performs the reading and sends it to SAP for Utilities Create Meter Reading Document Result
Step 4: SAP for Utilities confirms that it received and uploaded the reading Confirm Meter Reading Document Result Creation


Use Case 5a: Uploading Usage Data (EhP2 onwards)

In use cases 3 and 4, meters were read as of a certain date. But to get detailed usage information, you need time series data.

To create a bill in SAP ERP 6.0, information about utilities usage must be uploaded from the meter into SAP ERP 6.0. For a live meter in an AMI system, usage data is collected every 15 minutes. This data is then uploaded - usually once per day - to the AMI system. Since bills are typically created monthly, this profile data is then uploaded to SAP ERP 6.0 at least once a month. In the past, uploading this profile data from the metering system platform into SAP for Utilities required a labor-intensive custom integration. Now, using enterprise services, the process is eased considerably.

Profile data uploading is triggered on a regular schedule in order to produce a bill. The AMI system sends profile data to SAP NetWeaver Process Integration, which then sends it to SAP backend systems by invoking the enterprise service operation Create Utilities Time Series Item. All the profile data is then uploaded into SAP ERP 6.0, where it can be used to create the customer's bill. As confirmation that the data was received, SAP ERP 6.0 in turn triggers the Confirm Utilities Time Series Item Creation enterprise service operation, which is sent to SAP NetWeaver PI. PI then formats an XML message that sends confirmation to the AMI system.

Related enterprise services can be used on an as-needed basis. The customer service representative can request the uploading of profile data before the billing cycle ends using the Request Utilities Time Series Item Creation service operation.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and the associated Enterprise Services:

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: At the scheduled time, the AMI system sends data to SAP for Utilities Create Utilities Time Series Item
Step 2: SAP for Utilities confirms that the data was received Confirm Utilities Time Series Item Creation


Use Case 5b: Uploading Usage Data (EhP6 onwards)

This use case replaces use case 5a. The services provided in this use case offer an updated set of enterprise services and improved underlying functionality, capable of processing interval usage data in a run-time-optimized way.

To create a bill in SAP ERP 6.0, information about utilities usage must be uploaded from the meter into SAP ERP 6.0. Live meters are able to collect usage data at regular intervals, for example every 15 minutes. This data is then uploaded to the AMI system usually once per day. Since bills are typically created monthly, the profile data is uploaded to SAP ERP 6.0 at least once a month. In the past, uploading profile data from the metering system platform into SAP for Utilities required a labor-intensive custom integration. Now, using enterprise services, the process is eased considerably. Furthermore, the uploading process can be monitored allowing navigation into the corresponding XML messages.

Profile data uploads are triggered on a regular schedule in order to produce a bill. The AMI system sends profle data as bulks to the SAP NetWeaver Process Integration, which then sends it to SAP backend systems by invoking the enterprise service UtilitiesTimeSeriesERPItemCreateRequestMessage. All the profile data is then uploaded into SAP ERP 6.0, where it can be used to create the customer's bill. As confirmation that the data was received, SAP ERP 6.0 in turn triggers the Confirm UtilitiesTimeSeriesERPItemBulkCreation service operation, which is sent to SAP NetWeaver PI. PI then formats an XML message that sends a confirmation to the AMI system.

Related enterprise services can be used on an as-needed basis.

The following table summarizes the steps for performing an initial upload of prifile data and the associated enterprise services:

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: At the scheduled time, the AMI system sends data to SAP for Utilities Request UtilitiesTimeSeriesERPItemBulkCreation
Step 2: SAP for Utilities confirms that the data was received Confirm UtilitiesTimeSeriesItemBulkCreation

The following table summarizes the steps for performing a follow-up upload of profile data and the associated enterprise services.

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: At the scheduled time, the AMI system sends changed data to SAP for Utilities Request UtilitiesTimeSeriesERPItemBulkChange
Step 2: SAP for Utilities confirms that the data was received and changed Confirm UtilitiesTimeSeriesItemBulkChange


Use Case 6: Remotely Disconnecting and Reconnecting a Meter

This use case explains how a utility could use the AMI ES bundle to remotely disconnect a customer who has not paid his or her bill. It also explains how the services in this bundle can be used to remotely reconnect a customer once the bill has been paid.

A utility would employ the enterprise services in the Advanced Meter Infrastructure ES bundle to disconnect a meter only after following a defined process of trying to get the customer to pay the delinquent bill. The process begins when a utility sends a customer a regular monthly bill. If the customer does not pay the bill in a timely fashion, he or she will end up on a list of delinquent customers. As a result, the following process steps could be performed: escalating the bill to dunning level 1, which entails sending mail to the sales manager and a reminder to the customer. If the customer still does not pay the bill, the process moves to dunning level 2, which requires calling the customer and perhaps taking other measures such as load reduction.

Table 1. Sample Collection Strategy and Related Activities

Dunning Level 1 Activities for Dunning Level 1
  Send mail to sales manager
  Send reminder to customer
  (Other activities defined for this dunning level)
Dunning Level 2 Activities for Dunning Level 2
  Disconnection warning call
  Load reduction
  (Other activities defined for this dunning level)
Dunning Level 3 Activities for Dunning Level 3
  Load reduction
  Start remote disconnection process

If the customer still does not pay, the collection strategy escalates to dunning level 3 and the call center begins the disconnection process.

A call center employee logs onto SAP for Utilities. The employee then fills out and submits a disconnection document (see Figure 2) that details the ID of the meter to be disconnected and the date when service will end. This triggers the enterprise service Request Utilities Connection Status Change Request. The request is sent from SAP for Utilities to SAP NetWeaver PI. PI then formats an XML message with these details and sends it to the MDUS system. The MDUS system then transmits a message to the meter to switch itself off, using a communications technique such as GSM, GPRS, or broadband over power lines. The AMI system then sends an XML message back to SAP NetWeaver PI, which triggers the Change Utilities Connection Status Change Request based on Confirmation enterprise serviceoperation, which confirms to SAP for Utilities that the meter has in fact been disconnected.

Reconnection

To reconnect service, the customer contacts the utility and pays the bill. The agent then fills out a reconnection form in SAP for Utilities (see Figure 3), which also triggers the Request Utilities Connection Status Change Request enterprise service operation, this time with a parameter that states that the meter should be reconnected. Power is remotely restored to the customer, and the meter sends back a message that triggers the Change Utilities Connection Status Change Request based on Confirmation enterprise service operation, which confirms the processing of the reconnection to the SAP backend system.

The following table summarizes the steps involved in disconnecting or reconnecting a customer and the associated Enterprise Services:

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: The customer does not pay his bill (no enterprise services is invoked during this step)
Step 2: The customer's delinquent account reaches a dunning level that requires disconnection of service (no enterprise services is invoked during this step)
Step 3: A call center employee fills in a disconnection or reconnection document in SAP for Utilities, which sends a message to the MDUS Request Utilities Connection Status Change Request
Step 4: The MDUS confirms that the meter has been disconnected (or reconnected) Change Utilities Connection Status 
Change Request based on Confirmation

Use Case 7: External Profile Calculation

To create a bill in SAP ERP 6.0, information about utilities usage must be uploaded from the meter to SAP ERP 6.0. For live meters registered in an AMI system, usage data is collected every 15 minutes. This data is then uploaded - usually once per day - to the AMI system. Since bills are typically created monthly, this profile data is then uploaded to SAP ERP 6.0 at least once a month. This profile data is used to bill customers on the basis of accurate and flexible time-of-use rates. A time-of-use rate allows you to record different price blocks per day (for example on, off, and critical peak times). SAP for Utilities supports two approaches for the time-of-use-based billing process. One approach uploads all profile data to the SAP for Utilities Energy Data Repository. The billing process accesses the profile data in the repository and performs actions such as the aggregation of profile values to retrieve the total consumption within a time-of-use block. The necessary services required for this process are listed in use case 8: Event Management. The second approach does not upload the profile data to SAP for Utilities. In this case, the data is kept in the external meter data repository and is accessed using an enterprise service. This service performs the requested action, such as an aggregation, directly in the external meter data repository and only returns the results to SAP for Utilities. The subsequent billing process catches the data and prepares a billing document.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and in the associated enterprise services.

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: Schedule customer billing No service available
Step 2: Prepare time series calculation request No service available
Step 3: Request time series calculation data from external system Time Series Calculation
Step 4: Bill customer based on requested data Billing Execution


Use Case 8: Event Management

Smart meters are able to communicate with an AMI Head End system and share information about their current status, as well as inform the head end system about events that have occurred (such as an outage or a meter malfunction). Selected events are forwarded from the head end to SAP for Utilities, where the event data is analyzed and follow-up actions are created. For example, in the case of a meter malfunction, SAP for Utilities can create a workforce order to repair the meter.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and in the associated enterprise services.

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: External system sends AMI event message to SAP for Utilities Receive Event
Step 2: SAP for Utilities analyzes the event message and prepares a follow-up action No service available


Use Case 9: Text Messaging to AMI Device

Modern smart meter devices are capable of receiving and displaying text messages sent out by SAP for Utilities. This feature allows the Utility to communicate in a new way for customers. For example, the Utility is able to inform the customer about the progress of inquiries or send out a dunning notice.

The following table summarizes the steps in this use case and in the associated enterprise services.

Step Enterprise Service Operation Invoked
Step 1: Compose message in SAP for Utilities No service available
Step 2: SAP for Utilities sends out a text message to an AMI device Text message

Future Directions

Additional enterprise services that remotely reduce the load for a specific customer, who may then receive discounts, may be added to this ES bundle. Another possible future direction is to provide services that allow the uploading of discrete values into SAP ERP 6.0 rather than the time series detail that the current enterprise servicesprovide. This would substantially reduce the amount of data that needs to be transferred for utilities that do not require this level of detail in customer bills. 

Connectivity

This bundle achieves connectivity between backend processes in SAP for Public Utilities and the metering system platform using SAP NetWeaver PI. The AMI system communicates with a customer's meter via GSM, GPRS or perhaps eventually broadband over power lines. 

System Requirements

  • SAP ERP 6.0
  • SAP enhancement package 2 for SAP ERP 6.0 or SAP enhancement package 4 for SAP ERP 6.0, depending on the enterprise services used. 
    For detailed technical information on enterprise services please refer to ES Workplace.
  • SAP NetWeaver Process Integration
  • A third-party meter data unification and synchronization system (MDUS).

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