As regards the gas service, ARERA’s resolution 117/2015/R/gas changed the frequency of readings, including a reading every four months, and the concept of periods relevant for meter reading. In response to this resolution, the Hera Group has presented an improvement plan, approved by AEEGSI, to maintain the benefits added by the new regulation and, at the same time, optimize reading loads throughout the year. Starting 1 January 2016, this has made it possible to start a new reading plan that includes:
- four attempts per year to take a reading for all customers with annual consumption between 501 and 5,000 m3 instead of the two required for customers with annual consumption between 501 and 1,500 and the three required for customers with annual consumption between 1,501 and 5,000.
- two attempts per year to take a reading for all customers with annual consumption between 0 and 500 m3, instead of the single reading required.
By doing so, the reading plan has made it possible to increase the quantity of readings collected by the distributor, optimize the reading workloads and reduce the number of readings that are estimated.
This system of readings, although an improvement over the resolution, led in 2016 and 2017 to decoupling the gas meter-reading rounds due to the different frequencies required, and to the loss of the previous advantage of multi-business reading with other services, especially water.
In order to avoid this, after the pilot project started in 2017 on Modena and Ferrara, in 2018 the new system for scheduling the meter-reading rounds was extended to all areas, which resumed the maximum possible synergy of multi-service readings for each customer, in compliance with the constraints imposed on the reading frequencies.
As regards the water service, ARERA’s resolution 218/2016/R/idr added new reading frequencies, and the concept of a minimum time between readings. In the face of this resolution, and thanks to Hera Group’s orientation which already went in the direction of maximizing the collection of measurement data, the new reading plan, initiated on 1 July 2016 includes:
- twelve attempts per year to take a reading for all customers with annual consumption above 1,800 m3 instead of the two required for customers with annual consumption between 1,800 and 3,000 and the three required for customers with annual consumption above 3,000.
- four attempts per year to take a reading for all customers with annual consumption between 500 and 1,800 m3, instead of the two required;
- two attempts per year to take a reading for all customers with annual consumption between 0 and 500 m3, in line with the requirements of the resolution.
By doing so, the reading schedule has made it possible to increase the number of readings actually taken, making it easier to identify leaks, and improve the quality of the invoicing (a smaller percentage of consumption is estimated).
During 2018, the provisions of ARERA’s Resolution 218/2016 were also followed up with regard to the advanced notification of a second pass to read meters for non-accessible water meters, when the first pass failed.
For those who have not opted for a specific notification system, the reading companies have implemented preventive notification with leaflet distribution using stickers, which also give users the opportunity to leave a self-meter reading if they expect to be absent.
Also in the field of remote readings, intense operational and control and monitoring activities were carried out during the year from the remote reading systems control room, which is also fundamental for optimizing maintenance activities in the field, thus ensuring excellent availability of reading data. An optimization introduced during the year was the systematization of the management of the electronic meters undergoing temporary maintenance, by means of a manual reading run, always with the aim of minimizing the use of estimated readings.
As of the end of 2018, the Hera Group achieved its targets for the year by installing almost 650,000 smart gas meters, amounting to 34% of the total (the target for the end of 2018 was 30%), 315,313 of which were installed in 2018. We plan to continue the installation plan for electronic gas meters, which in 2019 will include an improved meter with advanced security features designed and developed by Hera and which will become a standard component of the Group’s equipment. In 2018, following the consolidation of the UNI/TR 11689 standard for remote management, the Italian Gas Committee completed its first phase of testing, a pilot project that also involved Inrete Distribuzione. In 2018, Hera Group successfully continued to develop an advanced version of the gas meter that incorporated specific safety functions. After the research phases, in 2017, the product was developed in 2018 and industrialization, metrology certification and field testing will take place in 2019. According to current plans, the first commercial installations will occur in the last months of this year. To this end, the Group has entered into a technological partnership with a multinational leader in high-tech technologies (Panasonic) and has identified Pietro Fiorentini S.p.A. as a leading assembler in the national manufacturing scenario of this specific sector.
As in 2017, also for 2018, investments in smart metering gas benefited from the “Industry 4.0” hyperamortization incentives for investments in the high-tech sector. During 2018, the operating tools used to manage equipment for mass-market remote meter reading (meter classes G4-G6) were further consolidated. The radio network used for remote meter reading has been extended to more towns and in 2019 it will cover almost all the major city centres served by the Group, and for the main cities, will to extend into the neighbouring urban areas. Furthermore, work is continuing for recovery and communication of the equipment installed in the years in which the central communication and acquisition systems were not yet active.
Procurement and installation activities are now fully proceduralised and industrialized. Now the focus of the technical structures is on communication reliability and on the analysis of the factors that determine the yield of remote reading over specific timeframes (3 days, 7 days, etc..) in order to optimize the commercial performance of the system. At the same time, specific measures are being taken to optimize operating costs, with particular regard to communication costs, and activities were finalized to improve the commercial performance of the remote reading system, with particular regard to communication and rental costs for the facilities that house the concentrators.