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AMI and Business Process Expert

  If you’re a business process expert in the utilities industry, no doubt you’re thinking hard about the  looming impact of AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). And you’re right to be concerned. By enabling real time two-way communication between customers and utilities, AMI – in conjunction with smart meters – is transforming the industry.   The change may be coming faster than many of us anticipate, too. My feeling is that the issues around AMI have moved well beyond whether or not the utility industry should adopt it. Think of AMI as an answer to a question – and when companies find answers, it’s difficult to prevent them from taking action.   In the broadest of strokes, the questions AMI answers are twofold. First, how do utility companies serve their customers better in energy markets that are becoming increasingly consumer-driven — whether those markets are liberalized or still regulated? Second, how do energy providers smoothen out demand peaks at a time of constrained generation capacity and reduce the loads required to serve the customer base?   Europe tends to focus on the first question. There, markets are either already deregulated or  heading that way fast. Operating in a liberalized market economy, utilities must compete for customers. With the benefit of real-time communication and data collection, energy providers can better understand the needs of their customer base and offer more competitive products.   North America tends to focus on the second question. There, utilities face the challenge of increasing demand coupled with an overtaxed grid that’s clearly showing its age. Utilities need to mitigate the generation capacity issues that have led states such as California to employ rolling blackouts in order to prevent long term outages. One of the strategies for executing on this objective is to convince customers to consume more of their energy during off-peak hours. This requires a thorough analysis of when demand spikes occur, a way to set pricing as an incentive for off-peak usage, and the means to communicate this information to consumers – all of which is possible with AMI and smart meters.  

How Much Data?

Whatever the incentive for AMI adoption, its rise will lead to a precipitous increase in the sheer volume of data utilities must manage. There’s something of a debate, however, over how much data is needed to realize the full benefit of AMI. Should meter reads be taken as little as once a month or as often as every 15 minutes? At the moment, Europe and North America are staking out different positions. This is due to the nature of the markets in which they operate.   Deregulation in Europe has resulted in a break up of the traditionally vertically integrated utility group. This makes for a wider range of market participants, including retail, distribution, generation, and meter reading companies. While retailers might favor more frequent meter reads, distributors show some reluctance to invest in the technologies required to manage the increase in data volume. Time will tell where the European market will settle. For the time being, countries such as Sweden – where AMI projects are now underway — are comfortable with monthly reads. This is adequate enough to increase customer satisfaction and drive down costs – two significant requirements in a liberalized market. AMI will also make it exceptionally easy for Europeans to disconnect customers as non-payment issues arise and reconnect them again once payment is settled.   North American utilities – still vertically integrated – are leaning toward more frequent meter reads. While customer satisfaction and cost reduction are important, the immediate concern is managing generation capacity. More frequent reads give utilities the granularity of data they need to more accurately understand usage patterns. With this information, utilities can then develop individualized products designed to promote the kind of off-peak usage that will smoothen out demand and take pressure off the grid. 

The Importance of Service Orientation

  In either case, the data management requirements of AMI will have significant implications on the way utilities do business – and this is no small concern for business process experts who play a critical role in helping their organizations manage this transformation. Integration is perhaps the chief concern. Without the ability of internal business systems to receive incoming consumption and/or meter reading data and make sense of it, AMI is useless to energy providers.   SAP understands this requirement. This is part of the reason why we’ve made the transition to enterprise service oriented architecture (enterprise SOA). Enterprise SOA makes it far easier to communicate with any AMI system and pass data between the customer’s smart meter and the utility. It also makes it easier for utilities to process that data internally for analysis and forecasting purposes using third party tools on the back end. In Q3, in fact, SAP will deliver the first pre-integrated services for SAP for Utilities applications that will maximize the value of partner solutions and increase the ability of utilities to execute on their AMI initiatives.  There’s much more to discuss when it comes to the IT and business process implication of AMI – and I’ll cover some of these issues in future installments. But for now, the message is simple: if you want to benefit from AMI, an open, flexible IT infrastructure is critical. Enterprise SOA gives you that openness and flexibility – and that’s a solid starting point for AMI success.
Find more information on AMI at our Wiki-page: AMI at Wiki

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29 Comments

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  1. Anonymous
    Actually, most of the energy providers are basing pricing on hourly buckets or in many cases, much shorter intervals, combined with the peak load pricing, further complicating the scenario.

    Integrating pricing forecasts with production planning/production demand, automating or providing better decision support for energy trading, and providing better analytics for energy consumption as a cost driver is essential.

    As you’re probably also aware, there is an initiative underway with a partner, OSISoft, to create a new composite app to address some of these areas.

    We had create a similar composite using xMII (actually, at the time, Lighthammer) for Air Products, which optimized production locations/production quantities/production schedule based on energy costs and customer demand.  We did something similar for Bethlehem Steel, now part of ISG/Mittal.

    A very timely and important topic!

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  2. daniel bethapudi
    The lingo keeps changing..I work for an electric coop in Texas and in the electric coop industry AMR/I has been around for a while.There has been an increased awareness of this technology due to the enhanced expectations on part of the Electric Utilities following the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This required the utility to provide smart metering, TOU rates,support Distributed generation etc. Also some of the changes on the customer side like prepaid metering, better reliability are forcing the utilities move to AMI.
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  3. Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
    Thanks for sharing this information. I was wondering if you have the latest list of business functions and enterprise services that are going to be delivered with enhancement pack 4? Is the list of services provided in the “AMI@SAP Wiki” up to date? If not, what is the best way for us to find this information? With EhP4 due by Nov 08 (as far as I know), I am assuming you already have the final list of business functions that are to be delivered with EhP4. I would greatly appreciate any input in this regard.

    Thanks
    KK

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  4. Harald Bangerl
    Hello,

    I was wondering where I could find the slides of today´s Webcast (on 12.03.2009, 10am CET) including the actual list of enterprise services ?

    Thx
    Harald

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  5. Janakiram Lakkapragada
    Firstly, the article was a real eye-opener. Thanks Holger. But I have a question to all the experts.

    I am working for a gas and electricity company here in Northeast US. These guys are trying to go with the new Smartgrid initiative which is all about AMI, Smartmeters etc.

    But the question I have is if they go with ISU/CRM combo for the customer services part of this pilot can they do things like

    1. Real time billing ( I know there is something called RTP billing in IS-U that does stuff like this..but is it still the same?)

    2. Dynamic pricing (I hope this is again a part of prices for RTP billing, but is there any difference..or am I totally wrong)

    3. Prepaid usage and

    4. Automated load management etc.

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    1. Ramana Gedela
      Hello Janakiram

      I had the opportunity to implement the AMI functionalities provided by SAP in its Enhancement Pack 4 for ECC and CRM 7.0.  To answer your questions:
      1. RTP and Billing will be same.  RTP will use the profiles created for a Register.  Actually the AMI features end just before the triggering of RTP
      2. Dynamic Pricing – again it is all about the Time of Use products that you have created in your CRM or ISU System.
      3. Prepaid usage – As per my understanding goes, there is nothing much in EhP 4 on this.
      4. Automated Load Manager – still this feature is planned for EhP 5.

      – Ramana

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      1. Holger Schweinfurth Post author
        Hallo Ramana,
        could you please contact me directly via mail that I can provide you additional information.
        Moreover, I would be also of interest get get some details from your project.
        Thanks and regards,
        Holger
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        1. Ramana Gedela
          Hi Holger

          I have an architectural question.  SAP had released webservices for receiving Interval data from the MDM systems into ISU-EDM.  I have implemented this webservice for some sample customers.  But in real-time, if I have 5 million customers, and if I start receiving the one day interval data for all these 5 million customers at one time. I am not sure if it good for us to make 5 million webservice calls from the MDM system into ISU system.

          I am also aware of the fact that, SAP in its literature mentioned that ‘Interval Data’ flow from MDM to EDM as ‘not a web service’.

          Please can you provide me some insight into this please.  Because, I am leading a AMI project, and now it is time for me to explain a the underlying strategy behind this webservice.

          Best regards
          Ramana 

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          1. Ramana Gedela
            Hello Holger
            I am not sure if it is legal to provide my mail id for you to correspond with me in this blog.  If it is okay, my mail id is ramana.crm@gmail.com.  As advised by you, tried to find your mail id to send you a mail, but could not locate your mail id.
            If it is illegal to post the mail id, I request the web master to delete this posting.
            Best regards
            Ramana
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  6. Hyun Kang
    Hello,

    We are looking at leveraging SAP AMI functionalities, and wondering what is/will available. Some of the presentations show disconnect, re-connect, meter reading interface etc, but doesn’t really provide any details. I see someone alreay asked about EHP04. Would you or anyone else point me to the right direction to obtain detailed info? As a background information, we have ECC6, ISU, EDM, and a third AMI meter/data vendor in place, but not CRM.

    Regards,
    HK

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    1. Holger Schweinfurth Post author
      Hallo HK,

      attached you will find a link that guides you to our RKT sessions which have been recorded recently:
      https://websmp107.sap-ag.de/~sapidb/011000358700001638772005E
      From here you can obtain an overview and detailed information on the EhP4.
      Moreover, you will find very detailed information about each enterprise service through the following link:
      https://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/303fd192-1db2-2a10-59b9-9dfd93f4b10f

      If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

      I hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Holger

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  7. Ramana Gedela
    Hi

    I would like to know if there a view in UCES that will allow the user to view his interval usage data in graph for a given time frame.

    Regards
    Ramana

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  8. Ramana Gedela
    Hello

    Do we have access to any documentation about Enhancement Pack 5 features (due for release in June 2010)or scheduled RKT sessions?

    Ramana

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  9. Vivek Joshi
    Dear Sir,

    I am working on one the proposal for AMI Solution( SAP ECC6.0, EhP4).I read SAP Global Data Types catalog Part 6. pertainig to OBIS codes. Can you please provide more functional details and how and where there are managed in SAP ISU.

    regards

    Vivek

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    1. Holger Schweinfurth Post author
      Hallo Vivek,
      the OBIS codes can be managed in the register code in device management. More details should be also available through in our Utilities online documentation service.sap.com.
      I hope this helps.
      Regards,
      Holger
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  10. Vivek Joshi
    AMI Architecture diagram shows SAP PI as middleware for MDUS integration to SAP. My question is that whether services provided for AMI under EhP4 can work with any other middleware also?
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    1. Holger Schweinfurth Post author
      The preferred architecture is the way through PI. From EhP5 onwards it is also possible to use the EhP4 services with a P2P communication.
      Regards,
      Holger
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  11. Robert Kazay
    Helo!

    Can you please give an information about AMI relating PI objects?
    Which software component version contains the AMI interfaces? I would like to generate the ABAP proxy objects for AMI interfaces like UtilitiesDeviceERPSmartMeterBulkCreateRequest_Out.
    Probaply the namesapce is the http://sap.com/xi/IS-U/Global2.

    Can you please help?

    Thank you!

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  12. Ramana Gedela
    Need some expert advice please:

    1) Is ECC EhP4 & SAP CRM 7.0 EhP1 an approved comibination?  What I mean is, SAP Utilities2008 Master guide refers to CRM 7.0 & ECC EhP4 as a combination.  Similarly, SAP Utilities2010 Master guide refers to CRM 7.0 EhP1 & ECC EhP5 as a combination.  We are planning for CRM 7.0 EhP1 with ECC EhP4.  Is this an SAP approved combination apart from AMI features (I am aware of AMI implementaiton implications). 

    2) In CRM 7.0 EhP1, I have seen the Customer Contact Log being replciated in CRM with Class & Activity as Categories.  Does CRM 7.0 EhP1 enable bi-directional replciation, i.e. can we have the CRM Interaction History also replicated in ECC as Cusstomer Contacts?

    3) I understand that CRM EhP 1 is in ramp-up and slated for release in Q2 2011.  What are the chances of getting it GENERALLY AVAILABLE by end of June 2011.

    Any insight on the above issues will be highly appreciated.

    Best regards
    Ramana

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  13. Ramana Gedela
    Hello:

    In my current project, I am facing an issue with dependency of ISU_CRM_2 on ISU_AMI_2.

    ISU_CRM_2 offers the following feature:

    QUOTE
    Remote Disconnection/Reconnection of Advanced Meters:

    A new user interface is available for the customer notification process in the event of a remote disconnection or reconnection. The creation and change process for disconnections and reconnections in the IC WebClient have been changed to meet the requirements of advanced meters that can be disconnected and reconnected remotely. The process for notifying customers of a remote disconnection or reconnection has been implemented in the IC WebClient.

    This mainly benefits the customer service departments of utility companies.

    UNQUOTE

    In the current phase, we are NOT activating SAP AMI features (ISU_AMI_1 & ISU_AMI_2 business functions).  If I do NOT want to use the above feature in CRM WebUI, is it mandatory to TURN ON ISU_AMI_1 & ISU_AMI_2 Business Functions.  My concern is, in this phase of the project we do not want to turn on the AMI related Business Functions.

    Advice/insight is highly appreciated.
    Best regards
    Ramana

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