Celesc, the largest power distributor in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil with more than 3 million customers, is one of the leaders in innovation in the field of AMR (Automated Meter Reading) and AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). The city of Araranguá has been selected for a pilot project to remotely collect data from power meters in order to automate metering. In total, approximately 35,400 meters were connected.
The tender was won by Wasion, a manufacturer of power distribution equipment such as electricity meters, WiSUN gateways, balance meters, etc.
Waison’s search for a reliable communication solution resulted in the choice of RipEX radio modems, which Celesc has been using in other applications for many years.
The AMI project in Araranguá consists of the following parts:
- Smart meters
- Smart set for measuring electrical values in transformers
- FAN (Field Area Network) — a communication network to connect the end points to the concentrators. Realized by using RF Mesh WiSUN equipment in the free 900 MHz band.
- Backbone Network — communication network for bidirectional secure data transmission between the FAN concentrators and the MDC system in the centre. Realized by using RipEX and RipEX2 radio modems in the 400 MHz licence band.
- Network device management
- MDC (Meter Data Collector) — system responsible for receiving measurement data and processing events to ensure the security and integrity of field data.
- MDM (Meter Data Management) — a system responsible for metering data management
Wasion engineers, together with RACOM technical support, designed a tree-structured communication solution. The end meters were divided into 120 areas. In each area there is one concentrator to which approximately 300 meters are connected via WiSUN.
The concentrators are grouped into 12 clusters, where in one cluster there are about 10 concentrators that communicate to the cluster center via RipEX radio modems. Since the data volumes transferred from the clusters are high, the clusters communicate to the center in the city of Araranguá via RipEX2 radio modems, which have a capacity of up to 1.7 Mbps. The network centre in Araranguá is connected to CELESC’s control system in Florianópolis via an IP network.
As it happens in real life, installation and commissioning was not problem-free. Before the installations, a study and theoretical network design was carried out. In practice, however, it turned out that in some places the theory did not correspond to practice (metal shelters near the antennas, new high-rise buildings, etc.) and the strength and quality of the signals were not sufficient. Fortunately, RipEX radio modems are very flexible and the endpoints can work as repeaters for others at the same time, which has been used in several cases, saving significant investments.
After storms, which are very frequent and strong in the Araranguá area, some radio modems were damaged. Our technical support engineer in Brazil, in collaboration with our local partner Utili, found on site that the source of the problems was insufficient grounding on the installed sites. After implementing our recommendations, the problems no longer occur and the network has a long-term availability of 99.9%.
The AMI project in Araranguá is an example that even when problems occur in practice, RACOM and its partners resolve them quickly.