power grid

Commercial Losses in Power Distribution: How to Fight Them With Mobile Data Capture

14/12/2021

One of the most important things to understand about any electrical network is that each component that has been added creates a possible barrier to the essential flow of current. Not only that, but illegal consumption – that which cannot be accurately metered and billed – can cause an additional, unknown but significant losses to utilities providers, too.

Unfortunately, commercial losses in power distribution can stem from a large list of issues. The top three are not only discrepancies in the meter reading process and the inaccurate nature of meter reading in general, but theft as well. Direct hooking, not to mention outright bribery, are a lot more common than most realize.

Thankfully, modern technology is here to help. By employing mobile meter reading, many of these problems can be avoided altogether. Getting to this point simply requires organizational leaders to keep a few key things in mind.

Mobile data capture for the utility industry

Data collection is not new to the power distribution industry, but in recent years, methods of collecting important data have changed to become less reliant on humans with pens and clipboards and more reliant on technology. In past decades, even when data was computerized, it still relied on humans to engage in manual data entry. In an effort to improve efficiency, camera-enabled mobile devices are increasingly being used in the field to streamline work and drive more efficient and error-free outcomes.

Mobile data collection using devices eliminates the need for many manual processes. Using a smartphone or tablet with a camera, workers can directly scan and collect meter data at the source of its origin. This cuts down the amount of work – and room for error – that made previous processes cumbersome and costly in terms of money, time, and human resources. Mobile data collection also eliminates wasteful paperwork and can even boost the efficiency of personnel in the field by automating some of their work.

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Commercial losses in meter readings

The types of losses that stem from meter readings ultimately have to do with the difference between the reading itself, and what was actually consumed by the person in question. Different factors can contribute to this and make it difficult to ascertain the correct meter reading, including when a home might be locked and thus the meter is inaccessible, when customers cannot be located, if the meters themselves are defective or if the customer has been temporarily disconnected.

Thankfully, mobile meter reading relieves all of these issues by providing an easy, accurate way to understand how much energy someone is using, all so that they can be billed accordingly no matter what.

Commercial losses in metering

Similarly, commercial losses in metering often involve situations where the meter itself has been tampered with in certain ways. Sometimes, customers try to bypass the meter altogether. They may use magnets in an attempt to slow down the meter. They may even open the meter and attempt to make adjustments to the circuits and circulation ratios.

Here, mobile meter reading is again a major benefit. It creates an enhanced level of visibility into the process, all by way of offering accurate data readings on a far more frequent basis than ever before. Mobile meter reading would also help clue officials into a situation when a meter has been tampered with immediately, putting them in a better position to do something about it as quickly as possible.

Bribery and false readings

Finally, we arrive at bribery and false readings. Bribery may cause a utility worker to provide outright incorrect information about someone’s energy uses, which only increases the commercial losses of the company they work for.

This is where mobile meter reading truly shines. It adds a level of accountability to the process – one that is essentially its own proof as to the fact that the information being provided is accurate, thus eliminating both human error and situations of bribery or forgery at the exact same time.

In the end, mobile meter reading is a massive benefit to the utilities industry in general – and it’s one that is only going to get more important as time goes on.

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