energy meter

OCR scanning solutions can improve utility workforce equipment

14/01/2022

There is a lot of travel each day for utility workers. They must move across many locations – point to point – address to address – neighborhood to neighborhood. To get the most done in a day, they must rely on their tools, good meter reading equipment, which need to be reliable, long-lasting and ‘just work’ when required.
As utilities continue to add digital options for their customers and employees, their workers find themselves relying on digital tools more often. In this blog, we look at meter reading tools as they apply in the following:

  1. What problems are there with the current status quo?
  2. What technological solutions are available?
  3. What are the benefits of mobile meter reading solutions?
  4. How can mobile meter scanning be integrated?

1. What problems are there with the current status quo?

Homeowners, tenants, and business owners are familiar with meter reading and expect regular visits from meter readers. But while the meter reading process is usually smooth, there are numerous inconveniences associated with the service, and issues occasionally arise during inspections.

The process is not efficient

Since the homeowner or tenant must be present for the meter to be read, it causes inconveniences for the meter reader who must wait or travel back to the location. It is also time-consuming for customers at that address who must wait at home for the meter reader to arrive.

A method that would streamline the meter reading process would therefore be a huge time-saver for everyone involved.

Meter data is often not entered correctly

Mistakes are part of life, especially when data entering is manual. Even when data is written down first and then entered, mistakes can happen. There are many reasons why false data is entered – not paying close attention, interruptions from the homeowner, tiredness and more. When mistakes occur, the meter reader must return to the meter and re-read it. That process is highly inefficient, drives up the labor cost, and lowers customer satisfaction.

Wasting resources

The most significant and costly resource wasted in this process is the poor use of time and labor. How many hours per day are wasted or non-productive during physical data collection? The timer starts when the meter reader leaves point A to get to point B.

2. What technological solutions are available?

A technological solution is available, and it replaces the way meters are read and how data entry occurs. In fact, it solves all of the issues with meter reading previously discussed. The solution is an AI-based technology that includes an optical character recognition (OCR) component, which helps fully automate the meter reading process.

Using this technology, the meter reader’s only job is to scan the meter using their mobile meter reading equipment. The OCR unit recognizes characters and numbers, so data is correctly entered into the system. Then, the data is sent wirelessly to the utility’s server over a secure connection. That process can use a company smart device, or the meter reader can supply their own smartphone.

Since meter reading with OCR is fully digitized, it is easy to follow up with an automated email or other messages to the customer with a professional invoice or datasheet. Furthermore, if a barcode is added to the meter and is scanned at the same time, it’s easy to identify the account and send the reading to the consumer.

To conclude, mobile meter reading equipment eliminates manual data entry and the mistakes that manual meter reading can create.

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3. What are the benefits of mobile meter reading solutions?

They do provide a technical solution, including the reduction or elimination of false data energy and the reduction of wasted time revisiting meters. In addition, there are other benefits, such as:

Accuracy

You gain an accuracy rating of 99% with OCR technology.This means when empowered with OCR scanning solutions, it is almost impossible to have defective data.

Time-saving and Increased Efficiency

OCR helps decrease the amount of time it takes to read the meter and input the data accurately. As a result, the OCR boosts employee efficiency, meaning fewer hours and a cost-saving opportunity. In addition, the rate is around 20x faster than manually reading the meter and entering the data.

Less stress

With increased efficiency and accuracy, employees feel less stress and anxiety. In addition, because the mobile OCR makes reading meters easier, employees can excel at what they do and accomplish more in a day than they used to do with the manual meter reading. That is a benefit that also means cost-savings for utility companies.

Saving resources

The decrease in labor means fewer expenditures and employees can perform better and read more meters within the same timespan. With fewer data errors, bills are accurate and there are less risks to delay payment. There is less argument with quality digital information with customers as the easy-to-use system allows for photographs of the meter to become part of the invoice.

Another significant savings feature is that there is no out-of-pocket expense to start since the employee can use their own cell phone or provide a smart device. There is no need to buy fancy and expensive scanners.

Mobile Meter Reading for Utilities & Customer Meter Self-Reading

4. How can Anyline’s mobile meter reading be integrated?

OCR scanning technologies utilizes the camera of a smartphone, which means there is no considerable need for investment in new tools or equipment. The only requirement to benefit from OCR is to install Anyline’s OCR technology. This process eliminates the need for meter readers to travel repeatedly to a location to collect the meter data.

By integrating Anyline’s OCR scanning solution, you begin to reduce the cost of investing in smart technology for meter reading, and with it the total cost of ownership.

Thanks to the smart SDK (Software Development Kit), Anyline’s OCR scanning solution is easy, fast, and exceedingly secure to integrate.
Need help? The SDK has hands-on support from our highly trained customer service teams. Our technology works with both iOS smartphones and Android technology too.

We support common integration frameworks including Xamarin, React Native, Cordova, and Flutter.

Check to see if our mobile meter reading is the right solution for you by downloading our Energy & Water Demo App to test its capabilities.

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Finally, if you have questions, suggestions, or feedback on this post, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Anyline. Contact us via social media, contact form, or send us an email at [email protected]

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