OCR and mobile data capture for meter reading software
Utility companies are under pressure today. Workforce interruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have caused staffing problems. An increase in energy prices has resulted in dissatisfied and more demanding customers. While energy providers can’t do much about labor shortages and energy prices, they can save on operating costs by streamlining their operations and processes. One of which we will discuss in this blog: meter reading software.
Why do utility companies need meter reading softwares?
Meter reading softwares is a big help for today’s utility companies and a step in the right direction to improve operations. But more importantly, such digital tool allows energy providers to empower their customers:
- Customer engagement – customers are accustomed to engaging with companies via digital means at a time that is convenient for them. Forcing customers to adhere to the schedule of the utility company is likely to result in dissatisfaction. A meter reading software allows customers to do their own meter reading on their own time and terms, with their smartphones or tablets.
- Competitive differentiation – churn is a big deal for energy companies. The convenience of doing business has become a major reason for consumers to choose between one operator and another, so the availability of digital customer engagement definitely helps win customers. Using digital technology, utilities can open the lines of communication for two-way interactions that create deeper relationships. An added bonus is that digital engagement tools create actionable data for business analysis.
What technology options exist?
There are a variety of digital solutions available to help energy providers streamline meter reading. They include:
- USB meter readers – A USB meter reader is a pocket-sized meter reading device used to gather meter data as part of a data management system. The USB meter automatically reads the data, allowing it to be transferred to a PC.
- IoT energy sensors – IoT (or “Internet of Things”) energy sensors are installed at the site of the meter to measure energy consumption using non-intrusive optical sensors and send the data to the network. These sensors feature long-life batteries and are compatible with most meters.
- Bluetooth RF master – In a similar manner to a phone being paired with a speaker, a radio Bluetooth master unit can read meters that are equipped with radio interface units (RADIAN compatible) and send the data to reading terminals equipped with Bluetooth interface technology.
All these options require the installation of hardware to achieve mobile meter reading, which significantly raises costs. There is, however, one option that doesn’t require additional hardware: OCR Meter Reading.
The Benefits of OCR
There are a number of benefits to AI-enabled OCR technology, including:
- Accuracy – Anyline’s OCR technology guarantees a 99 percent accuracy rate, meaning that it is almost impossible for a utility worker or a customer to make a mistake during the meter reading process.
- Time savings – With automated meter scanning and reading, workers can scan meters faster, which reduces the labor intensiveness of the meter reading process. Anyline’s OCR technology scans 20 times faster than manual meter reading, resulting in a decrease of working hours traditionally spent on the process.
- Reduced stress – Manual meter reading is a complex job, because no one can make zero mistakes, that’s just a flaw every human has. By automating the process, utility companies can reduce workers’ stress levels and increase their job satisfaction.
How can Anyline be integrated?
Anyline’s data capture technology can be easily integrated into a utility company’s existing software, system or mobile app. Utility employees or customers can use their personal smart devices’ cameras to scan bar codes, serial numbers and meter data, and the solution automatically delivers this data to the utility’s back-office systems.
Anyline utility mobile meter reading technology can be easily integrated into an app thanks to its SDK (software development kit) for the fast and secure transmission of meter data. The SDK is easy to integrate and is backed up by support from customer service teams. It works with Android and iOS devices and offers support for common integration frameworks including Xamarin, Flutter, React Native and Cordova.
Discover if mobile meter reading is the right solution for you by downloading our Energy & Water Demo App to test its capabilities.