ocr can scan utility meters to make billing easier

How OCR Can Take the Pain Out of the Meter to Cash Process

Ebin Thomas

Account Executive at Anyline

Jul 22, 2022

Most utility companies rely on a process called “meter-to-cash”: in short, they measure customer energy or water consumption manually to later issue a bill for the right amount. Data gathered during the process allows utility companies to generate and distribute bills, collect payments, and drive revenue.

But what we will discuss in this blog is why this meter-to-cash process is far from ideal for utility companies and for customers. The short answer is that currently, it’s time consuming, labor-intensive and it is prone to mistakes. But let’s do a deeper dive to diagnose the real issues at play.

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What are the pain points of meter-to-cash?

Meter-to-cash processes rely on field workers who travel to different locations to read the meters of dozens of households each day. When they arrive and locate the meters, they enter the data manually into the company’s system.

The first pain-point we encounter here is human error. People are susceptible to fatigue, stress or even boredom, which can result in common incorrect meter readings. This is particularly true as most meters have small, marked graduations and digits. What’s more, they are often located in hard to reach or in low-lightning environments. For workers who read meters all day, the process becomes more open to errors as the day wears on.

When errors inevitably happen, the troubles begin:

  • A customer can be billed a wrong amount – either being overcharged or undercharged. If being undercharged might not trouble consumers, being overcharged can cause some serious dissatisfaction in the service.
  • When the error is spotted, a worker needs to go back to the location to get the correct reading. This takes additional time and work out of regular schedules.
    In any case, errors in meter readings reduce the revenue of utility providers.

The Benefits of OCR

OCR technologies such as Anyline’s OCR meter reading solution bring an array of benefits to utility operations:

  • Accuracy. OCR scanning provides users with industry-leading precision, meaning that it’s virtually impossible for workers or customers to make an error.
  • Time savings. The technology scans about 20 times faster than a human can process the data, resulting in significant decreases in the number of working hours required to complete meter readings.
  • Reduced worker stress. With tight schedules and targets, high stress is common among utility field workers. OCR helps workers deliver accurate meter readings quickly and with less complexity, resulting in reduced worker strain and better job satisfaction.

How Anyline Meter Reading Can Be Integrated

Anyline’s data capture technology can be easily integrated directly into any utility company’s existing system, mobile app or website. Our software development kit is easy to install and is backed up by hands-on support from customer service teams ready to help. You can try it for free thanks to our 30-day trial!

It works with Android and iOS smartphones and devices and offers support for common integration frameworks including Xamarin, React Native, Flutter and Cordova. Discover if mobile meter reading is the right solution for you by downloading Anyline’s Energy & Water Demo App to test its capabilities, or contact us today!