Watt-Hour Meter Readout Application for a Hand-Held Terminal



It´s always nice to know that the work that one has done is useful for somebody. It is just like that also when developing custom software. We are happy when the delivered software is helpful and the client likes to use it. But in the majority of cases „our“ software is being operated somewhere deep inside the company, in an air-conditioned room full of noisy servers. It runs completely autonomously, without human interaction. And it would probably make no sense to ask the server whether „our“ software is of any help or whether it is useful.

This project was different. At last we were creating software that would „go out“. Software that would be used by dozens of people, directly in the field. The task it should be fulfilling was clear – to the biggest possible extent simplify, speed up and automate the process of the electric energy consumption readouts collection - make life as easy as possible for the people doing this job.
The target device was a hand-held terminal that the workers used in the field. It allowed them to collect and record status data from electricity meters directly on site. By status data we do not only mean the value of consumed energy indicated on the counter, but also various additional information about the installed circuit breaker, physical status of the electricity meter and the distribution box, the circumstances of the readout and other data. The exact location of the electricity meter can also be a part of the readout. One could argue that reporting of the exact location of a meter that isn’t moving is useless. We thought so as well. Until we realized that electric energy readouts are not only performed „in our apartment building“. The information that in some parts of the Orava region countryside it is common to walk 6km to reach a single electricity meter confirmed the need for having its location precisely recorded.

What happens in real life? In the morning, several dozens of workers equipped with terminals running our software set off to work all around the western Slovakia. Every one of them uses our software to obtain his work assignments for the day from the back-office. Our software has to work reliably. There is virtually no margin for error. The readout worker has to pay a penalty for every single one of them. At the same time the software has to work quickly, intuitively and effectively. The readout worker is being paid by the number of readouts he performs. And there are many of them to be done. To be more precise, when all goes well, a single worker is capable of delivering up to 500 readouts per day. That is more than one readout per minute on an 8-hour shift. Every minute. Including the time needed to relocate to the next location. Even if the consumer is not at home, even if he has a guard-dog at the door, even if any other complications occur...The collected data are continually sent to the back-office – only what is there matters. The pressure is high, but with our software everything is running smoothly. Be it an apartment building in the capital city or a remote place in the mountains. The whole cycle repeats day after day, almost every day of the year. There is no room for any delays or dropouts. Within a year the readout workers equipped with our software travel all over the western Slovakia twice. They collect data from every single electricity meter within the area. In every city, every village, in all houses and all companies.

Technical information about the project



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