INDEXIS

logo indexisMECOMS streamlines Metering Processes in Belgium

Indexis was founded in 2003 as an independent metering company for the liberalized Belgian energy market. They needed a complete solution to collect, process and distribute metering data from 7 million meters. MECOMS™ was implemented to run the hand-held terminals of meter readers, various web-based self-services and the underlying system to process and forward all the data. Due to its flexible architecture, MECOMS™ has fluently grown with the evolving market and the changing role of Indexis.

Company

The liberalization of the Belgian energy market in 2003 imposed a separation between grid operators and suppliers. This required an impartial entity to independently provide reliable metering data to the different market parties. Indexis would take on this role, with a clear mission to collect and process metering data of approximately 6 million gas and electricity connections, and to distribute consumption and master data to the different market parties. During the following years, consecutive market reforms would repeatedly redefine the complex role of Indexis in the Belgian energy market. Currently, its activities cover about 70% of the Belgian territory.

Starting from scratch

Chris Vandist, Quality Assurance Manager at Indexis, recalls how Indexis selected its IT solution: "When it dawned on us that the energy market would be liberalized, we put out a European tender. Having received proposals from several renowned software providers, we graded them on several scales. After comparing the results, the MECOMS™ offer from Ferranti Computer Systems simply stood out as the best solution. Besides the IT aspect, they possessed deep knowledge of the utility business."

Automatic Meter Reading

Automatic Meter Readings (AMR) of large industrial customers are read every 15 minutes and sent to Indexis on a daily basis. While MECOMS™ can natively handle AMR, without additional appliances; it was set up to interface with the existing MV90 system to enable a gradual implementation.

Manual Meter Reading

Meters of small businesses and residential customers are read manually. This Manual Meter Reading (MMR) process requires a complex logistical operation. When a meter reader of the grid operator visits a customer for a MMR, the supplier wants to receive the consumption data as soon as possible, to send the invoice to the customer. Ferranti created a solution with handheld terminals where suppliers receive their meter readings within the same day.

Self-service

Manual and automatic meter readings are not the only way for Indexis to collect data. MECOMS™ offers a broad range of self-service channels. Firstly, paper index cards returned by customers are automatically scanned using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Secondly, IndexPhone, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system lets customers report their meter readings over the telephone. Thirdly, IndexWeb, an online web application lets customers enter their meter readings online. In addition to that, web applications allow both customers and suppliers to consult consumptions online. Furthermore, the Service Online (SOL) web applications automatically routes customer and supplier complaints to the responsible grid operator.

Processing and distributing data

Despite running on ordinary hardware, MECOMS™ smoothly processes millions of meter readings and converts them into consumptions. The data is validated using flexible rules, as they are subject to frequent (regulatory) change. Next, MECOMS™ uses meter certificates to convert meter readings into consumptions. This ensures that readings of a diverse, historically grown metering park are processed consistently. Complex metering configurations, often with local production, are seamlessly taken into account. In addition, MECOMS™ calculates the contribution that each customer needs to pay for using the grid (grid fees) and allocates energy usage on the level of the suppliers. While being very resource-intensive, these processes do not slow down the application.

Constant change

MECOMS™ has continuously adapted to reflect the changing role of Indexis in the market, to implement regulatory changes and to further improve existing processes. For example, the responsibility to carry out manual meter readings had been moved to the grid operators, which created the need to integrate MECOMS™ with their operations. Meanwhile, EDI and XML standards for market interaction have changed almost every two years. These changes were fluently integrated into MECOMS™. Existing systems, such as the hand-held terminals, have been improved to provide meter readers with more accurate scenarios.

Conclusion

Since its inception in 2003, the Belgian energy market has evolved constantly, and so did the role and demands of Indexis. Due to its flexible architecture, MECOMS™ adapted seamlessly to this changing context, and at a very reasonable cost.

Commodities: 
Electricity
Gas
Role: 
Integrated Utility
Functional Scope: 
Advanced Metering Infrastructure
AMR
Billing and Credit Management
Country Pack
Manual Meter Reading
Market Communication
Meter Data Management
Validation and Calculation
Process Scope: 
Measure & Deliver
Region: 
EMEA