Reading Your Meter - Automated Meter Reading (AMR)

Cherokee has long relied on meter readers walking from home to home collecting visual meter reads and hand writing or entering them into handheld electronic devices. In cases where meters were difficult to access, meter reads were not collected, and estimated bills were generated to reflect utility usage. Adverse weather conditions, structural hazards and the occasional dog sometimes led to a slip, trip, fall or nibble. Technological advances in the form of Automated Meter Reading (AMR) have enabled utilities to eliminate reading errors, missed reads and work-related injuries, all while reducing costs and maximizing efficiency.

Technology

AMR’s success relies on ERT technology, and while it could easily stand for efficient, reliable and thrifty, it’s actually short for encoder/receiver/transmitter. The ERT itself is an interface device designed to attach to and integrate with the meter register - see meter type illustration. Each device is programmed with a unique identification number to ensure all collected reads match the property where the meter is installed.

Storing the Data

Once installed, reads are collected using a Data Collection Unit (DCU) - handheld computer or larger Mobile Lite - containing a transceiver that transmits a low-level, narrow bandwidth radio frequency that “wakes” the meter. The information is compiled, converted to a digital signal, and sent to the DCU, where it will be stored and eventually downloaded into the billing system. Within a few minutes the meter will stop transmitting a signal and go back to sleep to conserve battery life.