London Hydro, a Local Electrical Distribution Company that services over 150,000 electricity customers in the city of London, ON has made investments into smart meters for residential and commercial customer locations. Smart meters record consumption of electric energy in small intervals and relay the information electronically to the utility for monitoring and billing. To validate the safety and accuracy of new smart meters, the London Hydro Validation Bench is required to establish an automated and controlled sandbox that provides continually increasing standards of functional defect identification, operational performance, and end-to-end interoperability testing.
London Hydro required a test solution to evaluate, verify, and ensure the safe, compatible, reliable and secure deployment of smart meters. Without industry standards in place, they required a partner who had National Instruments certifications and experience with control and monitoring systems to develop the London Hydro Smart Meter Validation Bench.
The London Hydro Smart Meter Validation Bench is a crucial component to smart meter deployments used before installation to evaluate, verify, and analyze current and new metering and related communication technology. This helps to reduce defective equipment, field issues and operation in production systems.
One of the main goals is to provide London Hydro with traceability between the smart meters and testing performed. All of the meters and components involved in the testing process are scanned into the system, capturing all testing parameters and storing for future reference.
Based on London Hydro requirements and working closely with London Hydro project staff, Prolucid designed and developed a software application and user interface that communicates with the London Hydro designed Validation Bench. This included integration of the data acquisition and control layer which consisted of a National Instruments Compact DAQ (cDAQ) chassis, one digital input module and one digital output module from National Instruments.
- London Hydro was confident in Prolucid’s capabilities to complete the project due to the number of NI Certifications our employee’s hold including CLD, CLA, CLED, and CPI. Our extensive experience working with the NI LabVIEW software environment coupled with our history of successful projects with NI hardware enabled Prolucid to minimize the risk and development time of the project.
- In order for London Hydro to monitor the voltage, current, energy and power quality of smart meters, Prolucid developed a solution where the reads from the power meters are collected, processed and presented by the application interface.
- Prolucid designed and developed a custom software application suite in LabVIEW that provides a visual interface, enabling the user to set the voltage outputs from the variable transformers, control the state of input and load contactor, access the reading of the power monitoring VCMs, design custom automated tests, observe the state of the safety equipment, and administrate the logs of the activity of the validation bench.
- The monitoring interface Prolucid developed is used to assist the test operator during test setup. When the operator is scanning the meters and sockets used during the test, the monitoring interface displays which socket they are setting and which sockets have been successfully setup. The DAQ process developed reads the status of each disconnect through digital inputs and the disconnect status is displayed on the interface.
- A test configuration interface was developed which allows the user to do several operations including choosing a test to run, setting up test runs, run the test, view the test status and the test results. These test runs are stored locally and can be referenced at any time to determine if a change in testing could have prevented a field issue from occurring.
- A configuration interface was developed allowing the user to edit the system configuration, manually control the system while a test is not running, and create custom tests.
Using the Compact Data Acquisition platform along with NI LabVIEW, Prolucid developed the controller sub-system that would test and validate the accuracy of smart meters as well as failure modes, and had the capability to reconfigure scenarios as needed. The Smart Meter Validation Bench performs remote and automated capabilities that enable the utility to deploy validated equipment and communication technologies to the power grid. This enables more control of power supplied and load, and monitors power quality before and after the smart meter. With this system London Hydro captures valuable data on their system before deploying new equipment and/or configurations to validate issues in a controlled environment.
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