German digital metering firm relies on IOLAN device servers for remote monitoring

Solandeo needed secure, reliable and straightforward access to smart meters where cellular coverage weak.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has dramatically reduced the need for human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Automating the process to access and collect information from equipment that is isolated at remote locations, and transferring that data over a network, is now commonplace across industries. However, as the number of connected devices grow, common challenges arise. In industrial settings, like manufacturing, energy production, and industrial control systems, transmitting data from devices that use the standard RS485 data communications port is required. One example is the smart meter.

The goal: A wireless, portable next-gen treatment system

A smart meter records production and/or consumption of electric energy and allows two-way communication between the meter and remote systems at gas, water and electric utilities. More than 200 manufacturers worldwide produce smart meters that transmit data over an RS485 data communications port.

Households and cooperatives with solar installations and battery storage facilities are classified as battery storage operators. While they use the electricity generated by their installation, they can also use the storage to participate in electricity balancing markets through charging and discharging their storage. Government legislation requires the installation of a smart meter in these instances.

A PC workstation and a treatment unit transmit data wirelessly to each other via a device server, door sensor and wireless access point.

A common and popular way to access and transmit data from a smart meter is via a cellular modem. This works great when a smart meter is in an area with reliable high-speed cellular coverage. Solandeo, a German service provider of digital metering systems and data analytics, found this to be problematic, however.

Benedikt Pulvermüller, Teamleiter Technik at Solandeo, comments, We provide a smart-metering service that generates accurate and reliable metering and billing information. Today smart metering systems for battery storage customers mostly use cellular modems for transferring energy information. Even though this set-up looks great on paper, many customers' meters are installed in cellars [basements]. Mobile signals in cellars are generally poor and we needed a major rethink to be able to provide a better service.

The solution: Wireless device servers from Perle

Solandeo quickly realised that a Serial Device Server would be the ideal product to replace the cellular modem. Device Servers transmit data from equipment with RS232/422/485 ports over Ethernet LANs.

Most residential and commercial buildings in Germany have DSL Routers already installed. This would be the primary access point. A Perle IOLAN Device Server establishes the connectivity between the RS485 data communication port on the Solandeo smart meter and the DSL Router. The DSL Router issues the IOLAN with an IP Address and initiates a secure VPN connection over the internet to the Solandeo Server where data is securely transferred.

Access to the smart meters is now secure, reliable and straight forward, even in locations with no or poor mobile phone network coverage — just how we envisaged it, comments Mr. Pulvermüller.

The new set up is a win-win for customers who enjoy the flexibility of Solandeo’s web interface and reliability of service, and Solandeo who moves forward with a secure remote access and monitoring solution.

Perle IOLAN Secure Device Servers offer the most secure way to connect, monitor, manage and control any device with a RS232, RS422 or RS485 communication port over a network or the internet. Electronic devices isolated at remote locations can be integrated into the network, increasing business operational efficiency and flexibility without the need to upgrade existing equipment that still has plenty of life left in it.

About Solandeo

Solandeo is a leading independent meter operator with a portfolio of thousands of smart meters throughout Germany. Solandeo’s clients are principally industrial consumers, providers of battery storage for community or cloud-based solutions, as well as some gigawatts of renewable generation, ranging from a small 3 kWp PV plant to a 100 MW wind farm.

Solandeo’s partners rely on cost-effective products for metering, which include the provision of real-time data and, optionally, remote control. This enables renewable power plants for energy trading or the participation in energy communities — fast and easy.

Furthermore, partners benefit from customer-specific intraday and day-ahead forecasts, which can be used for an improved trading or maintenance. Many energy traders, energy suppliers, industrial consumers, O&M or energy consultants are already relying on Solandeo.



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