Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) is two-way communication

system, usually transmitted directly to the utility via RF, GSM,

GPRS, 3G, etc. or through a combination of these channels. AMI

devices can transmit real-time, or close to real-time information

about consumer use at a much greater granularity, and also include

alarms as described in AMR. With the roll-out of AMI systems in the

energy sector in many countries around the world, AMI in the water sector is becoming more common, with some countries aiming to use these devices as a multi-utility platform including electricity, gas, water and heat metering.

As AMI communicates in both directions, not only is the data collected from the meter, but information can be sent to the meter allowing dynamic tariffing, configuration updates and potentially the ability to introduce some control measures such as actuated valves.




Typical AMI components include:





Basically any meter with a pulse output can be used. However, it is recommended to use advanced meters that can supply a more comprehensive and accurate data.    





The transceiver is used to transmits the data and receive commands from the base station (two-way). Typically, the transceiver is mounted on the meter or embedded inside the meters body.





Although AMI typically uses high power transmission, there will always be some "black holes." The repeater is used to cover the "black holes" and to shorten the range to distanced installations.



Base station


The base station is typically used to receive the data transmissions directly from the meters of via the repeaters, and to send data to the transceivers. Normally, there will be 1-3 base stations per system. However, in some cases when the system is very large (e.g. over 150K meters) there can be more base stations installed.  



Head end server


The head end server is a communication server, which manages all traffic to and from the base stations. Some systems use 3rd party MDM software which connects to the head end software. The head end server can be installed on premise or in the cloud.






Some of the benefits of using Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems include:


  • Near real-time data capture for enhanced customer service

  • Improved understanding of network performance

  • Data provided to customers to help with water conservation and managing costs

  • Changed meter configuration to allow enhanced data capture or variable tariffs

  • Feedback to the network, control valves and other devices

  • Rapid awareness of changes and enhanced ability to identify and react



A few of the weaknesses of AMI systems, include: 


  • Price – AMI systems can be more costly than a typical AMR system

  • Maintenance – An AMI system are more complex than an AMR system and requires more maintenance resources

  • Security – Although most AMI system are secured and encrypted, it's two-way communication may be targeted by malicious users for damage or fraud purposes   






Meter reading equipment for drive or walk-by solutions typically involve a similar hand-held solution to that used for manual meter reading. For some systems a separate module with areal may be required, especially in the case of drive-by.


For fixed networks or mesh solutions, a series of repeaters or concentrators will be required. These are normally fixed to street furniture such as lamp posts, often as high up as possible to capture as many meter transmissions as possible.


For AMI solutions, the same infrastructure as above can be employed although increasingly there are much longer range systems that can transmit data to existing mast infrastructure with limited need for repeaters and concentrators. Typically, these systems offer the most complete AMI solutions.