May 16, 2014


Wireless Meter-Bus: Concept of Automatic Meter Reading

Utility services in our homes are a necessity and so is the bill payment. Around the world, there are billions of utility meters sitting which are manually read by service persons from the utility companies. It can get irritating at times when these people turn up at your doorstep trying to get the readings from those meters. Simultaneously it is also irritating for utility company person when he finds consumer’s home locked again and again and not able to collect the readings. Sometimes meters are placed at the locations which are hard to reach to collect the meter readings. To overcome these kind of situations, some technology is required for remote reading so that utility company person collects meter readings remotely.  It would be far easier and convenient if there is a single system of remote reading to collect the reading of electricity meter, gas meter, water meter etc. and there is no need of different remote reading systems for different type of meters.

 “Wireless Meter-Bus”, a not so new but highly useful mechanism is now available to relieve us and the utility companies from the day-to-day manual reading of the meters. Wireless Meter-Bus, specified in EN 13757-4, is a European standard for addressing the smart metering to gather meter readings (gas, water, electricity, heat). It is a technique of remote reading of meters via RF communication. It works at frequency bands of 169, 433and 868 MHz. There are two types of components in a typical M-Bus system, meters and concentrators. Two way communications is done between meters and concentrator in a specified data format. Concentrator is responsible for collecting meter readings and to give commands to meters. But what about data security? Wireless M-Bus is using Advanced Encryption Standard 128 CTR for data security to provide confidentiality and integrity.

Today Wireless M-Bus usage is found primarily only in Europe, but it is very beneficial for Asian countries also where most of the meters are inside the house due to their legacy design and each time the utility person needs to enter the house to take these readings. Also electricity theft is very common in these countries by rolling back the meter readings. With Wireless M-Bus short interval readings are possible with great accuracy and fast transmission speed at low cost so the problems faced in Asian countries in meter readings can be overcome easily. But the problem is that in most of the Asian countries, there are regulations barrier over the usage of radio frequency and as Wireless M-Bus operates over RF, licensing cost outweighs the benefits of the technology and unfortunately this technology is not gaining popularity in Asian countries.

Besides meter readings, Wireless M-Bus standard may be used for other purposes also where small size data needs to be transferred within short distance (few meters). But as the Wireless M-Bus standard is developed with the goal of meter reading, some customization may be required to use the standard for other purposes. For example, this standard may be used in tracking system like tracking of consumer products. Suppose you buy a cold-drink bottle from a glossary store. Cold-drink bottle has a WM-Bus chip pasted on it. When you show the bottle in front of a WM-Bus chip reader it displays the bottle specifications like manufacturing date, expiration date, price etc.

Other possible use cases may be:

  • Radio controlled central-key-lock system of vehicles
  • Radio controlled garage doors
  • Remote controlled toys
  • Radio controlled detonation in rock blasting
  • In medical like for infant movement monitoring pad or mattress