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Automatic Meter Reading: Debunking the Myths
efficiencies. Marketing adores advanced metering's energy-use diagnostics because it changes the selling equation from commodity/cost to one of partner/value. Operations and field support enjoy insights into electric power issues such as transients, voltage disturbances, power factors, and harmonics.
One of the biggest myths is that AMR is far different from advanced metering. Advanced metering, performed correctly, offers many more benefits than AMR, touching the entire enterprise.
But that's just one misconception. Below I identify the three other biggest myths in the industry.
Myth 1: Advanced metering requires juggling several hardware, software, and network vendors.
Myths of the non-Greek variety bother me. To me a myth is nothing but a big fat fib. In the utility industry-particularly within the advanced metering arena-there are so many myths swirling around that it's hard to keep them all straight. So I've taken on the role of chief myth buster. Read on only if you want to hear the unvarnished truth.
For many years, technology folks have debated the question: What's better: purpose-built best-of-breed technologies, or all-inclusive end-to-end solutions?
Conventional wisdom holds that best-of-breed technologies are just that-best-in-class, tops, primo, top-dog. The downside to best-of-breed technologies is their limited scope. Companies that build and sell best-of-breed technologies have no interest in solving the world's problems, just the part they know the most about. Their goal is to make the best darn widget in the entire world. Period. On the end-to-end solutions front, conventional wisdom holds that a fully integrated, seamless system running from A to Z is preferred over just niche, best-of-breed technologies.
Think of it this way: best-of-breed is like going to a fine Italian restaurant. The flip side: Piccadilly's Cafeteria. It might not be the best food in the world, but with all that food lined up end-to-end, you're sure to leave feeling pretty darn robust no matter what! Best-of-breed or end-to-end? That's the question. On its face, the question presumes that best-of-breed technologies and end-to-end solutions are mutually exclusive. One always must make an either/or choice. Wrong.
Who says a company that's developed best-of-breed technologies can't also be an outstanding end-to-end solutions provider? Who says a company with end-to-end solutions can't also be regarded as having best-of-breed technologies? In what playbook is it written that a single company is incapable of spawning best-of-breed technologies and end-to-end solutions?
Best-of-breed and end-to-end are terms devised, embraced, and propagated by pundits to depict two different philosophies on how to buy technologies. Don't fall victim to conventional wisdom where you're forced to make a best-of-breed/end-to-end choice in every situation.
In the advanced metering arena, for example, the best-of-breed/end-to-end dilemma revolves around whether to deal with a single company or multiple hardware, software, and network services providers. Go the best-of-breed route and you face a litany of integration challenges and inevitable finger pointing should problems surface among the vendors. Pick an end-to-end vendor and you could be at their mercy if it doesn't perform. We believe a technology can accomplish both. Settle for nothing less than best-of-breed and end-to-end in the advanced metering arena. Avoid the either/or route and