Nippon Gas to upgrade 850,000 gas meters with smart capabilities
Japanese utility firm Nippon Gas (NICIGAS) announced plans to upgrade 850,000 gas meters with smart capabilities in 2020 using a retrofitted gas meter reader developed by UnaBiz and Soracom, the latter said in a statement.
IoT connectivity provider Soracom highlighted that Space Hotaru, an original concept by Nippon Gas, is a reader that is “easily retrofitted” onto existing gas meters to enable intelligent features. The Network Controlling Unit (NCU) collects and transmits gas consumption data to NICIGAS’ IoT data platform, called NICIGAS Stream, via Sigfox’s Japan-wide wireless network allowing the gas valve to be controlled remotely. The NCU is energy-efficient and is expected to last more than 10 years on internal batteries, the company added.
Since the adoption of the reader, meter data that used to be read manually by agents once a month is now collected by the NCU on an hourly basis, and sent to NICIGAS Stream daily. Collected data is used to visualize and predict the amount of gas remaining in households, allowing timelier replacement of gas cylinders and improving the quality of service to its consumers.
The NCU also reports on meter related incidents, In the event of an earthquake, the gas valve is programed to auto-close, bringing real-time security to the properties.
The Space Hotaru concept was made possible thanks to the collaboration between NICIGAS, Soracom, UnaBiz, Sigfox, and Kyocera Communication Systems. The solution runs on the 0G network operated by Kyocera Communication Systems.
“The combined expertise of Soracom and UnaBiz in software and hardware development respectively has helped us bring our idea to mass production quickly. The team’s competence and dedication were the key success factors in developing this durable and cost-efficient smart gas meter, and their speed to market is simply unparalleled,” a spokesperson from NICIGAS said.
“With more precise gas consumption data, we can better analyze our demand and supply and turn them into actionable insights for our logistics and distribution channels to achieve maximum resource efficiency. In addition, it will enable us to propose optimal energy usage plans to our existing and potential customers,” the spokesperson added.
NICIGAS also said that it plans to offer Space Hotaru and the integrated system supported by NICIGAS Stream to other gas retailers and other energy retailers.
“NICIGAS represents a prime example of the benefits that a smart IoT connectivity platform brings to large-scale deployments. The combination of IoT technology and cloud capability lets businesses connect devices quickly, affordably, and securely anywhere in the world, while increasing efficiency, sustainability, and customer satisfaction,” said Ken Tamagawa, CEO and co-founder of Soracom.