Smart metering is seen as the prerequisite for energy savings and will revolutionize metrology for mobile communications, along with the associated transmission technology for data in the coming years.
The dynamics of the mobile radio communications market in Germany is currently affected by a variety of factors; The high number of mobile phones, which has now surpassed the number of inhabitants in the country, along with the steadily increasing number of user options brings about a rapid increase in power consumption in the mobile radio communications sector. The integrated Energy and Climate Program initiated by the German government in 2008 is aimed at counteracting this trend by requiring more efficient use of energy by consumers on the whole. To achieve this, the metrology market for electricity and gas was opened for competition to allow innovative technologies to be promoted and to bring ‘smart metering’ into being.
It therefore comes as no surprise that mobile communications service providers and metrology systems manufacturers alike are sparing no effort to create common requirements for enhancing energy efficiency in the mobile communications sector. A pilot project of this type was begun at the beginning of 2009 between the particularly innovative network service provider E-Plus and WAGO Kontakttechnik. The concept behind this project is to equip a limited number of communications antenna towers with intelligent metrology systems and to make the data that is collected (in particular data on power consumption as a function of frequency of use, along with other important factors) available via telecontrol technology to a central Web server for evaluation. The results of the analyses can then provide useful information about which communications stations should be given closer consideration for equipping them with energy-saving radio transmission technology (green IT) on the basis of their higher rate of use.
Mobile communications networks are similar to a grid network in which a base station is operated with a radio communications tower in each grid (cell). The width of the cells is less than 100 meters in highly built-up regions and can be up to several kilometers in sparsely populated regions. Considering that there are substantially more than 100,000 radio communications towers, along with a corresponding number of base stations, in Germany (for all communications service providers combined), it becomes clear just how significant energy efficiency optimization measures really are.
Arkadon IT Engineering GmbH in Neukirchen- Vluyn is a WAGO Solution Provider that employs the WAGO To-Pass telecontrol system in its projects through its activities as a specialist for Web-based integration and service platforms and management of comprehensive data inventories. This describes the situation in the pilot project conducted jointly with and implemented for E-Plus for monitoring of data for radio communications towers.
There is an urgent need for time-based energy consumption measurement at radio communications towers in mobile communications networks in order that smart metering can be implemented for this throughout the entire system within the next few years. It was in this context that the network provider E-Plus kicked off a pilot project at the beginning of 2009, equipping a limited number of transmission towers with telecontrol metering stations that were to be adaptable and upgradable with the highest degree of flexibility to the application at hand, owing to the pilot project character of the project.
• Documenting of power consumption and correlation between power consumption and call volume per radio communications tower, temperature influences or differences between densely populated regions and rural areas as the basis for decision-making regarding, for example, maintenance optimization, etc.
• Transmission of the data acquired locally via PLC-based metering technology, including fault alarms, as complete system status reports via GSM/GPRS to a central Web server with a data-base
• Ensuring availability of data from the various stations via one data platform, regardless of where the data originated from
• Identification of load peaks, optimization of system maintenance • Elaboration of a quick and low-cost upgrading concept, without any major influence on ongoing operation of the transmitting towers
E-Plus chose Wago-To-Pass telecontrol technology as the basis for its devices. The required customizing, including development of the application-specific Web portal and MySQL database was carried out by Arkadon, who was also responsible for the overall project and database hosting.
Components from the To-Pass Modular telecontrol system and the I/O-System 750, combined with the user-specific, customized To-Pass Dynamic Portal and a database from Arkadon, form the basis for the project. One meter box, containing pre-installed modules, transducers, controllers and VPN modem/ routers, were delivered to Arkadon for each communications tower. In the second stage, the boxes were provided with the userspecific Arkadon software and a SIM card at Arkadon and a unique serial number then applied to the outside of the box. This integrated the To-Pass components into an automatic Arkadon rollout process, providing the user with the possibility of activating a pre-configured box at any location.
WAGO modules used in this solution:
• Components from the I/O-SYSTEM 750 for acquisition of measured data and status signals for the radio communications tower.
• telecontroller for conditioning of the acquired data and processing for wireless transmission
• VPN router for forwarding of data via GSM
• CAA programming tool for programming of logic circuits for the logged physical data. This is easily carried out using one of the programming languages standardized in IEC 61131-3. The graphic visualization function contained in the programming tool allows parameterization interfaces to be displayed, making configuration considerably less complicated.
Data from the meters are collected by means of the measured data converters integrated into the module system, conditioned in the controller and transmitted every 10 minutes to the Web server via the GSM link where they are then available for evaluation (individually for each station) at a Web portal. Once a location has been selected, detailed current or voltage phases and active power can be visualized, evaluated against benchmarks and the insights gained from this evaluation used in the decision-making process for optimization measures.
Arkadon’s particular strongpoint then comes into play when the high level of flexibility of the To-Pass components for mapping customer- specific processes is combined with the possibilities offered by the adaptable To- Pass Dynamic Web portal developed jointly by Arkadon and WAGO. This is not merely a simple Web platform, but rather an individual solution designed for the application at hand, including corporate design, access privileges, automatic allocation of PLC variables, individually configurable parameters and alarm generation either via SMS or e-mail. In addition to the location view, this portal also provides a dynamic monitor view with various graphics for continuously updated presentation of the processes.
• Highest flexibility in wireless transmission of measured data to a Web portal by combining various components from the To-Pass Modular and I/O-System 750 series
• Optimal implementation of user-specific applications at the meter stations using open and easy CoDeSys programming for the controller
• High degree of system availability and easing the load on the service personnel posed by timeconsuming check inspections to the sometimes distant stations using remote access to the devices from an external source via GSM
• Customized Web platform as a To-Pass Dynamic Portal provides data security through assigning of access privileges, process efficiency through automatic allocation of PLC variables and set-points and operational reliability and security through automatic alarm generation.
By: Wolfgang Laufmann and Bernhard Tillmanns