DataCol Announces SevenX Cloud


A new pricing plan for all ends of the market

The biggest utility enterprises in New Zealand and Australia have benefitted for years by using our meter reading management solutions. Our meter reading software, SevenX, includes intelligent metering solutions in the form of automated meter reading (AMR) which is seamlessly upgradeable to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems. Those that have adopted it have seen improved efficiency and quality outcomes of their meter data collection.

A utility enterprise that has experienced the benefits of SevenX is Australia’s largest water and wastewater provider, Sydney Water.

The SevenX system has enabled Sydney Water to improve and simplify their quarterly reading cycle by providing server software that manages field force logistics and collects meter data from handheld units (HHU) in the field via manual or automated reads. Based on open technology, SevenX allows our customers to use commodity priced handheld computers rather than expensive and inflexible propriety hardware.

This had led to Sydney Water seeing a 20% reduction in meter reading costs, a decrease in billing enquires and improved customer service. If you’d like to find out more about how SevenX system has enabled Sydney Water to improve and simplify their quarterly reading cycle, you can read the full case study here.

Some of SevenX’s key features include:

  • Billing/CRM integration
  • Ability to link to AMR systems
  • Scheduling and route management: automated route creation and assignments to field force
  • Performance tracking monitor field staff performance and equipment in the field
  • Available as WEH, Android or iOS apps.

Although SevenX has been mostly used by larger enterprises, we’re announcing a new solution for smaller utility companies and councils. This new solution is called SevenX Cloud, which is a cloud-based version of SevenX with a new pricing plan to suit the smaller Councils. It’s an affordable solution that caters for all ends of the market. With this solution you can share the SevenX technology with other small companies. While this means there is less opportunity for customisation, the key advantage is that you share the cost of SevenX with these other small companies, meaning everyone can enjoy the benefits that SevenX offers.

If you are a utility company or council with around 50,000 connections, contact us today to talk about our SevenX Cloud solution.

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Mobile meter data collection takes another leap into the mainstream

With the upcoming release of an Android version of its SevenX meter data management solution, DataCol Group is helping the utilities sector push further into the mainstream of mobile technology.

In a sector which has traditionally had the majority of its workers in the field, mobile computing devices have always been a logical way to improve efficiency for energy and water utilities. Being able to collect metering data, engineering or customer service activities empowered with mobile devices has been critical.

The nature of those devices is changing as the technology evolves. Ruggedized ‘bricks’ like Itron’s FC300 have been reliable workhorses, but they also have a high cost to purchase and maintain, and are inflexible in adapting to rapidly changing technology.

One of these changes is the inexorable rise of the Android operating platform from Google, which has become the defacto standard for smartphone and tablet devices, with most sources putting it at 85% of the global smartphone market. According to ZDNet, there are over 1200 companies making around 24,000 different types of Android devices (smartphones and tablets).

The depth and breadth of this market offer makes it attractive for large field forces like those in the utility sector. It gives them choice and flexibility, from a simple commercial level phone through to highly ruggedized options, at a lower price and with far greater capability than a proprietary device like the FC300.

For DataCol, providing an Android version of our SevenX meter data management software is a logical pathway for our utility customers. Android devices are often ideal meter data collection tools, with good quality cameras, GPS, WiFi and 3G built-in. It gives utilities wider choice for device procurement, while providing all the features that make our product so useful to manual and AMR field forces.

For utilities in Australia, access to an Android SevenX platform provides an opportunity to deploy proven software which can enhance meter reading operations and enable them to be ‘Power of Choice’ ready. It can be an opportunity to change the ways ‘things have been done’ and implement new KPI focussed processes.

The SevenX meter data capture and management solution consists of an application running on commercially available, non-proprietary, ruggedised, IP67 compliant handheld computers communicating with SevenX, over cellular networks. It also integrates data from other transfer modes such as web, IVR and AMR. In addition, SevenX provides a single interface to the utility billing system (e.g. Gentrack, SAP, Agility) for timely, accurate and consistent billing.

If you are evaluating your mobile device strategy for your utility field force, then contact DataCol, who have over 15 years of experience in this field, to schedule a discussion about your meter data management strategy.

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Webinar: Itron FC300 alternatives

Itron will be ending support for FC300 by 2021, which means utilities will need to rethink their meter data collection strategies. As FC300 replacements are introduced, they are not compatible with MVRS, so by default, MVRS may also become a non-supported software package. This could be a challenge for many utilities because they have historically based their meter data collection processes around Itron handhelds and MVRS.

FC300 users have found the technology to be rugged and reliable workhorses, enabling efficient collection of meter data. However, they were expensive investments and maintenance costs were also high. Their biggest downfall is their inability to adapt to support rapidly changing technology in the utility sector.

With the end of FC300 support looming, it is an opportunity for utilities to consider the best replacement platform to support meter data collection. There are both transitional and full replacement options, that enable utilities to take a more modern approach to migrating from their FC300 fleet.

Michael Dennis, Business Development Manager at DataCol, is hosting a webinar to discuss some of the concerns, challenges and issues raised by Itron’s announcement, as well as some alternative solutions.

He’ll be covering:

  • opportunities to implement positive changes at utilities
  • potential metering solutions to replace FC300
  • case studies of what some of DataCol’s customers have done to achieve efficiency gains of over 20%.

FC300 alternatives webinar details

The webinar will be approximately 25 minutes in length, with an opportunity to ask questions at the end.

Time: 2:30pm – 3:30pm AET

Date: Thursday, 15 March 2018

Cost: Free

To find out more about the webinar and to register your interest, click here.

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