Nippon Gas Co. (NICIGAS) is retrofitting its existing gas meters across Japan with a smart reader device. The IoT reader called SPACE HOTARU developed by UnaBiz and SORACOM is expected to be fully in place by the end of FY2020. The project marks one of the largest deployments of smart utilities solutions to date, with 850,000 gas meters to be upgraded.
SPACE HOTARU, an original concept by NICIGAS, is a reader that is easily retrofitted onto existing gas meters to enable smart features. The Network Controlling Unit (NCU) collects and transmits gas consumption data to NICIGAS’ IoT data platform, “NICIGAS Stream”, via Sigfox’s Japan-wide 0G wireless network allowing the gas valve to be controlled remotely. The NCU is autonomous, energy-efficient and expected to last more than 10 years on internal batteries.
Making low-cost and real-time gas metering a reality
The SPACE HOTARU addresses key issues that the gas industry commonly faces: collecting data in a cost-effective way to allow for real-time insights.
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 visualise and predict the amount of gas remaining in households, allowing more efficient replacement of gas cylinders and improving the quality of service to its consumers.
In addition, the NCU also reports on meter related incidents. In the event of an earthquake for example, the gas valve is programmed to auto-close, bringing real-time security and convenience to homes and businesses.