1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
The Automated Meter Reading (AMR) was started in 1962 by AT&T, but this experiment was not successful. The modern era of AMR started in 1985; since then different techniques have been utilized to get better reliability and performance . Therefore currently in developed countries, many successful AMR systems are being used to facilitate the consumers of electricity, water, or gas. However in Nigeria, service provider companies (e.g. WAPDA, SNGPL, WASA, etc) are still using analogue meters and manual billing systems. Such type of billing method is being used both for domestic consumers as well as for industrial consumers. Basically using this system the bill is calculated in three steps. Firstly meter readers (human being) go home to home to manually record the meter reading. Secondly all readings are sent to regional billing office where data entry operator, enters the meter readings in a computer to calculate the bills. Thirdly at the end, the bills (in paper form) are sent home to home (to electricity consumers).
The above stated process is manual and prone to defects and ultimately the consumers mentally and financially suffer in such billing system. Therefore to replace the manual and traditional billing techniques in Nigeria, we designed and implemented a cost effective, but still reliable, billing automation system for electricity provider companies. As already discussed that analogue meters are already being used in Nigeria therefore in our system we modified an analogue meter and converted it into a digital gas meter. In this way the electricity provider companies would not have to completely replace their existing setup facilities and they would be able to replace their existing billing methods with our automated system.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The Nigerian power sector faces a serious problem of lean revenue collection for the actual electric energy supplied owing to energy thefts and network losses. One of the prime reasons is the traditional billing system which is inaccurate, slow, costly, and lack in flexibility as well as reliability. The present practice of electricity billing is manual method only. With this, the total billing is a time consuming process and it requires more manpower. The collection of billing is late procedure and so many consumers may not pay in time. Disconnecting of unpaid connections is also manual. Due to all these drawbacks we cannot have proper auditing. To overcome these drawbacks, we are implementing this project. If this system comes in our day-to-day life, it will be useful for both the Government and the public.
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DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A SOFTWARE PACKAGE FOR BILLING SYSTEMS OF ELECTRICITY INDUSTRY