Understanding the AMR Scenario Context
The Automated Meter Reader scenario, used in Product Line Engineering design, uses a fictitious company JK Meters Corp, aspiring leaders of Smarter Flow Products for Utilities.
About JK Meters Corp
The Metering Division at JK Meters Corp has a range of Automated Meter Reader products in its product line. The innovative flow detection solutions combines flow sensors, digital monitors integrated with network communication features that are installed both above and below ground, units for gas and water pipe and pump attached flow control, along with meter reader equipment to commission and extract metering information, increasingly using wireless technologies. The Metering division also develops applications that provide industry partners and consumers with analytics on consumption, diagnostic, and status and solutions for customer billing and service management.
The most successful product is the Automated Meter Reader for Water Flow (see figure below). The product consists of meter interface units mounted on water pipes. The meter interface unit measures flow and delivers data to handheld or car mounted meter readers. The registered meter readings are uploaded from the handheld devices to the AMR server data management system manually. Uploading of data is performed continuously by the mobile meter readers using a mobile network connection, or manually when returning to the office at the end of the day when using the manual meter reader product.
The Automated Meter Reader products are delivered to utility customers world wide and the products are developed with variants for each regional market. The variants are configured for regional requirements on power voltage, dimensions on pipe mounting, regional units of flow and volume, language configuration for the handheld meter readers and regional city maps for GPS routing.
The Metering Division is currently investing in improved features in the product lines and new AMR products. An innovative new AMR Grid product reduces the operational cost of utility services by providing fixed grid meter readers that continuously reads a wireless grid of residential or industrial meter interface units and uploads data over a fixed network connection.
About the Organization in the Metering Division
Under the direction of Product Management and Sales, the Metering Division organizes in Development, Product quality, Operations with production and maintenance in North America, Europe, India and China. Development are organized around Enterprise systems for IT, business and analytics applications and products, and on Sensor systems with integration of sensor technologies and devices. 3rd party suppliers are used for some sub-system development and delivery (not emphasized within the current scenario). The Metering Division teams are distributed and rely on a common product and systems development lifecycle infrastructure for development collaboration and product delivery.
The Metering Division organises its Development in a matrix of projects and disciplines. The disciplines, managed by discipline managers, are responsible for the definition and continuous improvements of practices and contributor skills. Team members from the discipline is assigned to the project organization and work in product development team under the lead of a project manager.
The success factors for the Metering Division Development is to achieve better use of development resources by improving reuse of parts through product configurations, improvement in product quality, and productivity improvements through collaborative design of hardware and software sub-systems. JK Meters Corp has an initiative to improve the performance of its development and delivery activities for Metering division. The AMR product development team have deployed IBM Rational’s Systems and Software Engineering solution are currently using change management (CM), requirements management (RM), model driven systems engineering (MDSE) and quality management (QM) capabilities.
About the AMR Product Line
The Automated Meter Reader products are configured from reusable components. These component subsystems are developed and delivered by the Meter Reader, Meter Interface and AMR Sever platform teams.
The AMR Manual product is configured from a Wired Meter Interface unit, a Manual Handheld Reader and a generic AMR Server that is reused across the product line. The AMR Mobile and AMR Grid reuses the Wireless Meter Interface unit, but differs in using a Mobile reader vs Grid Reader.
The Automated Meter Reader products have been delivered to utility customers in US. JK Meters Corp is growing its market share by developing variants for other regional markets. The variants are configured with regional requirements on power voltage, dimensions on pipe mounting, regional units of flow and volume, language configuration for the handheld meter readers and regional city maps for GPS routing. Meter Interfaces, Mobile Readers and AMR Servers are adapted and regional variants are created for each market in US, EU and UK.
The AMR Meter Interface is a electro-mechanical unit that connects to water pipes, gas pipes or electrical cords and measures flow consumption and triggers alarms based on events and analytics. The unit is based on a standard microcontroller that connects to a sensor and runs the AMR Meter Interface embedded software and additional drivers for the sensor type. Backup power and communication components are attached to the controller.
AMR Meter Interface Parts
The Handheld AMR Meter Reader is a rugged handheld Microsoft® Windows Mobile® tablet that connects over wire or RF to Meter Interface units for reading and uploading water, gas or electrical flow consumption data and alarms. The unit provides GPS routing and Cellular GSM (EU) or CDMA (US) connectivity to AMR servers.
The unit is based on a standard tablet and runs the AMR Meter Interface Windows Mobile software. It integrates with Windows Mobile applications for messaging, map management and routing. The unit may be ordered with a car mount kit that charges the unit and connects to the car audio system over Bluetooth.
Handheld AMR Meter Reader Parts
|The AMR Grid Reader is a fixed meter reader that connects over RF to Meter Interface units for uploading water, gas or electrical and reads flow consumption
data and alarms. The unit provides fixed internet or Cellular GSM (EU) or CDMA (US) connectivity to AMR servers.The unit is based on a standard ARM processor board and runs the AMR Grid Meter Reader Linux embedded software. The unit is equipped with an RF antenna, a solar panel power and backup battery unit. GSM/CDMA or Ethernet cards are attached directly to the board.AMR Grid Meter Reader Parts
The AMR Server is provided with our IBM partner using the PureData Systems solutions and runs the ARM Server data storage and services applications. JK Meters and IBM offers on-premise, hosted or cloud configurations.
The AMR Server delivers the AMR data store, the AMR analytics engine and system administration applications for customer, infrastructure, operations and system management. The system also delivers AMR services like billing, reporting, reading, alarms, forecasts and flow analysis and infrastructure planning.
AMR Server Software Parts
Reusable Platform Components and Variant Product Line Configurations
The Automated Meter Reader products are configured from reusable components. These component subsystems are developed and delivered by the Meter Reader, Meter Interface and AMR Sever platform teams. The platform teams deliver the component subsystems with feature variability for the product line. For example, the Meter Interface team delivers wired and wireless variants of the component for the Manual and Mobile products. The Meter Reader team delivers variant components for Manual, Mobile and Grid products.
Components and Configurations
The Product Line Engineering capabilities in the IBM IoT Continuous Engineering solution is providing support to manage variants of components.
What is a Component?
A component is a unit of organization consisting of a reusable set of artifacts such as requirements, tests, designs and source code. The Automated Meter Reader (AMR) teams are using components to organize the lifecycle artifacts under development. The teams have defined components both at the system / product level, and at each subsystem level. Separate components are used to manage requirements, tests, designs and source code at each level.
What are Configurations, Streams and Baselines?
A configuration is a set of specific artifacts versions of a component. A configuration evolves over time as changes are made to the artefacts in the configuration. At different times it might contain different sets of artifact versions. Such a configuration is also called a stream. A stream can contain changes and is mutable. Snapshots of configurations (streams) at a certain time is called a baseline. Their role is to record a configuration state for either a comparison or simply later reuse. Baselines, can’t be changed, they are immutable.
As a configuration is a set of specific artifacts versions of a component, the use of two configurations for AMR system requirements will greatly help in managing variability of artifacts across the US and UK markets. In two such configurations common requirements will have the same artifact version but specific requirement for the UK configuration will have a different version as compared to the US configuration.
The AMR teams are using several streams to manage variability across the product line. Streams are branched for the Manual, Mobile and Grid products. Streams are also used to manage variability across regional market US and UK products. The stream diagram below shows a conceptual view of the configuration dependencies.
The AMR teams creates baselines consistently across all artefact types for each milestone and release. The baselines are used to branch new streams for changes going into the next product release.
What is a global configuration?
The AMR teams are using global configurations to organize the components for the system level. This enables the system requirements, design models, tests and source code to be managed as a single global configuration. You will use the IBM Rational Configuration Management application to create an AMR Mobile UK global configuration that assembles the requirements and test streams for Mobile UK you created in the previous part. The Automated Meter Reader (AMR) platform teams are using individual global configurations to develop and deliver the Meter Reader, Meter Interface and AMR Server subsystems.