Stellar & Metrix

A data analytics case study

Smart meters are revolutionising how electricity consumers, retailers, lines companies and energy generators interact.

Auckland-based Metrix supplies innovative metering products at the forefront of this transition to advanced digital technology. Metrix provides metering services for many of the major New Zealand power retailers. About 400,000 smart meters from Metrix are deployed in seven networks, making Metrix the country’s second-largest metering asset owner.

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Metrix is in the data business

The strength of Metrix isn’t just in its meters. To deliver maximum value to energy retailers, Metrix relies on sophisticated business intelligence and data analytics solutions, created with the help of Stellar Consulting Group.

“Metrix collects electricity ‘read’ information from the smart meters, pulls it into the core platform and then matches the details of each individual meter with the associated retailer,” says Brendan McAnnalley, Assets and ICT Manager with Metrix. “This information is then packaged up for the retailer, creating a file or file format that retailers can consume within their systems – different to the original data output from the meter.”

Metrix pays close attention to the performance of its metering, ensuring data is accurate, and that the information delivered to retailers meets service level agreements. This all has to be done quickly.

“Our system can be likened to a factory,” says Brendan. “We effectively get a raw product in the form of meter-read information; we process this data through the factory (Metrix) into a refined product that is then distributed to customers.”

Better data delivery with Stellar

Stellar assisted Metrix in the development of its Improved Customer Experience (ICE) programme, with analytics and reports to measure the quality of Metrix’s business processes.

Providing business users with an end-to-end view of this information required the integration of nine source systems covering daily read gathering, bulk daily meter read delivery, half-hourly meter read delivery, retailer requested daily read delivery, mass meter deployments and smart metering field service requests. “Given the solution required the integration and presentation of multiple datasets in a relatively short amount of time, we used this as an opportunity to extend the existing SQL Server Kimball data warehouse using the Data Vault 2.0 methodology,” says Stellar CTO Chris du Toit.

“In less than seven weeks, three Stellar consultants implemented the Raw Data Vault Layer, Business Data Vault, Information Marts and Business Reports.” The Data Vault architecture enabled the team to achieve great levels of parallelism and allowed for frequent deployments into the test environment.

The strength of the Data Vault approach became obvious a few days after Go-Live when a Stellar consultant reviewed the data in the production systems and discovered one of the data vault tables had historised about 650,000 new rows instead of the usual 1000. “It turned out that one of Metrix’s data providers had switched the contents of two data fields,” says Chris. “The auditability and historising features of DV2.0 helped the Metrix data services team to resolve the issue.”

Enterprise BI Solution

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Data vault inventor Dan Linstedt’s reference architecture


A reputation for excellence

Having previously worked with Stellar on a BI solution in 2012, which has since grown to support various types of reporting and analytical requirements in the production environment, Metrix knew they had a partner they could rely on. “We needed a quick turnaround. There was a very short period of time to deliver our reporting and we were confident Stellar could help us to do that,” Brendan says. “They quickly understood our requirements, with an appropriate level of detail.”

Although the entire ICE programme project spanned 8-9 months, Stellar’s involvement was introduced at the tail end of the project – crunch time. “Stellar’s involvement in the overall project was across a relatively short space of time but an important one. We had completed a lot of the design work, implemented the system, and now needed the support of Stellar to make the reporting processes capable of consuming content from that system and create operational reports for us,” says Brendan.

 

“They joined at the most critical phase of the project lifecycle – right at the end when the pressure to deliver is on.” Brendan McAnnalley, Assets and ICT Manager with Metrix.

With such a rapid turnaround, a few unforeseeable issues emerged after the first deliverables for the ICE programme came through. However, the Stellar team were able to address these quickly.

“Stellar were great to work with – very professional,” says Brendan. “We were also impressed with the way Stellar managed working through the defects. It was a very efficient and effective process for us.”

Stellar’s goal is to help businesses thrive on their digital journey. Metrix’s efforts to drive the use of smart meters in New Zealand is an important part of our energy future, and we’re proud to be a part of their solution.

“They joined at the most critical phase of the project lifecycle – right at the end when the pressure to deliver is on.”

Brendan McAnnalley, Assets and ICT Manager with Metrix

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