Cyan Technology provides smart meter communication platform for energy utilities

“Cyan works with energy utilities, meter manufacturers and system integrators to provide a complete end-to-end solution” says John Cronin, Executive Chairman, Cyan Technology
Cambridge, UK located Cyan, which delivers mesh-based flexible wireless solutions for utility metering and lighting control, is aggressively increasing its footprint in the Indian market. In an interview with Subhajit Roy, John Cronin explains why smart meters are becoming increasingly important for a developing country like India where power loss or leakage is equivalent to $32 billion per annum. With 10 years of experience working in India, John was instrumental in merging a British Telecom company, Azure, with the Bangalore based company Subex.
Could you explain to us about your roadmap for India?We have been working in India for 5 years and have established key partnerships with energy utilities, leading meter manufacturers and system integrators as well as working with the India Smart Grid Forum (ISGF) and other Indian smart grid experts.
Cyan has 6 fully qualified India meter manufacturer partners who are ready to deliver Cyan’s integrated solution for smart metering deployments, CyLec. 
CyLec solutions provide a migration path through Automated Meter Reading (AMR) to full Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). In addition, we are delighted to announce the launch of the CyLec Retrofit solution for the Indian market. The retrofit technology is a small piece of hardware and associated software that converts a static meter which has already been installed into a fully functional smart meter and we have already seen a lot of interest in this. Looking at the roadmap, as we move forward from pilot projects to commercial deployment of smart meters, there is a requirement to create an interoperable ‘open system’. Meter manufacturers could adopt a standard Open Meter Protocol that allows utilities to interface between meters from different manufacturers through Cyan’s wireless mesh networking platform. This would address the need of every utility to procure meters from various manufacturers to ensure they have a reliable supply chain and are able to negotiate competitive pricing.
As the smart metering projects in India move from pilot stage to large scale deployment, Cyan could initiate a new licensing model which would allow utilities, meter manufacturers and system integrators to buy wireless modules from multiple vendors in order to secure the best commercial arrangements and reliable supply.
This licensing model would allow semiconductor device companies to provide meter manufacturers with a single chip solution that includes all the functions required to build smart meters. The meter manufacturers would then be able to source chips from any one of these licensees rather than just Cyan.
I hope these two initiatives will accelerate India’s deployment of smart metering solutions.    
Are the Indian utilities prepared for smart metering?In the last 5 years, we have deployed several low-power smart metering pilots that demonstrate our technology in rapidly growing, high-density urban areas across India.  Despite successful evaluation of Cyan’s CyLec technology, the advance to large scale deployments has been delayed.  In August 2013, the Indian Government, under the Ministry of Power, released the ‘Smart Grid Vision and Roadmap for India’ and I am confident this will help to accelerate the roll out.
Furthermore, the energy market in India today is much more aware of the benefits of smart metering technologies to manage consumption through functionality, such as demand forecasting and demand side management.
What are the major challenges the industry is facing?Today, India incurs power loss or leakage equivalent to $32 billion per annum. We can help utilities to reduce this loss significantly using smart metering technology. When someone tampers with the meter, an alert will immediately be sent to the utility so that they can take action, e.g. disconnect the meter. This enables utilities to stop the electricity flow in cases where the meter tampering is resulting in electricity theft. Smart metering technology also allows utilities to shift the load between industrial and domestic consumers during peak hours through tools such as real-time Time of Use tariffs and incentives. In addition, it reduces meter reading and billing costs, as well as the cost of correcting many of the errors that occur due to faulty meter reading.
Could you highlight the benefits of CyLec? Why people should go for it?The adoption of smart metering technology improves peak demand management, meter reading accuracy and fraud detection. CyLec provides a communication platform to and from the meter, enabling functions such as remote tamper detection and reporting.
Cyan works with energy utilities, meter manufacturers and system integrators to provide a complete end-to-end solution. It offers intelligent information to the utilities which enable them take action on their distribution networks.
In partnership with the Indian energy market, Cyan has developed solutions that help to address the specific challenges that the utilities face. The most pressing requirement is to reduce losses due to tampering and theft. The first step is to collect data from millions of meters in rapidly growing and typically unplanned urban areas, then issue accurate bills and collect the cash.
When this is done, the utility can reinvest this cash in its overall infrastructure. CyLec therefore helps them to earn greater revenue and to be self-sufficient as they move forward.
So, can we say that the CyLec brings the real intelligence in smart meters?Yes, CyLec communicates the data from the meter sources to the utility, where the data can provide real intelligence.
In India, what are the major projects you are working in?Cyan is involved in several projects and is working on pilots under the Ministry of Power’s ‘Smart Grid Vision and Roadmap for India’ and R-APDRP program.
How is your JV with Larsen &Toubro working? Where do you see this JV in future?Our partnership with Larsen & Toubro is highly valued and we will continue to work closely with them. In January, Cyan attended Elecrama 2014 in Bangalore to demonstrate our CyLec wireless technology, which features in Larsen & Toubro’s new fully functional smart meter.
Are you looking at any other partnerships?In this eco-system we need to work in partnerships with utilities, meter manufacturers and system integrators. We have to also work in partnership with information technology (IT) companies who have a good understanding of the deployment and support our wireless system. So, I am always in favour of local partnerships; that’s how the world works in this business. I would encourage more partnerships as we move forward. Also, as there is more traction in the market, more and more companies are coming to us and asking for support, which will help us to move ahead with them to deliver additional services.
How much did you invest in India so far and what sort of capital investment plans you have?Cyan has invested millions of dollars in the Indian market and we will continue with our investment. In March 2013, Cyan appointed a country manager as well as local sales and technical resource.  Going forward, Cyan will continue to grow our team in India with additional sales and business development staff.
In addition to the recruitment of field-based personnel, Cyan has qualified two India based Tier-1 Contract Equipment Manufacturers to build our hardware solutions both for the India market and for export. Both manufacturers are global companies offering a comprehensive range of Original Equipment Manufacturer services and hold ISO 9001 and other regulatory certificates.
What are the long- and short-term objectives you have for the Indian market?Our long-term objective is to significantly contribute to the government’s goals in developing an ‘open system’ and reduce the AT&C losses.   
Cyan is manufacturing locally in India for the Indian market. We would like to expand on the basis of orders that are coming through. We also want to act as thought leaders providing end-to-end communication for smart metering as a platform to incremental solutions such as electricity meters, gas and water meters, lighting and home appliances.
Our short-term objective is to help utilities in the gradual adaption of smart meters. We can ask them to allocate 10 to 20 per cent of their static meters and provide them a communication platform to enable their meters to be ‘smart’. Utilities could also ensure that tenders make provision for an upgrade path to AMI and smart metering.
Gradually the utility can develop processes, and methodologies that deliver real value. That’s why our objective is to win business in certain areas and ensure that the people understand the value Cyan’s solutions deliver as we go forward.              
Do you have any plan to become end-to-end solution provider in the Indian smart metering segment?Cyan offers end-to-end solutions for the Indian smart metering market today. With several pilots already deployed across India, we are enthusiastic that utilities can evaluate our technology and realise the benefits that CyLec smart metering solutions can deliver.
By when, we can expect your manufacturing unit in India?We have qualified and set up contracts with Contract Equipment Manufacturers in India. As soon as the utility moves from pilot projects to commercial production, the meter manufacturers will place volume orders and we will fulfil these orders from our manufacturing facilities in India.
Cyan works with energy utilities, meter manufacturers and system integrators to provide a complete end-to-end solution. It offers intelligent information to the utilities which enable them take action on their distribution networks

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