Billing systems of electricity industry has been widely studied and implemented in developed countries across the world. But in Nigeria, this technology is still on its way to be fully implemented for domestic as well as for industrial consumers. This paper explores the design, implementation of a software package for billing systems of electricity. For low electricity consumption (domestic consumers), a prepaid meter has been designed which needs a prepaid card to keep the gas supply continue. Similarly for high electricity consumption (industrial consumers), the electricity meter is wirelessly connected with the regional billing office. In this way the billing office is able to directly communicate with the meter and records its electricity consumption reading. Along with electricity, this system can easily be enhanced to measure the consumption of water supply.
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.
1.3 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The aim of this project research work is to design and develop a software package for billing systems of electricity industry.
The objectives of the study include the following;
- To elaborate the concept of automated electricity billing system.
- To design and implement a software that depicts an billing system
- To examine the modules of billing system
- To point out the impact of billing system on revenue collection
1.4 SIGNIFICANT OF THE STUDY
This research would be considered worthless if it has no significance to mankind. The following significance can be derives from this research;
- It will make other related organization to see the need of designing and implementing a billing system.
- It will assist in displaying the proper, reliable and effective medium used in managing an electricity bills.
- Finally, the research work will serve as a good reference material to other student interested in researching further on the research topic in future.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The research work is focused on Electricity Billing System (EBS), with electricity industry serving as a case study. Its scope covers only the important module of EBS, data collection, analysis, storage and retrieval of information. It does not extend to other areas such as electricity malfunction.
1.6 ORGANIZATION OF THE RESEARCH
The research work is arranged in the following chapters;
Chapter 1: The introductory chapter, which focused on the preliminaries theory.
Chapter 2: The overview of the research work.
Chapter 3: The system design and methodology.
Chapter 4: The system implementation and documentation.
Chapter 5: Finally, summary of the research work.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
In order to do away with ambiguity and enhance understanding, some keywords are hereby defined;
Billing: The process of sending someone a document asking them to pay for goods or services that they have received or used.
System: A collection of elements or components that are organized for a common purpose.
Module: A separate unit of software
Software Package: That includes the software itself, as well as files that are used only during the installation process. In a Windows environment it is sometimes called an installation package or update package. Multiple software programs that work together (or performs similar functions) and is bundled and sold together as a software package.
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