Interchangeability, unlike interoperability, refers to a single product from different manufacturers. This means that products can be interchanged without any problems, regardless of which manufacturer they are from. The aim is to replace or exchange products without additional effort during installation or functional limitations in later use.
In order to ensure the interchangeability of a Smart Meter, specifications must be available that describe exactly the data model and the interfaces of the meter. Based on these specifications, different manufacturers can now develop a product and offer it on the market. This gives the grid operator the opportunity to buy meters from different manufacturers. If a meter from manufacturer A is then installed and after a few years exchanged for a meter from manufacturer B, there must be no subsequent adaptation work or malfunctions. This gives the grid operator the freedom to act independently of the manufacturer.
It must be possible to test both characteristics, interoperability, and interchangeability. In Germany, every test facility of a grid operator has at least one smart meter test system in operation. This ensures that potential malfunctions can be detected at an early stage before, for example, a large roll-out of new products has taken place and results in a subsequent recall due to faults being detected too late.
In Germany, network operators, meter and test equipment manufacturers specified the specifications in dialogue with the government to such an extent that these characteristics of interoperability and interchangeability in smart meters are given. The result is a free market with equal products.”
Learn more about Interoperability in our newsblog.