MV Protection and Control Divisional News – ACTOM Protection & Control automates Cape Town Harbour’s electricity metering system

Protection & Control automates Cape Town Harbour’s electricity metering system


Protection & Control (P&C) recently completed a contract involving upgrading the electricity metering system serving Cape Town Harbour to an automated system.

Electricity usage by all ships docking at the harbour is now enabled for full automation, as is the electricity usage of the various operations in the harbour.

“The upgraded metering system for automatically measuring and billing all electricity consumption in the harbour is especially important as far as shipping traffic is concerned. Ships dock for different periods and have different electricity supply requirements,” commented Imraan Mohamed, P&C’s Business Development Manager, Network Control & Metering Solutions.

“It is a big step forward from the previous metering system deployed for this purpose, as it is much more efficient, speedier and more convenient. It is also much less labour intensive than the former system, as well as being substantially less costly to operate and maintain.”

Prior to the upgrade contract for Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), which was completed in May this year, the metering system for measuring and billing electricity consumption by vessels docked in Cape Town Harbour has been a predominantly manually-operated system, where harbour officials had to manually switch on the electricity supply point for each ship as it docked and manually record its meter consumption for subsequent billing.

In a contract executed about eight years ago P&C installed up to 80 new meters, an automatic meter reading (AMR) system and a range of communication devices at the harbour as the first step towards upgrading the original metering system to an automated system. In the interim, until the latest contract was awarded by TNPA in November last year, about 400 more meters were purchased from P&C and installed at the harbour by its own technical personnel.

The main changes performed by P&C in automating the system under the latest contract were:

  • Upgrading the AMR software and database.
  • Upgrading the software licence to cover all the new meters installed to date since 2009, as well as allowing for further additional meter installations in the medium term.
  • Connecting to the AMR system all additional meters installed by harbour personnel subsequent to the initial P&C metering contract.
  • Enabling the system to allow Transnet staff to remotely manage the electricity supply and billing process for ships as they dock in the harbour.

“The majority of the meters that have been installed to date are now readable on the AMR system. We were also required under the contract to provide the necessary training to a Cape Town based metering solution contractor that has been appointed to provide ongoing technical support for this complex high-end industrial metering system,” Imraan said.

“TNPA management are looking at leveraging on the fibre network that has been installed in the harbour. This will provide more reliable communications for the system to function optimally and will also support the complete automation process envisaged.

“We are looking forward to providing further enhancements that are envisaged for Cape Town Harbour in the foreseeable future. We have already commenced designing some of the systems that are expected to be introduced during that phase,” he concluded.

Caption: A meter field technician checks meter plinth boxes containing meters supplied and installed by Protection & Control. The meters are link to Cape Town Harbour’s automatic meter reading and remote control system.