MEMSIC says that today's electromechanical methods of measuring gas flow are accurate but not well suited to implementation in smart meters with wireless communication capabilities. They also say that previous MEMS-based methods did not have the high resolution that the new sensor offers.
There are two price advantages, Rob, and both have to do more with operating costs than initial costs. First, utility companies don't want to send people out to read meters and turn meters on and off. That's too costly. Second, utility companies want their readings to be as accurate as possible. A 1% error multiplied by two million meters can be costly.
That's makes sense, Chuck. So what happens is the sensors help automate the collection of usage data while also making that data more accurate. So even if the sensor is more expensive, it ultimately saves dollars.
I would like to understand more about what is new with the MEMSIC's MEMS flow sensor design. This technology (heater with two thermopiles on each side) has been around for very long time, and I believe the original patent on this approach has already expired. There are a number of other companies that have released/are releasing natural gas meters based on the exact same approach, with intergrated IC. And I do not think their claim of higher resolution is reflected on their preliminary data sheet, yet.
How do you think this MEMS technology will be perceived by the utility companies? How are the MEMS natural gas meters that have already passed the certifications doing? Any buy-ins from the utility companies?
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