DCC Firmware Management Consultation – SMDA Response

The SMDA Scheme has responded to the DCC’s consultation on Communications Hub Firmware Management processes.

The full response can be accessed here:

SMDA Response to DCC Firmware Management Consultation (45 downloads)

 

However the key points in our response were:

  1. We consider that use of real Devices in DCC testing is appropriate; however, the DCC Licensee should take great care not to compromise commercially-available testing schemes;

 

  1. We consider that the DCC could make use of the SMDA Scheme to independently verify that Communications Hubs operate correctly and do not introduce interoperability or interchangeability issues and that this could reduce the overall cost to industry of testing.

 

The original consultation can be accessed here

The risks of not submitting devices to the SMDA scheme

While the SMDA Scheme is voluntary, most energy suppliers are already members. Accounting for around 80% of the energy supplier market, SMDA Supplier and MAP members are already mandating SMDA as a requirement in their contracts with smart metering equipment manufacturers. This is to provide further regulatory assurance that the devices they have chosen meet the associated regulatory obligations. Manufacturers who do not have their equipment SMDA assured could risk missing out on the significant opportunities the smart meter rollout presents.

It is also clear that having interchangeable smart metering equipment is a key factor in maintaining a positive experience for consumers. There is little doubt that the impacts from not being able to offer assurance could lead to negative consumer relationships if equipment used is found not to be interchangeable.

The long-term value in getting SMDA assurance

A significant amount of effort has been invested in the SMDA scheme over the past three years to ensure suppliers, meter manufacturers and funders benefit from the investment cost and confidence a central assurance regime provides.

It is acknowledged that delays in the smart metering market are causing the Test House financial issues that need to be addressed – this is assuming the highest priority. The Scheme Operator and Test House are committed to finding a solution to enable continued operation of the current testing arrangements. The SMDA’s industry backers – the EUA, Energy UK, BEAMA and CMAP – are also fully committed to its long-term operation.

This means manufacturers can be confident that any devices they submit will be assurance tested and any fees paid ahead of testing will be held securely. However, if for any reason a solution cannot be found to address the Test House’s financial challenges and the contract with the current Test House ends, then measures will be put in place for seamless testing service handover to an alternative provider.

The benefits of submitting devices to the SMDA scheme

SMDA testing offers manufacturers comfort that their devices comply with the Scheme requirements under the Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specification (SMETS) and ensures smart meter equipment will work effectively and is interchangeable with other equipment in a smart environment.

The SMDA testing covers areas which other testing activities don’t. As well as identifying common issues being found by other testing activities, the Test House has also identified issues which haven’t been picked up elsewhere. This is enabling parties to resolve issues before mass roll-out of smart metering equipment, saving significant time, cost and resources.

Members of the SMDA scheme have access to all of the test scripts used, enabling manufacturers to carry out pre-testing and helping them reduce costs further.

SMDA website refresh and DAR launch

The SMDA Scheme Operator is pleased to announce the launch of our newly redesigned website, www.smda-scheme.co.uk. We have redesigned it with you in mind, streamlining menus, simplifying navigation and building a responsive layout to provide information on SMDA’s products and services.

 

We encourage everyone to visit and explore the site and provide your feedback on the changes we’ve implemented. We will continue to work on updating the site to better inform you about SMDA and to provide essential information in an easy to use way.

 

A new addition to the members’ only part of the website is the Device Assurance Register (DAR). Once a device has completed all required testing for interoperability and interchangeability, and proven that the exit criteria has been achieved, it will be added to the DAR. A device is only considered SMDA Assured once it is listed on the DAR.

How to submit a device

Submitting a device for SMDA testing is a simple process.

  1. Contact the SMDA Test House for a quote for testing your device. The Test House will consider the scope of testing required and swiftly issue a quote – the turnaround time may be a little longer where a specific test plan needs to be designed for variant devices or when partial testing is required.
  2. Raise a Purchase Order for the quote provided, as quickly as possible.
  3. On receipt of the Purchase Order, the Test House will swiftly issue the first invoice (50% of the testing fee and 100% of the Scheme levies).
  4. Sample devices and other design information should then be shipped to the Test House.
  5. Testing will then start when the initial payment has been received.
  6. Once testing is complete, the final invoice (outstanding 50% of test fee plus any agreed additional testing costs) will be issued for payment.

 

The Test House already has comprehensive confidentiality obligations in place through its terms and conditions, which are used throughout its testing and certification business for similar types of testing across multiple sectors. However, some manufacturers have required more detailed and complex NDAs to be agreed before submitting devices. This is possible to do, but please be aware that the NDA will need to be mutually acceptable and agreed. As such, this will delay the process of getting your device submitted. If an NDA is necessary, then getting these agreed upfront can avoid delay.

Current state of play of SMDA

Since the launch of the SMDA testing service in the summer, the Scheme Operator and Test House have been carrying out testing with smart metering devices to ensure any potential issues with the Scheme’s testing procedures are resolved ahead of the start of formal assurance testing.

The scheme’s progress has inevitably been impacted by delays, due to issues identified in the End-to-End testing with the Smart DCC. This has been a challenge for manufacturers as it has prevented them from completing design and assurance processes and slowed their ability to submit devices into the Scheme. However, a number of smart devices have now been submitted for formal SMDA Assurance Testing, with only a handful of outstanding test issues unresolved. The Scheme is currently on track to resolve these by the end of the year, subject to external dependencies being resolved in line with planning assumptions.

How to become an SMDA Member

Membership of SMDA is open to Manufacturers, Suppliers and Meter Asset Providers, and offers a variety of benefits: –

Access to SMDA Documentation

  • Full access to all scheme documents and procedures, including traceability matrix.
  • Access to Test Specifications.

Access to Test Reports

  • Manufacturers provided with a Test Report upon completion of testing.
  • Supplier members provided with SMDA Test Reports where evidence of testing required by OFGEM, through a governed process.

Access to the Device Assurance Register (DAR)

  • Listed devices are accessible, with key features such as: – make, model, SMDA baseline version, SMETS version.
  • Full details of baseline and device history limited to members section only.

Scheme Governance

  • Input into scheme governance, including defining testing requirements and scope.
  • Updates on testing progress.
  • Representation on SMDA Co Board and Working Group.

Test Fees

  • Discounted fees for members.

Membership Fees

  • Joining Fee – £2,500 + VAT
  • Annual Subscription Fee – £250 + VAT

To become an SMDA member, please click here to download the SMDA Application Form and Membership Joining Pack. The completed application form, along with any enquiries relating to SMDA membership, should be directed to the SMDA Scheme Operator by emailing smdaso@gemserv.com.