Bitron is a global privately held company leader in research, development and manufacturing of mechatronic devices and systems for the automotive, appliance, HVAC and Energy industries. 

Bitron Electronics Division is the business unit inside the Bitron group specialized in the design and manufacturing of electronic systems and devices for the Energy, Automotive, Home appliance, HVAC, and other applications. 

With its 4 dedicated electronics manufacturing plants in Italy, Poland, China and México and its development centres Bitron Electronics offers the entire range of services from EMS to co-design, dedicated product development and complete system design and built to its global customer base. 

Interview with Pierluigi Sponga, Marketing and Sales Director at Bitron Electronics Division.

Easy Engineering: What’s the news about new products?

Pierluigi Sponga: In the past years Bitron consolidated a significant experience in products for the energy market. In more than 10 years activity for the electric distribution market Bitron developed several models of smart meters: more than 17 million units have been manufactured and are now installed in field. Recently competencies have been extended to other components of the Low Voltage (LV) grid. The latest developments, which in part are still in progress, include a family of products that support LV grid digitalization and automation, a key element of in the energy transition.

In addition, the smart meters offer has been extended to provide real time metering data to the customers, to facilitate customer awareness on the use of energy and to enable new services from the market.

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

P.S: The main lines of products developed by Bitron are smart meters and devices for LV grid digitalization.

Smart meters offer, which products are now in the third generation, is now enriched with the Smart Customer Device. This new product, dedicated to the Italian market, provides real-time metering data to the customer, thus supporting awareness of the client on energy consumption, enabling implementation of smart energy manager in the home, and opening the energy market to new services, (e.g. demand-response).

New products for LV grid digitalization are now part of Bitron offering and are designed considering the hierarchical scheme of the LV grid. In fact, the new products address the requirements of monitoring and controlling secondary substations and street boxes. Dedicated RTUs for street boxes fully integrated with the SCADA system monitor the physical integrity of the street box, of the cables connected, and to control each sub-branch of the LV grid with the aim to prevent malfunctions and possibly isolate faulty branches or sub-branches by operating circuit breakers and switch disconnectors (where present).

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

P.S: Smart meters market is quite mature and therefore the challenge is on developing new innovative functions and services and in opening metering data to the use of the customer. LV grid digitalization market is instead at its beginning. Only few DSOs are already working on real projects to proceed with the digitalization and therefore the offer available is not reach and mature. This represent an advantage for those players, like Bitron, that are already engaged in developing products for this market, and gives the opportunity to cooperate with the most visionary DSO’s and to identify with them the real requirements.

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

P.S: The emerging trend is the digitalization of distribution grid that will characterize the years to come with products that will rapidly evolve in terms of supported features and will grow in volumes. More and more attention will be required on enriching the set of grid data in order to properly support the new software solution that will complete the grid digitalization. While this process is already in place for the MV grid, we expect to see more and more the extension of this process to the LV grid.

For the mature market of smart meters, the major trend we see is in evolving the smart meter to become a smart sensor of the LV grid, thus playing a new role in the LV grid digitalization. In addition, opening metering data to the customer, will have a growing importance in enabling new services in the energy market. 

Another trend to be monitored is related to the other utilities like gas and water. The introduction of smart meters in these distribution systems has already begun and we can expect that new generation of smart meters for gas and water will be developed aiming to the digitalization also of these distribution grids.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

P.S: RTU for subbranches of the LV grid is a new frontier: bringing monitoring and control features to street boxes represent a big challenge for developers in terms of dimensions and cost of the products.

The Smart Customer Device for the Italian market, thanks to its real time communication with the new generation smart meter through the dedicated channel named Chain 2, is also very innovative: it requires a captivating design that makes the product well accepted in the home, while containing the cost.