Meter Reading in NetHelpDesk is part of the Asset and Stock control features. Assets can have a number of Meters linked to them to track the usage of an entity (ie. toner usage). This is done by providing readings, which can be done by both Technicians and End Users. Each meter records a detailed history of its usage over time, and the Meters can be billed based on their usage through a variety of Billing Plans.
Meters are added to Assets by Issuing parts which have a meter to an Asset. Each part is an item which contains a life expectancy for its Meter, and has a Meter Type. Issuing another part with the same Meter Type will increase the Meters life expectancy instead of adding more Meters to the asset.
This guide will cover how to issue parts to an Asset, how to enable and configure Meters, Meter readings, Meter Auto Requests and billing Meters.
In order to use this feature and for this guide to be relevant, the following criteria will need to be met;
1. Your NetHelpDesk instance will need to be on version 10.82 or later. In order to check this you can go to N > Help > About NetHelpDesk, and to upgrade you can go to N > Help > Show Release Details.
2. Items and Assets need to be already set up in NetHelpDesk and knowledge of these areas and Items Issued and Consigning is required.
3. You will need to have New Style Orders enabled in the Sales Settings in Main Configuration. This setting is highlighted below;
4. (Only needed for Billing Meters) You will need to be using the New Billing Method. This is enabled in the Billing Settings in Main Configuration. If you are on the Old Billing Method and you already use NetHelpDesk for billing, please speak to our Support team first about possible implications before switching. This setting is highlighted below;
5. (Only needed for End Users to Submit Readings) You will need to have the NetHelpDesk Web Portal configured for use. If you have not done this already, a guide to setting this up can be found at nethelpdesk.com/guides/installweb/.
Here are a few terms which are commonly used in this guide and in the application;
Meter - An entity linked to an Asset which has its usage tracked.
Meter Type - Each Meter has a type. Only one Meter per Meter type can be added to an Asset.
Reading - When the usage of the Meter is submitted by an End User or Technician. Each Meter will show the current reading. This should increase with each reading.
Units - Used to track the usage. When taking a reading the number of Units is entered. The current reading is the number of units used.
Part - An item which is issued to an Asset.
Consignment - The shipping of an Item/Part.
Meters are created when Parts that have a meter are used to an Asset. In this section we will cover how to Issue a Part to an Asset. There are three main ways to get parts to be issued to an Asset.
1. Having the part set to be installed at Asset Type level. Any new assets will then have installed parts on it by default without reducing stock.
2. Issuing an Item and consigning it on a Request which has the Asset linked to it.
3. Selecting the Add Part button on the Asset Details screen.
These are all covered in the next section of this guide.
Asset Types can store available parts for all Assets with that type. If an Asset has any available parts, when issuing items or parts, the Item selection screen will by default only show the parts available for that Asset. When adding available parts, a part can also be set as installed. This will add the part automatically to any new assets that are created for the Asset Type which the available parts are added to.
To manage available parts for an Asset Type, go to the Edit Asset Type screen and select the Available Parts tab.
When adding a new available part, the item selection screen will be shown. Here you can check Allow Part next to an item to add it, and Installed if you want that part to be automatically added to newly created assets.
If an Asset Type has available parts, when Adding a part to the an Asset of that type, or issuing an item on a request which has an Asset of that type linked to it, the Item selection screen will now only show the Available parts. All items can be shown by unchecking the highlighted box.
Parts can be issued to an Asset using the Items Issued feature.
In order to do this, firstly the Request needs to be linked to the Asset. Once an Asset is linked to the request, any Items that are issued and are then consigned, will add that item as a part to the linked Asset.
The consignment process can be skipped, and Items issued automatically using the below setting in Main Configuration > Items and Stock Control.
Parts can be added to an Asset from the Asset Details screen, from the Parts tab. Parts that have been issued to the Asset can be viewed from this screen too.
This section covers how to set up meter types, items that have meters, creation of meters and the Meter screens.
In order for settings and features relevant to Meters to appear in NetHelpDesk, the meters feature must first be switched on.
The setting to do this can be found in N > Main Configuration > Asset Management as highlighted below;
Meter Types need to be configured to determine what types of Meters an Asset can have. Only one meter per type can be added to a single Asset, so if tracking the usage of multiple entities, multiple Meter Types will need to be configured.
These can be configured from Main Configuration > Asset Management, by selecting Meter Types.
This will display a list of all your meter types.
Selecting Add or Edit will open the Meter Type details screen.
1. This is the name of the Meter Type. This must be unique and is mandatory.
2. This is the Reading type which will be used when an End User submits a reading. Technicians have a choice of Reading type when submitting a reading, but end users do not. Reading Types can be modified from Main Configuration > Advanced Settings > Lookup Codes.
3. These settings will allow an Auto Request to be created based on a template when a Meter nears the end of its life expectancy.
4. These settings will allow an Auto Request to be created based on a template when a Meter reading has not been submitted X days before its next invoice date.
5. These settings will allow an Auto Request to be created based on a template when a Meter billing plan expires.
6. This is default period which a billing run is done for each Meter.
7. This is the tax code used when billing a meter. This can be overridden by the client level tax code.
8. This is the ID of the item in a third party accounts package that invoice lines are matched too.
9. This is the description used in an invoice line. The following $variables can be used;
· $metertype – displays the name of the meter type
· $metername – displays the name of the meter
· $assettag – displays the asset tag of the asset linked to the meter
· $meterplan – displays the billing plan of the meter.
Now that Meter Types have been configured we can set up items that have a meter. When issued as parts to an asset, these items will:
· Create a meter if a meter with the meter type set in the item record if a meter has not already been created on the asset.
· Add to the life expectancy of the meter of the meter type already exists on the asset. The life expectancy of the meter can reset to the current reading if doing this from Items Issued – this reflects the behaviour that the current parts life has ended.
On the Item details screen, select the Meter tab to access the Meter settings for an Item.
1. Enable this setting to allow the Item to create/update a Meter when issuing a part.
2. This is the Meter Type of the meter that is created/updated.
3. This is the life expectancy in Units of the part. Issuing the part will increase the meters life expectancy by this amount.
Meters are created when an Item with a Meter is issued as a Part for an Asset. This can be done using each of the methods highlighted in Section 4.
Using the Installed parts method in 3.1 will create Meters automatically when creating an asset, not effecting stock of the parts.
Using the Items issued and Add parts methods in 3.2 and 3.3 will show a message that a new meter has been created at consignment time and when the part has been added respectively.
When further parts of the same Meter Type are issued to the same asset, when using the Items Issued method (3.2) upon consigning you will be asked for a Meter reading for each Meter. Submitting the reading will assume that the current parts life has ended, and set the expectancy to the reading provided, and then add on the Expectancy of the new Part. Skipping the reading will add on the new parts expectancy to the current expectancy. This will be covered in more detail in the submitting readings section (5).
Meters on an Asset can be viewed from the Asset Details screen on the Meters tab. The Meters tab will only be available if the Asset has Meters on it already.
1. This table shows all Meters on the Asset. Selecting one changes the preview (2). Double clicking one opens the view history screen (5). The columns show as follows;
Type – The Meter Type name.
Meter Name – The name of the meter.
Billing Plan – The billing plan used by the meter.
Current Reading – the last reading (current units used).
Reading Date – the date of the last reading.
Last Invoice Reading – The reading (units used) when a billing run was last done.
Last Invoice Date – The date of the last billing run.
Life Expectancy – How many units the meter is expected to get too based on its current parts, until it needs replacing with more parts. This is set from the parts issued in 4.2.
Parts Issued – the number of parts issued for this meter.
Expected Yield – How number units the meter is expected to get too based on the sum of the expected life of all parts issued.
2. A preview of the selected meter. The Name can be changed, and Expected Life overridden, by altering them and clicking Save Changes.
3. Opens the new reading screen for the selected meter. (See section 5)
4. Opens the billing setup screen for the selected meter. (See section 6)
5. Opens the history screen. See below.
6. Saves changes made on the preview area.
The meter history screen shows the Reading History, Invoice History, and Change History for the Meter.
The Meter Overview screen can be accessed from the main screen Assets toolbar. This screen shows all meters and their details. Double clicking a Meter will open the Asset Details screen on the Meters page for the selected Meter.
This section covers how to submit Meter readings. When a reading is submitted, the current reading and the last reading date will be updated for the Meter. New readings must be greater or equal to the previous reading.
End-Users can submit readings on the web portal in two ways.
From the Asset Details screen
From a link on the Main Menu
Assets with Meters will show a table with Meters and the option to submit a new reading on the Asset Details screen.
If you add $LINKTOMETERREADING to the loggedin.html file, this will link to the Meter Reading page.
Following this link will allow readings to submitted for all available meters at once – not just one asset.
Technicians can also use the web portal to submit readings using the same methods.
On the readings page, readings which are left blank will not be submitted.
Readings can be submitted by Technicians in the following ways;
From the Asset Details screen
From a request on the related asset tab
When consigning a part with a meter
The Meter Reading screen requests a reading and a reading type, and looks similar for to the end user meter reading screen.
If submitting a reading from a request, the reading will show on the Meter readings section of the Related Assets tab.
When consigning a part with a meter, and if the meter has already been created, you will be asked for a Meter reading for each part. Submitting the reading will assume that the current parts life has ended, and set the expectancy to the reading provided, and then add on the expectancy of the new Part. Skipping the reading will add on the new parts expectancy to the current expectancy.
Meter billing can be set up from the Edit meter billing button on the asset details screen.
1. The meter billing plan. There are three different methods which are explained in the sections below
· Simple Usage (6.1)
· Flat Rate (6.2)
· Pack (6.3)
2. The date which the last billing run was done for this meter. This is used to calculate the next billing date.
3. The reading at the last billing run. This is used to calculate the units used since the last billing run.
4. The billing period. This determines how often the Meter gets billed. Changing this affects the Next Invoice Date.
5. The date at which the next billing run will be performed.
6. Open the Meter History screen on the Invoices tab.
Simple usage charges at a fixed price per unit used.
The number of units used since the last billing run will be multiplied by the Price per Unit, which becomes the total.
Flat rate charges a fixed price per period. On top of that a limit on the number of units can be set, and a price per unit added when the limit is exceeded.
The price per period will be the Rate per Period. If the units used since the last billing run exceeds the Units per period then the price per period will be the Rate per Period, plus the number of units used over the Units per period multiplied by the Price per Unit Over.
Setting the Units per period as 9999999 means there is no limit.
In this example,
· If no units are used in a week (the billing period) then the price would be 200.
· If 20000 units are used in a week then the price would also be 200.
· If 20002 units are used in a week then the price would be 200 + (2 x 0.015) = 200.03
Pack is used for customers purchasing a Pack of units. The pack that is purchased is all that gets invoiced. The pack can be limited to a number of units, and limited between a start and end date.
Multiple packs can be added at a time for a Meter. Each will track the number of units used. When all packs have expired – either through them being out of date, out of contract, or out of units, then an Auto Request can be generated as explained in section 5.2.
Adding packs and adding readings will update the Last Invoice Reading and Units used automatically. These fields are used to calculate how many units have been covered by packs.
1. The number of units covered by the pack
2. The Length of time the pack is valid (can be unlimited). This updates the expiry date based on the start date.
3. When the pack becomes active.
4. When the pack expires.
5. The price of the Pack. This is what will get invoiced on the next billing run after the pack is created.
6. The date the pack was invoiced. For new packs, changing this form Not Invoiced will prevent the pack from being invoiced.
7. The number of units used in this pack so far – read only.
A billing run can look at all meters that need to be billed (have their next invoice date less than or equal to the date of the billing run) and create a billing report and create invoices for Meter usage based on their billing plan. A billing run will need to be done periodically to create invoices at the correct time. IE. If meters are billed monthly, then a billing run needs to be done on a monthly basis.
To perform a billing run, select the Accounts Interface button on the main screen Billing tab. This will open the Accounts interface selection screen.
The billing run can be restricted to particular clients, and the dates of the billing run altered. In order to invoice meters, Meters will need to be checked on the Details page.
Selecting Trial run to create a billing report to preview what is going to be invoiced.
Update database will create the invoices, and cannot be undone once selected. Once completed, invoices will appear in CRM > Invoices.
Contact our team to discuss what you are trying to achieve, and we can help guide you in the next best step.
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