The challenge in a thermal facility is to read all of the data from all of the various and differing electronic devices in the plant, possibly including a Distributed Control System (DCS) and then making sense of all that data by performing the required myriad of proper calculations and the reporting it all to your company, your partners, and the energy regulator.
The devices could be older Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), as well they could be newer Electronic Flow Meters (EFMs), or they could be custody transfer meters. Steam, water, everything needs to be accounted for. The regulator then requires that all the data be measured and handled like it was all from the newer EFM devices. Many companies try to, in effect, turn the traditional devices (or DCS) into an EFM. Companies will try to get the DCS to deliver all the calculations, logging, and reporting that an EFM does which is cost effectively impossible. Many plants are simply not meeting the requirements, but are trying to, with much manual effort, manual data gathering, and spreadsheet manipulation. The future is a software solution dubbed the Virtual Flow Computer (VFC).