Smart water meters provide Canadian municipalities and their utility providers with an advanced tool to remotely monitor water usage, and identify sources of water loss.
If you associate “advanced” with “expensive”, we’ve put together some examples of multiple ways how smart water meters can help municipalities save money over the lifetime of the devices.
1) Improved loss prevention at the point of delivery
Municipalities can improve the accuracy of readings and enhance their ability to detect and address leaks within a home or building by installing smart meters. New ultrasonic metering technology has greatly improved the ability to detect low flows. The smart system can then communicate directly with consumer so they be aware of the problem and take action.
The meters are also a valuable tool for identifying possible incidents of backflow, tampering, burst pipes, and even low ambient temperatures. The added insights smart meters provide benefit utility providers and residents alike.
2) Reduced costs per meter read
Because smart metering technology automates the meter reading process, its main attraction is the ability to significantly reduce labour costs from manual meter reading.
Smart metering allows staff to access data remotely via a mobile collector, or from their workstations (in near real-time) by using a Fixed Network System. Both options greatly reduce field visits. It scales for municipalities of all sizes, and can represent a significant savings on labour cost expenditures.
3) Safe, efficient installation
Today’s smart meters are similar to conventional water meters in that they can be installed quickly and efficiently. Simple system commissioning ensures the resident’s utilities are up and running in no time.
According to Metercor VP, John Cherewko, a Distributor and Installation Contractor of smart metering technology, the average household installation is simple and only takes 20-30 minutes.
“Today’s AMR systems are designed for quick installation. Field crews can complete numerous installs in a single day. Once they’re operational, the new meters make it incredibly easy for both utilities and customers to access accurate data around usage. All while cutting down on operational costs. It’s really the best of all worlds – for the utility and the consumer,” Cherewko said.
4) Savings through long-life hardware
Today’s top smart meters are designed with long life in mind. Most water metering products have a 20-year life that ensures reliable and accurate billing for many years to come. Because these new meters have few moving parts, savings are also realized through reduced site visits to address loud or seized mechanical meters.
When choosing hardware, look for a zero-maintenance product with a sealed design, so you can install it and forget about it! Meters and sensors should be built to keep particulates out and be water-tight to ensure maximum product life. Sealed designs will typically have an external long-life lithium battery or powered connection. This greatly reduces maintenance costs over the lifetime of the metering system.
5) Providing interval data to improve accuracy and resolve billing disputes
Smart water meters provide interval data, which is made available to both the utility and consumer. This enables the utility to confidently bill for use, and empowers the resident to monitor & manage their own consumption. Billing disputes are often easily resolved when the consumer has access to the data, reducing administration time and resources or bill-forgiveness when addressing these issues.
6) The ability to perform remote water disconnects
Some smart meters are designed to remotely actuate a water shut-off valve, which can either limit or stop the flow of water entirely. In the event of a burst-pipe event, this can help minimize damage to a residence or building: potentially saving thousands in repair costs. The valve can also be used to enforce non-payment, or halt potential theft when activity is present on an account that should be inactive.
7) The ability to integrate distribution-side leak detection
The most advanced systems can also incorporate the use of acoustic leak detection sensors, which monitor the main water lines for noise that would indicate a potential leak.
Non-revenue water (NWR) runs from 10% to 30% in well run utilities in developed countries. The global average is 34%, and the World Bank estimates that NRW costs utilities $14B world-wide for water treatment, pumping, etc. Catching small leaks before they become large leaks leads to reduced production costs, prolongs the life of water treatment facilities and can defer the need to expand or find new water sources. There is also the reduced risk of property damage and liability claims, lower cost to remediate pipes (vs. replacement), and a significantly lower chance of introducing contaminants back into the distribution system.
Itron’s Mlogonline™ system captures data from acoustic detection monitors to pinpoint links and gauge the severity, through a user-friendly interface.
Improved revenue assurance with attractive payback and improved customer service
The term “smart meters” mean different things to different people. But in the end, their job is to facilitate the safe & reliable distribution of the world’s most valuable resource (something every utility and consumer wants).
Today’s smart metering systems provide easy access to accurate data in the app-based environment we have all come to know and love. Finally, it creates efficiencies for the utility that result in savings for consumers. Now that’s a win-win for all.