Installing the collectors on
existing infrastructure made
deployment extremely simple and cost-effective. And
with the software-defined
radio technology incorporated into the fixed network
data collector, enhancements to the automatic meter reading (AMR) system
are enabled with a quick over-the-air firmware update. The
most recent enhancement allows consumption information on
3,000 accounts to be collected multiple times a day.
Since implementing the pilot fixed network collectors, the
city has made progress toward its goals. According to Project
Engineer Corrine Haer, EIT, it can pull months of historical information to sub-hourly levels. If a customer calls and they
happen to be one of the 3,000 accounts being piloted, “we
can check through the host software to see if the homeowner
has a leak and how much it is leaking,” she said. “It’s a significant advantage,” agreed Bie. “We can identify intermittent
or continuous leaks and help the customer.”
DOING MORE WITH FIXED NETWORK TECHNOLOGY
One of the key goals in the pilot program is to integrate
meter reading with the city’s billing software. Broader implementation of the migratable AMR system is contingent on
this success. Under the condition that there is billing integration success, Bie is looking forward to doing more with
the city’s AMR system in the future. And he’s not the only
one. “When we were doing rate reviews, senior management
showed an interest in getting real-time data on usage so that
we could have a better look at the financial picture going into
the next year,” he said.
As the universal metering program continues apace, Bie indicated that eventually moving toward a 100 percent fixed
network system would be ideal for a completely metered system. “We’d be able to read all our meters at once and achieve
better estimates of water loss,” he said.
Because of the way the AMR system was designed, the city
of Richmond — and water utilities and municipalities alike —
have the ability to expand the functional capabilities of existing assets and do so at their own pace. WW
About the Author: Niki Peterson is a marketing communications specialist with
Neptune Technology Group.
Circle No. 254 on Reader Service Card
tion. According to Lloyd Bie, manager of engineering planning
for the city, there is a serious lag time between when a leak
starts and the customer is notified. “The time it takes to read
meters and process and distribute water bills means a leak
can potentially go on for 15 weeks before a customer is made
aware. If leaks can be identified sooner it will save on water
costs, save customer aggravation, and help us provide a higher
level of service to our residents,” Bie said.
PILOTING TOWARD HIGHER GOALS
The city of Richmond launched a fixed network meter reading pilot program with a goal to identify leaks, backflow, and
tamper/no flow events on a daily basis. The pilot program tests
fixed network data collectors by exploring the system’s ability
to identify leaks in a timely manner, testing system performance
and integration, determining actual implementation costs to
the city, and ensuring the fixed network can be used for billing.
The fixed collectors gather information from the same endpoints already installed in the field, without a need to reprogram or change reading modes from mobile to fixed network.
Richmond’s team was also able to piggyback the fixed network
data collectors onto Richmond’s existing infrastructure. After
determining five sites that would give the most bang for the
buck with regard to the maximum number of radio transceiver
units in range and number of ICI accounts (for a total of 3,000
accounts on the system), Richmond installed five fixed network
collectors on existing city sewer pump stations.
❱ Ongoing, costly leaks
❱ Customer complaints about high water bills
❱ Required real-time data for revenue forecasting
❱ Validation of fixed network propagation study
❱ Meter population is a mix of touchpad and radio water
❱ Daily leak, backflow, tamper detection for targeted
❱ Historical information helps identify intermittent,
❱ Multiple meter readings a day for pilot accounts
❱ Fixed network collectors gather data from existing
endpoints with no reprogramming
❱ Pilot “piggybacks” onto existing city infrastructure
❱ Modular approach enables migration at city’s own pace
Richmond’s fixed collectors gather information from endpoints already installed in the field.