Digital neighbourhood brings financial savings

With savings of $821,000 on water bills, it’s not surprising that Southeast Queensland water utilities are embracing the digital revolution taking place in that space.

With savings of $821,000 on water bills, it’s not surprising that Southeast Queensland water utilities are embracing the digital revolution taking place in that space.

Unitywater is the water authority for the Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast and Noosa regions of South East Queensland, providing water supply and sewage treatment processes. When providing services to over sixteen per cent of Queensland’s population, knowing what is happening with water is critical.

This is why Unitywater turned to Kallipr (formerly mIoT) and its range of Captis data loggers.

What was Unitywater looking for?

The big challenge for Unitywater was handling a diverse range of customers across many different environments, all operating off an aging set of assets.

“Some of the suburbs we are dealing with are historically leaky with different types of water meters,” said Stephen McDonald, Asset Strategies Lead for Unitywater. “Buderim can have high pressure due to being a bit of a mountain. Beachside suburbs around Mooloolaba can have leaks that we would not see for a long time because the water seeps into the sand. We don’t see the water come to the surface.”

Other suburbs, such as Maroochydore and Alexandra Headland, also exhibited problems in the past.

According to Bronwyn Fox, Metering Services Manager, the fundamental goal was to monitor the network and balance the water flows. By measuring the water coming through the network and consumed by their customers, Unitywater could reconcile the amount of water that should remain in the system. That would help them identify leaks.

What was the Captis solution?

Kallipr’s Captis Internet of Things (IoT) solution offered asset-to-asset communication and remote monitoring capability. It allowed Unitywater to maximise uptime, reduce operating costs, and improve sustainability.

Captis provided the edge in IoT-enabled data logging. Its solution for remote monitoring and measurement over cellular networks is designed to be universal and attach to any water meter utilising its pulse and digital inputs. Captis data loggers can be connected to various sensors, meters, and gauges across multiple applications. Data logging intervals can be set to as little as every 15 minutes. Each Captis device can be easily installed in any location. With up to an IP68 rating, they are designed to withstand harsh elements and extreme temperatures.

How did the Captis solution work for Unitywater?

Unitywater has been running its digital neighbourhood program for some time. It has been an opportunity for Unitywater to trial smart water meters and other Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices throughout its network.

“Our network consists of over 5000 kilometres of water mains and supplies 300,000 customers,” said McDonald. “We have many smart initiatives that help drive efficiencies and improve our service to our customers across our catchment. Our Digital Neighbourhood is the most extensive program. It includes over 99 per cent coverage of smart metres across several suburbs.

“Captis allowed us to pull all the initiatives, stakeholders, programs, and people across the business together. We could ensure they were using the same data logger system and monitor the same platform for their use case,” he said.

These initiatives range from helping schools manage water consumption to drought management programs. In the eyes of Fox, this is just the start of supporting both its largest and most vulnerable customers.

McDonald was appreciative of the flexibility of deployment options of Captis models. The different environments throughout its network meant that it needed fit-for-purpose devices, and Kallipr met that need.

“We have beachside and hillside properties. Some devices are in pits with steel plates. We can’t have the same device everywhere, so having a range of devices that will all work together to serve all our customers has been fantastic,” he said.

What have been the immediate benefits to Unitywater?

One benefit of the Captis data loggers was to Unitywater’s customers. Fox was clear about the benefits.

“A key business driver was to notify customers of a leak as early as possible,” said Fox. “We have greatly improved the notification from the quarterly meter reads down to three days of identifying a leak thanks to the Captis devices. We have been able to do this for more than 90 per cent of our customers.”

This has been viewed as a massive success story for Unitywater, with 1044 customers saving more than $821,000 in excess water bills and 178 million litres of water. 178 million litres of water could fill 71 Olympic-size swimming pools to their nominal depth of 2 metres.

“When we think about that from a sustainability perspective, that’s a win for the environment. It’s also a win for our customers because we are notifying them early, and they are saving money. Furthermore, it’s a win-win for Unitywater because we are saving wasted water and supporting our customers,” she said.

With most leaks found among residential customers, McDonald believed that the impact of its digital neighbourhood program is felt most among that demographic. Similarly, Fox said that customer feedback has been positive.

Future of the relationship between Kallipr and Unitywater

Both McDonald and Fox have different goals for the next step in working with Kallipr and the Captis devices.

“Ongoing maintenance of the devices will probably be the next step for us,” said Fox. “We have alarms and notifications coming in, so we need to work out how to manage the fleet. We will also look at the parameters for continuous leak notifications to see if we are notifying customers at the right level. There will be more tests and adjusting for some of our larger customers.”

On the other hand, McDonald is looking at a different aspect, focusing more on the water balance in the network.

“One thing we are looking at is using the Captis data loggers to monitor customer meters and ensure there are no backflows in our network,” he said. “That could be a risk with some customers, and we want to avoid that wherever possible. The Kallipr devices can help us use the smart meter data to input into a network water balance – that is, monitoring customer-side consumption against network-side consumption and non-revenue water. It will help us reduce leakage as part of a broader environmental goal.’

For more information, visit https://kallipr.com/industries/water-utilities/

Related Articles:

Send this to a friend