IWN and TasWater running digitised water meter trial

Our industry knows there are many benefits in digitising water meter readings. However, for various reasons, many have yet to commence or are still building maturity in their Digital Metering journey.

Our industry knows there are many benefits in digitised water meter readings. However, for various reasons, many have yet to commence or are still building maturity in their Digital Metering journey.

Last year, IWN and TasWater were given an opportunity to trial a technology that addresses a gap in the market between analogue and future smart metering infrastructure in the form of SNAPI – a unique Meter Reading as a Service (MRaaS) solution, utilising a camera-equipped IOT device with onboard AI for data interpretation. As IWN’s newest member, this was the first trial between IWN and TasWater.

The Tool – an AI-powered digital meter reader

Intentionally designed to address issues with current digitisation methods, SNAPI is an Australian innovation that offers the following key benefits to water utilities:

  • Managing the cost and complexity of planning, installation, downtime, and licensed trades required to install pulse readers and smart meters
  • Ensuring maximum return on investment or reduced loss on existing analogue infrastructure by extending the lifetime of installed assets
  • Providing remote verification of usage and consumption data, removing the need for costly site visits
  • Reading any type of meter (digits or dials)

SNAPI transforms analogue meters from billing tools into devices that remotely capture consumption data digitally. This supports a range of complex business solutions for the utility – from asset management to environmental monitoring and reporting, while customers benefit from reduced costs and service improvements.

The Problem Statement

TasWater identified several challenges in managing water resources, including the need to accurately measure and monitor water usage, reduce water losses, and improve customer engagement.

Current metering often requires manual reading and can be prone to

  • Inaccuracies and tampering
  • Inaccurate billing
  • Revenue loss
  • Difficulty in detecting leaks and other water losses
  • Limited visibility of usage/consumption for customers
  • Lack of information and transparency leads to low customer engagement and a lack of motivation to conserve water

Within the trial area, customer meters are manually read every six months. This frequency provides limited to no visibility of peak usage requirements and possible private infrastructure leaks, as well as tracking usage fluctuations or micro-seasonal consumption.

Within the catchment monitored, several large non-residential customers (including agricultural irrigation customers) account for a large percentage of the overall usage within the area. This significant volumetric consumption consequentially required a high proportion of the treatment plant output, leading to limited capacity during the summer months.

The Opportunity

Introducing a quick-to-deploy, accurate, ‘real-time’ digital metering solution addresses several of these challenges. It can also be re-deployed to an alternate location/s once the assessment is complete and the data has been obtained.

The Methodology

  • Customers in the water system were ranked according to historical ‘per quarter’ consumption to identify those expected to have the highest water demand over the timeline for the trial to be conducted.
  • In less than two days, 14 devices were installed across an area of 250 km2 within the localised network by a 2-person team.
  • The installation was focused on 12 customers located within this area.

The Findings

In summary, SNAPI digital meter reading was an effective tool for managing water usage, with quick installation, reliable and accurate readings, and the ability to detect water leaks and specific usage patterns.

The trial period was Dec 2022 to April 2023

  • Installation was quick and straightforward, and excellent customer support from SNAPI.
  • 14 installed devices recorded approximately 9500-meter reads, using varying time intervals from hourly to daily and on different installed meters.
  • The significant majority of meter reads were clear, accurate and overall successful. It had an estimated 99 per cent accurate reading rate.
  • Remote configuration successfully allowed changes to the meter read frequency, while manual reading remained possible.
  • Sampling period 1 per 24 hours suitable for a general overview of significant consumer usage.
  • Sampling period 1 per 1 hour is ideal for the identification of possible customer-side leaks and for describing customer-specific daily usage patterns.
  • Meter-specific issues can cause reading problems.
  • Meter location can limit communications, so proper installation and maintenance are crucial to ensure the system’s optimal performance.

To find out more and access a full copy of the IWN/TasWater/SNAPI report, please email IWN at enquiries@iwn.org.au. Our member organisations will also be able to access the reports via our Knowledge Hub.

To find out more about our digital metering and other technology programs, please visit us at iwn.org.au

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