Ultrasonic tech reshapes smart water meters

AMS Water Metering has received certification under Australian standards to distribute its Axioma smart water meters nationwide. Under the leadership of General Manager Andrew Riches and CEO Dirk Kuiper, AMS Water Metering plans on making a splash.

AMS Water Metering has received certification under Australian standards to distribute its Axioma ultrasonic smart water meters nationwide. Under the leadership of General Manager Andrew Riches and CEO Dirk Kuiper, AMS Water Metering plans on making a splash.

“They feature a unique design where the transducers are angled, with sound waves hitting their reflectors in a W-shape. Nothing can block the transducers, the three reflectors remain flat, and the signal quality is higher than many other devices. That’s the difference with the Qalcosonic W1.”

That’s Andrew Riches, the General Manager of AMS Water Metering. He’s been involved in the metering industry for years with various companies, including Great Plains Industries Australia, Trimec Industries and Macnaught. AMS Water Metering is a new venture with Dirk Kuiper of the Kuiper Group.

“In 2018, we started entering the Australian water market,” said Riches. “We’ve been working on it for a long time because there are a lot of regulations, certifications, and requirements for water meters to be sold in the Australian market. While we initially underestimated the time it would take to get fully certified, we are there now. On the day we got our final certification, we won a tender to supply water meters to Water Corporation in Western Australia.”

AMS Water Metering and Qalcosonic making a difference

Riches knows that there are several water meters in the Australian market, including smart and ultrasonic water meters. Standing out in a growing and crowded market is getting more complex, yet AMS Water Metering provides something different with the Qalcosonic W1 range.

“Our first major difference is that the Qalcosonic W1 smart meters are fully integrated units,” he said. “It’s a one-piece injection-moulded plastic body that includes the ultrasonic transducers, the electronics, the communication elements, and everything else needed within one compact unit. Once we add the brass fittings and conducting strips, they are slightly bigger, but the meter is a very compact unit, rated IP 68.”

Over the past four years, Riches and AMS Water Metering has been exhibiting the Qalcosonic W1 at Ozwater and did so again this year. Every year, there has been more interest in these meters, and the arrival of the certifications for installation across Australia led to a dramatic increase.

“We are getting a lot more interest this year, and the new W design is certainly helping with that. Axioma has been manufacturing ultrasonic water meters for over 30 years, and we’re proud to be distributing them within Australia,” said Riches.

Axioma is a Lithuanian manufacturer of water meters and has invested 20 million euros in a fully integrated factory. It is seeking to double its production size in the coming years. Not only has Axioma scaled up rapidly, but it is also sharing knowledge with its distributors, like AMS Water Metering.

“Axioma installed hundreds of thousands of water meters in Oman,” said Riches. “That’s a very rugged, high-temperature, high-dust environment. It’s where there are learnings for the Australian market, such as a heavy-duty, long-life battery to cope with the Australian conditions. We’re incorporating that into the Qalcosonic W1 ultrasonic smart meters here because of similar conditions.”

What makes ultrasonic smart meters better?

Like most ultrasonic smart meters, one of its main benefits is the lack of moving parts. No moving parts mean reduced wear and tear from the movement of water and other particles through the meter. It also means that water authorities spend less money on maintenance. The ultrasonic water meters also eliminate measuring errors due to air pockets because the ultrasonics do not measure air.

The ability to transmit data and pick up leaks is of greater importance to every water authority. Riches pointed out that the increased accuracy that arises from the lack of moving parts pairs perfectly with data transmission.

“With traditional meters, someone will come and read the meter every three months or so,” he said. “That’s very inefficient; if there’s a leak, it could be long before it is detected. We also know that once a leak is detected, water authorities tend to credit the customers most, if not all, of the money that arises from the excess water use. With a smart ultrasonic water meter, water authorities and customers can deal with leaks earlier. That’s less water lost by both parties, and the water authorities do not have to worry about angry customers.”

What is next for AMS Water Metering and Axioma?

AMS Water Metering and Axioma are working together to roll out several new products for the Australian market. The current products are the DN15 and DN20, representing different pipe sizes for residential markets.

“We’ll be rolling out the DN25, DN32, DN40, and DN50 in the following months and years. The DN40 and DN50 are already suitable for Australia because they have European certifications. There is still some work to do regarding the DN25 and the DN32 because they require specific Australian certifications,” said Riches.

The other development for both companies is a new design for its water meters to allow for a larger battery to increase the battery life when using NB-IoT communications, which use networks provided by the major telcos.

“When using NB-IoT, the existing batteries would only last for 12 to 13 years, whereas with LoRaWAN, the battery life is 16 years. LoRaWAN is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery-operated ‘things’ to the internet in regional, national or global networks,” said Riches.

The different outer designs of the meter will allow AMS Water Metering to provide an NB-IoT-compliant smart water meter with a 16-year battery life to match the LoRaWAN meters.

“The market is evolving rapidly, and we are working hard to adjust to the changes as they come.”

For more information, visit https://amswatermetering.com/

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