Operations optimisation and improved customer service with remote reading

Assens Water Supply and Assens District Heating

New possibilities for optimisation with more frequent meter data

”The value of data is what justifies us making such a big investment. You cannot put a price on that. We can suddenly start using meter data for more than just billing. Now we can analyze, troubleshoot and find improvement opportunities that we were previously unable to." Marc Roar Hintze, CEO, Assens District Heating.

A common focus on the best possible use of resources and good customer service formed the basis for the two utilities collaborating on the READy network reading of water and heat meters. In addition to halving the costs associated with establishing the radio network, the cooperation resulted in a doubling of the solution’s benefits.

The new remotely read water and heat meters send data to the utilities on an hourly basis. This allows them to quickly find and fix e.g. leaks from burst pipes in the distribution network and poorly regulated systems. Based on the increased amount of data it is also possible to monitor and optimise operations with regards to network pressure, flow temperature, transmission loss, renovation of the distribution network etc. "The opportunity to read meters by the hour unlocks a whole new potential for pulling data on high and low cooling, and it enables us to detect abnormal consumption from, for example, burst pipes," says Marc Roar Hintze, CEO, Assens District Heating. The automatic

import of meter data for yearly statements and relocations also yields significant savings in administration costs.

Better customer service with remote reading

With automatic remote reading, the utilities have also considerably improved the level of service to consumers, who are now guaranteed accurate readings and no longer have to read their meters themselves. Moreover, it will be 12 to 15 years before the batteries in the new meters will need changing as opposed to the old meters that required a battery change every seven years. In some cases, the utilities have even saved consumers an extra water bill. "We have already contacted several customers to make them aware of an unusually high consumption. It has primarily been cases with running toilets, but in an unoccupied apartment that would have lead to a hefty water bill had it not been discovered until the yearly statement. In this way, we are

providing a great service in an area that is actually the customer’s own responsibility – and our customers are really happy and grateful, "says Anne Lyndorff, Team Leader, Assens Water Supply A/S.

In the long term, READy network reading makes it possible to better involve consumers by way of a number of service functions. For instance, they will be able to monitor their consumption via an app, and a text message service can notify them if an unusually high consumption is registered. This will enable them to quickly detect a leak in a water pipe or a radiator, and it will allow them to be more proactive about their water and energy consumption. "My hope is that customers begin to relate more to their consumption and recognise their influence on it. That they realise that their behaviour and consumption patterns can be measured directly on their consumption. "Marc Roar Hintze, CEO, Assens District Heating.

"READy network reading has created great value – on both sides of the meter. Consumers get much better service and we get much more data to use for optimising our network."

Anne Lyndorff, Team Leader, Assens Water Supply A/S.

The fight against water loss and for energy efficiency

In terms of future objectives, both utilities agree that measurements alone are not the solution. However, frequent and accurate data is the prerequisite for making informed decisions that enable them to achieve their goals.

Effective leak detection with sectioning

For Assens Water Supply minimising water loss in the distribution network is a focus area both today and going forward. The utility’s distribution network is divided into nine sections. The program for data analysis and visualisation, READy Manager, includes a water loss analysis that continuously calculates the total water loss in the entire network or in selected sections. It provides an overview of its condition and enables the utility to detect leaks and bursts even earlier.

"Sectioning is a huge advantage for us, because it enables us to target our leak detection. By reading the district meters, so that we know the flow, and comparing it with data from the consumption meters, we can go into the exact section where we see discrepancies in the numbers. With district metering, we have a lot more knowledge and we are much more informed before we even go into the field and start the actual leak detection. That saves us an enormous amount of time,"

says Anne Lyndorff, Team Leader, Assens Water Supply A/S.


Energy efficient production

One of Assens District Heating’s main objectives is increased energy efficiency in the form of continued reduced heat loss and operations optimisation through better cooling and a lower flow temperature. The large amounts of data is valuable in that context, because they can be transformed into knowledge that can support a more energy-efficient production that is flexible and helps to continue their 100% green and environmentally-friendly production of electricity and heat. ”The value of data is what justifies us making such a big investment. You cannot put a price on that. We can suddenly start using meter data for more than just billing. Now we can analyze, troubleshoot and find improvement opportunities that we were previously unable to," says Marc Roar Hintze, CEO, Assens District Heating.

Cooperation with financial benefits

Assens Water Supply and Assens District Heating both strive every day to create future-oriented and sustainable solutions to their respective supply areas. From a previous pilot project, Assens Water Supply had positive experiences with the remote reading

system READy as a drive-by solution. Mobile reading made it quick and easy to read accurate meter data without disturbing the consumers, who also no longer had to read and report their own meter data. Thus, network reading of the meters was an obvious next step to further optimise operations and provide better customer service. The two utilities decided to collaborate on the establishment of a joint network for the remote reading of approximately 7,000 meters.

As a result of the collaboration Assens Water Supply and Assens District Heating joined forces for the tender and also purchased the two required maxi site antennas together. However, the biggest saving for both utilities comes from the halving of operating costs for the shared radio network used to read the meters.

"We knew we were going to switch to network reading and that Assens District Heating, which has more or less the same supply area as us, had the same idea. It was an obvious choice to work together so that we could share the costs and with that save money for ourselves as well as for our customers," explains Anne Lyndorff, Team Leader, Assens Water Supply A/S.

Solution:

Water meters and heat meters with Wireless M-Bus
READy network reading
Two maxi site antennas (antennas mounted in chimneys)
Timeframe: Pilot project with mobile reading was conducted in 2013. In 2015, the radio network established with ongoing installation of water and heat meters, which is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2016

About the customers:
Assens Water Supply
Approx. 3,800 metering points
Annual pumping: approx. 700,000 m³


Assens District Heating
Approx. 3,300 metering points
Annual heat sale: approx. 100,000 MWh
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