The joint procurement of intelligent water meters has enabled 21 water utilities in Estonia to improve their operational efficiency, reduce water loss and meet legal requirements – all while saving millions of Euros.

The utilities are all members of the Estonian Waterworks Association, known as EVEL, which facilitated the procurement of more than 25,000 of Kamstrup’s intelligent water meters with remote reading solutions. By working as a collective to purchase the meters, the utilities were able to negotiate a better price and save themselves approximately 10 million Euros. 

Future-proof solution
Beyond the financial saving, the utilities acquired a long-term solution that is a vast improvement on the mechanical meters that they previously relied on. 

In Estonia, water meters are subject to quality control tests every two years. Unfortunately, for the water utilities in EVEL, they couldn’t count on their mechanical meters to meet the required standards. “Mechanical meters created a lot of problems in regards to quality control. Usually, it was more efficient just to buy new mechanical meters every two years,” explains Vahur Tarkmees, Managing Director of EVEL.
So when a new law requiring water utilities to have smart meters was announced, EVEL began to think about how best to replace their mechanical meters. The 21 utilities banded together and initiated a tender process, outlining their technical requirements for a smart meter. In the end, Kamstrup emerged as the clear winner. 

“The other smart meter providers just couldn’t compete with Kamstrup,” says Vahur. “We knew Kamstrup’s products very well as they have been present in Estonia for some time. The water works trusted Kamstrup because of their experience in water metering.” 

Collaboration leads to multiple advantages
The raft of benefits the utilities obtained resulted in the EVEL procurement winning an award for being the most important event to affect Estonian water utilities in 2015.
Reflecting on why EVEL won the award, Vahur thinks it was the sheer number of benefits the utilities obtained. “In addition to the financial savings, the utilities are getting high-performance water meters that can be remotely read and can also quickly and accurately detect leaks and bursts,” explains Vahur. 

The faster utilities detect leaks or bursts the faster they can fix the problem. This means the leak detection capability of the smart meters is helping them to save water, avoid lost revenue and prevent possible water damage. 

The utilities can expect to reap these benefits for years to come because the meters maintain their accuracy throughout their lifetime of up to 16 years.

The state-of-the-art intelligent water meters can also measure extremely low flow rates. Having accurate metering capabilities ensures that all supplied water is measured and can be billed to the consumer.

“We are confident that these smart meters are the future. Also, Kamstrup is a very good partner for our water works, they are very honest and their staff provide great support to us.” 

– Vahur Tarkmees, Managing Director of EVEL

Saving time and water with remote reading

Exact knowledge about water consumption is one of the most important steps to fight non-revenue water. 

Improved efficiency with remote reading
As of April 2016, more than 13,000 meters had been installed, with the rest expected to be installed by early 2017. 

Even though the meters that have been installed so far haven’t been in operation for very long, the value of intelligent metering technology is already being seen. “Many utilities are reporting that it is much easier to collect meter data. There has also been positive feedback from customers who are happy about the improved accuracy of the meters,” says Vahur.

A large number of the utilities are using the READy mobile reading solution, which enables the utilities to read the meters remotely via a smartphone as an employee drives or walks past the meters in the network.
More about READy mobile reading
This method ensures accurate consumption data from every meter, avoids disturbing customers, and dramatically reduces the amount of time staff spend reading meters.

Previously, the utilities would manually read their mechanical meters once a year. Now, with the aid of the READy mobile reading solution, they are reading their meters on a monthly basis. The increased data is providing a more detailed and precise picture of the consumption in their distribution networks. This is helping the utilities to quickly detect leaks and thereby reduce water loss, according to Vahur.

Gaining control with network reading
Some of the utilities are already using the READy network reading solution. This enables utilities to read their meters automatically on a daily or hourly basis, without leaving their office, through a network with one or more fixed data collection units.  More about READy network reading
The antennas are so simple to install that utilities can fit the collection units by themselves. 

The more frequent data that fixed network reading provides enables utilities to reduce water loss, as some of the utilities in Estonia have experienced. 

“We hope that in the future more utilities will use network reading because it provides a greater basis for analysis which can help to detect leaks and bursts faster,” says Vahur.

For those utilities currently using READy mobile reading, expanding to a fixed network solution won’t be a problem. The common technology built into all Kamstrup meters makes it easy to expand your solution to network reading whenever and however you want – one area at a time, the whole network at once, or you can even have a combination of both methods.

Working together pays off

Joint procurement is something that Vahur would definitely recommend to other utilities around the world. 

“Coming together made the whole process so much easier than if all 21 utilities had done this alone. By doing it all in one go, as a collective, the process was much smoother, we saved time and we were able to get a better price – so it was very profitable for all the parties involved,” explains Vahur.  

The utilities are also able to benefit from the support network available to them. “When someone is unsure about something we can speak to each other or we can always turn to Kamstrup for support. So there is a good common discussion and exchange of experiences.”

Since the initial procurement, the number of meters purchased has increased thanks to a four-year frame contract between EVEL and Kamstrup. This means the utilities in the association can continue to purchase meters from Kamstrup, as and when they need them, under the same contract conditions.

EVEL

- EVEL is a nationwide voluntary association of water companies in Estonia working towards a developed water business environment in cooperation with the state.

About the solution:
25,000 plus meters, with more to come
READy mobile and network reading

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