A perfect fit: Ultrasonic water meters with integrated Sigfox radio

From mechanical to ultrasonic, Drive-by meter reading, Improved efficiency

Water distributor, SOGEDO, wanted a new remote metering solution that they could trust to deliver reliability in every single way – for them, their customers and end users. They chose Kamstrup’s ultrasonic Sigfox-enabled water meters because they combine proven metering technology with next-generation communication technology.

Despite being the fourth largest water distributor in France, SOGEDO prides itself on its close proximity and responsiveness to the needs of the local municipalities it serves. So, in 2017, when some of their customers requested a new remote metering solution, SOGEDO set out to find the one that would provide the best possible coverage for three rural areas totalling 13,500 metering points. 

The old solution with mechanical meters had been plagued by technical challenges affecting the quality of the data transmission. SOGEDO’s demands therefore included reliable measurements, a reliable radio network performance and a robust smart meter with a minimum service-life of 15 years. Their choice fell on Kamstrup’s ultrasonic water meters integrated with the IoT technology, Sigfox.

A tried and tested Sigfox solution

SOGEDO chose Kamstrup because of their extensive radio experience, a track-record of high-quality meters and the fact that they offered a water meter that would work in an open, standardised Sigfox-based solution.

Mr. Nicolas Clouet, Engineer at SOGEDO explains: “We chose Kamstrup based on their vast experience and portfolio and because the Sigfox radio is integrated into their water meter, which makes it less vulnerable and prevents data loss between the meter and the transmission head. It was also key for us that their Sigfox meter was already tried and tested.” 

The Sigfox technology is characterised by offering excellent coverage carrying data over very long distances, which matched SOGEDO’s needs. “The Sigfox radio technology provides great network coverage with only a small number of antennas in the field, and that makes it ideal for us due to the nature of many of the areas we supply.”

In addition, because the Sigfox infrastructure is owned, operated and maintained by Sigfox Network Operators, it allows utilities to dedicate their time and efforts to their core business. This was important to SOGEDO who wanted to be able to outsource the operation of the radio network, but still have complete control over the data processing chain.

“We chose Kamstrup based on their vast experience and portfolio and because the Sigfox radio is integrated into their water meter, which makes it less vulnerable and prevents data loss between the meter and the transmission head. It was also key for us that their Sigfox meter was already tried and tested.”

Mr. Nicolas Clouet, SOGEDO, France

Precision, reliability and intelligence

Kamstrup’s static ultrasonic water meters are characterised by their pinpoint accuracy, longevity and many intelligent features, all of which contributed to SOGEDO’s decision. 

“We wanted a reliable meter that would maintain its high level of precision throughout its entire lifetime and that is what you get with a Kamstrup water meter. The quality and robustness of the meter was very important for us. Especially the vacuum sealing making it resistant to moisture and condensation is highly relevant because most of the new meters will be installed in meter pits,” says Mr. Clouet.

The new meters’ intelligent alarms in the event of, for example, leaks and reverse flow, which may be related to fraud, will be a valuable tool for SOGEDO’s customers, but end users are also expected to benefit from the meter’s intelligence. “Our new meters will allow us to offer new features and valuable services to the end users like leak alarms after the meter and consumption tracking,” says Mr. Clouet. 

In addition, the meters’ data logger enables professional handling of disputes with end users. “Because historical data and events are automatically stored in the meter and easily accessible, we can return to the end user with the detailed information they need in cases with abnormal consumption, litigation and so on. The same goes for cases where the meter is installed backwards, because the volume is still measured and registered in the data logger.” 

According to Mr. Clouet, increasing the transparency not just in their own operations but also for their end users will be one of their most important tasks in the future: “We want to give end users access to their own data via our online platform to enable and empower them to take responsibility for their water consumption. And reliable meter data is a fundamental part of achieving that mission.”

4 ways Sogedo benefit from their new solution

Data-based insight and improved service

Expectations for how the new meters will support SOGEDO’s business and deliver results are high. Mr. Clouet explains: “Kamstrup’s Sigfox meters will give us much more insight into our network. This will enable us to improve the efficiency of our leak detection and continuously determine network losses by comparing the volume going into each sector with the volume consumed. And more data-based knowledge will also allow us to better advise our customers on how to get as much value as possible out of their investments.” 

After performing satisfactory metering and radio reception tests in late 2017, roll out of the 13,500 new meters began in the Summer of 2018. By the end of 2018, the first 3,000 meters will have been installed and a full evaluation will be performed mid-2019, when SOGEDO has billed their end users. “We will test and validate the meter coverage and the reliability of the radio performance, but so far, everything looks good,” says Mr. Clouet.

About the project

  • MULTICAL®21 and flowIQ®3100 water meters with integrated Sigfox communication
  • 13,500 metering points
  • Timeframe: 2017-2019

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