Hydroko, a longtime partner of Belgian utilities, produces a valve that allows utilities to control the amount of water each customer receives. They set out to find an intelligent metering provider who could prove a strong, flexible and solid partner throughout the project. So they teamed up with Kamstrup.
“Kamstrup is a frontrunner in IoT solutions for intelligent water metering,“ says Bert Fabri, Project Leader at water-link, “and they provided us with the flexibility and interoperability we need.”
A 1,200-meter pilot started in June 2016. Since then, several updates were made to both the meter and the valve software. According to Hydroko COO Jan Van Cappellen, continuous testing and adaptation were crucial to the success of the project. “The key is to stay critical and keep testing.”
The main roll-out took off in November of 2018. Today, around 160,000 of the 205,000 meters are installed, and the distribution is on schedule to finish by summer 2021, with up to 450 meters being installed every day. Results from this pioneering project and collaboration behind it speak for themselves.
“We get 98% of monthly values from all meters installed,” says Bert Fabri, water-link Project Engineer. “The ambition is 99%, and we are very close to achieving that goal.”
With the new meters, water-link’s billing flow will be fully automated, allowing the utility to optimise the resource use in the contact centre.
“Now that we get easy access to consumption data, we can optimise the way we handle questions from end-users and eliminate resources for following up on missing readings,” says Annelies Gebruers from water-link’s Client Contact Center. “Because of the improved metering accuracy, we expect a 2% increase in the amount of billed water.”
Improved transparency from more frequent meter data is especially valuable when it comes to leak detection, which taps into water-link’s goal to reduce their level of Non-Revenue Water. Previously, the utility was not aware of the extent of their leakages, nor where to look for them. The new metering system enables them to detect leaks, bursts and tampering, ensuring that water loss is detected quickly. During the initial trial about 4% of the meters found leaks that were fixed. To this day over 4000 leaks were detected in private connections of the residential clients.
This also benefits customers, who can now see their daily consumption and receive leak or burst alerts via an end-user platform on the website. And it allows water-link to be more proactive and service-oriented, reaching out to those experiencing big leaks to help minimise damages, or having a data-based dialogue with their customers.
Besides leaks, the digital meters also detect reverse flows from customers, allowing water-link to assure the drinking water quality more efficiently by reacting at an early stage. So far 375 reverse flow alarms have been received and handled.
Bert Fabri, water-link Project Engineer