Sigfox & NB-IoT for smart water metering

Make it the Internet of (your) Things

In a smart metering context, there is nothing new or revolutionary about interconnected electronic devices collecting and exchanging data. 
 
What is new is that when you buy a water meter with IoT communication the network infrastructure is already rolled out or in the process of being so. The network provider handles daily operation and maintenance, while you subscribe to using the network to read your smart meters.
Currently, Sigfox and NB-IoT are the IoT technologies with the most potential for water utilities. NB-IoT is still primarily being tested in trials while a smart water meter that can be read by a Sigfox network is ready for sale in Europe in 2018. 
 
Read on to learn more about the two technologies, their benefits and what challenges you might run into if you choose one of them.

How we work with IoT

Water meter with Sigfox communication A smart water meter designed for Sigfox

With a new version of the MULTICAL® 21, Kamstrup presents the first smart meter available in Europe to combine the pin-point accuracy of ultrasonic metering technology with state of the art Sigfox-based communication.

The new meter will be of interest to the many utilities who are looking to base their smart metering strategy on an IoT infrastructure – either because of their business needs or as a part of an overall Smart City strategy.

Developed for a large project for Antwerp water utility, Water Link, the new MULTICAL® 21 represents a new and innovative but tried and tested solution that takes IoT within smart water metering from theory to concrete reality.

Water-link in Antwerp chose Sigfox Sigfox was the perfect fit for Antwerp, Belgium

Having the power to control their own network, reduce their costs and improve the customer service was the keys for Water-link, Antwerp as they made the decision to upgrade to a next-generation IoT-based water metering solution powered by Sigfox, Hydroko and Kamstrup.

“Because we are combining the meters with a smart valve, we were convinced that SIGFOX would work best for us. Kamstrup is a frontrunner in IoT solutions for intelligent water metering and they are providing us with the flexibility and interoperability we need.” Kurt De Nies, Project Leader at Water-link.

“When we were calculating the financial business case for this investment, the benefits of the Kamstrup meter became more and more important. At low flows, the Kamstrup meter is very accurate so the water we will save became an important factor in the return on investment calculation,” explains De Nies.

NB-IoT trials NB-IoT trials

NB-IoT has a higher energy consumption than for example the wireless M-bus communication protocol. This creates a special challenge for battery powered units like smart water meters, where frequent readings via an IoT network drains the battery faster than through a traditional AMI system. 

It is therefore necessary to compromise – on battery lifetime, meter reading interval or perhaps on network technology. To investigate the consequences further, we are currently involved in a number of NB-IoT trials in both Scandinavia, South America & Europe.

NB-IoT trial in Chile NB-IoT trial in Chile

In collaboration with Huawei and Telefónica, we are conducting the first NB-IoT trial in Latin America for the Chilean utility Essbio. 

The goal of the trial is to allow clients to know their day-to-day use, facilitate actual invoicing, avoiding consumption estimations and to detect leaks and other irregularities.

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