London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — January 21, 2010 – United Kingdom water company Severn Trent Water has achieved its meter reading accuracy target just six months after implementing identity management services from GB Group, the company has announced.
Severn Trent is now well on the way to achieving Ofwat’s DG8 meter reading regulation and ensuring billing accuracy of 99.85 percent for its metered customers, avoiding under or overpaid bills and tying in to the company’s strategic targets to improve service in this area.
With around 1.2 million consumer water meters across a region covering approximately 8,100 square miles, Severn Trent faced a challenge: reading its customers’ meters in a more efficient manner. The company’s target is to read all of its meters every year.
During the six-month test phase, GB had to optimize a range of challenging meter reading routes, selected by Severn Trent, matching individuals’ identities to addresses and ordering the route for visiting those addresses to maximize efficiency. This included matching the data against the Royal Mail’s postcode address file, adding geo-codes for geographical locations and then grouping the records together in the most efficient way to find the optimal route between the different points. Halving the number of unsequenced reads was a key goal. Through continuous testing and optimization, GB met this target.
“To provide excellent customer service, our target is to read all meters at least once a year as this means customers are being billed accurately,” said Con Rooney, Severn Trent Water’s general manager of customer relations field services. “With up to 60,000 new meters being installed every year, it is a significant challenge with multiple variables. GB was the only supplier willing to get out there with our meter readers to view the challenges first hand,”
“At GB we have always been committed to exceptional customer service, not only between us and our partners but also between our partners and their customers,” commented Richard Law, CEO at GB. “Severn Trent shared this commitment and, therefore, to achieve this and help our client meet its business objectives, it was important for us to fully understand its specific challenges and always go the extra mile to show the tangible value of identity management.”
The results of the pilot project have since led to further contract being signed. As part of this deal, GB’s solution will feature in Severn Trent’s new SAP-based IT platform and will offer address data together with accurate geo-locational identification techniques to be applied to all the company’s meters – even those without postal addresses and not yet built. The system spans thousands of the company’s employees, allowing the processing of a wide range of business functions. The service is delivered by web services, therefore, requiring no additional hardware on Severn Trent’s premises.
Future plans include further work on optimizing rural routes and maximizing efficiency on high frequency commercial meter reading. With GB’s expertise in spatial analysis, there is also the opportunity to evaluate meter reading efficiency across the region.