Improving efficiency and customer service in Bilbao


In 2008, the Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia chose Sappel, a company in the Diehl Metering group, to provide and install 45,000 volumetric water meters and Izar radios over a 3-year period. Consorcio aims to obtain improved monitoring of consumption and the network, and thereby make the consumer more responsible.

Bizkaia Province is one of the three regions that make up the Spanish Basque Country. This area, with more than 1.1 million inhabitants, is managed by the Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia for water and sanitation. A public body, the consortium covers over 90% of the population of Bizkaia and 71 towns and cities. Very vigilant of its network, the consortium hunts down water wastage. This Spanish water utility is one of the rare companies to measure the water used by fountains and firemen and to water parks in towns. It also recovers rainwater and wastewater and re-injects this water into its network (as drinking water or for other uses).

The tender won by Sappel involves replacing various installations (residential and collective, urban and rural) which had previously been read manually every quarter. The meters will now be read in walk-by and drive-by mode every other month – even once a month, eventually. The objective of this project is to establish very precise consumption monitoring and to facilitate invoicing.

The Altaïr volumetric meter, with its measuring dynamic of 1,000 and its low start flow rate (2 l/h), enables leaks that were previously unidentified to be located.

The Izar radio signals any anomalies whatsoever in terms of consumption and fraud.


AMR system overview

The solution was chosen for its metrological and radio qualities, as well as its progressive nature. The Altaïr meter, thanks to its modularity, can be equipped at any time with a radio that can be clipped to the register. Furthermore, this radio can be read in walk-by or drive-by mode, as well as via the GPRS network for particularly dense residential areas.

As a result, in the town of Zaldibar (southeast of Bizkaia), the 1,300 meters (for 2,876 inhabitants) can be read in less than an hour (in walk-by or drive-by mode), compared to the several weeks that it had previously taken. The invoiced consumption is more accurate, more frequent and the consumer is warned of possible leaks.

The next stage will be to upgrade the solution towards GPRS reading, which enables the speed and frequency to be further increased. With an implementation study, it is possible – without reconfiguring the radios – to change to network reading. To do so, Izar receiver GPRS battery data collectors have to be installed.


The Izar AMR ensemble

As these collectors are battery powered, their installation can easily be optimised. A GPRS unit transmitting its information via GPRS every week has a battery life of 7 years. It can manage up to 1,000 meters equipped with Izar radios and send the data to an FTP server at programmable intervals. The data obtained can then be used directly on PCs with the Izar BDD software.

Convinced of the quality of the Diehl Metering products (precision and modular design), the Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia also requested an additional service company, the installation and maintenance of the meters.

This example from Bizkaia Province demonstrates how an organisation that is concerned with saving energy can significantly improve the management of a network and its readings by using AMR solutions – solutions that are both progressive and modular, and can be adapted to all types of field configurations.