Vitens is the largest water company in the Netherlands, which has run a successful pilot using the Sensus FlexNet communication network. The purpose of the trial deployment was to reliably and securely read meters that are difficult to reach due to location or obstruction.
According to a company release, the Leeuwarden pilot achieved 100% read success rates, demonstrating the benefits of using dedicated communications technology specially developed for the utility sector.
Vitens was looking for a technology that would enable its technicians to accurately read water meters that were installed underground or blocked by an obstruction such as a metal cover. The utility determined that Sensus would deliver the functionality it needed to remotely read hard-to-reach water meters, eliminating the need for manual reads, which frequently led to unsafe conditions for technicians.
“We needed a technology solution to address the dangers our employees face when trying to manually read meters in hard-to-reach locations,” said Rik Thijssen, manager of business development for Vitens. “The data from meter readings is essential to manage and optimise our distribution network, so reliability and coverage of the network were the priorities.”
Trial in Leeuwarden
“The installation of water meters and smart points was flawless,” said Thijssen. “Reading the meters through the FlexNet system worked smoothly from the first moment. All visited addresses could be connected and read out via the network, which was not possible with our previous pilot. Thanks to the head-end system, the installation could be followed closely. Each newly-installed water meter automatically appeared in the portal.”
The smart meters were supplied and installed in conjunction with Brinck Meettechniek, who Sensus partner with on smart metering projects in the Netherlands.
The FlexNet system is designed with overlapping coverage, so that the connection with the water meters is consistently reliable. The system delivers strong range and penetration across varied terrain, enabling accurate meter reads even for meters in difficult-to-reach locations.
“Immediately after 100% of the water meters were installed and connected to the FlexNet system, Vitens was able to collect data,” said Tom Mills, director of smart water EMEA at Sensus. “Demonstrating its superior reach, the network successfully read meters located underground, beneath a metal cover and even at a distance of five kilometres.”
“Thanks to FlexNet technology, employees of water companies no longer need to take meter readings in dangerous situations,” added Mills. “Moreover, operational efficiency is increased, since far fewer people are needed on the ground and human error is eliminated.”
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