Business cases, AMR/AMI strategic planning, and implementation strategies


Conference: Metering, Billing/CIS America
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Presenter: Don Schlenger
Abstract: Presented by Don Schlenger at Metering, Billing/CIS America

Many water utilities have justified advanced metering systems (AMS) on the basis of “traditional” operational improvements, including reducing meter reading, field service and call center staff, as well as recovering unbilled revenues by replacing older meters.  As advanced metering systems have evolved to provide more discrete information, the value of the information available from them enables other utilities to build more comprehensive and sophisticated business cases.

Different applications of AMS have different data requirements, from one read a month for billing to one minute interval data for flow analysis in connection with rightsizing meters.  In addition, interval data can be either synchronized or unsynchronized. An effective ways to develop requirements for AMS procurement and to evaluate systems is to characterize the data required to support an application, and a system’s ability to provide it, based on:

  • the frequency of meter sampling
  • the frequency of data transmission
  • the time lapsed between the reading and its availability in the AMS consumption database
  • the resolution of the data (e.g., units)
  • the reliability (number of actual reads versus number expected); the broader the criteria, the greater the reliability.

Many practical considerations and their impact on the cost of an AMS system are discussed, including: AMS transmitter (MIU) location and mounting options, meter registers, the degree of compatibility between MIUs and meters, meter data resolution, and meter aging.  The expected lives in service of MIUs and meters must be coordinated.  The decision to replace or retrofit a meter at the time of MIU installation requires economic evaluation.

Emerging technologies, such as acoustic leak detectors, remote controlled shutoff valves, home consumption monitors, and other sensors may affect AMS strategies, technology selection and economics. Examples of business case approaches to acoustic leak detection and compiling consumption data to inform conservation programs are presented.