A new era has begun in the water metering business


By Pedro Carreira

The way we do business reflects the way we are in life, our ideology to make our lives better, and therefore how we would like to live the business. It is therefore not strange to find that markets, companies and products reflect those visions in development programmes that are in harmony with societies and the environment. When a programme fully meets those objectives we feel good. However, when all that is achieved with a real technological breakthrough, all those involved, users, manufacturers, etc, have a real feeling of accomplishment and all are motivated to do even better.

A few thousand years ago a breakthrough in metal alloy probably changed the path of civilisations and the way the world looks today. The simple, controlled mixing of two known chemical elements, iron and carbon, created steel for the first time. The properties of steel gave the people using it a significant advantage over their neighbours. Iron gives strength but could break, and carbon gave it solidity. This new alloy was simply the junction of two known materials, but with enormous consequences.

New era1

Sensus’ 620C range of
composite class C

Today the objectives of civilisation are not the same. Mankind has never been as concerned for its long term survival as it is today. In the past we would invent tools to survive in the world as we knew it. Nowadays we look for and invent tools so that our world can survive us. We all have an opinion, and have talked or at least have heard about global warming and its consequences. True or not, different positions exist but in one point there is agreement – mankind depends on Earth’s natural resources. Among all the resources available, there is water, and water is vital. A lot of experts are able to talk passionately and in detail about how water is crucial for life, how rare potable water is, and how bad we are sometimes in dealing with this resource. If it is so rare, do we know how much we have, and how do we measure it?

Through significant investment in research and development, Sensus has brought to the market a major technical breakthrough whereby mixing two known materials together actively contributes to a much safer environment. There is no pretence that this innovation is as important as steel but definitely it is as fascinating. Its recycling properties and the recycling possibilities it offers in the future may be even wider as mankind moves into a “greener” world. It offers today to the people of this world the possibility to systematically reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and at the same time account for every single drop of potable water. This value innovation material is called Composite and its properties are extraordinary.

When an individual or a company embraces an objective it is quite hard to make them deviate from it. Sensus has sought for years for a metering point concept where the energy used through its life-cycle would be as low as possible. The initial steps tend always to be a reduction of the quantity of material used, the optimisation of logistics and the extension of the product’s life cycle. The first two are quite restrictive due both to performance and market requirements and the last one is not an option. The breakthrough had to come from a completely different approach.

Composite keeps its promises regarding the environment. Injecting it uses five times less energy than metal and there is no rework – implying no burs from tooling with its difficult process using oil – it is lighter, it does not corrode, nor is affected by limestone. After 20 years of service all of these advantages can be applied again to recycle it. The composite material requires significant expertise in its handling, but the outcome is a composite meter with a performance that exceeds expectations.

Sensus meter green

Close-up of a 620C meter

The requirements were tightened and the tests extended, the traditional meter shapes questioned and the centenary metering point concept reviewed from scratch. The references carried had to be changed. A high class composite meter lasting 20 years in the field withstands static pressures above 70 bar. This is new to the profession and changes the standards but this is not over-engineering, it is just the normal performance of Composite when the mixing of both materials is executed correctly. If this is not the case, it implies a meter rupturing at lower pressures. The material is not spread evenly creating weak points in the body, contributing to a reduction of the meter’s life expectancy. 

Based on its beliefs, helped by extraordinary partners, Sensus has moved the status quo into a new industrial reality. Nevertheless, such innovation carrying these market leading performances could not have come alone. This value innovation had to bring with it excellent metrological performance.

Sensus works with its partners and is replacing, where possible, all water meter metal bodies by bodies crafted with this innovative material, but the trick with water meters is that people rarely notice them. Electricity meters and gas meters are systematically watched because of their possibly dangerous nature. But water… is different.

Nevertheless in most parts of the world, as many experts say, when a water distribution network achieves a water loss rate below 25%, it is good. If 20% is reached, it is very good. Below that is excellent. But how to explain to people that losing water is not only the pipe leaking but also the water consumed that was not accounted for? Sensus partners sensible to these objectives are customers and they are actively working to make them better every day. In the process of using Composite, these partners provide feedback with remarks, comments and suggestions, which constantly enhance the Composite offering. Companies like Vitens in The Netherlands, Severn Trent in UK, Aguas de Valencia in Spain, and many others in Germany, South Africa, Romania, Scandinavia, Brazil and Mexico, are the pioneers and the valuable visionaries of this technology. 

Participating recently in a conversation, someone was talking about money and water. This person’s position was that any business, regardless of how big it is, counts its money down to the cent. So why when counting water would we stop counting at a certain point? Why accept that 25% would not be counted? Why have to feel comfortable when flow rates below 10 l/h (0.044 gpm or 2.6 gph) are not counted? This person made the analogy with bank accounts. Could one live with a bank account not knowing where 25% of the money has gone to? Sensus believes that probably some could, but no one would ever be that irresponsible with their own money. Sensus also clearly understands that water loss equals revenue loss for a water utility. So it is therefore part of our mission to eliminate or at least minimize that revenue loss both before and after the meter.

Sensus and its partners are pushing the market to change. Its efforts go all over the world to constantly communicate on the urgency of modifying our habits as well as to continuously improve hydraulic metering. Its technology, today, allows accounting for flow rates below 1 l/h – ten times less the figure above. There cannot be a claim to care for metrology if not all of the resource is counted.

All Sensus people are proud to bring to you a highly accurate and environment friendly range of meters. This value innovation is a breakthrough in our daily world. The conviction is that more should follow this path and propose solutions to the markets where the mutual respect of nature by man is seen.

Any development is pointless without listening to the market and Sensus every day carries that simple dream in its arms, to bring you the best.