By Pedro Carreira, Director of Marketing for ESAAP
Have you ever had a hunch, an instinctive sense that something is extraordinary? That two second feeling when working in a team and looking into each others eyes you know that all together you have achieved something not common. Sensus achieved that tipping point where extraordinary value is created giving birth to a new standard in the Water Metering business.
A genius considered by the Time magazine in 1999 as the “Person of the Century”, gave enormous contribution to the birth of modern physics and carved the human spirit with the difficult to accept idea that time is indeed relative, placing mankind’s perception of time beyond what we had ever imagined. Ever since, incredible ideas defied human reasoning like non-aging objects, time-machines and perpetual youth. Ideas that are considered to be science fiction, untouchable and unattainable… or are they ?
The works started by tackling the problem of aging metrology. It is common to the profession to count in very few years the capability of a water metering device to stay as accurate as in day one. Water is our planet’s most precious element, no one will contradict that. Nevertheless, it is one of the most complex elements to control and measure. Water can go through three different states, two of them significantly impact measuring where density is its keyword. Water can have endless types of inclusions, chemicals or impurities and still be potable. To transport it we face pressures, velocities, connections, leakages and so on. Each one of these factors will affect one way or the other the material we put it in contact with. Maybe we don’t see those materials changing and getting old when we pour a glass of water but with time… things become significantly different.
The objective and concept was precisely to create a technology, or a set of technologies which would not be aged by time. Or, eventually, aging would be so slow that it would be imperceptible at a human scale. A little bit like watching the ocean. You can look over and over the ocean and it will always look flat to you, although we all know it is in fact round. The reason is scale and if up to now we couldn’t see a way out of today’s status quo the answer had to be elsewhere.
Two major key innovations came together. One is the use of Composite material and advanced design associated to the mechanical construction (see MI 2008 3rd Edition – Cover Story) and the other is called Remnant Field Technology and concerns metrology itself. Composite technology brings together all environmental values Sensus pursues along with the state of the art long-lasting mechanical properties required for a water network meter. Remnant Field Technology is a magnetic measuring principle developed to be powerless, predictable, stable, linear and… perpetual at our scale.
This technology, for better understanding, is probably best introduced in terms of electromagnetic induction. Let’s consider a reference uniform magnetic field (B). It must be stable, determined and predictable, otherwise it can not be called a reference. Then, consider a wire of length (d) (pipe width for example) moving through the reference field, with a velocity (v) such that the magnetic field, the length of the wire and the velocity directions are mutually perpendicular. An electromotive force is generated between the ends (of d) equal to the product B·v·d. The value of this electromotive force is a direct function of the flow rate.
In electromagnetic metering the creation of this magnetic field requires a controlled and considerable amount of energy. In Remnant Field Technology, as the name states, this field is remnant due to the nature of the materials used. A little bit as a magnet sniped into two parts and moved slightly apart allowing the water to go through. This field value will take a few hundred years before it actually significantly changes. As you quickly deduct, energy is no longer necessary and contrary to electromagnetic technologies, such energy can now be used for something else.
Sensus objective is to create the ideal water metering point. The outcome is a measuring device with astonishing accuracy, a permanent and wide measuring range and, most important of all, the metrology imprint in day one is the same through-out the metering device’s life-time. The achieved result presents the creation, storage and communication of reliable data with no other direct maintenance or intervention while on the field. We believe we can say that with this breakthrough we actually are defying time! This statement leads us to announce to you that the new measurement standard in water metering business is born and it is called iPerl.
In Sensus we say that you should never outsource your eyes, but we happily lend you our ears. It is based on this philosophy that the last stage of iPerl has come together. Sensus has listened to its partners and through discussions, comments, suggestions and sometimes just “crazy” ideas developed the functionalities and values iPerl delivers. They include what now seem to be simple functions like leakage detection, communication capabilities, a daily data logger lasting 12 years before reset, or, one of the most interesting ones, its permanent “health” diagnosis. In fact iPerl has a permanent eye on how many Joules it is using to function, if any parameter steps outside its expected behaviour it lets you know.
The iPerl is designed to last 20 years in the field. This was the only parameter, for the time being, that we could not have extended ad infinitum, meaning - the battery. In the meantime iPerl delivers Simplicity, Productivity reduced Risk for investors and Environmental performance. For a general investor iPerl will come as a tool that will touch his company’s results. True in terms of revenue, as every drop of water will be accounted for, but any percentual increase will directly impact its cash line. Even if this value is very small, let’s say 2%, it represents 2% over the revenue line. However, if the cash line represented 10% of revenue, the investor increased its results by 20%. Moreover iPerl doesn’t just count 2% more!
Sensus is not a normal company! Not a company that dives into a market place thinking that flooding it with all sorts of products is the key to success. Sensus believes that the world does not accord with luck or attempts, it is not a company that looks sideways to its competitors studying their moves or reacting to small improvements made on the market place. We do not try to supply something just a bit better. Sensus listens to the customers and supplies value innovation. Customer programmes promoting water efficiency or any other conservation solution are now easier and possible.
For years and years the water metering market lived out of small incremental changes, slow shifts in the market place with barely any real technology improvements. Walking through private museums at water utilities, manufacturers’ plants or even legal certification bodies, we will see velocity meters from 1917, piston displacement meters from 1893. The same meters can then be seen with younger birthdates, 1951, 1964, 1972… the same? No they are not the same but indeed just slightly changed. Almost the same as before but some dimensions a bit smaller, colours a bit different, dial plate redesigned. Often we can hear ourselves making reference to independent historical facts like the Queen’s crowning ceremony, to chronologically situate that object in time, but very rarely you would do it referring to a real technology change.
Today Sensus brings to you iPerl, delivering core values to customers.
Any business is set with a certain number of explicit and implicit rules. Explicit rules are those taking over legal relationships inside and outside a company. They concern all formal interactions with the world around, stating how often you can go on vacation, how often and what happens in case of a fire drill and sometimes even how much paper can be bought for the photocopy machine. Then, there are implicit rules which can not be found written anywhere but people in the team just know them. Accomplishment, Success, Talent, Ability, Triumph, Expertise, Intelligence, Capability, Achievement and Leadership. These are examples of implicit rules and are entirely part of a company’s Brand!, iPerl delivers them all and they are part of our brand, Sensus.