With 2,800 state-of-the-art water meters, the market town of Dießen am Ammersee not only showcases a solution for the cutting-edge communication of usage-data, its new meters also impress with future-proof materials, an economic service life and the provision of transparent services for the utility’s customers.
The introduction of stricter threshold values for lead in drinking water in the German Drinking Water Ordinance, now at a maximum 10 μg/l, will continue to give impetus to the modernisation of drinking water installations. To ensure they comply with the regulations in future, the town of Dießen has made a conscious decision to install lead-free meters such as iPERL™. “When choosing our new water meters, it was important for the materials to comply with the permissible values, but also that they ensure our decision is future-proof,” Michael Deininger, the Technical Director of the Dießen water utility, explains.
iPERL consists of composite materials and is 100 per cent lead-free, so water utilities which rely on iPERL are on the safe side even if threshold values for lead are lowered or if environmental safety regulations become stricter. The recycling concept, which comes into effect at the end of the meters’ service life, was also taken into account and was already implemented during iPERL’s design phase.
iPERL’s radio transmission system also offers utilities and consumers a high degree of security: the transferred data are AES-encrypted, complying with the stipulations of BSI guideline TR-03116-3 which defines the safety requirements for the use of cryptographic methods in the infrastructure of smart metering systems. iPERL’s alarm and status reports include protection against manipulation of the meter with an up-to-date time stamp. These new iPERL features enable utilities to provide maximum consumer protection.
The Sensus RF data protocol can be used for walk-by/drive-by readouts. This protocol, in accordance with OMS (Open Metering System), also enables it to be integrated in existing smart metering networks. The exchange of the data protocol does not even require access to the metering point, which provides both the utility and the consumer with more flexibility.
Along with the selection of data protocols, iPERL’s flexibility is particularly highlighted by walk-by/drive-by readouts. Utilities can activate or deactivate the data transfer option as required. This flexible choice pays off in practice and in terms of customer satisfaction, as Dießen’s Technical Director confirms: “If residents prefer to have the radio system switched off for medical or ecological reasons, we are happy to do so at any time. This service is very important to us!” In such cases, the data transfer option is activated only selectively in order to obtain precise meter data. “Every year, around 15 per cent of the meter data we receive from our customers cannot be used for billing. The possibility of collecting missing or inadequate data easily and quickly by means of drive-by readouts opens up a whole range of new possibilities,” Michael Deininger comments.
This option allows Dießen’s water utilities to generate additional value in terms of their customer services but also to deliver fair and accurate billing, which benefits both parties. “We don’t have to rely on estimates anymore, as we are now in a position to see the real figures,” Michael Deininger says. Missing or estimated usage data can negatively affect a utility’s balance sheet. In addition, high back payments can have a negative effect on the end customers’ perception of the supplier. “A transparent and accurate account of usage profiles helps to prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations of usage bills and the resulting differences of opinion right from the beginning,” Michael Deininger points out.
An additional advantage of iPERL is its innovative construction, which in technological terms ensures greater longevity compared to conventional meters. “The exceptionally long service life was yet another reason for us to choose iPERL”, Deininger explains. “Longer deployment cycles mean we can reduce the costs which arise from exchanging meters and we can then invest the money this saves in additional state-of-the-art, durable meters.” But iPERL also features other technological advantages which have convinced the Technical Director. Contactless, magnetic-inductive flow measurements ensure reliable meter performance throughout iPERL’s service life. Even minimal leak flow volumes from 1 l/h are recorded reliably, while iPERL’s minimal pressure loss also allows large through-flows to be metered accurately. This capability enables iPERL to provide the basis for future pressure management without unnecessarily limiting the pressure required in the network. Process steps such as venting or flushing meters can be dispensed with, eliminating the risk that faulty installation or implementation may affect metering results. These economic advantages can have a very positive effect upon a utility’s operations.
“We are absolutely convinced that, by choosing iPERL, we have made an economic and future-proof decision”, Deininger summarises. “And this also means that we are now in a position to offer an optimised service which will help us to increase customer satisfaction.”