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News Release

Sensus FlexNet Communication Network to Remotely Read Hard-to-Reach Water Meters Successfully Tested by Vitens

Results from Leeuwarden pilot confirm the benefits of communications technology designed specifically for the utility sector

Vitens, the largest water company in the Netherlands, has run a successful pilot using the Sensus FlexNet® communication network. With the rapid growth of connected sensors and devices, Sensus has deployed solutions for mission critical IoT applications within the dedicated 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. The Leeuwarden pilot achieved 100 percent read success rates, demonstrating the benefits of using dedicated communications technology specially developed for the utility sector.

Safe, accurate reading of hard-to-reach meters

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. Vitens also believed the FlexNet system would improve operational efficiency through actual, rather than estimated readings.

“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.”

The FlexNet system uses a dedicated, licensed frequency spectrum which is protected against interference by other networks and devices. In contrast with IoT networks using unlicensed spectrum, the FlexNet system provides better security and reliability with near real-time data transmission. Sensus has partnered exclusively with Entropia and ComBus Technologies in Benelux to deploy, maintain and operate the Sensus FlexNet communication network.

Successful test 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 partnered with on smart metering projects in the Netherlands.

The FlexNet system is intelligently 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,” said Mills. “Moreover, operational efficiency is increased, since far fewer people are needed on the ground and human error is eliminated. The technology also enables real-time monitoring of the chemical composition of the water and predictive maintenance.”

 

About Vitens

Vitens is the largest drinking water company in The Netherlands. Valuable water for now and the future is our mission. We take care of providing 24/7 securable tap water and excellent services. In its present form Vitens exists since 2006 and the company has a rich history. Its roots go back more than a hundred years and are deeply anchored in Dutch society. The passion for the production of drinking water is in our genes. Thanks to the size of modern drinking water companies more investments in water technology became possible and the quality of Dutch drinking water improved considerably. Recent survey ­ commissioned by the European Union ­ acknowledges the Netherlands as first in Europe regarding the quality of drinking water and its extensive knowledge on water management. Vitens delivers top quality drinking water to 5.6 million consumers and companies in the provinces Flevoland, Fryslân, Gelderland, Utrecht and Overijssel and some municipalities in Drenthe and Noord-Holland. Annually Vitens delivers 350 million m³ water with 1,400 employees, 100 water treatment works and 49,000 kilometres of water mains. For more information, please visit www.vitens.com

Summary:
  • With the rapid growth of connected sensors and devices, Sensus has deployed utility-grade solutions for mission critical IoT applications in the Netherlands, within the dedicated FlexNet communication network
  • The hard-to-reach meters pilot for Vitens achieved 100 percent read success rates, demonstrating the benefits of using dedicated communications technology specially developed for the utility sector
  • Thanks to FlexNet technology, employees of water companies no longer need to take meter readings in dangerous situations, operational efficiency is increased since far fewer people are needed on the ground and the network can successfully read meters located underground, beneath a metal cover and even at a distance of five kilometres

The installation of water meters and smart points was flawless. 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.

Rik Thijssen

Manager of Business Development

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