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Smart Water Meters

September 9, 2019 by: Orbiwise

Ventia Networks and OrbiWise LoRa® Platform Services

Enabling more efficient management of Australia’s water utilities

Ventia is a leading infrastructure service provider in Australia and New Zealand.Ventia’s Vianet business helps clients leverage low-powered wide area (LPWA) network technologies to solve business problems. It provides long-term operation, maintenance and management of critical public and private assets and infrastructure across telecommunications, transport, local government, water, power generation, electricity, gas, healthcare, education, resources and defense industries.

Water supply management

The effective management of water supply brings a number of challenges. For example, water meters are traditionally read every six months due to the time needed to physically read a meter at every single location, whether that be a household, office or industrial site. Meters are usually behind closed doors or gates providing further accessibility challenges. And if there is a water leak, the amount of wasted water as well as the cost can be expensive for both the water utilities companies and their customers.

However, when it comes to smart meters, they can read water usage practically in real time, meaning any leakage detected can be accurately identified within a couple of days and repairs executed faster.

Establishing an IOT network

A sound network solution is needed to be able to benefit from smart meter technology. Ivan di Giusto, Vianet’s lead architect, explained: “Ventia has the resources and capability to roll out Vianet’s smart meter technology on a large scale, however there is also a need for a skilled and reliable partner to help deliver robust and efficient wireless network infrastructure services”.

Choosing OrbiWise as Ventia’s partner for IoT networks

In 2016 Ventia started the evaluation process to identify a partner to help deliver the wireless network infrastructure services required to support its clients in smart water metering capability. OrbiWise was selected from a short list of four suppliers after an extensive evaluation process for their OrbiWANTM LoRa® based platform.

Ivan said: “As we were engaging partners for the long-term, the ability to build a strong, close relationship was key for us.From the beginning, OrbiWise was very keen to enter into a true partnership, listening to what our needs were and building our forward-looking requirements into their roadmap.”

It has been two years since the first project went live in Victoria and the OrbiWANTM network is supporting a vast number of devices as Ventia rolls out 80,000 smart meters at the rate of 2,000 a month, monitoring water usage in real time. Further trials of the smart devices are also underway in other cities across Australia and New Zealand.

With the addition of smart water meters, water utility clients will be able to better understand how their water networks operate. Each city has Demand Management Areas (DMA) – with smart metering they can see precisely how much water is delivered into an area, how much is used, and how much is lost through leakage.

Comparing the efficiency of different DMAs, authorities will be able to identify where to invest repair budgets.Smart meters allow utility companies to accurately assess their infrastructure performance, reducing the need to dig up long lengths of pipeline, and instead need only reline stretches of pipeline where leaks have been identified.

Extending IOT network benefits to other areas

Device profiles bring a revolutionary step in managing LoRaWANTM networks. We are now able to manage devices of many organizations with increased flexibility, by moving devices to appropriate channels, data rates and modes of operation. Profiles give us the tools that we need as we optimize various parts of the network for capacity, interference and performance.

One of the key benefits of the OrbiWise OrbiWANTM platform is that different gateways and devices can be managed within the same network due to its device ‘Profiling’ feature, a critical requirement when different clusters of devices need to be managed.

As well as water supply management, there are other water utility operations that benefit from smart monitoring of usage. Sewage monitoring, especially in areas that suffer from earthquakes, as experienced in Christchurch in 2011, Ventia’s smart metering and the OrbiWANTM platform is being used to help efficient running for advanced vacuum sewer networks. The solution can monitor the opening and closing of valves, as well as detect sewage overflow conditions, meaning any problems can be quickly detected and service staff can spend a lot less time trying to troubleshoot the problem as they immediately know the exact nature and location of the problem.

Outside of water utilities, there are many other focus areas for monitoring and improving asset and operational performance. One example is maintenance of highway barriers that suffer from frequent damage by trucks and other motor vehicles. Using the same OrbiWANTM platform, combined with video monitoring, vehicles that cause damage to highway infrastructure can be identified, facilitating the recovery of repair and rectification costs.

Domenico Arpaia, OrbiWise CEO said, “We are delighted to have built a strong partnership with Ventia from the very beginning and continue to support them as they expand their IOT technology solutions throughout Australia and New Zealand.Working closely with their team and understanding how their IOT services develop we are able to add new features to our OrbiWANTM platform to support their growth on a consistentbasis

Summary

In partnership with Ventia’s Vianet business, OrbiWise will continue to support more than 80,000 water metering devices, as well as the monitoring of vacuum sewers and other assets and operations, to improve performance and decrease maintenance costs for utilities, government organizations and corporations across Australia and New Zealand.

For more information on Vianet’s LPWA network technology solutions, click here:https://www.ventia.com/capabilities/vianet-solutions