Case Study: AMCO Water Metering Systems

AMCO Water Metering Systems Inc. is one of the global industrial affiliates of Ruhrgas Industries, as part of its Business Unit Water.

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By Heidi Walsh

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AMCO Water's C700 with direct mount ERT.
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AMCO Water Metering Systems Inc. is one of the global industrial affiliates of Ruhrgas Industries, as part of its Business Unit Water. AMCO Water provides project planning, from concept to completion, for the best meters and reading systems to professional project management, from consulting to installation. The company's leading metering solutions are enhanced through its long-standing strategic alliances with the leading AMR providers and Installation Service companies. This strategic approach allows AMCO to offer a municipality the best possible solution for their individual needs. Municipalities such as Boston, District of Columbia and Fort Wayne chose AMCO Water to solve their water metering needs.

In each case, the AMCO absolute encoder water meter was the meter of choice. The AMCO absolute encoder is the only fully encoded 6 wheel absolute encoded register on the market. The encoder actually reads and encodes the lowest value odometer. The encoder's benefits include: increased efficiency, cuts reading time in half, eliminates potential errors and reduces meter reading & customer service costs.

District of Columbia

Driven by the need to replace aging, inaccurate water meters, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) awarded one of North America's largest water utility Fixed Network RF System implementations to the team of AMCO Water, United Metering and Hexagram. AMCO's portion of the three-year project represents approximately 130,000 new AMCO absolute encoder water meters. All meters are being equipped with Hexagram transmitters and the fixed network data collection system will be integrated with WASA's customer information and billing system.

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Washington, D.C.
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WASA's analysis indicated that its residential and commercial meters, many over 25 years old, required significant maintenance. "The revenue improvement we will see from meter replacement covers the cost of the program. The AMR technology from AMCO enables WASA to both improve our operations and provide better service to our customers in terms of measurement and billing accuracy and timeliness," said Jerry Johnson, WASA General Manager.

The meter installation process began in April 2002. Within three years, all water meters will be replaced with new state-of-the-art technology that will allow WASA to obtain actual reads from the meters without dispatching meter reading personnel to individual residences. Unlike the old system, which sometimes depended on estimated readings, the AMCO absolute encoder meters and AMR system will assure virtually 100% accuracy every month.

The new AMR technology will be fully integrated with WASA's Customer Billing and Information System. This will give WASA's customers the ability to retrieve daily meter readings and water usage information through WASA's website and phone system.

Boston

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission's (BWSC) had a water meter system that consisted of bimonthly meter readings. This process was time consuming and sometimes resulted in estimated bills. BWSC wanted to improve service to its customers and turned to AMCO Water to achieve its goals. BWSC awarded AMCO Water a 36-month contract to replace 87,000 aging water meters with AMCO absolute encoder water meters and upgrade Boston's meter reading system to Fixed Network Radio.

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Boston, MA
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"We've undertaken this initiative to improve the effectiveness of our meter reading and customer service operations, and believe implementing automatic meter reading for all customers will most significantly enhance service to our customers," said Vincent Mannering, BWSC Executive Director. "One of our goals was to reduce unaccounted for water, so meter performance played a major part in our decision. AMCO demonstrated strength beyond metering and AMR and approached the project as a partnership with BWSC."

The implementation of AMCO water meters and the automated meter reading will eliminate estimated bills, reduce the number of visits by BWSC meter readers and enables BWSC to track citywide distribution losses, therefore improving response time for service disruptions.

Installation of the new meters began in November 2002 and the project is planned to end in January 2005. The AMCO encoder water meter includes a meter transmission unit that remotely transmits water meter readings to data collection units located throughout Boston. The data is then transmitted to a computer database at BWSC via cell phone. This system enables BWSC to take daily water meter readings.

Fort Wayne

Like BWSC and DCWASA, Fort Wayne turned to AMCO Water to solve its water metering needs. Fort Wayne awarded AMCO Water a 12-month contract to replace aging water meters in the system and to upgrade 75,000 meters to a Mobile Radio System. The issues that led Fort Wayne to replace and upgrade its water meters were the lack of consistency in meter readings (inside meter readings were mismatched to outside meter readings). AMCO's proposal will benefit the needs of Water Maintenance, Customer Service, Meter Reading, Finance and Legal by improving departmental efficiencies and increasing customer satisfaction.

The combination of the new AMCO absolute encoder meters with Itron's Mobile Data Collector will provide better efficiency in Fort Wayne's meter readings. The use of the Mobile Data Collector allows for meter readings to be retrieved from public access areas using a vehicle equipped with a radio, therefore reducing the time needed to complete meter readings. "Instead of 7 hours to read the meters it will take 15 minutes," said Phil Gia Quinta, Utility Services Manager, referring to readings in a typical neighborhood.

Installation of the new meters began in January 2003.

The technology of AMCO's absolute encoder water meter and the AMR systems provided the solutions that Boston, DC and Fort Wayne wanted to improve efficiencies. The AMCO water meters and AMR system will improve customer service, provide accurate meter readings, and reduce costs.


About the Author: Heidi Walsh is a marketing associate with AMCO Water Metering Systems Inc. She has a MBA degree from the University of South Carolina and the Wirtschäftsuniversität Wien.

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