Utility Uses Data Logger to Spot Flowmeter Violations

Pasco County Utilities installed a dataTaker DT82I Intelligent Industrial Data Logger from CAS Dataloggers to help detect and document flowmeter violations. The datalogger allows downloading all the metering data in a strictly unalterable binary file format, which can serve as a legal digital copy documenting tapering.

Jun 1st, 2012
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Pasco County Utilities provides water and sewer services, reclaimed water, solid waste/resource recovery, recycling, hazardous waste, and street lighting service to most of the residents in Pasco County, FL. The company maintains a large number of flowmeters in the field, including those used for billing customers such as businesses, golf courses and plants.

Pasco County also uses bulk sewer meters to monitor pump station output, normally recording the number of gallons customers put through the meter and billing based on that figure. Unfortunately workers occasionally found that clients would temporarily turn off power to these meters and then run their water or pumps, trying to avoid being billed for the real usage. Therefore the utility wanted a system that would enable metering data to be dated and time stamped data that, once created, couldn't be altered by either party creating a legal digital copy as proof of customer tampering.

With this in mind, Pasco County staff began searching for a monitoring solution for connection with their remote electronic flowmeters in the field. They wanted a system that could restrict data accessibility as much as possible in file format. The device would also need to support USB stick data transfers and have the durability to operate unattended for extended periods.

A datalogger was used to monitor flowmeter power supply and document meter violations.

Pasco County Utilities installed a dataTaker DT82I Intelligent Industrial Data Logger from CAS Dataloggers into a portable Pelican case. The logger and case could be chained to a concrete pole adjacent to an onsite meter to confirm the actual utility usage from clients and spot suspected meter violations.

The dataTaker DT82I is a stand alone, low power data logger that offers an array of features including USB memory stick support, 18-bit resolution, extensive communications capabilities and a built-in display. The logger's Dual Channel concept allowed up to four isolated or six common referenced analog inputs to be used in many combinations. The universal inputs enabled technicians to take measurements from almost any type of sensor including thermocouples, RTDs, thermistors, and strain gauges as well as voltage, process current, resistance and frequency.

The logger includes support for Modbus sensors and SCADA systems, FTP and Web interfaces, and switchable, regulated outputs to power sensors. Additionally, the data logger's digital I/O channels and high speed counters can be used to monitor equipment status or to count events or pulses.

"With the analog outputs of the dataTaker, we found out the real usage in suspect cases by measuring the water and sewage flow itself, and the digital outputs measured the dry contacts on the pumps," said Pasco County Electronic Technician Clifford Farris. "We also monitored loss of power, comparing the power usage of the pumping station against the meter, looking for any discrepancies. If the power went out at any point, we'd see that, and if it went out for just the billing meter, we would see that too."

The logger is able to store up to 10 million data points (expandable). Staff simply plugged a USB stick in the front for data retrieval. Users could overwrite or stop logging once allocated memory was filled, archive data on alarm event, copy to USB memory or transfer via FTP.

The dataTaker datalogger allows downloading all the metering data in a strictly unalterable binary file format, which the utility company's legal representation then brought into court as proof of criminal tampering. Pasco County Utilities used the logger data to spot meter violations and win subsequent court cases.

"The dataTaker is worth its weight in gold for proving our case in these types of violations," Farris said. "We can't edit or otherwise alter the binary format in any way —that qualifies it a legal digital copy."

For more information on the CAS system, visit the company's website at www.dataloggerinc.com.

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