Cleveland Contracts for Integrated AMR, Field Service System

The City of Cleveland, Division of Water, has contracted with Datamatic Inc. of Richardson, Texas, to implement a state-of-the-art integrated automatic meter reading (AMR) and field service system.

The City of Cleveland, Division of Water, has contracted with Datamatic Inc. of Richardson, Texas, to implement a state-of-the-art integrated automatic meter reading (AMR) and field service system.

The Division of Water is responsible for providing drinking water to nearly 1.5 million people. It serves approximately 427,000 commercial and residential water accounts in some 66 communities throughout the 640 square mile Cleveland Metropolitan area. Datamatic is a provider of AMR and field data collection systems to the utility industry.

The system will include 65 Roadrunner 860ES handheld computers, radio frequency AMR modules and 51 laptop computers with integrated wireless modems.

Although the majority of Clevelands meters are still read manually, the city has approximately 5,000 radio-read meters in place, all equipped with Badger Meters TRACE® in-ground radio modules. Another 200 touch-pad units are installed on master meters. The handheld computers can be used to read all three types of meters, but only 10 handhelds will be equipped with RF capability initially.

The wireless laptops, 10 of which will be equipped to read the RF meters, will streamline the divisions process of collections and field investigations. The laptops, which have been “ruggedized” for field service, have integrated modems designed to communicate over the RAM Mobile Data network — a data-only network similar in operation to a cellular system. The notebooks will be able to communicate in real time with the divisions central computer.

The RF-equipped notebooks will allow the Division of Water to upgrade its system to drive-by radio-read if it chooses.

Datamatic is providing the software for meter reading and maintenance, investigations and collections. The system will integrate all functions of the divisions field force with a distributed client server system built with Microsoft products. The software will streamline operations and make life easier for district personnel, said Bill Strong, Assistant Commissioner for Customer Account Services.

Now, software programs often are unable to talk with each other. For example, meter readers record information in their handheld computers, but that information has to be printed out and manually keyed in to the central system. The new software will allow the information to be fed directly into the computer.

Strong said service also was a key issue in deciding to equip investigators and service workers with laptops. When inspectors investigate a complaint, they often are unable to fully answer customer questions. With the direct link to the central computer, inspectors can now provide information on the spot and update the central computers information.

“When they go out to do a collection, they will be able to integrate with the host (computer) and check if the customer just went in and paid. It should save them oodles of customer service problems,” said Andy Kercher, Datamatic Vice President.

The Datamatic equipment and software is also adaptable, allowing it to be upgraded to communicate with different kinds of meter reading technologies and equipment, Strong said.

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