Turn Key Solutions with AMCO Water

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 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 and professional project management from concept to completion. 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. The City of Fort Wayne, Indiana (CFW) chose AMCO Water to solve their water metering needs.

CFW 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.

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"We've undertaken this initiative to improve the effectiveness of our meter reading and customer service operation, and believe implementing automatic meter reading for all customers will significantly enhance service to our customers," said Sally Clem, CFW Customer Service Manager. "The key to implementing this large task successfully is teamwork, and AMCO has demonstrated strength beyond metering and AMR and has approached the project as a partnership with Fort Wayne."

CFW has 78,000 residential customers. Because of harsh winters where temperatures plummet below zero for substantial periods of time, the majority of water meters are located inside the home. Prior to AMR, meter readers had to enter the home to get reads. About 10 percent of the time, meter readers estimated reads when unable to get inside of the residence.

CFW selected AMCO's absolute encoder water meter to replace the aging meters and upgrade residential customers to a Mobile Radio System. The AMCO absolute encoder is a fully encoded 6 wheel absolute encoded register that 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.

The combination of the new AMCO absolute encoder meters with Itron's Mobile Data Collector provides 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.

The city has reduced the number of meter readers by over 70 percent. Not one job was lost to automation — the city was able to relocate and retrain workers to other positions. "Instead of 7 hours to read the meters it will take 15 minutes," said Phil Gia Quinta, Utility Services Manager, about readings in a typical neighborhood.

In a year's time, billed consumption increased 2.5 percent from water produced by the city. City officials say they have saved money from water leakage that went undetected in previous years.

"Our customers are happier because they are billed for actual consumption rather than estimates," said Greg Meszarous, Fort Wayne Utility and Public Works Director. "In this day and age, they are also happy with the automation because of security concerns. They don't have strangers asking to come inside their homes to read meters."

The program has been so successful; the city plans to add all its large commercial accounts in the near future.

Fort Wayne, Indiana, is one of many municipalities that chose AMCO Water to solve their water metering needs. Others projects include Boston, Washington, D.C., and Grand Strand, South Carolina. For each project, AMCO works with the utility to identify their needs and to develop a customized plan that includes complete hardware systems and software, implementation, after-sale performance tracking and maintenance.

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