Case Study: Weatherford, OK, improves customer service, efficiency with Advanced Metering Infrastructure

To help improve customer service, water conservation and operational efficiency, the City of Weatherford, OK, recently replaced 5500 water meters and implemented an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system...

Ww 0801 Mueller Cimg0581 Utility Worker Looking At The Interface Of The Ami System On His Computer Screen Sm

To help improve customer service, water conservation and operational efficiency, the City of Weatherford, OK, recently replaced 5500 water meters and implemented an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) system provided by Cleveland, N.C.-based Mueller Systems. As a result of the project, the city has automated the process of determining how much water each customer uses -- for any period of time -- allowing it to more accurately bill customers for their water usage.

The AMI system has eliminated the need for the city to manually collect water meter readings each month, as workers receive readings on scheduled monthly intervals in their office. Meters in the AMI network "alert" the department of abnormally high water usage and potential leaks as they occur. The city can also send signals through the network to receive "on-demand" readings from meters while on the phone with customers to address billing related inquiries.

Ww 0801 Mueller Cimg0581 Utility Worker Looking At The Interface Of The Ami System On His Computer Screen Sm
Utility worker explores the interface of the AMI system on his computer screen.
Collecting meter reads was previously a labor intensive process that took upwards of ten days to complete," said Mike Brown, Mayor of the City of Weatherford. "Now, all of our readings can be collected in as little as one day. By streamlining the meter reading process, AMI essentially enables our Water Department to work smarter -- not harder. It provides personnel with a centralized view of the water system as well as a significant time savings that allows them to focus on other important improvement projects."

The system also provides the city's customers with on-demand access to their household water usage through a web-based consumer portal that allows them to monitor their water consumption, compare current usage to previous periods, configure individual alerts, and set budget and water conservation goals.

"Our Water Department has been receiving lots of positive feedback as a result of the project," said Brown. "Customers are now able to monitor their household water usage and better understand how their consumption affects their bill. Access to this kind of helpful information along with improved meter accuracy has also led to far fewer complaints from customers about their water usage, which has provided significant relief to call center staff as well."

Ww 0801 Mueller Collector Installed Mi hub One Of The Modules That Collects Data From Meters In Its Zone And Transmits It Along To The Utility Sm
Installed Mi.Hub collects data from meters in its zone and transmits it along to the utility.
During the installation phase of the project, which was conducted by Plant City, FL-based Mueller Service Co., all of the city's water meters were replaced and outfitted with transceivers that gather and pass water usage data on a daily basis to area data collection modules via radio frequency (RF). Each of the modules collect and upload usage data to the system's master data management (MDM) software -- where it is then relayed via general packet radio service (GPRS) or other backhaul options to the water department's server.

Ww 0801 Mueller Mi hydrant Cap Side View Sm Pumper Cap That Houses The Mi hydrant Unit Sm
Pumper cap that houses the Mi.Hydrant unit.
Steel meter box lids and geographical gaps that existed between certain meters in the city's service area presented obstacles that could have weakened or delayed RF signal transmissions through the network. However, the city was able to overcome these obstacles by becoming one of the first utilities to transform its fire hydrants into active parts of its AMI network. Pumper caps of existing fire hydrants were replaced with enclosed transceivers that filled "holes" in the network by internally storing data collected from nearby meters and relaying it directly to the data collection modules, enabling the city to receive on demand reads from any meter in its service area within 15 seconds.

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