The Sky's the Limit: Cloud-Based System Helps Spot Trends, Improve Forecasting

Across North America, utilities are discovering the benefits of going beyond basic meter reading and billing with Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems that make the most efficient use of their resources - including existing assets in the field, personnel, financial resources, and water itself.

Neptune Consumption Graph 1305ww

Across North America, utilities are discovering the benefits of going beyond basic meter reading and billing with Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems that make the most efficient use of their resources - including existing assets in the field, personnel, financial resources, and water itself. Combining operational efficiencies, customer service tools and more powerful means to help calculate Non-Revenue Water, new technologies and software are empowering utilities to do more than ever with the assets they have in the field.

Many of these advances will be on display this June as Neptune Technology Group showcases several new developments and additions to its ARB® Utility Management Systems™ at ACE 2013 in Denver, Colo.

Neptune Consumption Graph 1305ww
Neptune's IQ™ system can help utilities store and analyze up to 10 years of detailed consumption data to identify trends and better forecast and plan for the long term.

At its exhibit, Neptune will demonstrate on-screen to visitors how utilities can store and analyze up to 10 years of detailed consumption data to identify historic customer usage and comparison trends and better forecast and plan for the long term. That's the idea behind its newest addition to the N_Sight™ software suite, IQ™, a cloud-based intelligent data storage, presentment and analytics application. Now utility managers can keep abreast of customer leak monitoring and alerts and communicate critical information in real-time.

Visitors to Neptune's booth will see how an optional consumer web portal puts control in the hands of utility customers who can view their own water consumption data. Consumers can track and proactively manage their own usage and set water thresholds, receiving emailed alerts when those are exceeded; this can result in improved budgeting and reduced water bills through changes in consumption behavior.

IQ works with any Neptune system operating in full fixed network mode, whether using R900® Gateways or R450™ Data Collectors. Further, because it's cloud-hosted, the application eliminates the need for utilities to invest in or manage additional servers or physical storage infrastructure.

Using existing infrastructure is also a highlight of Neptune's new R900 Gateway v3 fixed network data collector, which works with any existing R900® endpoints in a utility's system. Without expensive system upgrades, utilities can target routes or establish a full fixed network that eliminates truck rolls, even for off-cycle meter readings.

The Gateway v3 provides twice the coverage of prior versions, processes eight unique readings simultaneously, and can be interrogated for a "latest read" request. Unlike "pinging an MIU directly," the "latest read" preserves the battery life and warranty of the MIU endpoint.

Walk-By & Mobile

Time and labor can even be saved in walk-by applications with newer technologies which allow field personnel to multitask through built-in connectivity. Visitors to Neptune's exhibit can learn how a handheld used in tandem with a belt-mounted receiver can provide self-operating data collection and storage.

As both units employ integrated Bluetooth technology, the rugged (IP68 and MIL-STD-810F rated) Trimble Nomad handheld communicates wirelessly with Neptune's new R900® Belt Clip Receiver, supporting any combination of keyed, probed and RF readings. The Nomad's high-capacity battery keeps the handheld working throughout the workday providing 10 hours of power, even in cold-weather conditions.

There are new developments in mobile AMR technology as well. Utilities can now capture 96 days of hourly data logging information directly into their mobile data collector. This customer-driven firmware enhancement to the MRX920™ mobile data collector improves a utility's efficiency, particularly for addressing high water bill complaints. Neptune will demonstrate how personnel in the field can present and even print consumption graphs to residents. Other new functionality allows the utility to use GPS/GIS mapping for real-time visual feedback on meter read status as well as the current location of the utility vehicle.

Those utilities opting for configurable, two-way AMI can view the latest technology - the integrated solid state absolute encoder register and R450 radio frequency meter interface unit. Through high-resolution, 8-digit meter reading and secure, licensed frequencies, the integrated package offers advanced data and optimum-read success rates. Neptune's new E-Coder®)R450i™ complements the R450™ System in much the same way that the E-Coder®)R900i™ has complemented the R900® System. And like its cousin, the E-Coder)R450i reduces labor costs with its ease of installation and eliminates many tamper issues associated with wires.

Neptune software demonstration schedules can be found on page 4 of this issue or may be picked up at Neptune's exhibit, Booth 12001, at ACE 2013.

Neptune Technology Group® is an exhibitor at the ACE® '13 event and can be found at Booth No. 12001

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