Radio Based AMR Solves Safety Problems and More

The Granger-Hunter Improvement District is a water and wastewater company serving more than 86,000 people in the West Valley City area adjacent to Salt Lake City, Utah. In recent years the company has been moving toward a radio-based meter reading system, starting first with the difficult-to-read meters.

The Granger-Hunter Improvement District is a water and wastewater company serving more than 86,000 people in the West Valley City area adjacent to Salt Lake City, Utah. In recent years the company has been moving toward a radio-based meter reading system, starting first with the difficult-to-read meters.

In the mid-1980s, Granger-Hunter officials recognized that with an annual growth rate of 10 percent, the company needed to move to a more efficient and accurate meter reading system. In 1988 the district selected a touch-based meter reading system from Sensus Technologies to handle the bi-monthly reading of the districts 20,000-plus pit-set meters.

There were, however, special meter reading situations where something more than a touch based system was needed. An example was several large meters at a local Coca Cola facility. Because of their location in the plant, security issues made reading the meters a slow process. Similar problems were encountered at other locations where properties were fenced off for security reasons.

In 1993, Granger-Hunter managers decided to solve these problems with radio based AMR technology. After investigating several systems and brands, the Sensus RadioRead AMR system was selected. According to Assistant District Manager Richard Fritzsche, one reason for this was that the radio system would work with the same encoder registers and route management software as the TouchRead System.

"We also needed a radio system that was able to work under difficult conditions such as inside a meter box with a metal lid," Fritzsche said.

With the system, staff can use a hand held interrogator to read all meters. A hand held Radio Frequency Solid State Interrogator can be used for reading meters via radio signal and for collecting TouchRead System readings when connected to a reading wand style TouchGun. Readings can also be entered manually.

For Granger-Hunter, as more customer meters eventually were equipped for radio based reading, the company opted to use a RadioRead Vehicle Transceiver Unit (VXU), a portable device that can be used in any car or truck. The VXU provides a more powerful signal than the hand held model, enabling meters to be read at greater distances and while the vehicle is being driven at normal traffic speeds.

The problem meters at the Coca Cola plant were among the first to be equipped with RadioRead MXUs. The program was successful and that prompted the company to install radio units at sites deemed hazardous. These included locations where meter readers were forced to work close to moving street traffic in order to read some underground meters.

With those meter reading problems solved, Granger-Hunter has moved ahead with a planned program to add more radio units to its water system which now includes more than 25,000 customer connections. RadioRead MXUs have been installed on most perimeter meters, those on the outer edges of the distribution system, and are used for all new meter installations. About 8,000 meters in the system are now equipped and being read with the radio read technology.

Granger-Hunter has recently added a Sensus AutoVU mapping module as part of its radio meter reading process. The computer based program uses global positioning satellite (GPS) technology to graphically depict the radio equipped meters. As the vehicle transceiver is driven to within range of the meters, a map of the area appears on the screen of a portable computer. As each meter is read, its location on the screen is indicated by a star which changes color to confirm the read has been successfully received.

This graphic confirmation allows the meter reading technician to quickly identify any radio equipped meters which may not have been successfully read. Non reads can be caused by out of range distances or radio interference from other sources. Such readings can then usually be successfully obtained by moving closer to the meter site or approaching from a different angle.

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