Eastern Europe utility management companies serving a large number of residential apartment houses are responsible for the provision of detailed resource accounting and what is more important efficiency. Delivering electricity, water, heat and gas to more than 25 000 customers, for example, requires well-timed statistics for utility consumption and provision of efficient correct accounting. Traditional technologies available in the market (PLC, GSM, ZigBee, MBus) offer low scalability and reliability at a very high total solution cost, which makes it very limited in terms of nationwide deployment.
Utility management company was looking for a single complete solution that would allow them to manage all services at once with a universal one-gate solution. Looking for such it was decided to deploy an automated resource management system for smart water metering and then expand it to gas and heating AMI step-by-step.
Water metering challenges
Utility management companies are facing several serious challenges for correct consumption statistics and billing:
- Manual data provision by customers is often incomplete.
- Utility agents collect meter readings sporadically and there is no proof check available.
- Residents are not motivated with accurate accounting which means they do not track consumption properly.
- There are no clear reasons of dis-balance between amounts of resource supplied and consumed. In some cases, it can reach up to 30% ensuring a residential management company budget loss.
- The utility company has no other way but process meter readings manually wasting several days every month for more or less accurate accounting.
- Undetected on time, for example, water leaks worsen this situation and brings a lot of damage to the property.
“It was quite clear for us that a utility management company, as well other players in the smart metering market, needs a reliable tool to monitor readings in the large area and keep full hands-on control over the daily consumption. Companies are looking for single complete universal long range solution that would allow managing all the resources, avoiding extra integration process and expenses. They are willing to get a proper working system with ready-to-use applications for monitoring and accounting at a minimum price available off the shelve.”, said Aleksandra Akhmadishina, Deputy CEO.
WAVIoT smart metering solution
WAVIoT offered a state-of-the-art solution for smart water metering that allowed utility companies to track and manage water consumption online based on:
- Plug-n-play cost-effective smart water meters which are ready-to-transmit readings right after the installation and requires no calibration or specific setup process.
- Network infrastructure: number of gateways with 15+ miles range to cover a whole residential area.
- Cloud platform with flexible access for meter readings monitoring and accounting.
Other technologies available in the market which was considered by the utility company has several obvious limitations. Provided there are more than 25 000 end-customers spread out the residential apartment buildings across the city it definitely needs a long-range automated wireless technology providing a superior scalability and reliability at a fair price.
ZigBee water metering
Integrated ZigBee water meters provides short range and requires additional repeaters to be installed on each floor of the building. The price of water meters with integrated radio module starts with USD 55 plus the necessity of re-translator installation dramatically increases the total solution cost. The use of mesh approach for data transmission reduces the reliability of the whole system a lot, this poor scalability does not allow to deploy really wide-range water metering system within even one town and nationwide of course.
GPRS water metering
Looks like GPRS may provide wide area coverage but the problem is that there are no GPRS integrated water meters with several years of autonomy. GPRS modems connected to pulse water meters requires an external power supply which is not available in the vicinity of a site. Some of such modems are battery powered with 3 years’ autonomy and price starting from USD 50. By the way, another scalability problem – such devices need to be pre-programmed by a specialist which requires additional service costs. Taking into consideration that the penetration of GPRS signal is a quite poor inside of the building and concrete basements, there is a serious risk to experience a lack of signal close to the water meter stand-pipe.
WAVIoT water metering
As opposed to the traditional approach WAVIoT’s LPWAN technology with ready-to-use integrated water meters and the user-friendly interface becomes the best solution for smart utility metering.
- 10+ miles of effective range in the urban environment allows building up the system with an almost unlimited number of connected meters.
- 10+ years of autonomy enables a maintenance-free solution for a long period.
- Integrated and ready-to-use water meters are extremely cost effectively priced at USD 27,99.
- The basic installation process does not require any high qualified personnel which saves client’s money at the stage of initial deployment.
- High signal penetration characteristics allow transmitting data even from underground floors.
- Simple architecture: no mesh, no repeaters, no external power supply needed. Star topology is reliable and free from troubleshooting.
- Cloud platform fits utility smart metering purposes best with its features for monitoring, accounting, and billing.
- Minimum investments needed for further system expansion with other resource meters (water, gas or heat).
“WAVIoT has an out-of-the-box solution that fully suits our needs. It takes minimum time and money to deploy a really widespread monitoring system within a block, small town or large city compared to traditional solutions offered by GPRS, LTE or short-range wireless solutions. It goes with ready-to-install smart meters and online monitoring tools. Accompanied by an extraordinary overall system performance WAVIoT goes far ahead of any competition.”, said general manager of the local utility management company.
Details of the project
WAVIoT network has been deployed in the area of 36 apartment houses which is operated by a local utility management company. Residential apartment houses involved in this project are spread on the territory of 140 square kilometers with an unfriendly urban environment. For reference purposes, one of the 22-floor houses with more than 600 apartments is pictured below.
WAVIoT gateways with 3 × 120 Deg 16 dBi sector antennas has been mounted on top of the nearby building for superior range and sensitivity. A total number of gateways required to provide a full coverage for an average 1 million population city amounts to 6-9 units on average depending on the topology characteristics.
At a first stage, more than 15 000 WAVIoT smart water meters have been installed in the water stand-pipe location. Absolutely standard off the shelve equipment provides outstanding communication link budget due to high penetration characteristics of the WAVIoT’s NB-Fi signal.
Summarizing our use case experience we normally see most of our nodes demonstrating 5-30 km in the urban environment. The maximum distance exceeds 25 kilometers as shown in the screenshot from WAVIoT network management back-end.
The gateway installed on the top of a building receiving signals from WAVIoT smart water meter on the other side of city crossing a harsh urban environment. Such a long range is available because of numerous factors: outstanding characteristics of NB-Fi protocol based on the narrowband approach, extraordinary -154 dBm gateway sensitivity equipped with 16 dBi sector antennas which allow getting the maximum budget link of up to 176 dBm.
As a result, new LPWAN smart metering solution provided by WAVIoT delivers significant savings for the utility metering initiatives and get on the global mega-trend. As for the particular project WAVIoT allows to manage resource consumption properly, neutralize dis-balances with real-time monitoring, exclude residents from monthly taking readings, save additional time on accounting process for 7.5K customers, identify and address leaks quickly. There is clear intention to extend the number of served customers with smart water metering solution at the second stage of the project and then provide online monitoring of other resources like electricity and gas.
WAVIoT has proved usability, scalability and reliability features of its LPWAN technology and ready-to-go solutions.