Smart service for consumers
Grand Belfort is a municipality in Eastern France with just short of 50,000 residents. The regional authority plans to improve the service for consumers, not least by simplifying the procedure for reading water meters. An innovative drive-by solution has been installed in the region to make data management and billing processes more efficient – using refuse collection vehicles for automatic meter readings.
Until now, consumers in Belfort had to read their own water meters and send the readings to the supplier by mail. This frequently led to transcription errors and outdated or incorrect data, which in turn resulted in long processing times. The costs caused by the inability to detect leaks were also unnecessarily high.
The municipal authorities commissioned Diehl Metering France to propose a suitable AMR solution for the greater Belfort area in order to gain a better understanding of residents’ needs, rule out tampering and simplify the billing process.
Grand Belfort chose a passive drive-by solution to achieve an efficient consumption management system: refuse collection vehicles for AMR
A pilot project was launched in 2014: during the three-month test phase, a refuse collection vehicle was fitted with an antenna and an RDC receiver, and 300 ALTAIR V4 water meters were fitted with IZAR radio modules. The system achieved a readout performance of almost 97%. The data analysed also allowed leaks to be detected more quickly. On the basis of these excellent results, the municipal authority decided to scale up the project in cooperation with Diehl Metering.
Currently, all of the 30,000 water meters in the district of Grand Belfort can be read twice a month by around twelve specially equipped vehicles driving past at speeds of up to 50 km/h. This data is used in conjunction with IZAR@NET software to provide consumption analyses and warnings, and to optimise the distribution network.
Traditional water meters can easily be upgraded at any time to enable walk-by or drive-by readings.
“We have been using the radio solution for a few years now, ever since we upgraded the meters that we had been using for over 15 years. Since 2016, the municipality has also been investing in preparations for future regeneration projects in the hope of speeding things up.”Antoine Burrier, Head of Drinking Water Supply and Waste Water Treatment in Grand Belfort
Smart meters and radio-based data transmission remove the need for direct access to meters and manual readings while also minimising labour and expenditure. The systems are also incredibly easy to install or retrofit, so these tasks can also be performed at short notice. Leaks, water losses and blocked meters are also quickly detected, as are unusual increases or reductions in consumption levels.
The system also makes consumption estimates a thing of the past as the data can be transmitted to the municipality’s billing system immediately. Furthermore, the actual billing process can now take place twice a year and is always based upon real consumption figures.
300 Altair water meters fitted with radio modules were read in drive-by mode by refuse collection vehicles (passive Drive-By).
Ten times as many meters throughout the wider Belfort area can now be read automatically in drive-by mode.
Billing is now based upon the consumer’s exact water consumption and is carried out twice a year.