How radio-read meters improve operations

Prescott, WI

When Hank Zwart took over as director of public works in 2014, the city was in the initial phases of installing a walk-by system that was eight-year-old technology. Knowing this older metering technology is not the best way forward, Zwart and the City of Prescott decided to implement the latest AMR technology that supports future migration to AMI. To meet this goal, City of Prescott chose Kamstrup’s READy AMR system.

Simple-to-operation meter reading system

Learning a new AMR system, even for the experienced water professional, can sound like a daunting task, as technology is rapidly changing. However, as Hank Zwart describes his first training session with his long-time lead foreman, it proves that choosing Kamstrup’s user-friendly meter reading system makes all the difference. 

“I just set up my lead foreman in his truck to read meters city-wide for the first time. We were in the parking lot at City Hall and after a short training and review session, we hit “START” [on the READy smartphone app]. I knew what was going to happen so I was able to watch Tom’s face for his reaction. First, it was shock from all of the noise emanating from his phone for the 32 reads collected in less than five seconds. Then, this 60+ year old Master Plumber who has worked for Prescott Utilities for over 20 years turned into a smiling, laughing and giggling five-year-old. PRICELESS!”

The intelligence of Kamstrup’s flowIQ® water meter has made life a lot easier for Zwart and his team at City of Prescott. With Kamstrup’s AMR system, Prescott reads their new flowIQ® water meters with a smartphone, which is “very convenient,” says Zwart. flowIQ® meters also register data more effectively, which was a critical need for Prescott after learning lessons from a record-cold winter in 2013-2014, in which insufficient data collection made it nearly impossible to adjust customers’ bills after being instructed to leave their water running.

Smart meters that store the data internally avoid this problem; inside every Kamstrup smart water meter is a small computer chip that stores daily consumption for 460 rolling days, and includes ambient and water temperatures, leak, burst, dry, and tamper alarm codes.

The strength of the built-in radio of flowIQ® means that even with basement installations (which are known to reduce the strength of radio signals) the city did not have to use any external antennae. This is a significant cost savings, as most other meters would require an external antenna for every meter, which would add costs to the meter reading system.

“We are all smiles in Prescott. Even though most of our meters in basements, we did not use a single extended antenna. A 100% read rate for our billing cycle at the end of August is what we were expecting, and your product delivered. The 2 hours and 40 minutes it took to read every water meter in the city compared to the 40+ hours it used to take (not including re-reads) is incredible. Any issues that have come up have been extremely easy to research and correct using the very comprehensive and user-friendly tools in READy Manager.”

– Hank Zwart, Director of Public Works

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