A cost-effective way for facilities managers and energy managers to upgrade to ‘smart’ water metering

Picture of Margaret Gott

Margaret Gott

Facilities managers and energy managers, both of which normally have responsibility for water consumption, are having their budgets squeezed. And the recent spike in energy prices has exacerbated the situation. Although the cost of water has not risen in the same way as gas and electricity, considerable savings can be made by better managing water consumption.

Assets and utilities are sometimes managed using spreadsheets, though specialised software is becoming more common today. A key advantage of using software is that some management processes can be automated. However, water metering often proves difficult to integrate satisfactorily in software tools and automated processes due to the prevalence of traditional ‘dumb’ meters. Deer Technology’s patented LimpetReader not only makes integration straightforward, but it also offers a number of additional benefits for facilities managers and energy managers.

The LimpetReader is battery-powered, withstands long-term submersion in water or mud and can be retrofitted to most types of water meter to provide ‘smart’ functionality. It is bonded to the meter’s faceplate, though the meter’s register remains visible in case a visual read is necessary. Nevertheless, there should be no need to take confirmatory readings because the system is immune from drift and the automated readings are treated as visual readings. Installing a LimpetReader only takes around 15 minutes and there is no need to interrupt the water supply.

Each LimpetReader incorporates opto-electronics and is connected to an AutoReader equipped with 2G/4G/5G (NB-IoT / CAT-M1), or Wi-Fi communication technology. Time- and date-stamped images of the meter’s register are uploaded to secure servers at set time intervals, whereupon software converts the register images to numerical values. The consumption data can then be accessed in a variety of ways, which can make it easy for importing into facilities management or other software packages.

As a result, data visibility is improved significantly, enabling facilities manages and energy managers to have a clearer picture of water consumption. There is an old adage that says you cannot manage what you cannot measure and, with LimpetReaders providing near-real-time data, water consumption can now be managed properly for the first time.

Most importantly, water bills can be compared with figures for the actual consumption and, if necessary, bills can be disputed and corrected. In addition, when measures are implemented to reduce water consumption, the impact can be seen and quantified immediately.

Any reduction in water consumption results in a direct monetary saving but there are other benefits as well. For example, some water meters are difficult to access and therefore never read. But a meter only needs to be accessed once for installing a LimpetReader, after which its location is immaterial.

Another benefit relates to environmental considerations. Many businesses today are concerned about their ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) performance, or they simply want to improve their carbon footprint. High-quality data from LimpetReaders can be used to demonstrate how a firm’s environmental performance is improving, as every litre of water saved reduces the carbon footprint. And remember that the carbon footprint for a litre of hot water is around ten times that of mains water.

Monitoring water consumption provides visibility of incremental improvements when changes are made, yet even bigger gains can be made if a leak is identified and fixed in a timely manner. With data generated at regular time intervals, it is easy to spot deviations from consumption patterns. If software is being used, it may be possible for such deviations to trigger alarms automatically, so leak investigations can be initiated. If a leak is identified and fixed early, it can minimise the amount of water wasted and also avoid the need for costly repairs in the event of the premises or equipment therein sustaining water damage. And the avoidance of wasted management time will be much appreciated by those with ever-tighter budgets.

As can be seen, the potential savings available from monitoring water consumption are significant. So much so, that they can quickly outweigh the cost of retrofitting LimpetReaders.

The concept of ‘smart’ metering in the water industry is not new. However, other systems suffer from drift and therefore periodic visual confirmatory readings are still required. Furthermore, these systems may require the meter to be replaced, which is costly and disruptive because it entails disconnecting the water supply. In contrast, the LimpetReader avoids all of these drawbacks.

Deer Technology’s comprehensive service covers everything from installation through to data management. For more information about Deer Technology’s LimpetReader for converting analogue water meters to smart meters, go to www.deertechnology.com telephone 01639 363146 or email hello@deertechnology.com.