Connecting Waterpeople

Managing the cash register: Capturing lost revenue from large meters

  • Managing the cash register: Capturing lost revenue from large meters

About the blog

Dave Mackie
Dave Mackie is the founder of Olea Edge Analytics, an AI/ML cloud-based platform for the management of commercial water delivery. Olea empowers utilities to optimize water delivery, billing and conservation so cities can generate more revenue.
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The city of Irving, Texas, is home to about a quarter of a million people, tucked between Dallas and Fort Worth alongside DFW International Airport. The convenient location has led some of the world’s largest corporations, such as Exxon Mobil, Kimberly-Clark and the North American arm of Nokia, to establish their headquarters there.

Hosting so many businesses means that the daytime population of Irving increases considerably. And for the city’s Water Utilities Department, that presents an interesting opportunity. The commercial water meters that serve big businesses, along with hotels, schools, hospitals and other large industrial buildings, account for an outsized portion of the city’s water revenue. Although large meters make up just 1% of the total meters in the system, they bring in around 30% of the revenue. Making sure these meters are working properly and giving accurate measurements — especially as more people return to the office and usage goes up — can make a huge difference in the city’s budget.

The Irving Water Utilities Department partnered with Olea Edge Analytics for a pilot program designed to find a better way of managing their large meters. The 680 commercial and industrial meters in the city presented a wide variety of makes, models and ages.

Starting with an initial batch of 50 meters, Olea applied an advanced asset management tool that could continuously monitor water flow and diagnose potential problems. Olea’s solution includes an edge computer that's mounted on the wall of the meter vault, along with a trio of sensors. AI and machine-learning algorithms process data at the edge, then send it to Olea for analysis.

The water department has access to reports generated from data and can access it via a web-based dashboard, which includes detailed meter reports, reference documentation, and manufacturing specs for all the meters.

During the pilot, Olea quickly uncovered performance issues with 35 out of the 50 meters in the initial study, enabling the City to forego time-consuming, water-wasting industry practices like flow testing. Olea technology also identified the cause of meter issues, enabling Irving to resolve issues more quickly and efficiently.

“Olea’s technology has already made a significant impact for the City of Irving,” said Ashley Waits, a Utilities Engineering Manager for the City of Irving. “Our field crews were particularly impressed because they were able to identify problem meters quicker than our traditional testing schedule would.”

As a result of the Olea pilot, the City of Irving was able to reduce water loss and ensure its largest customers were billed accurately. Since its initial launch, the program has expanded to 150 large meters throughout the city.

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