A Smart Water Meter for the Mass Market

“We saw that traditional mechanical meters were at the limit of development possibilities and as a technology-driven company wanted to take the market to the next level.” 
Jose Hernandez, Executive Vice President for Sensus Global Water and Heat.

Opportunity

Sensus is a leader in global water, gas and heat meter solutions with a long history of innovation, developing new products and sophisticated AMR (automated meter reading) and AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) systems, particularly for its core US market. 

 Sensus spotted an opportunity to develop something truly radical for the global water market

In 2006, Sensus spotted an opportunity to develop something truly radical for the global water market, when it chose Sterling, a solid-state water flow sensor developed by its established partner, Sentec, in Cambridge UK. From the outset, there was a good match between the strengths of Sterling and the product Sensus wanted to create.

Sterling couples electromagnetic flow measurement with innovations in its magnetics and electrodes, to give huge benefits:

  • unrivalled accuracy across a huge flow range
  • very low power consumption
  • durability and longevity

It was clear that a meter built around the Sterling sensor would deliver great performance and long life, as well as detailed reporting on meter status and unusual events. 

Over an intensive, two-year engineering project, Sensus and Sentec worked closely together to take the original raw technology and achieve Sensus' vision.

“The central challenge here was to balance the often competing needs of accuracy and robustness. The meters are built around highly accurate technology."

Dr Edward Colby, chief technical officer at Sentec  explains: “The central challenge here was to balance the often competing needs of accuracy and robustness. The meters are built around highly accurate technology. We had to ensure that that accuracy would last over the 20-year lifespan – during which the meters are installed underground – with no loss of performance.

We subjected the meters to the sorts of extreme stress testing employed in the automotive sector and also ran more water through them than would be expected to pass through in their 20 year lifetime. It was certainly a very rigorous testing process, but that is what gives us the confidence that the technology can do the job.”

Result

The outcome of this two-year collaboration is the iPERL, a water management solution launched for the US market at the American Waterworks Association conference to great interest and many orders. 

The iPERL offers a uniquely attractive combination of benefits, which include:

  • High accuracy at all flow rates, including very low flows, enabling utilities to collect otherwise lost revenue and spot leakage patterns
  • Information gathering and reporting on the application status as well as on the health of the meter
  • High-flow durability
  • No moving parts or wear 
  • Reliable and predictable accuracy throughout the life of the meter
  • Built-in intelligence - detection of tampering, leaks, empty pipes, reverse flow and battery status.

The initial reception for iPERL in the market has been excellent, with numerous North American utilities and distributors who are requesting to be “first in line” to receive the initial iPERL products as they flow off the production line.

Update

Sensus celebrated the milestone of 1 million iPERL smart water meters installed in the US in March 2013.

Sensus iPERL smart water meter
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