That holds true for other parts of Neptune's systems as well. Just ask any ... has
proven a valuable asset to the Town of Midland, Ontario, especially in identifying.
now | Fall 12
Pumping Up the Technology The R900® Gateway v3 provides twice the coverage of prior versions | page 11
And Then There Were 2 Middletown, PA now collects every read with just two Gateways | page 6
Montgomery, Alabama Utility plans go further with R900® System
R900® System keeps delivering for GCWW
The High Value of Certainty Neptune’s Lead Free Bronze-Body Meters
A note from the President Getting more, and doing more, with what you have – as decades-old infrastructure has deteriorated, and financial constraints have tightened, this idea has become more of a movement, especially within the water utility industry. And not just a movement. As we’ll explore in this edition of NeptuneNOW, perhaps a better word would be migration. We’ll see how Neptune customers continue to experience how easy it is to build on a solid foundation. For instance, our Consultant’s Corner takes a look at the beginning of any Neptune system – our water meter – and shows how our unique lead free bronze-body meter has not only provided field-proven performance for more than ten years, but also meets recent and upcoming revised lead standards and regulations. As many industry manufacturers scramble to meet these requirements using untried alternative materials, Neptune customers don’t have to worry about scrapping the investments they’ve already made. That holds true for other parts of Neptune’s systems as well. Just ask any of our longtime customers – including some old friends we’ll visit in this issue. One of the first utilities to adopt our R900® mobile radio frequency technology was the Water Works and Sanitary Sewer Board in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s still going strong, having dramatically reduced man-hours needed to read meters, and now planning a move to fixed network AMI. The Greater Cincinnati Water Works also continues to benefit from its R900® System that, through 2012, is projected to have saved over $22.4 million since its implementation. The Borough of Middletown, Pennsylvania had already seen its annual revenue increase by $250,000 using full fixed network – and now captures all of its reads with just two R900® Gateway v3 data collectors. The R900 Gateway v3 also happens to be one of the products we’ll spotlight in these pages. This latest version of the Gateway can process eight readings simultaneously with its 50-channel receiver and provides twice the coverage of prior versions. We’ll also see how Neptune’s HP PROTECTUS® III S, HP Fire Service Turbine S, and SEER® analysis demonstrate the importance of large meters to a utility’s bottom line. In a related case study, we’ll discuss how the stainless steel PROTECTUS III S has provided the City of Pompano Beach, Florida a rust-free solution to its fire service flow measurement. Meanwhile, Neptune’s E-Coder®)R900i ™ absolute encoder/RF MIU has proven a valuable asset to the Town of Midland, Ontario, especially in identifying reverse flows. Probably the biggest advantage utilities realize through Neptune’s migratable R900 System is confidence – that their installed products are reliable, their data is accurate, and that the tools in place will serve them well for years to come. That confidence is in great supply in North Carolina, thanks to one of Neptune’s original Level One Distributors, HD Supply Waterworks, LTD. As seen in this edition of NeptuneNOW, wise use of resources often starts with choosing the right resources in the first place. To that end, you can count on Neptune’s continued commitment to being your most valued partner. Until our next issue, we hope you enjoy the reading.
Case Study | Montgomery, Alabama
Case Study | Midland, Ontario
Case Study | Middletown, Pennsylvania
Case Study | Pompano Beach, Florida
Case Study | Cincinnati, Ohio
Consultant’s Corner | The High Value of Certainty: Neptune’s Lead Free Bronze-Body Meters
Distributor Profile | HD Supply Waterworks, LTD - NC
Fall 12 Issue \ neptunetg.com
Neptune Technology Group Inc. 1600 Alabama Highway 229 Tallassee, AL 36078 USA Tel: (800) 633-8754 Fax: (334) 283-7293 Neptune Technology Group (Canada) Ltd. 7275 West Credit Avenue Mississauga, Ontario L5N 5M9 Canada Tel: (905) 858-4211 Fax: (905) 858-0428 Neptune Technology Group Inc. Ejército Nacional No. 418 Piso 12, Desp. 1201-1202 Col. Chapultepec Morales Delegación Miguel Hidalgo 11570 México, Distrito Federal Tel: (525) 55203 5294 / (525) 55203 5708 Fax: (525) 55203 6503
Product Spotlight | R900® Gateway v3
Charles C. DiLaura Vice President Marketing
Neptune’s R900® Migration Paths
Kent Murray Vice President sales
Don Deemer Vice President/General Manager, Canada
Dave Stoddart Senior Editor
Debra Causey, Marketing Services Manager
Product Spotlight | HP PROTECTUS® III S, 14 HP Fire Service Turbine S, and SEER® NeptuneNOW© is published two times a year in Spring and Fall by Neptune Technology Group Inc. (1600 Alabama Hwy. 229 • Tallassee, AL 36078-1799) to promote awareness of Neptune product and service innovations and issues facing the utility industry. For copies or subscriptions, contact Neptune Technology Group Inc. at 1-800-633-8754 ext. 7437, or visit www.neptunetg.com. All rights reserved. Reprints may be used only with prior approval and appropriate credit. Approval to reprint must be obtained from Neptune Technology Group Inc. or respective contributing authors.
If you have an interesting story that you would like to share with our readers, please contact Debra Causey at [email protected]
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Number of services: 82,029
Bi-monthly to monthly billing
Unaccounted-for water dropped by three percent More timely leak identification Read times reduced so dramatically that full-time meter reading staff cut from nine to four Re-reads and work orders reduced because of reading accuracy Planned migration to fixed network AMI
Montgomery Water Works and Sanitary Sewer Board, Montgomery, Alabama client
Building on a Pioneering Success – Utility Plans to Go Further with R900® System Fine-tuning Reading and
was able to cut the number of full-time staff needed to read meters
Billing Efficiencies through R900 Radio
from nine to four – who now only read meters part time. Re-reads
Marconi. Tesla. Sarnoff. Add one more name to the list of these
and work orders were also reduced because of the reading accuracy.
pioneers of radio technology: Morgan. In 1999, Buddy Morgan,
And by replacing so many meters that were 10 years or older,
General Manager of the Montgomery Water Works and Sanitary
unaccounted-for water usage (Non-Revenue Water) dropped by
Sewer Board, oversaw the field testing of Neptune’s new R900
pit radio frequency meter interface unit (RF MIU) for the capital city of Alabama. During this time, Morgan’s team also implemented a new customer information system (CIS). After seeing how the two technologies integrated seamlessly, in January 2001 the Board began a complete changeout of 82,029 water meters across the system – each with a ProRead™ absolute encoder and R900 MIU.
With Each Meter Read, Each Dollar Counts More Since 2004, when the Board was last profiled by Neptune, it has continued its successful mobile AMR program with R900 RF technology. In 2009, it upgraded its MIU population from the R900 v1 to the even more powerful R900 v3. In order to balance the generation and mailing of bills, collections, and cash flow,
The results exceeded the Board’s expectations, not only allowing
Montgomery intentionally reads only a portion of its meter
the move from bi-monthly to monthly billing and more timely leak
population daily – about 5,000 meters each day. The meter readers
identification but also reducing read times so dramatically that it
actually read meters about three to four hours per day and the rest
of the day they spend time on other service work. ”The ability to
Planning the Future by Seizing the Data
stagger the work load allows for the best use of personnel and
Morgan said that with everything in place, the Board will be ready
resources,” said Morgan.
to explore the value that more data will provide. He is particularly
Neptune’s value as a partner to Montgomery has only increased over the past decade. The highly-efficient R900® System the Board has in place has helped save money. “You have to be conscious of every dollar, every penny, to give your customers the best value for their dollar,” said Morgan. “It comes down to fiscal responsibility – running your system as a business. We’re very proud of the fact
interested in installing Neptune’s E-Coder® solid state absolute encoder, whose high resolution, 8-digit encoding makes leak, tamper, and reverse flow detection possible at measurements down to a tenth of a gallon. “We want to give people answers,” he said, “and to be able to point to the exact times when water went through the meter.”
that we don’t have to borrow money and that we’re one of only
He also pointed to the future use of Neptune’s R900® Gateway
two or three water utilities in the country with a triple-A bond
fixed network data collectors as a game changer for the Water
rating.” Through careful planning of projects, taking advantage of
Works and Sanitary Sewerage Board. “We’re not interested in
technologies, and keeping the entire team informed and involved,
data for data’s sake,” he said. “We want to know, ‘What value
the Board gets the most from its existing assets – including its
will the data provide?’ And with a 30-day breakdown of data
AMR system – and is able to keep offering water rates among the
[made possible through the Gateway], that means becoming more
lowest 10 percent in the nation.
customer service oriented.” Of course, the Gateways will integrate
Towards AMI – Taking Steps to Eliminate Drives Morgan and his team have already started the next phase of their meter reading and billing program. “We’re updating our billing
with the City’s WiFi network to deliver reads without the need to send out readers. “I’m looking forward to not dispatching a truck,” Morgan added.
systems and software to get them more in-sync with our AMR,”
As the Board readies for its migration within the R900 System,
he explained. “We want to be more proactive, to get more use
Morgan sees the difference Neptune has already made. “Neptune
from the data we get from the meter. We want the ability to detect
has done what they said they would do. They’ve listened to specific
leaks, to monitor pressure changes across the system, and to even
problems and provided specific solutions in their systems,” he
get time-of-use data. Our ultimate goal is to have total remote
said. “You can’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. You have to have
reads within the next three to four years.”
a unique vision before you move forward. We’re proud to say that
While the Board is implementing the infrastructure that will allow
Neptune shares our vision.”
data integration across all departments, from meter reading to billing to customer service, it’s also working with the City to shore up and expand access points to Montgomery’s WiFi network so that the Board’s meter reading program will benefit from a system-wide backhaul.
“You can’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. You have to have a unique vision before you move forward. We’re proud to say that Neptune shares our vision.” – Buddy Morgan, General Manager, Montgomery Water Works and Sanitary Sewer Board
Full fixed network AMI – 2,600 R900® RF MIUs and E-Coder® solid state absolute encoders 100% accurate meter readings Improved efficiency – annual labor reduced from 2,000 to 48 man-hours
10% reduction in Non-Revenue Water
$250,000 annual increase in revenue
4-year payback on the project
Proactive customer service – daily notification of customer leaks, reverse flow, and days of no flow
Borough of Middletown, Pennsylvania client
AMI Expansion – Utility Takes R900® System Further without Moving an Inch
industrial accounts – as well as nearly 1,700 people in neighboring communities. Initially, Klinepeter used ten collectors. With the introduction of the second version of the Gateway in 2009, the
Fast Forward to Full Fixed According to Utility Operations and Maintenance Supervisor Kenneth Klinepeter, October 2004 marked the beginning of the Borough of
The results transformed operations. Middletown reduced Non-
Middletown, Pennsylvania’s move from the “dark ages to the 21st
Revenue Water by almost 10 percent, reduced man-hours needed
Century” of meter reading. That’s when it said goodbye to antiquated
to read its system from nearly 2,000 a year to 48, and – most
visual walk-by reads and, working with Neptune distributor EAP
impressive – achieved a $250,000 increase in revenue from
Industries, Inc., began implementation of the Neptune R900 System
combined water and sewerage services. The entire project paid for
it had selected – including E-Coder solid state absolute
itself in just four years.
encoders, R900 radio frequency meter interface units (RF MIUs), ®
R900® Gateway fixed network data collectors, and N_SIGHT™ R900® host software.
number of collectors was reduced to just four.
And Then There Were Two – Half the Gateways, All the Reads In July 2012, two years after Neptune’s last case study profile of Middletown, the Borough again called on Sharon Del Signore and
By June 2005, the Borough’s Utility Operations and Maintenance
her team at EAP Industries to replace its four collectors with just
Department had a complete fixed network in place to serve a
two, installing the third version of the R900 Gateway data collectors
population of 9,254, with 2,592 residential, 86 commercial, and 27
in two of the same, more central locations.
And what has changed? “Not much,” said Klinepeter. “And that’s a
ranges on the calendar. “Now, say, when a business customer calls
good thing, as our system was working very well before. However,
and wants to know its water consumption for the month, we can
immediately after installing the Gateway v3, we saw we were
actually provide the data for the month – instead of the billing cycle
getting the same number of reads and same consistency with half
which starts in one month and ends in the next. It’s really nice for
the number of Gateways, and no drop-off in percentage.”
customer service.” The latest version of N_SIGHT R900 also gives
One collector stands atop a water tank at over 90 feet, but the other operates on the roof of the finance office building at just 30 feet above the ground – and still collects approximately 50 percent more readings than the prior version of the Gateway at that location. “The new Gateway v3 is doing a better job at a lower elevation than its predecessor,” Klinepeter said. In addition to the added range of each Gateway v3 and the ability to get more accurate data more often, Klinepeter is impressed with a new feature – the version 3’s UPS (uninterruptible power supply), which provides a backup power supply and preserves data in the event of a temporary power outage. “We had a big storm that hit the middle of town and power was out for two hours – but we didn’t lose anything. The UPS did its job.” Leaving the Gateways to do their work has led to a unique challenge. “We perform re-reads with the handheld so infrequently that, when we have sent someone out to check a read that looks abnormally high or a possible stopped meter, they’ve forgotten how to operate the handheld,” he laughed. “It’s a testament to how reliable the system has been.” N_SIGHT™ R900® – Smaller Changes for the Bigger Picture He is also pleased with the reliability and performance of N_SIGHT R900 host software. “Neptune has allowed us to see more data without changing the structure of the software,” Klinepeter said. “The system health is more detailed and, with its dashboard display, we can view the number of reads from each Gateway as
Middletown the ability to easily change a meter’s multiplier in the software to be able to show the consumption down to a tenth of a gallon, “for larger water service, if we wanted to go from a three-quarter-inch to a one-and-a-half-inch meter, for example. An operator could make the update in the software without having to call someone from the billing department to make a change in the billing system.” Sticking With What Works – Extremely Well Still, what Klinepeter likes most about Middletown’s R900 System is what hasn’t changed. The reading and billing efficiency. The allocation of fewer man-hours to meter reading. And the contributions to proactive customer service. “We continue to see leaks and notify customers before they have a chance to know about them,” he said. “Recently, we noticed high consumption for one account. When we went by the house, it turned out that the residents went on vacation leaving a garden hose running with water ponding in the backyard. We were able to just turn the water off.” Continuing to build on the same Neptune AMI system is also a huge plus, as the Borough still uses the same meters, encoders, and MIUs that it installed seven years ago. “Once you have what works really well, you don’t want to throw it out,” said Klinepeter. “And when we’ve had improvements, there have been no disruptions in our operations. We don’t have to totally relearn things when a new version comes out.”
well as the number of MIUs that might not be getting a read due
“Oh, and there’s another nice thing that hasn’t changed,” he added.
to a cut wire or other event. We can also catch a reverse flow or a
“The customer service we get from Neptune and EAP Industries
continuous leak without having to go looking for it or run a report to
is as good as ever. From putting in new equipment to helping with
see it. It’s really operator-friendly.”
reports and answering our questions, they’re very thorough, and
Another enhancement in N_SIGHT R900 host software that he is especially enthusiastic about is the ability to customize date
nice people. It’s not just a business relationship. They’re more like family members.”
Number of services: 241,000 237,805 small meters • 3,195 large meters •
Total projected savings through 2012: Over $22.4 million • $21.4 million in salaries and • Over $1million in non personnel overtime and equipment Projected increased revenue through 2012: $27 million from increased meter accuracy Reduced staff from 24 fulltime to to 4 part-time meter readers and another 37 other positions were eliminated/ reassigned in the Commercial Services Division Read success rate improved from 85% to over 99% Meter-related service calls were reduced by 50% R900 Gateways deliver daily readings for select meters
Greater Cincinnati Water Works, Cincinnati, Ohio client
Neptune’s R900® System Keeps Delivering for GCWW – By Mobile and More A Massive Move to Mobile and Accurate Reads As the 21st century dawned, the Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) was struggling to maintain an 85 percent meter reading success rate, sending out two dozen meter
Reading time cut from 90 days to 30 days
readers for three months at a time to manually read nearly a quarter of a million meters.
Time needed to verify completed water shutoffs and declare properties vacant after water shutoff cut by 75%
manage 30,000 customer house keys.
As tens of thousands of these reads were indoors in basements, the GCWW also had to
Then-Commercial Services Superintendent Connie Roesch (now retired) tapped Dave Bennett to head up a new project dubbed “H2O Radio”. In 2003, the GCWW partnered with Neptune Technology Group and installation contractor VSI Meter Services to change out every meter in the system, equipping the new meters with ProRead™ registers and R900® radio frequency meter interface units (RF MIUs). By October 2007, the massive installation of the mobile system was complete.
After implementation of its R900® System, Bennett’s team could
accurate readings that can prove that no water has run through a
now drive by meters, collecting the reads while eliminating
meter, a definitive date of water termination can be determined
access issues. This meant all reads were captured in 30 days
in a month or even less.
instead of 90, with far fewer personnel to read the meters.
“We can change the account status in the system to note the
With the increased efficiency provided by Neptune’s AMR, the
vacancy,” he said, “and we don’t have to revisit the meters.” The
GCWW eliminated 24 meter reading positions – but without any
GCWW has cut time wherein properties are determined vacant
layoffs. Now, just four employees work a four-day week to gather
and the water is found still off by three-quarters. “It may not
the 241,000 reads each month, using Neptune’s MRX920 mobile
sound like much, but it is. It’s a lot of savings in time and labor.”
data collector. And even on those days, the four only spend a few hours (typically less than half of the day) reading, using the rest of their shift for field service work or turning on water at accounts that were shut off due to delinquency.
Bennett said that the GCWW’s system-wide average reading percentage was 98.6 percent in July 2012. Impressive, but the percentage reached 99.5 percent when not counting the accounts whose water is off but no reading is obtained. These
Closure on Vacancies – Shutting Down Water
are accounts where the meter setting is inside and wires are cut
and Billing for Vacant Accounts
and/or meters have been removed without GCWW knowledge
The process of delinquent-bill water shutoffs has also gotten
much easier. In 2009, the GCWW purchased Neptune’s CE5320 handhelds while also implementing a mobile work order system, wherein each field tech is required to obtain a meter reading while completing the task detailed in the work order. The ability
Expanding Out through the Gateways Neptune’s migratable R900 RF technology has also helped the GCWW in its expanding efforts to provide water services
to obtain a meter reading on all work orders and especially delinquent work orders is very valuable to the organization. The field tech can simply enter the ID number of the R900 MIU and capture the RF reading. Bennett, now Supervisor of Water Customer Services, explained the importance of this technology in handling “off-date” accounts (vacant properties): “It used to take us six months from the time we turned the water off on-site to the time we could get a definitive date confirming that the property was vacant and then stop the sewer billing process.” Because of the historically longer reading cycle and the inability to be absolutely sure that water was turned off, Bennett’s team had to wait. Now, however, with timely,
“By adding the Gateway collectors to the existing mobile system, Cincinnati can read several large meters daily without the cost of rolling a truck to these outlying counties. This hybrid approach has proven to be a huge advantage in efficiencies for the City.” –
Scott Elwell, Senior Territory Manager, Neptune Technology Group
to utilities in other communities. Across neighboring Butler County to the north, the GCWW has outfitted seven bulk meters with high resolution, 8-digit E-Coder
solid state absolute encoders to measure the millions of gallons of water that pass through the meters each day. These readings are collected every night at midnight by two R900® Gateway fixed network data collectors, and sent out via automated emails with the data in spreadsheet-form. Plans are already in place to have R900 Gateway collection for daily meter readings from the communities of Lebanon and South Lebanon by the end of 2012. Scott Elwell, Senior Territory Manager for Neptune Technology Group, said, “By adding the Gateway collectors to the existing mobile system, Cincinnati can read several large meters daily without the cost of rolling a truck to these outlying
million in 2012
with reduced salary and equipment costs and realize an additional $3.2 million in increased revenue due to increased meter accuracy. The meter reading and field service operations have been streamlined into fewer, higher-skilled positions, which has contributed to higher productivity and less rework.
When the GCWW’s R900 System was first installed, the goal was for it to pay for itself by 2012. In fact, the system exceeded expectations and had achieved a payback ahead of schedule in June 2011. And the investment keeps generating revenue and savings. Cincinnati is projecting to save over $3.5 million in 2012 with reduced salary and equipment costs and realize an additional $3.2 million in increased revenue due to increased meter accuracy. The meter reading and field service operations have been streamlined into fewer, higher-skilled positions, which has contributed to higher productivity and less rework. With Neptune’s R900 RF technology, Bennett has been better able to take care of the needs of the GCWW’s more than one million customers. “Along with our bill adjustments,
proven to be a huge advantage in
meter-related service calls have
efficiencies for the City.”
been reduced by 50 percent,” he
and even the handhelds capture meter readings that are now utilized for water turn-offs – they’re all designed to reduce the time that personnel have to spend in the field.
A System that Pays Its Own Way
counties. This hybrid approach has
The Gateways, the mobile collectors,
Cincinnati is projecting to
said. And as a Neptune customer, Bennett himself is very satisfied five years after the changeout. “All the results we achieved then are still holding strong. Our original business case was realized.”
Neptune’s Fixed Network Data Collector Even Easier Migration
options are available with the Gateway v3 – an AC-powered UPS
Park your vehicles and let the
(Uninterruptible Power Supply) and a solar panel. The UPS not only
reads come to you. The new
provides AC power to the Gateway but also provides up to eight hours
R900 Gateway v3 fixed network
of battery backup in the event of a power outage so no readings are
data collector makes it even
lost. The solar option provides further installation flexibility where AC
easier for utilities to keep existing
power is not available. The solar backup battery can power the unit for
R900 radio frequency meter
up to three days.
interface units (RF MIU) in the field, eliminate truck rolls, and enjoy full fixed network advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) data collection. The Gateway v3 is designed with performance improvements, reliability, and ease-of-use in mind. The Gateway improves performance over prior-generation Gateways through its ability to process eight readings simultaneously and 360 readings per second with its 50-channel receiver. Receiver sensitivity and data throughput have been dramatically enhanced in the Gateway v3 collectors. Providing twice the coverage of prior versions, the
Meter data is transmitted from the Gateway to Neptune’s N_SIGHT™ R900® host software via a variety of backhaul options, depending on your preferences. The utility can immediately obtain the most recent reading, analyze meter reading statistics and customer usage patterns, and export meter readings to CIS/billing software to generate bills. As with prior versions, the Gateway v3 can detect leaks from the meter using indicators from the E-Coder register (flags) in combination with the R900 MIU. N_SIGHT R900 can use this data to provide consumption graphs and reports that show exactly when and where potential leak conditions are occurring.
collectors can now receive signals from up to 25,000 distinct R900s
Like prior generations, Gateways can be utilized to target areas with
per day. These Gateway performance improvements mean that fewer
high rates of move-ins/move outs, dense urban areas, and especially
Gateways are required for a utility to migrate to fixed network AMI. The
commercial and industrial (C&I) accounts whose meters typically
Gateway can be used in conjunction with handheld and mobile meter
account for 60 percent or more of a utility’s water revenues yet only
reading technology – with no expensive upgrades or reprogramming of
account for five to seven percent of the meter population.
Meter readings are uploaded through the existing interface to the billing
The Gateway v3 can be installed on building rooftops or walls, utility
software. This data flow eliminates the need for two file transfers
poles, water towers, and other elevated locations, and provides daily
(mobile and fixed network) with the utility’s CIS/billing software and
meter readings from R900-equipped water meters. Two power supply
allows for easy migration of N_SIGHT R900 users. With the Gateway v3, Neptune has gone even further to ensure that utilities don’t have to.
Neptune’s HP PROTECTUS® III S, HP Fire Service Turbine S, and SEER® Introduced to the market in September 2009, Neptune’s High Performance (HP) PROTECTUS® III S was the first stainless steel compound meter for fire service. As of fall 2012, it’s still the only stainless steel fire service compound meter. The Biggest Cash Registers of Them All – Large Meters Have Huge Impact on Water Utility Revenue Because large meters, particularly fire service meters, represent such a considerable investment for utilities, Neptune took the initiative to design a meter that would solve the problems experienced by fire service meters then in the field – corrosion due to UV rays, weather, and salt water (in coastal areas). Not only has this meter provided utility customers with superior durability and enhanced revenue due to its low-flow performance, but also the HP PROTECTUS III S offers them a 20-year warranty. It has also led to another innovation – Neptune’s HP Fire Service Turbine S meter, which will debut January 1, 2013 as the world’s first stainless steel fire service turbine meter. Built to handle the higher flows of applications such as manufacturing, water supply, and irrigation, the HP Fire Service Turbine S will offer a lifetime warranty on the bronze meter body and a 20-year warranty to the stainless steel strainer element. The success of Neptune’s stainless steel fire service meter reflects a growing recognition among utilities of the overall revenue large meters provide to their water systems. One reason for that recognition is another of Neptune’s tools, the Statistical Evaluation for the Enhancement of Revenue (SEER®) program. SEER analysis identifies those meters in a utility’s system which pose potential problems. Neptune shows utilities
redirecting resources to the residential side, Neptune has shown them how large meters bring in 40 to 60 percent of their total revenue. SEER proves the relationship between sudden drops in revenue and jumps in Non-Revenue Water. In fact, the results of a SEER analysis are very conservative. Typically, many utilities generate 10 to 25 percent more revenue than was calculated by SEER. One northeastern city that hadn’t tested its meters since 1942 learned from a SEER analysis that it would achieve payback for a system-wide changeout within six months. It actually wound up paying for itself within three months. A SEER analysis can lead to an investigation to determine why revenues do not match the meter application – whether a damaged or wrongly sized meter, theft of water service at the meter, a major change in application,
what revenue they are likely to gain through a meter changeout, as well
or badly estimated reads.
as the time it will likely take to see a
SEER offers utilities reports on each meter in the system as well as
payback of the initial investment of that changeout. Where some utilities once took large meters
charts and graphs to help prioritize the changeout by meter size, type, manufacturer, or age. SEER can be downloaded at neptunetg.com and is available in a mobile application as well. To reduce Non-Revenue Water, utilites should
for granted, to the
conduct a SEER analysis at least once a year.
point of neglecting
In summary, large meters are indeed a big deal to a
utility’s bottom line.
Midland, Ontario, Canada client
Switch to E-Coder®)R900i ™ and Shine the Light on Backflow Prevention Increasing demands on aging water infrastructure can increase
producing low or negative pressure events. These pressure
the potential for cross connections and backflow events. With
changes have been identified as an indication of a system’s
escalating concerns for public health and clean drinking water,
increased susceptibility to backflow events. Commercial and
there is a need for utilities to take a proactive approach to
industrial (C&I) properties, as well as multi-residential properties
provide safe drinking water.
of five or more units, have been recognized as locations where
Cross connections have long been considered a primary cause for contamination of the drinking water system. More recently,
there is a greater potential for backflow and contamination to the water supply.
there is evidence to suggest that intrusions of water and other
As utilities grow and test the limits of their infrastructure, cross
substances can also occur from leaks and aging piping. The
connection control programs need to be designed to safeguard
American Backflow Prevention Association states that events
the water system from contaminated water, foreign liquids, and
can produce abrupt changes in flow conditions, causing low
gases flowing backwards into the public water system.
or negative pressures for a brief period of time, therefore increasing the chance of backflow. Furthermore, events such as pumps turning off, sudden changes in demand – for example, hydrants opening and closing and changes in valve position – are all examples of situations that can alter the flow conditions,
Visibility is Critical Utilities looking to initiate or enhance their water management and cross connection programs are deploying Neptune’s E-Coder®)R900i ™ equipped water meter not only to capture consumption but also become the first indicator of a backflow
event. Traditional prevention programs are limited to the
E-Coder Becomes the Foundation of Backflow Prevention
installation of backflow preventers – but this may not be enough.
The Town of Midland, located in Ontario, Canada, is an excellent
For example, if a backflow preventer fails in the field, the water
example of a water utility that specifically selected Neptune’s
utility cannot see this risk. While backflow preventers are an
E-Coder)R900i to enhance its cross connection program while
excellent component of an overall prevention program, the
coinciding with its metering upgrade program. Neptune’s
E-Coder provides visibility of occurrences that could otherwise
E-Coder)R900i incorporates all of the existing features and
benefits of both Neptune’s R900® RF technology and E-Coder
register into one integrated unit. The E-Coder monitors flow
The E-Coder is a high resolution, solid state register that
down to one litre over 15-minute intervals, making it the most
monitors flow through the meter in 15-minute intervals. In
precise detector of these backflow events and resulting in actual,
normal operation, water flows forward through the meter. However, when water flows backward through the meter in any
true backflow detection.
given 15-minute period, this event is flagged by the E-Coder
Neptune’s E-Coder)R900i has been a valuable asset in the Town
and communicated back to the utility along with the meter
of Midland’s backflow prevention program. In a recent study a
total of 2,813 meters were read, of which 10, or 0.36 percent, of the metered accounts showed signs of a reverse flow occurring
The E-Coder’s abilities include:
– whether minor or major. Using Neptune’s N_SIGHT™ R900®
• Precision and accuracy in determining true
software, the Town is able to identify the specific location
and the magnitude of the backflow event. Once a reverse flow occurrence is identified, the Town then dispatches staff to
• Providing utilities with the confidence and tools to enhance
the account for investigation, which can include capturing a
any backflow prevention program
meter reading or performing data logging. Once the analysis
• Ability to monitor if the backflow device is actually
is complete, the Town can proceed with corrective and
Midland Utility 2 Utility 3 Utility 4 Utility 5
Utility and Number of Total Services
Total Backflow Events 10,000
450 750 11,400 2,813
10 Events or 0.88% 0.00% 39 Events or 0.34% 10 Events or 0.36%
0.00% 0.20% 0.40% 0.60% 0.80% 1.00% Rate of Occurrence
How Typical is Reverse Flow? The objective of implementing any cross connection program is to strive for zero number of backflow occurrences. While protective measures strive for zero occurrences, reverse flow can happen – but how often? Neptune analyzed a cross selection of water utilities of all sizes across Canada that also use E-Coder technology; and, interestingly, their findings are very similar to those found in the Town of Midland. The data suggests that the incidence rate is between zero and one percent of accounts in which reverse flow in the amount of one litre (about ¼ of a US gallon) was indicated. The graph on page 16 provides the findings from a cross-selection of various metered systems of varying sizes. It is the functionality of the E-Coder that provided these utilities with the visibility and essential information to know that a reverse flow event had occurred in the last 35 days. Without the E-Coder, these backflow occurrences may have gone undetected. Conclusion The E-Coder mitigates risk as it provides visibility that would not otherwise be known to water system operators. This risk appears to impact about one percent of accounts and the E-Coder can become the foundation of any utility’s cross connection program. Some communities install E-Coders at each end user and others simply install E-Coders in specific locations that have a history of being vulnerable to backflow events caused by main bursts, higher elevations, dead end mains, and varying pressure.
E-Coder® abilities n
Neptune’s advanced meter technology works to ensure the highest level of safe drinking water to help utilities ensure that their infrastructures are secure – not just today but for tomorrow’s demands and pressures as well.
References: AWWA Research Foundation 2001. “Design of Early Warning and Predictive Source – Water Monitoring Systems”, Prepared by Grayman, W.M.; Deininger, R.A.; and Males, R.M Denver, CO. Report #90878 Hughes, David M., “How Often Does Backflow Occur?” ABPA News (2010): 5-17. Print “Backflow Prevention Program.” TORONTO WATER: ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING & PROTECTION. June 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2012
Precision and accuracy in determining true backflow occurrences Providing utilities with the confidence and tools to enhance any backflow prevention program Ability to monitor if the backflow device is actually functioning properly
Pompano Beach, FL
Project Details Pompano Beach, Florida AMI System: Neptune R450™ two-way fixed network system Register: E-Coder® solid state absolute encoder Timetable 2009 – HP PROTECTUS® III S Meters have been in place for almost three years with no visible signs of corrosion 2012 – Product is the recommended standard for fire service meters Best life cycle value = Low cost of ownership + Enhanced revenue from improved meter accuracy Future Plans To eventually upgrade all fire service meters to the HP PROTECTUS III S
City of Pompano Beach, Florida client
Refusing to Get Rusty – City Finds HP PROTECTUS® III S Stands Up to Ocean Air City of Pompano Beach The City of Pompano Beach is a growing city of more than 101,000 residents. It is located in Broward County, along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean just north of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and centrally located along the famous Gold Coast. The City is named for the Pompano, a species of fish which swims abundantly in the area’s warm Atlantic waters. Pompano officially merged with the beach area to its east in 1947 to become the City of Pompano Beach. Today it is home to tourism, light manufacturing, retail, and high technology industries. Over three miles of white pristine beaches, combined with an abundance of some of the world’s most beautiful and challenging links just minutes away, make it easy to see why thousands of visitors flock to the area annually. Among the city’s other attractions is the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre, an open-air venue which has served as host site for numerous outdoor concerts. Also in town is the Goodyear Blimp Base, home of the famous airship and one of only four such bases in the world.
The City of Pompano Beach has over 22,000 metered water services
Utilities for the City of Pompano, said, “The new stainless steel
which include 3,000 reclaim and 1,675 commercial and industrial
HP PROTECTUS III fire service meter solves all of the rust concerns
(C&I) services. In the case of the latter, 80 percent of the C&I services
we experienced with previous fire service meter assemblies. We
are installed above ground.
now have a meter body that will last the meter’s lifetime.”
As with any city adjacent to an ocean, Pompano has to deal with
“Our fire service meters are located above ground in Florida. They
the salty and humid ocean air which causes metals to corrode at
get daily abuse from UV in addition to weather. We are excited about
least 10 times faster than air with a normal amount of humidity. This
Neptune’s new stainless steel version of the HP PROTECTUS III
is especially challenging for the maintenance of equipment, motor
fire service meter assembly. In addition to the superior low flow
vehicles, and C&I water meters.
performance, we now have a meter body that can deal with
In these areas, the ocean air has led to the normal tarnishing of exposed metal alloys. In these above-ground locations where epoxy
Mother Nature. No more rust concerns in our extreme application,” said Hermann.
coatings could get chipped, scratched, etc. to expose the underlying
Nearby water utilities across the state of Florida including Key West,
metal alloy, the results included instances of perforated rust,
Lee County, and Cape Coral have started to take advantage of the
requiring the repair or removal of these water meters from service.
HP PROTECTUS III S and have made it their standard for all types of
While a normal practice, it is at times a disconcerting one, because the expected life of the water meter was at least 20 years. It was clear a solution was needed. In September 2009, Neptune launched the industry’s first stainless steel fire service compound water meter – the HP PROTECTUS III S. With a new stainless ®
steel body that offers best-in-class warranty protection of 20 years, it provides the best solution to the coating and rust issues. Since the installation of the HP PROTECTUS III S meters, Pompano Beach has not experienced any perforated rustrelated issues; and the City continues to be impressed with the low flow performance
fire service metering installations. Even the
“The new stainless steel HP PROTECTUS III fire service meter solves all of the rust concerns we experienced with previous fire service meter assemblies. We now have a meter body that will last the meter’s lifetime.” – Bill Hermann, Superintendent of Utilities, City of Pompano Beach, Florida
new appearance of the meter has people saying, “That’s a good-looking meter.” All of these customers are also realizing the benefits of this meter with a lower cost of ownership, increased revenue, and unsurpassed starting low flow performance below 3⁄8 gpm that can only be achieved with a fire service compound meter. All are looking forward to changing out meters to the new HP PROTECTUS III S as opportunities arise. The City of Pompano, Key West, Lee County, Cape Coral, and the surrounding utilities appreciate Neptune’s commitment to be their most valued partner and remain the leader in utility metering applications.
guarantee. Bill Hermann, Superintendent of
The High Value of Certainty – Neptune’s Lead Free Bronze-Body Meters
Changing Standards for Lead
law it’s based upon. Whereas California’s AB1953 applied only
The times, they are a-changing. As January 4,
to products in distribution, the new federal law will apply to all
2014 quickly approaches – with the enactment
products from the reservoir to the tap. And while AB1953 applied to
of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as federal
products “not intended for use” in a potable water application, the
law – much of the water industry is scrambling to meet the
SDWA will apply to products “not anticipated for use” in a potable
new requirements. That’s when manufacturers and utilities nationwide
water application – which now may include hose bibs, garden hoses,
must abide by a new weighted average lead content, reduced from eight
irrigation heads, and fire hydrants, for instance. Possibly even water
percent to just 0.25 percent or less of a tested wetted surface area.
meters that measure flows not intended for potable water applications
Already (as of July 1, 2012) the standard for lead leaching, NSF/ANSI 61,
(e.g., irrigation meters).
Annex F, has become three times stricter. Instead of 15 micrograms per
In short, the SDWA’s scope is broader than any lead regulations enacted
liter, the total allowable concentration is now just 5 micrograms per liter.
before in the water industry.
These aren’t the only changes, either. As representatives from Neptune
It’s also not just governments that are keeping a closer eye on lead
Technology Group who attended the U.S. Environmental Protection
in water products. In its public meeting, the EPA emphasized that the
Agency’s “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act Public Meeting”
consumer is more aware than ever of the health effects of lead in
learned, the SDWA’s language differs in key ways from the California
Flawed Meter Alternatives –
Contrast this to bronze-body meters where there is an intrinsic scrap value
Sometimes It’s Best to Avoid the Rush
in the product. Local scrap dealers are more than willing to buy up the old
With the pressure on, many manufacturers of bronze-body meters have
meter bodies for recycling.
found these regulations and standards are not easy to meet, even though bronze-body meters remain the preferred industry standard. Most cannot control the amount of lead in the foundries where their meters are produced. Unable to ensure durable bronzebody meters that comply with the new requirements, many meter manufacturers are rushing to market with products made from other, less field-proven materials.
Neptune’s Lead Free Bronze – an Unchanging Standard for Metering Excellence In an atmosphere of uncertainty, having a tried-and-true option is worth its weight in bronze – lead free bronze that has met existing standards and requirements for years and already complies with the 2014 regulations today. Since the conversion of its own foundry to lead free operations in 2001, Neptune has produced approximately 20 million lead free bronze
Already, some of these alternative products are
alloy meters that have proven themselves in the field. For years, these
exhibiting design flaws. For instance, there are those
lead free meters have met NSF/ANSI 61, Annex F standards for lead
made from non-bronze alloys whose coating comes
performance; NSF/ANSI 61, Annex G standards (soon to become NSF 372)
off easily, leading to rust that shortens the life of the
for lead content; and the coming SDWA regulations.
meter. With some composite-body meters, utilities have discovered that plastic meter threads are especially vulnerable to cross-threading and stripping. Re-threading
For years, these lead free meters have met
NSF/ANSI 61, Annex F standards for lead performance;
devices are being offered by some vendors obviously
NSF/ANSI 61, Annex G standards (soon to become
due to a rash of crossthreading issues in the field. Other composite meters with over-molded metal threads have had those composite threaded ends crack and snap
NSF 372) for lead content; and the coming SDWA regulations.
off the spuds during installation. None of these alternate designs have stood the test of time like bronze-body meters.
In the case of Neptune’s meters, lead free also means worry-free. The
Some of these new, alternative meters – with register and battery all in
bronze alloy used to make the meters provides for a solid, durable, and
a self-contained package – are designed to be “throwaway” products
reliable product. The bronze threads won’t cross-thread or break off from
with limited warranties. Those warranties don’t cover cross-threading
the body. The meter won’t rust. No special measures have to be taken to
or thread-snapping, meaning meters suffering such events cannot be
ground it for electrical safety. Installation is quick and painless.
repaired and must be replaced, wasting time, labor, and money. No utility wants to throw away a brand new meter at installation, so particular attention must be given to following manufacturers’ instructions. All it takes is misaligned piping or an over-tightened coupling for the “straw” that breaks the alternative meter’s back. Some manufacturers of plastic meters claim that the meters are recyclable. The reality is that because these devices often have embedded metals, you can’t economically separate the plastic from the metal. Often, the cost to separate the materials is more than the scrap value of the plastic. To test this, a utility can simply ask the supplier to provide a scrap value for the meter.
There’s a reason that bronze-body meters have been the choice of water utilities for decades. Many reasons, in fact. The strength, durability, and reliability on which the industry has counted haven’t changed. The lead free performance that Neptune’s bronze-body meters have offered for more than a decade hasn’t changed. So why would a utility move to untried or unproven alternatives now? Utilities need not feel pressured to make a radical change from their preferred meter material just because many manufacturers are in a panic to comply with new standards and laws. Even with the new SDWA on the horizon, utilities can choose Neptune’s proven lead free bronze-body water meters.
Above Left: Danny Lee, Outside Sales/ Account Manager for HD Supply Waterworks in Morrisville, NC. Left (L to R): Chris Hall, Charles Gibson, Danny Lee, Ramsey Higgins, and Jay Schelin.
HD Supply Waterworks, LTD Morrisville, North Carolina What began as Davis Meter & Supply more than 70 years ago in Raleigh moved to Morrisville in the early 1990s, and after a series of acquisitions, became part of HD Supply Waterworks (“HD Supply”), with numerous locations in NC, including Morrisville and North Raleigh/Wake Forest.
Level One Means “First String”
There For the Long Haul – and Big Hauls
Danny Lee, Outside Sales/Account Manager for HD Supply Waterworks
Not surprisingly for a team that has worked so long together, HD Supply
in Morrisville, North Carolina, has served with the distributor for 23
Waterworks appreciates Neptune’s long-term approach. Speaking to
years. “And I’m still one of the new guys,” Lee said. “We’ve had the
Neptune’s commitment to system migration, Lee said, “You can take a
same core group for decades, including
meter they made in the 1980s and put it together with Neptune’s latest
the same warehouse person, Charles
AMR and AMI equipment and it will still work. Everything new that comes
Gibson, who taught me the difference
out, we can hook it up to an older product and still get it to work.“
between a flange and a mechanical joint back in 1989.”
Lee pointed to the move to AMR and AMI as a trend that keeps growing. “People who, just a few years ago, said ‘never’ to radio frequency
What began as Davis Meter & Supply
metering have changed their minds. Even the smaller utilities are seeing
more than 70 years ago in Raleigh moved
the benefits and reliability and want to do much more. It’s all happening
to Morrisville in the early 1990s, and
so fast, and the majority is getting on board.” Those utilities are also
after a series of acquisitions, became
recognizing the value in Neptune’s longevity. “Neptune takes a long-term
part of HD Supply Waterworks (“HD Supply”), with numerous locations in
approach,” Lee continued. “And our customers see the benefits, as high
North Carolina, including Morrisville and North Raleigh/Wake Forest.
Life Cycle Value gives the lowest cost over time.”
According to Lee, Neptune and the distributor have always been a good
Of course, that doesn’t mean that HD Supply Waterworks can’t provide
partnership and the company signed on as a Level One Distributor in 1997.
exceptional value in the short-term as well. Neptune Territory Manager
“Neptune has always put its customer first, which is a common thread
Mitch Elliott worked with Lee to provide a North Carolina municipality
shared with HD Supply Waterworks,” Lee added.
with SEER® (Statistical Evaluation for the Enhancement of Revenue)
Lee and other long-time team members – Inside Support CSR Ramsey Higgins, District Manager Larry Lee, Branch Manager Jay Schelin, Warehouse Manager Charles Gibson, and Lead Warehouseman Chris
analysis. That analysis showed that a particular meter should be switched for a 10-inch PROTECTUS® III meter. That one change on one account found an extra $1 million in revenue for the city in the first year alone.
Hall – share a common commitment with every other person in the
Elliott is glad to have HD Supply Waterworks as a partner. “They’re very
organization – to continue to provide each customer with the absolute
easy to work with,” he said. “They have the people in place and the
best customer services, solutions, and products.
knowledge to get the job done. Another key difference is their willingness
Customer Satisfaction Is My Job: NC
to stock a wealth of product inventory for quick turnarounds on orders.”
“It’s called CSIMJ,” Lee said. “Customer Satisfaction Is My Job, because
“We’ve worked hard to take good care of our customers,” said Lee. “And
there’s a difference between ‘service’ and ‘satisfaction’. We want our
they’ve come to expect a certain level of service. We never finish a call
customers’ call to us to be the easiest, solution-driven call they make all
without asking, ‘Is there anything else we can do for you today?’ We don’t
day. We have the people and the resources to handle everything from
want our customers to have to worry about anything other than what
installation to meter reading issues to software to billing systems.
they’ll eat for lunch today. If there’s an issue, we want them to call us. We
This depth of service and support has led to a broad and loyal customer
can handle it.”
base. “In the heart of North Carolina, you can’t shake a stick without
About HD Supply Waterworks
hitting a Neptune customer,” Lee said. “Cities are demanding a lot more
HD Supply Waterworks (www.waterworks.hdsupply.com) is the nation’s
information from their meters now, so we’ve become the go-to company.
largest distributor of water, sewer, storm, and fire protection products
At the moment, we’re working on a project in Durham with 90,000
and storm drain products to serve the needs of both contractors and
endpoints, with them citing our quality, dependability, and service for
municipalities in all aspects of the water, wastewater, storm, and fire
protection industries. HD Supply Waterworks operates more than 240
Neptune’s proactive leak, tamper, and reverse flow detection have already saved the city quite a bit of money. “We found that a concrete plant there had backflow, with water reversing through a six-inch line. In the
branches in the United States and is a line of business within the HD Supply (www.hdsupply.com) portfolio of companies – one of the largest diversified industrial distributors in North America.
process, we were also able to detect and stop people from running water backwards through the meter.” page