10,000 mechanical meters were exchanged for connected digital meters in the pilot, allowing for remote collection of meter readings as well as detailed consumption patterns that customers can view.
Trialling digital water meters
We have been exploring ways to achieve some of our key Customer Outcomes through the use of new digital metering technologies. After initial technology trials of emerging metering solutions showed great promise, we proposed a ‘Pilot’ phase within our funding submission to the government regulator, the Essential Services Commission, that would help determine if the use of digital meters could achieve the customer value we envisaged. We undertook this phase collaboratively with our metropolitan water peers.
The purpose of the pilot was to confirm that a sustainable end-to-end system could be built, and that our key assumptions around customer value and network efficiency could be further refined.
Criteria for the digital capability pilot
We had six clear objectives and outcomes that we wished to achieve and report back on at the end of the phase.
|Establish end-to-end capability.||
All solution components including meters, communications, IT platforms and communication carrier vendors have been successfully integrated.
|Prove integrated meter capability.||Development and production of meters and meter functionality will be tested against specifications ensuring they are compliant and perform as specified.|
|Prove reliable low-powered wide area network communications.||Testing communication vendors’ compliance against South East Water communications carrier specifications and successful testing of performance in nominal coverage areas.|
|Refine inputs (costs, benefits and opportunities) into the business case.||Further business efficiencies are identified resulting in a positive net present value for the business case, and lower costs for customers over time.|
|Develop laboratory and field testing requirements.||Level of laboratory and field testing is known by service providers and specified for business case.|
|Develop processes and protocols to reduce risk.||Risk mitigation relating to information security, technology integration, commercial integration and performance of the target solution has been achieved in the pilot and is scalable for a much broader installation.|
We were able to demonstrate that the end-to-end solution for the remote collection of data from the new digital meters was reliable, efficient and able to immediately show customer benefits. The meters were found to be extremely reliable, secure and able to work even in the most difficult locations.
The two immediate customer benefits arising from the pilot were:
- The ability for our customers to access their granular consumption data through the mySouthEastWater online portal. This allows our customers to understand when they were using water and how much they were using, with the aim to better manage usage and reduce bills.
- The near real-time notification to customers when our customers had leaks on their properties. With mechanical meters, the only indication of a hidden leak is usually when a bill arrived, causing the classic ‘bill-shock’ experience. Digital meters allow leaks to quickly be relayed to the customer so that they can be rectified.
Below is an example of an underground leak at a customer’s premise that would have gone undetected (and resulted in a very large water bill). This was able to be notified to the customer and fixed before further costs and damage could occur.
We notified this customer that we had detected a leak at 12:30pm on 8 July 2020. This customer immediately notified the builder of their property under construction, and the builder fixed the leak at 2.00pm on 8 July 2020.
The leak revealed underneath this customers home.
There were also great benefits on the South East Water network side. Using digital meter data, we can start to see where our network is losing water and find leaks before they become bursts and impact customers. This has huge potential benefits for the way we manage our assets and how we can sustainability manage our water in the future, and it’s something we will continue to explore.
With the success criteria of the digital metering pilot met, we plan to continue to build on this program by ensuring that the system can be reliably scaled, made resilient and allow many more customers to receive the benefits of digital meters.
We’re proud to be supporting our customers with reliable services and stable pricing as we deliver against the areas you told us you value the most.
- Get the basics right, always
- Make my experience better
- Warn me, inform me
- Fair and affordable for all
- Support my community, protect my environment