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Intelligent water supply with IoT

IoT technology can now be used for remote water metering and the measurement of storm-water overflow water levels and the hydrostatic pressure and water level of groundwater. It also enables the measurement of pressure and flow in the water system. The remote reading of water meters has already been implemented in Hamina. The municipal water provider, Haminan Vesi, was among the first to test the automated gathering of water consumption data with the use of meters connected to the LoRaWAN network. Onninen and Digita participate in the project to build a functioning system.

Case: Haminan Vesi – meter reading to invoicing via smart networks

The Internet of Things is a frequent topic of discussion, and has given rise to an increasing number of functional practical examples. One of these comes from water supply, where the IoT-based wireless LoRaWAN data transfer network transmits water meter readings to electronic invoicing systems.

Mona Miettinen, Sales Manager at Digita, sheds light on the technical terminology.

LoRaWAN is intended particularly for the transmission and reception of small amounts of data. It is an open standard that is supervised by LoRa Alliance and developed in cooperation with network operators (such as Digita) and equipment manufacturers (such as water meter suppliers). Its openness leads to genuine competition in the market, which in turn is reflected in the services and prices of end customers.

The LoRaWAN network built by Digita in Finland over the past few years is now at a good level of coverage. Digita is involved in dozens of pilot projects carried out by water companies, and the experiences gained to date have been encouraging.

The network and connection to the remotely readable water meter are functional even as the meter is located in a basement or other location difficult for data transfer.

A multitude of useful features

Ari Penttinen, Sales Manager at Onninen in Kotka has witnessed the increasing popularity of remote reading of various measurements first-hand. The energy sector has pioneered the technology with electricity metering, and water infrastructure is rapidly catching up. After the transition period in the meter market, water supply sector operators are now taking action.

There are now a variety of brands of available meters, and Onninen is actively involved in their introduction in practical applications.

Onninen and Penttinen were therefore ready as Haminan Vesi began plans for a pilot project of remote reading in the port area. A batch of 100 meters was ordered in early summer of 2018. In terms of water metering, remotely read meters are similar to currently used meters and display the reading locally in the device.

In addition to this, the meter is equipped with a fixed LoRaWAN radio and battery that allow for wireless connection and remote reading. Usually, the reading is transmitted once per day.

The selection of meters available on the market also includes ultrasonic meters with no mechanical moving parts. According to Penttinen, the increasing prevalence of remotely read meters does not affect the fact that meters should still be replaced every 7 to 10 years. In addition to remote reading, the new meters contain several other useful features.

The meter will notify if it has been disconnected or reads no consumption or abnormally high consumption, in other words acting as a guard against leaks.

Thanks to remote meters, errors in reading and typing readings are eliminated and the cost-effectiveness of operations improves as the process of reading and reporting meter values is automated.

Technology of the future

Digita is currently investing heavily in the development of an IoT network utilising LoRaWAN technology in Finland. Haminan Vesi is a pioneer in remote reading in water supply, which will also open up new business opportunities.

The water readings of remote meters can be transferred on the invoice and customer portal through highly advanced interfaces designed by service developers. The Oulu-based company Vesitieto is a partner to Haminan Vesi in the project.

Thanks to new technologies, housing companies are now able to bill residents by consumption as apartment-specific smart meters are being developed. Overall, Penttinen identifies a variety of applications for remote reading.

With various LoRaWAN devices, the measurement of water level height, pressure, air purity, temperature, humidity and other conditions are possible using the same technology.

A part of the text is published earlier at Haminan Vesi‘s publication.

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