In recent years, there has been a significant improvement in water industry efficiency thanks to the development and implementation of new technologies. This trend has led to qualitative changes in utility processes.
Progressive innovation in conventional water meters has been one of the key technological upgrades over the last few years, and this is improving billing processes and optimizing network efficiency.
Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is a water consumption metering system that goes one step further, as it incorporates the modern capabilities of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and Big Data platforms.
In this interview, Pepe Chambó, a Sales Specialist at Idrica, analyzes the benefits of AMI and the perception of the Return On Investment (ROI) obtained from it.
How is ROI traditionally defined?
ROI (Return On Investment) is a widely used indicator that measures the return we have obtained or are planning to obtain from an investment. However, this KPI only considers economic variables, excluding intangible benefits from the formula.
Do water utilities misunderstand ROI in AMI?
Today, many utilities still only consider economic factors in their AMI investments and they leave aside intangible variables. Therefore, when we talk about ROI in AMI we must go a step further and include benefits such as improved hydraulic efficiency, demand forecasting, customer satisfaction and OPEX optimization.
How can we include all these additional variables in the ROI obtained from Smart Metering?
If we want to factor both tangible and intangible variables into the ROI equation, we must be able to measure and quantify them. This requires a software solution that provides us with a holistic view of operational reality, which brings together the main KPIs on a single screen.
Digital transformation of processes can be achieved by implementing the GoAigua platform, which connects the different verticals thanks to its data-centric architecture. Moreover, it objectively measures and quantifies the value we are adding to the different stages of the water cycle.
Do Smart Metering technologies encourage more responsible use of water?
Our own experience has proved that AMI implementation leads clients and utilities to use water more responsibly. Thanks to Smart Metering, we can measure hydraulic balances on an hourly basis and consequently improve the system’s efficiency, as leaks are detected quickly.
In your opinion, what are the challenges facing utilities in terms of AMI?
There are currently many metering alternatives on the market, both in terms of communication (NarrowBand, LoRa, Sigfox, 5g, etc.) and manufacturers, so deciding which technology to use in each situation is a complex task. In addition, there are cases in which, after making a large investment in AMI deployment, utilities only use the data obtained for billing purposes instead of harnessing the full potential of smart meters.
Our agnostic solution, GoAigua, adapts to each AMI deployment enabling the utility to maintain its power of negotiation and to use different communication protocols and meter manufacturers.
Could you give us an example of an AMI implementation case study?
The Gandia project is a clear example of the successful digital transformation of a city thanks to the implementation of an advanced metering infrastructure. Nearly 40,000 meters equipped with IoT communication were deployed and our GoAigua solution was implemented. Consequently, we were able to measure the ROI of tangible and intangible variables.
The project’s main milestones were as follows:
- 20% reduction in non-revenue water (NRW) in the distribution network
- 26,500 m³/year saved thanks to customer leak notifications
- +200 leaks reported to customers
- 15% reduction in energy consumption
- 60% reduction in customer complaints
- 10 times more registrations in the virtual office
In conclusion, technologies such as GoAigua have a key role to play in making the most of Smart Metering and enabling accurate ROI measurement. GoAigua completes the digital transformation of water utilities around the world, transforming them into smarter, more proactive and more resilient organizations.
If you would like to read more about the benefits of AMI investment and learn about the large-scale deployment project undertaken by the Spanish utility Global Omnium, download the paper “To AMI, or not to AMI”. Discover the lessons learned and read up on the key facts and figures from the project, which made the utility one of the first to fully convert to an AMI in Europe.