I have served at 4 major water companies and the one thing they all had in common was missing the lost revenue they could have been collecting today, immediately. Slowly, over the course of my career, I found this out by myself.
When the meter classes (sizes) were looked at, the most common (in-house) meter testing for accuracy was the residential meters (the 5/8 x 3/4 size) and the least meters tested were the larger commercial meter sizes.
They are the most difficult to remove and test.
What did we find?
That 1 ½ and 2 inch meters, while never a large count in any system, were the largest money makers consistently.
To use actual numbers, 34% of total money received was from this size (this class of meters). Yet the number of these meters were only 8% of the total number of meters in service.
But in actually testing the meters themselves, just more than 10% of them weren’t even working.
18% were recording only 80% of the flows going through them and finally none of them were ever “fast”.
This amounted to a loss of income for this Water Supplier of over $600,000. Per year.
That amounted to a lot of needed items!
Imagine what a medium size Water supplier could do with $600,000.
Imagine what you could do with that amount suddenly available.
- Newer Trucks,
- better working meters,
- the cost of the overtime to change these larger meters out,
- and more! ( like a much better bonus if you are working for a “private” water supplier)
- a potential for a larger raise, if you are working for a municipality.
- Fantasy here, more staff…
We used it that first time to fund hiring a large number of summertime college engineering students to supply the strong backs and steady labor for that summer of meter change-outs.
Plus, we asked these students to help define the best method of changing out which meters that were in this class themselves so we could continue using the agreed methodology after the summer ended and they had left to go back to school.
Site # 2
Here, the meters were recently updated to AMR meters but the meters purchased and installed did not have the meter test ports added to the meters themselves so as they got older, the same issues began to show again. The lowest flows went undetected, the testing was very hit or miss and the revenue loss was, even larger. I won’t embarrass the company by going into lots of detail but an almost $80,000 a month revenue increase resulted as we tested and changed these meters out to the in-place test models.
To prove the point quickly, I used the Portable MARS meter test gauge ( no financial relationship here just telling the facts) and enjoyed the results. We were able to cover the majority of all the commercial meters on site quickly
This proved to the “Powers that be” the importance of the loss of revenue.
Even if some of them argued the validity of using the portable tester technique itself, the point had been made to cast a reasonable doubt on the potential loss revenue. That got us the funds to justify the of the cost of the change.
Site # 3
This one I couldn’t make up, it was so unreal. They had bid two years before, an outside contracted AMR update of all their meters. A “Turn Key” project.
Yet when I asked for a “excel” copy of the meters that had just been billed (because by now I was highly skeptical of the constant everyywhere loss of revenue through old untested 1 ½ and 2 inch water meters…
And found that while they had purchased and replaced all this size meters, and some how ( ???) they had never entered into the billing software and then never had noticed that they weren’t billing this size of meter.
This led to my hair turning white quickly.
Even skipped the normal graying process.
They decided to try to collect the missing non-billed money. Now immediately, with lot of aggressive statements
Correcting a major mistake with a major flawed knee jerk reaction.
What is a K Factor?
The axial design FLOWMETER is inherently linear within a known turndown range, typically 15:1, based on velocity of the measured fluid. The device has unmatched capability of precise and repeatable K-Factor generation based on the turning of the balanced rotor and the subsequently generated frequency pulse signal via the magnetic coil assembly, providing accuracy of +/-.15% with special calibration applied. Each pulse generated represents a discrete amount of volumetric throughput. Dividing the total number of pulses generated by the specific amount of liquid product that passed through the PTF determines the K-Factor.
Put in the simplest of terms, K-Factor is no more complicated than understanding that the meter will generate a specific number of pulses for every unit of product passing through it. If the user can detect the pulses, then it is a straightforward task to determine flow rate and totals. The K-Factor, expressed in pulses per unit volume, may be used to electronically provide an indication of volumetric throughput directly in engineering units.”
And even further:
“Although the concept of K-Factor is applied widely with other types of meters, it should be noted that this value is calculated from analog values in other meters where a magnetic coil assembly reading a turning rotor is not used. This calculation has built-in error factors based on a relatively imprecise primary input coupled with conversions from analog frequency and sometimes back to analog for transmission purposes.”
In summary ,
At each of these sites, once the size of the meter was larger than normal ( which was the typical residential size of meter used), the routine testing of the accuracy of these ( the typical beginning of commercial meter size’s)drifted…and the loss of the incoming ( and budgeted for) revenue got hurt. In other blogs and courses I talk about entering The Death Spiral but this is financial suicide for any water supply unit…
The solution? Almost every brand of Water meter sold does have (as a option) a test port built right in, allowing testing of these meters without removal out of the clients ( your customers) premises.
Yes, this is a small additional expense but the coming loss of revenue is guaranteed. Ask your present meter supplier.
The first test ,
ask for the printout or a data sheet on your computer of the 1 ½ and 2 inch meters billed.
Even better, ask for a printout or data sheet of all meters sorted by size that are larger than the typical residential size.
Without a doubt, and (I have tested this three times) once I found this challenge and found it every time.
No one was immune, it turned out.
What sad statement.
Oh yes, I started the story that I had discovered this at 4 sites,
Site # 3 created a multi- million dollar recovery by the end.
Site # 4?
Oh my goodness, 8 of their wells had two major meter problems.
One, the master meters had stopped, and were being estimated by using the hour meters and
Secondly, these meters were lying to the Reporting SCADA system.
Okay, maybe more politely said, electronically misreporting…
This occurred because each meter company has different “K factors” multipliers that have to be used to report their brand of readings. This “k factor” has to be altered in your SCADA system to reflect the real readings when you change meter brands down the road. They had switched to the lower cost Sensus meters from the original Neptune meters. Both are great metering companies, but they use different “K factors”.
So they could not match “pumped to billed” with any accuracy at all.
This is a subject worth a whole ‘nother topic by itself. But ask your own meter supplier to explain this specifically to you. This has not often been asked so not many have this kind of knowledge.
I hope this has served you,