Neptune Heads to the Sky: Water Metering Applications Connect via Senet LoRaWAN

By Cynthia S. Artin September 15, 2017

Neptune Technology Group has been deploying automated solutions for reading and billing water meters for years, offering utility companies three ways to improve their ability to gather data.

One option is the “walk by” – enabling field technicians to walk routes more quickly, with a collection device using radio frequency (RF) technology to collect data transmitted to a device more accurately and efficiently, while also finding leaks, “backflow” and “no-flow” conditions from meters. The data is sent into the operating and billing systems of water providers in batches every 15 minutes.

A second technology option is for a “drive by” approach, making it possible for field technicians to capture data from a moving vehicle, using a spread-spectrum, frequency-hopping RF technology, making readings faster and more accurate; the company claims a 100 percent reading accuracy, with success rates above 99 percent, and includes highly sensitive software able to find leaks, alert tampering with the system and detecting reverse flow. The “drive by” upgrade is backwards compatible to “walk by” systems, making it possible for communities and other water utility companies to invest in automation in stages.

Their third option is for a fixed network, the company’s most comprehensive utility management system with fully automated daily meter reading, no truck roll required. As is the case with the more basic offerings, ensuring revenue is flowing – not just water – is a fundamental reason why thousands of water providers have adopted Neptune’s platform, which includes near-real-time reporting.

Improved visibility makes customer service better, as customers have access to individual data about their water usage, and as the planet continues to be challenged with water availability, droughts, hurricanes, floods and the impacts of climate change, reliable data can help communities and water companies manage water consumption and conservation including in times of crisis.

Earlier today, Neptune announced it has partnered with Senet, the largest LoRaWAN Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) provider in North America and one of the largest in the world; together they are rolling out a “highly scalable network of wireless IoT sensors for water metering applications designed to boost utility provider efficiencies,” according to their announcement.

Senet, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, relies fully on software for its network creation and management platform, which leverages LoRaWAN for Industrial IoT deployments where there is a need for highly reliable connectivity that doesn’t drive down battery life at the edge of the network (sensors and other end-points). Senet has been rolling out Points-of-Presence aggressively over the last year, basing their business case for investment in their networks on customer needs by market.

Based in Tallassee, Alabama, Neptune is a pioneer in the development of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technologies, with an installed base of more than 30 million water meters deployed on behalf of 2,500 utilities, with 100 percent U.S.-based R&D, engineering, design, factory operations, testing and service teams who work collaboratively with their customers.  

Lower Power, Longer Range, Less Expensive
While Neptune’s partnership with Senet won’t change their business model, according to the two companies, it will reduce the cost to provide the IIoT solution. Neptune is rolling out a new LoRa®-enabled L900 series of water endpoints with capabilities, including meter reading, remote command and control capabilities, and applications that demand low power consumption and long-range connectivity. 

The companies said in their announcement that this new solution is lowering total cost of ownership for water utilities, removing the burden of the utility having to deploy and maintain the network infrastructure themselves. With advanced connectivity at a lower cost, more and more utilities will be able to upgrade their existing systems, also reducing the cost of operations as more and more reading of meters becomes automated.

“Together with Senet, we are providing an innovative solution that facilitates advanced metering infrastructure for water utilities, removing the burden of having to deploy and maintain the network infrastructure themselves,” said Chuck Brunson, Neptune’s Director of Marketing. “By implementing Neptune’s L900 system under a Senet-managed LoRaWAN network, cities and water utilities can implement Neptune’s value-added measurement, software and communication technologies – supporting their journey as Smart Cities.”

Bruce Chatterley, Senet’s CEO, said “The solution we have innovated with Neptune is a perfect example of where LoRaWAN networks make the most sense. Together, our engineering and design teams have created an approach that will further the efforts of communities and utilities to provide water, to manage environmental conditions and to ensure sustainability from an economic perspective. This is meaningful work, and it is truly an honor to have been chosen to work with the visionary leadership at Neptune.” 

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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Contributing Writer

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