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City of Coeur d’Alene Case Study

Combining the right metering technology with the right software drives accurate, dependable data

The City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, had been using a drive-by Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system to read all of its meters since 2010, but according to Rob Stark, utility supervisor for the City of Coeur d’Alene Water Department, it wasn’t realizing the full benefits with its existing system. The desire for increased savings, more accurate measurement and customer service improvements, supported by more sophisticated data analysis
and leak detection features, spurred the city’s quest for a new AMR partner.

After a thorough review of options, Coeur d’Alene selected a Badger Meter AMR solution because of its strong track record and advanced features, as well as the company’s stellar customer service. It includes Badger Meter Recordall® meters with Absolute Digital Encoder (ADE) registers, along with
ORION® CE radio frequency endpoints. Additional components of the new system include a Panasonic® Toughbook® laptop for meter reading, ORION® Trimble handheld computer and ReadCenter® Data software. After changing out about 30 percent of its endpoints, Coeur d’Alene is already seeing benefits of improved efficiency and customer service as well as increased revenue.

Pre-programmed meters make installation quick and easy

In 2011, Coeur d’Alene began installing the new system and within five months, it replaced 5,000 of its 17,500 endpoints. It plans to replace the remaining 12,500 endpoints over the next eight years as they reach the end of their respective expected product life spans. Stark says the process was much easier than the previous changeover.

“The installation was a breeze because we didn’t have to program the meters,” explains Stark. “They were preprogrammed to our specifications at the factory, which saved us time. Plus, we have had virtually no issues with the new system, and we have experienced a less than one percent failure
rate. We are thrilled to have a quality solution that performs better and helps us realize our efficiency, revenue and customer service goals.”

The new AMR system components work together seamlessly with Coeur d’Alene’s existing system, too. “The ReadCenter New AMR system improves efficiency, conservation, customer service, and revenue for Coeur d’Alene software integrates easily with the citywide enterprise software that the Water Department uses for billing,” says Stark.

True drive-by AMR solution provides cost and time savings, data accuracy and water loss reductions

Prior to implementing an AMR solution, reading the city’s 17,500 endpoints took two meter readers about 60 days, so meters were read only every other month. With the new AMR solution, it takes one person only three days to read the meters for the entire city. The enhanced data collection process provides timelier, detailed information, which makes it possible to bill monthly. In addition, the significant reduction in meter
reading time has helped the city to realize substantial cost savings. Because the city needs fewer meter readers, when two of the readers recently retired, there was no need to replace them.

“The Badger Meter system is truly a drive-by AMR system with continual broadcasting,” says Stark. “It’s much faster, and we don’t have to go out on as many service calls anymore. The number of customer complaints we receive has decreased significantly.”

Data profiling reports signal leaks and improve customer service

When a monthly reading cycle is completed, the reading data is compared to data from the same period during the previous year and the system flags accounts with unusually high use. This signals a potential leak, so city personnel can go out and check the meter to determine if there is a problem.  If a leak is suspected, they can advise the customer, so they can take appropriate action to make repairs.

The ability to provide more specific, accurate consumption data to customers results in better communications and fewer disputes
over billing. When questions do arise, the detailed information helps to appropriately inform customers of usage. In addition, the city’s customers appreciate the rapid notification of potential leaks to reduce real water loss and related costs.

Compound meters for commercial applications capture low flow and increase revenue

For commercial metering at hotels, schools and other public buildings, Coeur d’Alene is replacing its existing meters
with Recordall® Compound Series Meters to better capture low flow and reduce apparent water loss. Ideal for facilities that
experience rapid and wide fluctuations in water demand, the meters combine two technologies within one innovative
package. A positive displacement chamber measures low flow, while a turbine chamber records high flow.

Stark says Coeur d’Alene is realizing increased revenue using the Compound Series Meters from Badger Meter because the new meters
are more accurate than their predecessors. So far, the city has installed 20 of the Compound Series Meters, and it plans to install ten
more by the end of this year. Preliminary metrics show on average these new meters are capturing a 25 percent increase in
consumption, with one location experiencing an increase of more than 155 percent.

New system delivers efficiency and effectiveness

By pairing the right metering technology with the right software, the city of Coeur d’Alene is optimizing its AMR system for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. “Overall, we’re seeing increased revenue, reduced water loss, improved reliability, better efficiency, and cost savings with the
new system,” concludes Stark. “We have received fantastic customer support from Badger Meter personnel, and we appreciate the company’s willingness to work with us to find solutions to our existing challenges.

Solution

Badger Meter Recordall meters
with Absolute Digital Encoder
(ADE) registers, along with
ORION CE radio frequency
endpoints

  • Installed 5,000 endpoints and plans to replace the remaining 12,500 endpoints over the next eight years
  • System includes a Panasonic Toughbook laptop for reading, ORION Trimble handheld computer and ReadCenter Data software

Results

  • Increased accuracy and revenue
    - New compound meters  measuring 25 percent increase  in consumption
  • Efficiency and cost savings
    - Cut meter reading time from 60 days (two readers) to 3 days (one reader)
    - Reduced staff size (two  positions) through attrition
  • Reduced water loss
    - Data profiling leads to faster  leak detection and decreased water loss
  • Improved Customer Service
    - More detailed consumption  information enables better  customer communication and fewer billing disputes