Potable Water Billing
Hermiston Solves Labor, Financial Challenges With Badger Meter Cellular Solution
Case Study / 5 min read
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Potable Water Billing
Case Study / 5 min read
Since 2004, Hermiston’s water department had worked with Badger Meter to provide meter reading solutions. Initially, the city tapped Badger Meter to implement its Automated Meter Reading system using the company’s ORION® endpoints. The city’s water system incorporated 65% manually read meters and 35% radio read meters and was operating successfully over the subsequent decade. So, when city officials determined they needed a new solution, they looked again to Badger Meter.
“Over several months, our team discussed the realities of traditional fixed network versus cellular network options with the water department team at Hermiston and addressed some of the myths surrounding cellular network solutions,” said Michele Harvey, solution architect at Badger Meter. “We showed the Hermiston team that there are more costs to consider when maintaining a fixed network solution—labor being a significant portion of that.”
“With a traditional fixed network, we would have needed one individual to maintain the network. That, and the additional equipment and capital expense to deploy and maintain gateways, is eliminated with a cellular solution. The dollars spoke,” said Roy Bicknell, water superintendent for the City of Hermiston.
As a result, the City of Hermiston moved forward with the Badger Meter BEACON® Software as a Service (SaaS) managed solution with ORION Cellular LTE endpoints and the EyeOnWater® consumer engagement tool that includes smartphone and tablet apps.
After selecting a solution from Badger Meter in spring 2017, Bicknell and his team put out a competitive bid for an installation provider and ultimately selected National Meter & Automation, a Badger Meter distributor and installation provider.
National Meter worked with Hermiston from July to November 2017 to install BEACON SaaS and upgrade all services with ORION Cellular LTE endpoints, as well as replace 5,176 of the city’s older meters with Recordall® Positive Displacement meters and ModMAG® Electromagnetic flow meters from Badger Meter.
“The installation went pretty seamlessly. We had full buy-in from the city and National Meter. Badger Meter provided attentive, hands-on support throughout the process and quickly resolved any issues,” added Bicknell.
As a result of the new technology, Hermiston is now utilizing a simple, yet powerful, smart water end-to-end solution from Badger Meter. The ORION Cellular LTE endpoints use the secure, existing cellular network infrastructure to communicate water meter data with BEACON SaaS. With its cloud-based software suite, BEACON SaaS provides the water department with current data for optimal water management, water conservation clarity and revenue management. And Hermiston’s water customers can use the EyeOnWater application to easily view and understand their individual water consumption.
Following the installation of the new meter reading solution, Hermiston saw positive improvements in leak detection and read accuracies, resulting in more accurate billing.
“As soon as we geared up BEACON SaaS and the ORION Cellular endpoints, we identified and were able to address multiple leaks, which we’re continuing to do proactively for our customers. We are reading more accurately all year long, too. In the past, for instance, we had to estimate reads for three months during the winter. Now, we are reading our system every day of every month,” said Bicknell. “But, most importantly, BEACON SaaS freed up one of our meter readers to work on other infrastructure projects across our water system.”
The former meter reader is now addressing critical projects that have been on hold and helps Hermiston’s water department improve customer service interaction. The team can reach out to customers within a day or two about a potential leak, rather than notifying the customer once per month, when the meters were read.
“While our customers are also using the EyeOnWater application to understand their water usage, our proactive calls and notifications to residents have helped us better communicate our role in the community and the importance of what we do every day,” added Bicknell.
The new solution has also supported the city’s conservation efforts. Using the timely data, the water department can now see and manage water consumption in city-owned high usage areas, such as city parks, soccer fields and more.
Since implementing the new solution and seeing its impact, Hermiston’s water department remains committed to improving its long-term success.
“Many of Hermiston’s commercial accounts are very engaged and want to know how to integrate the product more effectively into their work process. We provided extra training focused on achieving their goals, per their request. The water superintendent purchased tablets for his field crew, so they could access the software in the field or answer customer questions. They also sent water department employees to training with some of the national water organizations, including the American Water Works Association and the National Rural Water Association. The Hermiston water department is committed to their technology and the long-term health of their water system,” shared Harvey.
Hermiston’s water system is now more accurate, more flexible and more advanced across the line, thanks to a managed solution from Badger Meter. The water department team has access to monthly, weekly and by-the-minute trend data across the system. They have the ability to add new endpoints as the city continues to grow, without adding infrastructure. And the managed solution helped resolve one of their biggest financial challenges: having enough labor to support a growing city.
“The commitment of our entire team and the support of Badger Meter and National Meter helped to make the installation a success. While there is always work to be done, our new meter reading solution has without doubt offered greater efficiency and accuracy than we’ve ever had before. That success is translating to our customers—helping to make their lives a little easier,” said Bicknell.