Read 16680 WaterWatcher 6/03 text version

SUMMER 2005

A p u b l i c a t i o n o f N e p t u n e Te c h n o l o g y G r o u p I n c .

VALUE -- WHAT WE DELIVER TO OUR CUSTOMERS

A NOTE FROM THE PRESIDENT

What's important is "VALUE" in the eyes of our Customers.

At Neptune, we've built a value proposition that is central to everything we do. While we're able to sum it up in three short words ­ Integrity by Design ­ there is much more behind it. The products and services we provide our customers every day must live up to our high expectations and more importantly yours. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, value is in the eye of the customer. The articles in this month's edition of Neptune)NOW focus on Neptune's value proposition as seen through the eyes of our customers. The articles on Data, System, Measurement, and Supplier Integrity include many direct quotes from our customers who use our products and services. They tell us what Neptune's value proposition means to them... and that's really the way it should be. In our Consultant's Corner, we give our readers some insight into all of the work that we do to stand behind our Integrity by Design proposition. You'll see how we develop new products that continue to evolve, support our migration philosophy, and protect your long-term investment. Our Distributor Profile focuses on Utility Supply Company based in Indiana. They demonstrate how our distribution channel enhances Neptune's value proposition by providing local service and support for our systems. We have made significant improvements and investments in both training and support for our distributors. They are truly some of the best in the industry. I hope you enjoy this version of Neptune)NOW. Neptune will continue to identify new ways to increase our value proposition and achieve our goal of being the most valued partner to our Utility customers.

Charles C. DiLaura

Neptune Technology Group Inc. 1600 Alabama Highway 229 Tallassee, AL 36078, USA Tel: (800) 645-1892 Fax: (334) 283-7299

www.neptunetg.com

Neptune Technology Group (Canada) Ltd. 7275 West Credit Avenue Mississauga, Ontario L5N 5M9 Canada Tel: (905) 858-4211 Fax: (905) 858-0428

Neptune Technology Group Inc. Ejército Nacional No. 418 Piso 12, Desp. 1201-1202 Col. Chapultepec Morales Delegación Miguel Hidalgo 11570 México, Distrito Federal Tel: (525) 55203 5294 / (525) 55203 5708 Fax: (525) 55203 6503

A p u b l i c a t i o n o f N e p t u n e Te c h n o l o g y G r o u p I n c .

CONTENTS

SUMMER 2005

The Value of Supplier Integrity ................................................. The Value of Measurement Integrity Meter-to-Bank Starts with Accurate and Reliable Measurement................................................................... The Value of Data Integrity Meter-to-Bank Requires Absolute Meter Reading ....................... The Value of System Integrity Meter-to-Bank Requires Versatility .............................................. PRODUCT PROFILE: The CE5320X ­ Why is it Exceptional?....................................... DISTRIBUTOR PROFILE: Utility Supply Company, Indianapolis, Indiana............................ CASE STUDIES: The Town of Renfrew, Ontario, Canada ....................................... CONSULTANT'S CORNER: The Hoops We Jump Through... Because We Understand .......... 4

VISION

8 10 12 14 16 18 22

STATEMENT

To be viewed as the most valued partner in assisting the utility industry to more effectively serve the public.

VALUES

Customers, People,

On the cover:

Value ­ What we deliver to our Customers

President . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Charles C. DiLaura Vice President of Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Kent Murray Director, Sales & Marketing - Canada . . . . . . .Angela Zapp Senior Editor . . . .Debra Causey, Marketing Services Manager Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . .Amy Ledbetter, Marketing Specialist

NeptuneNOW© is published two times a year in June and September by Neptune Technology Group Inc. (1600 Alabama Hwy. 229 · Tallassee, AL 36078-1799) to promote awareness of Neptune product and service innovations and issues facing the utility industry. For copies or subscriptions, contact Neptune Technology Group Inc. at 1-800-448-2943 ext. 1892, or visit www.neptunetg.com. All rights reserved. Reprints may be used only with prior approval and appropriate credit. Approval to reprint must be obtained from Neptune Technology Group Inc. or respective contributing authors.

Technological Innovation, Operational Excellence, and Profitability

THE VALUE

OF

SUPPLIER INTEGRITY

Technology Migration Pyramid

Hybrid

State-of-the-Art

System Fixed Network

Mobile RF

Walk-by RF

Walk-by Probe

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

ProRead and E-Coder Absolute Encoder Registers

Standard Meter

Foundation

4

Supplier

Integrity

F

or 113 years Neptune has offered technology-based metering products and meter reading systems to utilities throughout North America. Neptune has always understood that listening and responding to customer needs is a prerequisite for continued success. An important factor in listening to customers is the ability to take broadly defined needs such as conservation, equitable billing, quality of utility service (water, electric, or gas), operational efficiency, customer service, reliability, and/or ease of use; then transform these needs into detailed performance parameters at the product and system level (read more on the product performance details later). We understand that customers who make an investment in technology prefer systems that allow them to migrate from their current level of technology to more advanced levels of technology with minimum investment to upgrade. One of the key benefits in an investment in Neptune's ARB Utility Management Systems is that not only are the individual components of the entire system differentiated in terms of performance (often exceeding industry standards and setting new performance levels), but the entire meter-to-bank revenue cycle is based on a building block approach or "technology migration pyramid."

The Value of

For years utilities have referred to meters as their "cash registers."

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

The foundation of Neptune's technology migration pyramid is accurate and reliable meters which meet many of the needs pertaining to conservation, equitable billing and customer service. However, this alone does not provide the most efficient meterto-bank revenue cycle. Customers requested ways to improve operational efficiency, enhance customer service, and protect the environment. Neptune's ARB Utility Management Systems were designed with these needs in mind. At the heart of the system is Neptune's meter reading software, either FieldNet or Equinox-MR by DB Microware. These software packages are the "enablers" that allow all utilities -- Water, Electric, Gas, or combination utilities -- to migrate up the technology pyramid to more advanced levels of meter reading.

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Hybrid Migration Chart

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

For Neptune's water utility customers, we responded with a meter and register design that allows all Neptune water meters to be field retrofitable / upgradeable to Neptune's Automatic Reading and Billing (ARB) absolute encoder technology that is the foundation for Neptune's ARB Utility Management Systems. Once a utility makes the decision to embrace ARB technology, the utility now has the "Power of Choice" -- the ability to choose the level of meter reading technology from Neptune's ARB Utility Management Systems that best meets the needs of their utility today and into the future. Each step up the technology migration pyramid builds upon the preceding step in a seamless fashion using as much of the technology from the previous step as is technically possible. The benefits realized in each successive step enable utilities to economically justify further investment up the pyramid.

Walk-by/Probed

For example, a utility taking the first step up the technology migration pyramid would invest in handhelds and meter reading software to conduct manual walk-by/probed meter reading. Many utilities realize a threefold improvement in meter reading efficiency over paper-based meter reading while eliminating meter reading access problems, transposition errors and many other manual meter reading issues.

Walk-by Radio

The same handhelds and meter reading software used in the first level of technology migration also support walk-by radio frequency (RF) Automatic Meter Reading (AMR). Utilities that adopt walk-by AMR frequently see a five-fold increase in meter reading efficiency when compared to manual meter reading. For Water utilities, making this transition simply involves replacing the meter receptacles with Neptune's R900 RF Meter Interface Units (MIUs). For Electric or Water/Electric combination utilities Neptune's system can read your electric meters equipped with Itron ERTs or R300s1 and R900 equipped water meters. In early 2006 an R900-based solution will be available for all utilities -- Water, Electric, Gas, or combination utilities.

"One of the things I like about the Neptune approach is that products made back in the early 1980s can be read with current systems."

Phil Benigno, Water Superintendent, Ambler Borough Water Department, PA

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Mobile Radio

Migrating to a mobile meter reading system brings a host of new opportunities to utilities. Neptune's software is designed to load meter reading routes for both handhelds and mobile data collectors with no need to upgrade the software or hardware. The number of meters that can be read in a day is limited only by the number of meters that the meter reader(s) can safely drive past at posted speed limits. This improvement in meter reading efficiency has several benefits for the utility. First and foremost is a reduction in required meter reading staff. Many utilities retrain displaced meter readers for other positions within the utility such as field service technicians or customer service representatives. Because meters can be read so quickly with a mobile solution, the readto-bill cycle is reduced facilitating a move from bi-monthly or quarterly billing to monthly billing which has several unique benefits of its own -- improved cash flow, increased customers on automatic bank draft, a reduction in delinquent bills, etc.

software and EZGate data collector. The EZGate units collect R900 transmitted meter readings and send these meter readings back to the EZNet host software via cell phone or landline modem. The EZNet host software can generate reports and graphs to show usage patterns from monthly to 15 minute intervals. The EZNet System can be deployed on a stand-alone basis and interfaced directly to the CIS/billing system or interfaced with Equinox-MR to operate in parallel with handheld and/or mobile meter reading systems as a hybrid AMR solution. This targeted fixed network / hybrid approach allows the utility to select the most appropriate meter reading technology for the application.

FieldNet®

by DB Microware Nominated by Sybase for

2005

Computerworld

HONORS COLLECTION

Neptune's FieldNet by DB Microware was nominated and selected as a 2005 laureate for their innovation in utility meter reading and field service by the prestigious Computerworld Honors Program. As a selected laureate, Neptune has

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

"We use a combination of data collection methods that best fits the meter reading application. This `hybrid' approach minimizes the overall cost of the RF AMR system infrastructure & maximizes operational efficiency."

Tony Segrest, Manager, City of Auburn, AL Water Works Board

Fixed Network & Hybrid System

Large consumers, typically commercial & industrial accounts, pose some distinctive challenges for many utilities. These end users typically represent a small percentage of meters, yet this small population generates a very large proportion of revenue for these same utilities. Our customers informed us that they need to measure and record consumption on a more frequent basis for this class of end user. Neptune responded with the EZNet System that allows meters to be read remotely up to 96 times per day. The EZNet System is made up of two components -- the EZNet host

Neptune's technology pyramid is founded on listening and responding to our customers' needs to give them the Power of Choice.

become a part of the permanent Computerworld Honors archives.

Footnote

1. ERT and R300 are registered trademarks of Itron.

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THE VALUE

OF

MEASUREMENT INTEGRITY

Meter-to-Bank Starts with

Accurate and Reliable

Measurement

N

eptune's meters serve as the cash registers for water utilities. As with any revenue-generation system, the accounting is only as good as the primary measurement device. Although the difference between meters from various manufacturers may appear subtle on the surface, it is these subtle differences that lead to huge performance benefits realized from the Neptune products. Neptune water meters maximize revenue with increased accuracy over the widest effective flow range. Easily upgradeable from direct read registers to Neptune's absolute encoder registers, Neptune meters are the foundation of an automatic reading system that optimizes revenue generation. In addition to exceeding the standards of AWWA for accuracy, Neptune converted its entire meter production to no-lead brass in 2001 to meet customer demands to improve drinking water safety. Neptune has the only captive "no-lead" brass water meter foundry in the United States; and, although this added significant cost to the product, Neptune made the decision to absorb the costs and produce a safer product. Looking back on our decision, now that 44 states have legislation in place requiring ANSI/NSF61, not only was it the right thing to do for our customers it was the right thing to do for our employees and the environment.

"As professionals in the water industry, we have a moral responsibility to eliminate exposure to lead by complying with the requirements set forth in the ANSI/NSF 61: Drinking Water System Components ­ Health Effects."

Don Beets, President of Strategic Meter Consultants, LLC, and former member of AWWA's Meter Standards Committee and M22 Customer Metering Practices Committee

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

Neptune's residential and light commercial meters are recognized as industry standards. Over 25 million T-10 meters have been produced at the Neptune plant in Tallassee, Alabama. Since its introduction, the T-10 has generated over $97 billion in utility revenue. Representing 93-95% of a typical utility's total meter population, this class of water meters utility generates 40-60% of the water revenues for the utility.

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"The Neptune HP Turbine

Every T-10 water meter meets or exceeds the latest AWWA C700 standard and has the widest effective flow range for maximum revenue. While most other meter manufacturers guarantee accuracy down to only 1/2 gpm, Neptune guarantees flow rates as low as 1/8 gpm. Neptune's positive displacement nutating disc is time proven for accuracy and dependability since 1892, ensuring maximum utility revenue. The innovative floating chamber design of the nutating disc protects the chamber from maincase distortion, in-line piping stresses, and meter position. The outlet of the chamber is sealed to the meter maincase with an O-ring, extending the low flow accuracy beyond competitive designs. The T-10 is the only meter to exceed the low flow accuracy requirements of the AWWA standard while still meeting the high flow accuracy levels. In 1991 the AWWA Research Foundation published the results of a study comparing oscillating piston meters to nutating disc meters. The results showed that the nutating disc meters out-performed the piston meters in accuracy and head loss. Neptune's commercial and industrial meters play an extremely important role in the meter-to-bank revenue process. Although these meters account for only 5-7% of the total meter population, they generate between 40-60% of the water revenues. Neptune TRU/FLO® compound meters are specifically designed for extremely wide flow rate applications such as apartment buildings, hotels, and hospitals. The TRU/FLO is considered by many as the industry standard because of the minimum number of parts, the maintenance-free main-line valve, and the patented by-pass throttle valve. Dual registers record consumption separately so usage monitoring can detect minor changes and alert the utility to usage pattern changes, application problems, or maintenance requirements. The TRU/FLO's patented throttle valve that transfers flow from the disc to turbine minimizes accuracy loss during this crossover. In addition the throttle valve prevents over-speeding to protect the disc meter from premature wear. The low-flow sensitivity of a disc-type meter, the high flow capacity of a turbine-type meter, combined with the patented throttle valve make TRU/FLO compound meters critical components for a utility to optimize revenues. Neptune High Performance (HP) Turbine meters offer some of the widest flow ranges of any turbine meters on the market. They are specifically designed for moderate to high flow rate applications such as processing plants, manufacturing facilities, and custody transfer applications. All Neptune HP Turbine water meters meet or exceed the latest performance and accuracy requirements of the AWWA C701 Standard for Class II turbine meters. The Unitized Measuring Element (UME) allows for quick, easy, in-line interchangeability.

offers one of the widest flow ranges in the industry. This combined with the NSF61approved EnviroBrass II construction and the excellent UME Replacement Program which allows for quick, easy, and in-line interchangeability made the Neptune HP Turbine our first choice for performance and accuracy in moderate to high flow rate applications."

Pat Becher, Executive Director, Mohawk Valley Water Authority, Utica, NY

"We have been installing T-10 meters as long as there have been T-10 meters. The Neptune T-10 meter has and continues to provide us with an accurate and reliable cash register."

Myron Tollefson, Customer Service Manager, Everett Public Works, Everett, WA

The Neptune HP PROTECTUS® III fire service meter has become the industry standard and is designed for applications where fire service and drinking water supplies are fed by a single line. A typical application would be in a warehouse, hotel, or hospital where one water line may supply any number of faucets or bathrooms as well as an automatic sprinkler system. The HP Fire Service Turbine offers some of the widest flow ranges of any fire service turbine meter on the market and is designed to measure both domestic and fire service usage where flow rates are moderate to high. Neptune's SEER® (Statistical Evaluation for the Enhancement of Revenue) software is an analytical tool to assist utilities to effectively manage their revenue-generation process. SEER can determine meter replacement priority and payback assisting with effective conservation programs and equitable billing practices while reducing operational costs.

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

105

Accuracy (%)

AWWA Accuracy Standard High - 101.5%

100

ccuracy 8" T-10 A une 5/ Nept

AWWA Accuracy Standard Low - 98.5%

95

.1 .023

.2 .045

.3

.4 .5 .6 .7 .8 .9 1 .114 .23

2 .45

3 .68

4

5 6 7 8 9 10 1.14 1.82 2.27

20 4.54

30 40 50 6.81 11.36

100 US gpm 22.7 m3/h

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THE VALUE

OF

DATA INTEGRITY

Meter-to-Bank Requires

Absolute

N

eptune water meters and absolute encoders form the foundation of accurate and reliable ARB® Utility Management SystemsTM. Since 1964 when Neptune introduced the first absolute encoder, Neptune has held firm to the philosophy that both the local visual reading and remote electronic reading should come from the same source, unlike pulse-based systems that are susceptible to synchronization problems. The ProReadTM (ARB VI) absolute encoder provides Data Integrity by encoding the actual position of the register odometer and providing error-free remote electronic meter reading capability. The ProRead absolute encoder provides benefits to utilities both in the field and in the office. Automating the meter reading process with ProRead elimi-

Meter Reading

nates access problems for basement, pit, and vault-set meters allowing utilities to capture more reads per day and eliminate human errors. The automatic transfer of meter reading data from the field to the office reduces billing cycles and automates bill preparation to improve cash flow. The ProRead absolute encoder and data collection systems work together to eliminate billing discrepancies and customer complaints by providing accurate meter readings the first time, every time ­ guaranteeing efficiency, long-term value, and peace of mind for utilities. Neptune's wireless probes and handheld computers are used to read the ProRead absolute encoder in a walk-by probe application. The wall or pit receptacles of the encoder are probed, transmitting the meter readings directly to the handheld unit by

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N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

"It was very important for United Water to select a meter technology where the electronic readings were absolute and guaranteed. Encoding the actual position of the register odometer is absolute and more importantly, guaranteed. The Encoder meter is the foundation of United Water NY/ NJ's Automated Metering system (AMR)."

Scott Toscano, Manager, Metering Services, United Water

using unlicensed radio frequency. Neptune meter reading software guides the meter reader through the route minimizing human interventions, reducing the errors associated with manual meter reading, and improving meter reading efficiency. In a typical walkby probe application this solution allows utilities to capture on average 175-450 reads per day as opposed to 100 ­ 175 with a manual meter reading process.

"Utilizing Neptune's walk-by probe and handhelds to read our meters has allowed us on average to read 50% more meters per day than the traditional direct read method. This efficiency has reduced our meter reading cycle by 50% and improved the customer service value we provide to our customers remarkably."

Craig Wood, Meter Reading Supervisor of the City of Ormond Beach, Florida

Rick Smith, Supervisor of Water Distribution, City of Elkins, West Virginia

"By installing Neptune's walk-by RF meter reading system we have been able to reduce our read-to-bill times, lower operational costs and improve our overall meter reading efficiency. The efficiencies gained by the Neptune walk-by RF meter reading system have provided the city with an increase in revenue as well as improved customer service."

Duane Overfield, Meter Service Manager, City of Topeka, Kansas

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Building on the investment in absolute encoders, handheld technology, and EquinoxTM-MR meter reading software, the encoder receptacles can be replaced with R900TM radio frequency meter interface units to seamlessly migrate to walk-by RF. The Neptune R900 provides an economical migration path from handheld to mobile to targeted fixed network without the need to replace or reprogram the R900. Neptune's R900, available in both wall and pit versions, is a rugged compact electronic device that collects meter-usage data from either a single meter register or up to two networked meter registers and transmits the data for collection by the meter reader. The R900 operates in the 902-928 MHz unlicensed band and does not require a license from the FCC. The R900 is designed for either outdoor or indoor applications and will operate over a wide range of environmental conditions.

The R900 pit version is designed specifically for the rigors of pit installation. The antenna of the pit version is road worthy and the transmitter housing is fully potted to withstand submergence in flooded pits. The through-the-pit-lid antenna design employed by Neptune's R900 ensures consistent reading success by removing the pit lid as an obstruction for the RF signal. Devices that have the antenna inside the pit may appear to be easier to install; but remember, you are only going to install it once and you will read it for the next 10 years or more. The R900 provides utilities with a reliable and economical RF meter reading solution. The R900s transmit meter readings to the handheld computer/receiver as the meter reader walks his route. The same meter reading software allows collection of all types of meter readings ­ manual/keyed, probed, and radio ­ on any particular route providing seamless migration up the technology pyramid. Walk-by RF provides operational efficiencies by providing the ability to capture on average 1,000 ­ 2,000 reads per day. Neptune's seventh generation ARB, the E-CoderTM, is the industry's first solid state absolute encoder! The E-Coder supports our commitment to optimize your AMR investment and address your issues - maximizing customer service and operational efficiencies through its value-added PLUS features ­ true leak detection, tamper or fraud indication, and backflow detection. By providing proactive customer service features, the E-Coder PLUS features allow a utility to address many common customer service issues before they become problems. Customer service reports or CIS screens that identify leakage, the type of leak, and the number of days the leak has occurred can be generated. True leak detection (with leak status indication over the last 35 days)

allows quicker response to high water bill inquiries and early notification of leaks on customer bills. Additionally, tamper conditions and stopped meters can be identified with the no-flow and reverse flow features of the E-Coder and Equinox-MR meter reading software. For the first time, utilities can plan proactive meter maintenance, flag potential fraud scenarios, reduce water loss, proactively address high water bill complaints, and optimize revenue generation based on the information available only with Neptune's ARB Utility Management Systems. With Neptune, what you're really buying is Data Integrity.

"The goal of the City of Elkins was to maximize the value of our AMR system by providing more than just a meter reading. The increased functionality provided by Neptune's E-Coder and ARB Utility Management System has optimized our entire AMR system and allowed us to achieve this goal. We can now provide our water customers with leakage data and promote a very proactive water loss management program."

THE VALUE

OF

SYSTEM INTEGRITY

Meter-to-Bank Requires

Versatility

U

tilities have always been savvy users of technology. They have long recognized that the system which provides the best value is the system that can address a wide variety of applications and allows the utility to migrate up the technology pyramid without stranding metering or systems assets. Neptune listened carefully to our customers and designed a system that allows the utility to choose the best technology for a given application and economically coordinate them all within a single system offering. Utilities that invest in Neptune's meter reading systems, such as the Equinox-MR meter reading software, have the benefit of versatility built in from the onset. Neptune's hybrid system architecture allows for handheld, mobile, and targeted fixed network meter reading to function in parallel with one another. Utilities realize that a hybrid approach means there is no need for them to blanket their entire service area with only one technology when a combination of technologies would be more cost effective, maximize operational efficiency, and produce better results. For commercial/industrial accounts that typically generate in excess of 50% of the water utility's revenue yet represent only 57% of the meter population, utilities can use Neptune's EZNet targeted fixed network system for flow profiling and usage analysis in addition to collecting billable meter readings for these high-value accounts. Within the same utility, handheld and/or mobile data collection can be used to cost effectively read the residential accounts that make up the majority of the meter population but only require monthly billing. From the small utility with 500 services and one handheld to the large utility with six million+ services with 1400+ handhelds or several mobile data collectors, Neptune has the capability, capacity, technology, expertise, and long-term commitment to solve your utility's automation requirements.

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"One of the advantages of using a Neptune system is the ability to advance from obsolete methods to new technologies with minimal additional cost and to operate various data collection technologies in a hybrid environment."

David Ellis, Superintendent of Prestonsburg Utilities, Prestonsburg, KY

"There is no need to feel pressured to choose between different meter reading technologies. We use a combination of data collection methods that best fits the meter reading application. This `hybrid' approach minimizes the overall cost of the RF AMR system infrastructure & maximizes operational efficiency."

Tony Segrest, Manager, City of Auburn, AL Water Works Board

"Given the large increase in water demand expected and the impact on Prestonsburg's water treatment facility, we wanted the versatility to read these high-value meters anytime we want -- whether weekly, daily, or even hourly if required."

David Ellis, Superintendent of Prestonsburg Utilities, Prestonsburg, KY

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REGION

OF

P E E L , O N TA R I O , C A N A D A wins an award for the

Best Metering Revenue Assurance Initiative in North America, Europe, Africa, and Canada.

Picture (left to right): Antonio LoConsolo (Manager of Operations), Melodie Reaume (Manager of Accounts Receivable), Tony Doyle (Supervisor of Meter Reading) and Jim Kosmalski (Supervisor of Meter Installations and Repairs.)

I

n 1998 the Region of Peel chose to increase their meter reading operational efficiencies with the implementation of an enhanced meter reading system that is based on Neptune's ARB® Utility Management SystemTM. The project was completed in 2004 and the Region is already recognizing a substantial savings reading and billing for water -- within the fiveyear expected life of the project, the Region expects to

recover its investment plus an additional half million dollars in savings. Neptune recognizes the Region of Peel for their recent award at the Metering Americas Conference in Las Vegas. The Region was one of three utilities awarded the Best Metering Revenue Assurance Initiative in North America, Europe, Africa and Canada based on the improvements noted above.

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N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

PRODUCT PROFILE

THE VALUE

OF

TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION

The CE5320X ­

Why is it Exceptional?

T

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

hink about your personal computer. The early designs were great for single-task operations. A few years ago, doing one thing at a time was all that you could expect with your PC. Today, technology and expectations have changed. We run several, complex programs at a time on our PCs. The processing speed of the PCs and the multi-tasking capabilities of Windowsbased operating systems allow us to be much more efficient while handling several different tasks at a time. The parallels in evolution between personal computers and handheld meter reading systems are clear. The days of single-function handhelds are drawing to a close. Today's handhelds need to be able to function not only as meter reading devices, but also as installation test devices, deployment tools, work order systems and many other yet-to-be-imagined applications. What is so special about the CE5320X versus DOS-based handhelds? The CE5320X is Neptune's Windows CE-based handheld. The interoperability of Windows

CE-based handheld computers enhances productivity and minimizes the risk of data loss. Interoperability allows applications to efficiently multi-task. DOS systems were designed to perform a single task with a character based interface and limited storage. With the introduction of the CE5320X combined with functionality of EquinoxTM-MR meter reading software, handheld meter reading devices have moved to a new level of performance. Expanded memory and storage provides the handheld more functionality which increases the overall speed and productivity of the meter reading process. Windows CE facilitates portability and custom designed applications. Originally developed as an operating system (OS) for two different types of apparatus, interactive television and handheld computers, Windows CE gives a handheld computer the look and feel of a PC providing users the ability to employ their Windows-based computing skills on a handheld much like they do on a home computer. The CE5320X also provides

14

the speed required to give the user the feel of being on a desktop computer. Simple. Quick. Easy. The main benefits CE-based handhelds versus DOS-based ones are enhanced efficiency, ease of use, and reliability.

Efficiency

Processing, storage, and communication are all functions of the meter reading process supported by the CE5320X. The increased performance and processing speed of the Intel XScale 400 MHz processor allows greater efficiency versus DOS-based units. With touch-screen displays supported by Windows CE, field operators are able to use high performance CE-based applications in a multi-tasking environment using the touch screen to handle a variety of operations.

tem the CE5320X is designed to enhance ease of use. Windows CE allows a unit to act as a computer offering a multitude of tasks to be performed at one time. This functionality enhances the field operator's capabilities by allowing radio frequency, touchpad, and keyed units simultaneously.

"The ability to multi-task in a Windows environment allows our meter readers greater flexibility when deviating from their normal route/sequence order without excessive searching for accounts or `losing their place' in the route."

Linda Chalou, Utility Analyst, City of Fountain, CO

John Brinkman, Systems Specialist, National Waterworks, Denver, CO

Reliability

Building on the reliability of the past, the durable design is maintained to offer top quality operation in harsh environments, once again proven by certification IP67 and MIL-STD 810F for toughness and rugged-

Easy to Use

With the addition of a touch screen along with a multi-tasking operating sys-

Footnote

Windows, CE and DOS are trademarks of Microsoft®.

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N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

Communication of data from the CE5320X is performed through an Ethernet cable offering speed of up to 100 times faster than the serial communication of the DOS-based handhelds, thereby enhancing productivity in the office. The cradle serves as a communication device but offers a fast-charge to have the handheld operational within four hours. Offering a multi-tasking operating system lends transition to multi-functional units. CE-based handheld also supports meter probing for electric utility applications. The CE5320X handheld supports a collection of electric meters and file types for time of use and mass memory meters.

"As a technical trainer and support person, I see firsthand where incorporating Windows CE into Neptune's handheld devices has definitely shortened the learning curve for my customers. Newly hired meter readers take to them quickly, while existing meter readers are better able to navigate through the touch screen menus, which in turn makes them more willing to record information electronically. In the past, they were more likely to write notes on paper or rely on their memory when various situations occurred in the field; unfortunately, this information may not have been accurate by the time it got back to the office (if it got there at all). More and more meter readers have access to Windows PCs at home or at the office and thus can apply their knowledge of those computers directly to handheld operations (and vice-versa)."

ness. Enhancing the memory from 4 MB SRAM and 8 MB NAND, by adding additional memory for data storage, 64MB of RAM and 64 MB of Internal Flash Memory provides generous storage for meter reading data. With Neptune systems, meters can be read using a variety of technologies; walkby, mobile, and targeted fixed network. As with the DAP9800 and 9300, the CE5320X is one component of the hybrid system. Combining the features of Neptune's previous systems and the power of the Windows CE.NET operating system and outstanding multi-functional benefits, the CE5320X is a mobile computing solution. The CE5320X offers capabilities like never before.

"It's like having a mini-computer in your hand. Meter readers are able to take advantage of additional CE features and record additional information in the field that may not necessarily be account or meter specific. The interoperational design delivers ease of use, reliability of data collection for overall enhanced efficiency in both the field and office."

Linda Chalou, City of Fountain, CO

Migratability

Neptune recognizes that technological changes will continue at an increasing pace. We also realize that without careful product design, these shortened product life cycles can mean that products become obsolete faster for our customers. In order to protect the investment our customers have made in DOS-based handhelds, Neptune's software systems are able to support both DOS and CE-based DAP handhelds. As the older DOS units are retired, they can be replaced with new CE-based units without costly system upgrades.

DISTRIBUTOR PROFILE

THE VALUE

OF

OUR PEOPLE... OUR SUPPLIERS, OUR PERSONNEL,

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

Utility Supply Company

Value of Neptune's

Distribution Network as seen

through the eyes of Tri Township Water Corporation

TTW crew, from left to right, Greg Green, Jim Kinker, Rob Wagman and Jody Blasdel. Not pictured, Sandy Bovard.

U

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

tility Supply Company (USC) was founded in Indiana in 1962 and became a Neptune distributor in 1992. USC is a Level 1 distributor with three Meter Specialists and over 40 Neptune AMR accounts. As a Neptune Level 1 Distributor, USC is committed to having personnel trained to sell and support Neptune's metering and meter reading system products. Phil Hepburn, Systems Specialist, states, "When it comes to real time response to software issues, we are the leader. USC provides front-line local support to utilities in Indiana and are backed by Neptune's support staff in Tallassee, Alabama. The ability to speak with a Customer Support person when system issues arise sets Neptune apart from

the crowd. These days nobody has time to wait until it's convenient for the manufacturer to call back!" USC offers its customers an unprecedented level of support and service. According to Ed Nugent, President, "No other multi-line distributor comes close to the level of commitment we offer our customers. Their problems are our problems and we never forget it."

Case in Point: Tri Township Water

Tri Township Water Corporation (TTW) in southeast Indiana, a valued USC customer, was founded in 1963 and began pumping water to 330 customers in 1966.

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OUR DISTRIBUTORS

It provides several unique features that are not available with competitive offerings (leak detection, tamper identification, backflow).

Since TTW is a long-term Neptune customer, they were able to upgrade many of their existing T-10 meters to the E-Coder technology without having to replace the entire meter. Their two-man installation

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N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

Their original system has grown to 115 miles of main with 3,300 metered customers. TTW has always used Neptune meters because of the reliability of the products and the exceptional customer service provided by Neptune and USC. In the spring of 2004 the nine-member board decided to install an ARB® Utility Management SystemTM based on Neptune's E-CoderTM and R900TM. After reviewing competitive offerings, TTW decided to stay with Neptune as a trusted manufacturer that places customer support as a top priority. Jody Blasdel, the Utility Manager, has the same service philosophy as Neptune. He treats his customers like there are 10 other water companies to serve them. TTW has five employees, Jody, three other field workers, and an office manager/ billing clerk. The rapid growth of their customer base, over 100 new taps every year, strained their resources. It took the fourman crew four days to manually read their pit-set water meters and they were going to need additional personnel just to keep up. Safety for the staff while reading meters

was a major concern because many of the meters are located on heavily traveled, narrow roads with blind corners. The decision to use the E-Coder was based on several factors:

It was the latest encoder technology on the market; its solid-state design has only one moving part; It is supplied factory-prewired and potted directly to the R900 MIU providing a reliable waterproof connection; and

crew installs about 30 units per day inclusive of retrofits and new meter installation. TTW now has more than 1400 E-Coder/R900equipped meters installed. Neptune's ARB Utility Management System seamlessly interfaces with TTW's billing software from Computer Resource Corporation. The entire meter reading process is now automated. What used to take four men two days to read 1,477 pit set meters, now one employee can read in just over three hours -- an improvement of over 2000%! The meter reader simply drives the posted speed limits and never has to leave his vehicle. The resource strain on the fourperson crew has been eliminated. TTW has 100% confidence in the meter reading data received and is using the unique value-added information gathered from the E-Coder (leak detection, tamper identification, backflow) to enhance their customer service. TTW's success has become a model for neighboring utilities. Several other utilities have visited TTW to see their new metering and meter reading system in action to see firsthand the value of the system.

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CASE STUDY THE VALUE

OF

SUPPLIER INTEGRITY

THE TOWN

OF

R E N F R E W , O N TA R I O , C A N A D A

Problem Solving and Finding

A Perfect Fit Solution

A Need for Change

I

· Sustainability and accountability for the production and distribution of the resource; · Metering provided one of the most important statistical sources of ensuring that the saleable commodity was not lost in transmission, thus encouraging conservation; and · Metering offered a wide variety of best practice benefits in overall system management.

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N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

t is time for change in the province of Ontario, Canada, with the introduction of Bill 175, the Sustainable Water and Sewage Systems Act. This new Bill will require Ontario water utilities to prepare and implement full cost accounting plans for operating and maintaining water and wastewater services, including operating, capital, renewal and replacement costs. With the incoming regulations, the Town of Renfrew, Ontario, assessed their existing rate structure against the requirement for full cost recovery. Long-term forecast reviews and future planning calculations to accommodate system upgrades substantiated concerns that the Town's existing method of flat rate billing would face dramatic increases once full cost servicing was implemented. The old philosophy of keeping water rates low by not charging the full cost of providing water and wastewater services needed to change.

The Town Council initiated the investigation of universal metering. Metering was highly emphasized by other municipal contacts and support by Environment Canada, the National Research Council, and recognized by the National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure (InfraGuide) as a best practice. Drivers for Renfrew's metering project included: · Providing equity in levying fees for water and wastewater services;

MRX920 (EZDrivePLUS)

Finding a Solution to Meet the Needs of Renfrew

The Town worked in conjunction with a local consultant and Neptune's Canadian Service Solutions Group to address system requirements. Renfrew needed to address a number of issues when selecting a solution:

N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

· Backflow Prevention: Backflow preventers on commercial services were a concern due to the lack of visibility should the device fail; and · Leak Detection & Customer Service: The Town was concerned about wasted water and wanted the ability to be more proactive about leak detection.

· Resources: Renfrew lacked the resources to operate the system and read the meters; · Technology: The Town did not want to consider "yesterday's technology"; they wanted to invest in a leading-edge solution; · Frequency of Data Collection: Renfrew wanted the ability to maintain tighter system controls using more frequent data collection to proactively address infrastructure related issues, such as unaccounted for water;

Renfrew Selects the Neptune Solution

Radio frequency automatic meter reading (RF AMR) technology was the optimum solution to achieve Renfrew's goals. The project was overseen by Neptune's Service Division who provided a turnkey solution to deploy the newly metered system. All 3,000 meters were equipped with an R900TM radio frequency meter interface unit (RF MIU) and read by an MRX920 (EZDrivePLUS) mobile data collector.

The investment in RF AMR technology allows Renfrew to dramatically reduce the number of hours required to read the meters. The efficiencies are astonishing as 70% of the Town's reads are collected instantaneously while parked at the route's starting point! The meter reader can then position the vehicle on top of a nearby hill to achieve 90% of the reads from this second location. The Town enjoys a 99.9% read success rate and the total time to read all 3,000 meters is approximately 35 minutes.

E-CodersTM Revolutionize Customer Service and Operational Excellence

Renfrew is also one of the first in Canada to install innovative E-Coder registers on all 280 commercial accounts. In the

20

RATE

first months following the installation, Renfrew immediately saw the value-added features of the E-Coder, including: · Leak detection (27 occurrences) · Backflow detection (18 occurrences)

Leak Detection

The Treasury Department, which includes customer service and finance, is responsible for analyzing the E-Coder data and notifying customers of abnormal consumption patterns. The following two examples demonstrate how Renfrew is now able to provide proactive notification to their customers. A local bank reported consumption of over 1,300 cubic meters in a two-month period which equated to a bill of $2,000. After inspection, the cause of this consumption was a non-circulating air conditioner that was running water straight to the drain. Renfrew suggested that the bank replace their air conditioning unit; a recommendation that several plumbers were unable to detect.

In another example, a local restaurant had refrigeration units that were also on a noncirculating system. Their consumption pattern for a two-month period was an unbelievable 1,200 cubic meters. The restaurant agreed to make the appropriate changes to the units. Renfrew provided the restaurant with proactive monthly reports to assist in monitoring and the customer was able to reduce their consumption by half.

addressed through the installation of backflow devices. Renfrew is now in the process of developing a by-law which will require mandatory backflow devices on all commercial accounts to further protect its residents. The E-Coder will play an important role as a monitoring device to ensure that the backflow devices are operating properly.

In the event of a backflow occurrence, the treasury department works in conjunction with the operations department to determine the cause and ultimately to provide a solution. Renfrew is currently using the E-Coder backflow reports on a regular basis to address on-going issues within their infrastructure. Of the 18 occurrences to date, the majority can be attributed to maintenance work in the areas around the E-Coders. The remaining occurrences were attributed to plumbing issues, which the Town has

"It is very important that we make sure the water gets to the people safely and that it is safe water to use. We want to make sure the people of Renfrew are going to have safe clean water for the years to come,"

Mayor Sandra Heins, Town of Renfrew

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Backflow Detection

C O N S U LTA N T ' S C O R N E R

THE VALUE

OF

SUPPLIER INTEGRITY

The Hoops We Jump Through...

B e c a u s e We U n d e r s t a n d

By Donald J. Kullmann, P.E., Consulting Engineer

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N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

nnovation has been a hallmark of Neptune since 1892. During these 113 years, Neptune's record of innovation in products, systems, and customer service has been outstanding and unequalled. Examples abound, including the first fire service meter, the first encoder register/ system, the first AMR systems, the industry leading T-10 meter, the SEER revenue analysis program, and many others. While many companies innovate, Neptune's policy through the years has been to do so in a manner that protects its customers from being "stranded" by new technology. Recognizing that the majority of the utility's investment is in the endpoints -- meters and meter interface units ­ two critical components of Neptune's approach to prevent customers from being stranded are the migratability of its

absolute encoder technology and system software. Over the years Neptune's Automatic Reading and Billing (ARB) encoder-based system evolved from 14-wire to 3-wire and grew in capability from mere remote reading (e.g. pulsers) to full featured AMR. With the introduction of the E-CoderTM, Neptune's seventh generation ARB encoder, maintaining backward compatibility was no simple feat. However all through this evolution, care was taken to assure that early product obsolescence was managed with the philosophy of customer "guardianship" that their original investment with Neptune would be preserved. This philosophy of customer "guardianship" is best illustrated by way of example. Customers who implemented Neptune's encoder technology in the early 1980s along

22

Legacy Products

Current Products

Meter Reading Software Data Collection Hardware

EZRouteMAPS

or

RouteMAPS

PC9300 / PC9800 Handhelds

EZDrive or EZDrivePLUS Mobile Data Collectors

CE5320X / CE8640 MRX920 / MTX950

MIUs

R900 v1

R900 v2

R900 v3

(ARB VII)

Encoders

ARB III ­ ARB V (ARB VI)

· Customer implementation expenses (existing product obsolescence, inventory, training, service requirements, licenses, etc.). · Compatibility with previous versions of the product or system. · Effect on existing customer systems and procedures. · Customer benefits gained by the new offering. · Future expansion and technology capability.

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N E P T U N E NOW SUMMER 2005

with Neptune's telephone-based Central Meter Reading (CMR) System can now migrate to Neptune's ARB® Utility Management SystemsTM based on Neptune's R900TM. The same encoders used with the telephone system are in use now with the new radio-based AMR system. Neptune took great strides to ensure that the R900 launched in 1999 was backward compatible with encoders produced in the early 1980s. In fact, Neptune took it one step further. The same R900 can automatically detect whether it is wired to ARB III (circa mid1970s) or today's E-Coder (ARB VII) as well as Sensus' ECR II and ICE. Progression to newer technologies such as RF-based AMR is not an easy matter for anyone. However, it is far more complex when the hardware and software must be tailored to be compatible with and complementary to previous generation products. Example: Customers who purchased Neptune's PC9300 handhelds with EZRouteMAPS meter reading software can easily migrate to Neptune's newest meter reading software, EquinoxTM-MR. EquinoxMR supports Neptune's older generations of handhelds including the PC9300 and the

PC9800 as well as allowing the new CE5320 unit to operate in parallel with the same system. In addition, Equinox-MR allows customers to migrate from handheld to mobile to targeted fixed network or any combination to create a true hybrid meter reading system that best suits their needs. This approach, while "customer friendly", puts a heavy burden on those in research, engineering, and marketing because it demands that additional parameters beyond quality, cost, and new features be met. Considerations in new product development as a result of this policy include:

As you can see, the best examples of the Neptune "Customer Friendly" philosophy are typified by the progression of automatic meter reading systems development starting with the ARB absolute encoder introduced in 1964. Remarkably, system components being sold today can still read the vintage encoders sold in the 1970s. This is not an accident but rather the result of the customer "guardianship" philosophy that directly influences every new system generation that Neptune develops. Yet this has always been the primary objective in all of Neptune's new product development, and it is strict adherence to this philosophy that keeps Neptune's product development people `jumping through hoops'. It is also one of the reasons many customers have continued to rely on Neptune as their supplier of choice for their metering and AMR requirements. Several articles in this publication provide good examples of this reliance. While "jumping through hoops" is tough stuff for the people at Neptune, it has proved to be great stuff for those who invest in Neptune Systems.

The 2005 American Water Works Association Annual Conference & Exposition will be held June 12-16 in San Francisco, CA and is the largest gathering of water products and services in one place at one time. Visit us at Booth No. 1514 to see Neptune's ARB® Utility Management SystemsTM and how they can help you do your job faster, more efficiently, and more effectively. S U N D A Y | J U N E 1 2

Water For People Day

As a WFP sponsor, Neptune will participate in the Silent Auction. Visit us at Booth #1514 to view our items for auction.

S U N D A Y | J U N E 1 2

9:00 am ­ 4:00 pm

Workshop: How To Do AMR Right! A Utility Manager's Guide to a Successful Advanced Metering Project

Presented by Connie Roesch and Alison Posinski, Greater Cincinnati Water Works and Don Schlenger, Cognyst Consulting W E D N E S D A Y | J U N E 1 5

11:45 am

Professional Program: Anticipated and Unanticipated Benefits Realized from a Meter Changeout and Mobile AMR Project

Buddy Morgan, Montgomery Water Works & Sanitary Sewer Board, Montgomery, Alabama

N e p t u n e Te c h n o l o g y G r o u p I n c .

1600 Alabama Highway 229 · Tallassee, AL 36078

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