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Top 5 benefits of upgrading to AMI systems

If your public or private utility is using outdated meter reading systems, you may be realizing losses to your bottom line due to non-revenue water. But deciding what kind of meter reading solution to implement can be a challenge.

Advanced metering infrastructure, or AMI, can significantly reduce water losses from leaks and estimation errors, but there are still a lot of misconceptions around the technology.

If you’re weighing whether an upgrade is the right choice for your utility, discover five benefits AMI systems could bring to your community.

5 ways AMI meter reading benefits your utility

Both utilities and their customers can reap benefits of an upgrade. From accurate, real-time data collection to leak alerts and more, see how AMI can help your utility save money and reduce operating costs.

1. Faster, more accurate meter reading eliminates errors.

With AMI technology, your utility will collect meter reads not only faster with less labor, but also with fewer human errors.

With most systems, utilities can get meter data within 24 hours for all the meters in a system. Because the data transmits from the endpoint directly to the software, without human interference, there’s no opportunity for errors.

This creates a better experience for your customers as well. They can receive regular, error-free bills, which reduces the time your employees need to spend discussing billing problems with frustrated residents.

2. AMI systems catch issues before they become problems.

Beyond accurately reading basic meters, most AMI technology can alert your utility if it detects a leak, backflow or no-flow, as well as if the meter has been tampered with. If a resident is out of town when a pipe bursts, alarms could prevent wasted water and damage to their home.

In addition, most options can store histories of hourly meter reads for many years. This can help you provide customers with individual profiles of their consumption as well as allow performance monitoring and sophisticated reporting.

If your state requires your utility to comply with conservation measures and submit regular reports, this database of hourly meter reads can be invaluable for saving time and labor.

3. AMI implementation can reduce operating costs.

Water municipalities may still think upgrading is too expensive for their utility. But technology costs are lower now than when systems were first developed, and they’ve proven to be a smart long-term investment for many utilities for years.

The initial costs can seem steep; however, because automated reading technology reduces many recurring operating costs, most systems financially pay back utilities within seven years.

In addition, many systems on the market come with warranties lasting 15 years or more. Upgrades aren’t out of reach financially for many cities anymore.

Pro tip: Because meter system upgrades can lead to increased revenue over time, capital project financing can allow utilities to budget for the project. To help you explore the benefits of financing your upgrade, Ferguson Waterworks offers a complimentary analysis. Contact us for more information.

4. AMI technology can scale to meet your community’s needs.

All systems transmit meter information with radio frequency transmissions, although manufacturers use different types of technology.

Antennas installed around the distribution system could collect endpoint transmissions, or utilities can use infrastructure by partnering with third parties. There are even certain systems that don’t require infrastructure at all.

This means you have options for your utility to select the system that best fits your community’s needs and scale it as needed for existing or no infrastructure.

5. AMI components coordinate seamlessly with each other.

Typically, licensed contractors are required to install the infrastructure because it requires hardware devices, software integrations and multiple components. A utility’s finance, customer service, IT and operations personnel must work together to implement AMI.

With all these moving parts, it’s wise to partner with an experienced distributor with project management experience when deploying systems. Implementation could take as little as six months, but as many as 12 to 18 months if endpoints need to be installed.

Once your system is up and running, AMI components work together to keep communication going smoothly in real time.

Talk to Ferguson about AMI meter reading solutions

We’re dedicated to providing expert product support to serve water utilities. If you want to learn more about the best meter reading solutions for your community, we can help.

Our Meter & Automation Group specializes in the selection and deployment of AMI systems across the nation and can discuss the technology that can meet your requirements.