Converters: The real heroes of flow measurement
Durable and reliable flow meters play a vital role in municipal water operations, but having the right converter to capture and transmit the resulting information is critical to maximize their value. Converters are expected to be robust and too often are taken for granted.
Advanced converters, which feature improved accuracy and repeatability, are an important part of an operations manager’s toolbox for effective daily management. Those without the most up-to-date tools are likely sacrificing operational efficiencies across the board. This includes everything from optimal chemical/UV dosing and pump usage to the most accurate customer billing and custody transfer (for water moving between entities) readings.
Additionally, it means they cannot perform the most thorough analysis of non-revenue water (NRW) and general system performance. Selecting the right converter to pair with your flow meters can make the difference in whether your data provides an average return on investment or the maximum benefit.
Working Smarter, Not Harder
McCrometer’s ProComm makes it easier to be proactive with the management of your operations. ProComm is a new and improved converter solution that is more user-friendly and versatile than previous models. In addition to an updated interface as well as being easier to install and orient than previous converters, this model offers an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) communication node that is not common on larger meters.
AMI is the backbone of NRW analysis and district metering, where heavy data-crunching is taking place to make smarter operational and management decisions. It is also pivotal as the days of sending technicians in trucks out to gather data is becoming costlier and less efficient.
Another consideration is that modern water managers desire systems integration — all their data, which is coming from disparate sources, in one place and talking to each other. AMI allows for larger flow meters of different makes and models to be integrated with residential meter data and other information coming into a utility’s database. This means managers can get data from metering points where they didn’t think it was easy or even possible.
Other benefits of ProComm include:
- Built-in diagnostics/verification, as a confidence booster, to show that the meter and transmitter are doing what they are supposed to do.
- One converter that works with many different sensors, including McCrometer’s FPI Mag, Ultra Mag, and SPI meters.
- Reverse compatible with existing sensors.
- Meets Class 1, Division 2 certification standard, which ensures the instrument is explosion-proof and won’t produce a spark in a hazardous atmosphere.
- Designed to handle potential future needs; won’t be antiquated anytime soon.
- Universal brackets for pole mount or wall mount.
Supporting The Investment
The business case for investing in an advanced converter solution, such as ProComm, is solid. It starts with understanding NRW and defining a reasonable recovery through district metering/AMI, which can show when residential meters aren’t adding up to what is being pumped into a neighborhood. This offers visibility into issues that may not have previously been discoverable.
Whether due to leak, theft, or inaccurate meters, discovering and fixing each problem will have the net effect of increasing revenue. Over the course of a year, successfully reducing NRW can add up to tens of thousands of dollars, or more, depending on the size of the utility.
While every municipality is different, there is also the potential for significant savings across water operations when it comes to disinfectants as well as pumping. Energy costs to pump water throughout a system can be one of the larger costs, so optimizing pumps can go a long way. Estimating those savings will also bolster the business case.
As data collection and analysis become more sophisticated, robust features will become more important. ProComm offers the ability to program digital output channels based on internal parameters to trigger warnings and provide internal data storage in addition to the real-time data output.
Some customers don’t take advantage of all the features available on their ProComm and are hesitant to reach out to learn more about optimizing the interface. McCrometer encourages customers to reach out to its team of experts, who are always ready to help.
As demands on water professionals increase, the ability to access and crunch more data will be necessary to keep pace. Having the right converter combined with your flow meter can be the key to providing a high-quality product at the lowest possible cost.