Smart water meters take aim at water shortages

UK-based metering technology specialist Sentec and Japanese engineering company Takahata are jointly developing smart water meters for the Australasian market.

The joint venture will use Sentec’s Sterling flow sensing technology, and the companies claimed that their smart meters will provide both fully automatic remote meter reading for the water utility, and near-real-time consumption displays for the householder.

“This move makes sense for a number of reasons,” said Tom Fryers, Sentec’s commercial director. “There is a clear need for water meters to acquire the ‘smart’ features that have been more frequently applied in the electricity and gas metering markets. Water management is already a significant challenge in a number of areas like Australia where water reserves have diminished as a result of long-term droughts, with leaks causing significant problems. These challenges are set to intensify as a greater proportion of the world’s population is affected by water-stress.”

“We are very excited by the opportunities for a genuinely smart water meter in many important markets, where accurate water management is becoming an important issue,” added Takahata’s CEO, Yasuo Yamamoto.

He added that the Sterling technology was picked for its robustness, accuracy and low power consumption. In particular, it has no moving parts and a straight-through flow path, so it is not affected by the high air velocity or water impact often experienced when a supply is reconnected after an outage, and cannot wear or jam in service.

Sentec said that all this is possible because Sterling is an electromagnetic flow meter. It works by applying a magnetic field to water as it passes through the flow tube and measuring the potential difference, which is directly proportional to the speed of the fluid. Knowing the speed and the cross section of course allows the flow to be calculated. The low power consumption is achieved by using a magnetic material to hold the magnetic field temporarily.

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