AMI readings enhance customer service in Missouri
New wireless technology gives instant meter reads and can find problems ahead of billing cycle
As anticipated, AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) technology is increasing operational efficiency at Missouri American Water. AMI metering technology offers wireless technology and remote connectivity that provides on demand, accurate meter reads. This project is overseen by Peter Matschiner, Operations superintendent and Matt Lueders, project engineer.
The technology has led to early detection of leaks in several cases, information that was unavailable in this capacity prior to 2016, when AMI technology first deployed in Missouri. In a recent situation, a residential account appeared to be using water non-stop every hour since device installation in March 2017. The customer was contacted and a service order was created to check the service line for a leak.
“Since this customer was not scheduled to read again until the end of May, we were able to catch this leak a month earlier than we would have been able to do with the old reading device,” said Michael McKenna, Operations technician, who has had similar cases come up over the past few months.
Another leak became apparent to McKenna when he was running a report in SAP. A customer’s account showed two to three gallons of water use every hour. After reaching out to the customer, they discovered a toilet in the residence was leaking. This was caught two months in advance of the bill being sent.
Matschiner and his team have been working closely with Aclara on ways to identify customers with constant usage and ensure those customers are contacted by either mail or email about the possibility of a leak at their property. Aclara is the vendor used in both Missouri and California for the AMI communications network, sensors and monitoring applications and to train FSRs on AMI technology.
“I can’t wait to have this ability for every meter,” Matschiner said. “It is very exciting to see the AMI network do good things for our customers.”
Another customer showed similar continuous use and worked with Christine Wait, field service representative and Emily Vetter, customer service representative, to determine that the increase in use occurred when the family was out of town. The customer was able to surmise that the person watching the home must have flushed a toilet with a known issue, causing it to run the entire time they were out of town.In other cases, an account can be reexamined after a repair to determine whether the fix has worked.
“These examples speak to the power of AMI technology and its ability to provide meter reads in real time, detect leaks and other issues associated with overuse and ultimately increase customer satisfaction,” said McKenna.
In addition to capturing real-time account activity, AMI technology eliminates the need for drive-by reads and handheld devices to pick up usage.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg for the benefits we will see from AMI in the future,” said Andrew Clarkson, vice president of Operations at Missouri American Water. “It’s exciting to see how this technology delivers tangible benefits to our customers.”