Is your water meter online?
VixNet Africa has launched a new way for estates to keep tabs on its residents’ and common property water usage. Connecting to current manual water meters, VixNet’s Water Meter Interface Unit (named Manzi), electronically reads water usage, on up to two water meters, and sends the information back to a central server every 24 hours, allowing for accurate, up-to-date billing and consumption reports.
According to VixNet’s Clinton Lemmer, Manzi reads water consumption on meters fitted with pulse outputs, such as magnetic reed switches. The Manzi counts the pulses, which are then converted by the back-end software into cubic metres for billing purposes. The device is powered by a replaceable battery which should last for at least five years under normal usage.
The pulse count values are saved in the onboard memory every hour, and the totals are transmitted once a day to keep battery drain to a minimum. Any unsuccessful transmission is retried at the next scheduled transmission.
The system works on VixNet’s Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) network, which is up and running in Gauteng and Cape Town. This is the same network VixNet uses to monitor alarms and transmit signals to guarding control rooms ( www.securitysa.com/7715r). Using DSSS allows signals to be transmitted through normal obstacles, especially devices in awkward areas of transmission. In addition, VixNet’s DSSS network allows for bi-directional communications via the appropriate monitoring software.
Detection of excessive flow outside set parameters can activate the Manzi device to transmit this ‘alarm’ for action to be taken. The Manzi also has a tamper facility in case unauthorised access is gained to where the Manzi unit is installed.
Remote water control
On the back end, VixNet offers a management interface for estates which will allow estate managers to access the water usage from every meter whenever required. Moreover, the back-end functionality with Vixnet’s available incoming data can analyse for leaks due to pressure and or maintenance.
For example, Lemmer says water usage is normally limited between midnight and 3am. Through intelligent head end analysis, trends in wasted water can be logged indicating possible leaks, especially during this period as usage is low and pressure is high. This will allow estates to find areas where there may be leaks without digging up pipes and ensuring a plumber is called only when they know there is a problem. Another cost saving feature is the ability to accurately measure water consumption without sending people to read each individual meter.
The system is easy to install, and it starts its work as soon as the batteries are inserted. Twenty-four hours later the first report will be transmitted (as long as the installation is within VixNet’s coverage area). The system has already been installed at numerous private and commercial installations successfully.
• Long range communication capabilities.
• No need for expensive concentrators.
• Licenced ICASA frequency and not in the unlicensed band.
• Secure and jam-resistant communication technology.
• Excellent signal penetration through urban obstacles.
• No SIM cards required.
• Adding in the meters specific pulse per litre in the head end, displays the litres used per hour.
• Tamper switch provides a signal when the meter casing is opened.
• Positioning of Manzi devices are possible via triangulation.
• No ICASA licence required by the end-user.
• Self-powered using a replaceable battery pack.
• Low battery alarm.
• Programmable pipe burst alarm parameters.