Standard water meters are only designed to measure the water consumption of private individuals. However, smart water meters can do much more, so Antwerp drinking water company Water-link commissioned ENGIE Fabricom to install 1,000 of these meters to test their suitability. The positive results convinced Water-link to start replacing all the old meters from autumn 2018 onwards.
A first in Belgium
The roll-out of smart meters is a first in Belgium. It will allow water consumption to be managed and controlled more sustainably. A joint venture between ENGIE Fabricom and the Belgian company Hydroko was awarded the contract to develop and install the first smart water meters in Belgium for 1,000 private individuals and some 20 industrial customers.
The data from the smart meters is forwarded via the ENGIE M2M network, stored by Hydroko, and analysed by Water-link. This data will simplify things for both users and the network administrator. How?
- Life is made easier for users, as they no longer have to forward meter readings or be at home to connect or disconnect a meter. Everything is managed via the network and the smart meter.
- Clearer invoicing: no unpleasant surprises when the invoice arrives. A smart meter always lets the consumer know how much water they are using in real time.
- Limiting damage in the event of a pipeline failure or frost. The meter can quickly cut off the water supply remotely. It can also detect leaks, and immediately alert a repair team.
- Increased security: The smart meter finally puts an end to scammers appearing at the customer’s home, claiming to be employees of the water company.
- Sustainable management: detailed monitoring of water consumption will encourage a more rational use of water.
ENGIE Fabricom’s role
From the autumn of 2018, we will be installing another 160,000 smart meters over a period of 3 to 4 years, so that every citizen of Antwerp will have one by the end of 2020.
Sigfox from ENGIE M2M
The smart meters communicate with Water-link via the network developed and managed by ENGIE M2M, using the Sigfox IoT connectivity solution.
Sigfox operates completely separately from existing communication networks, such as those for smartphones. This network allows 2-way data traffic: the meters both send and receive messages via the network, so they can also be controlled remotely. Sigfox uses a special frequency band, which allows radio waves to penetrate the most difficult places, such as cellars in urban areas. Since Sigfox technology uses 200 to 600 times less power than conventional cellular networks, the batteries in the meters last exceptionally long.