A case study on why IoT water metering makes sense, even in remote NZ

Arthur D. Riley & Co Ltd (ADR) is one of New Zealand’s most experienced fieldsmart technology companies for the Utility industry. This is the story about the challenges and benefits of one of their first IoT projects.

New Zealand is generally not short of water, so not the first place you would think of for monitoring water consumption. However some areas of the Country experience water scarcity, especially in the hot summer months. This is the case for Duvauchelle, a small town of mainly holiday homes situated at the head of Akaroa Harbour on Banks Peninsula, an area service by the Christchurch City Council (CCC).

As a beach-side holiday town the population of Duvauchelle triples in the summer months, and so does the water consumption. To the point where water is brought in by truck to cover the essential needs of the inhabitants, at a very high cost to the CCC.

Clearly the town was under “water stress”. With the advent of IoT and the SIGFOX New Zealand National Network there was technology available with near real-time metering of the water consumption, enabling the CCC to better understand demand and potential water leaks. ADR was appointed to help with designing and implementing this smart technology.

The objectives were very clear: previously water meters in the settlement were read once every two years. The CCC now wanted six reads per day to better identify potential over-consumption patterns, high users and leaks. Overall, they wanted to get greater visibility of water usage as well as share the data with wider stakeholders (community and water utilities).

A few challenges presented themselves with project. The area is quite remote with limited cellular coverage, so the use of IoT technology required the installation of a wireless network base station in the right location to cover for the hilly terrain. Also, the water meters were below ground level  and had to be secured under heavy duty plastic or metal lids (reducing radio reception quality of wireless sensors). To add to the difficult, the project had to be completed in difficult weather conditions.

water meter installation sigfoxWorking in conjunction with ADR, Thinxtra installed a solar powered Sigfox base station on an ideal high point in Duvauchelle. ADR then retrofitted 266 water meters in town with IoT pulse dataloggers, and started monitoring consumption data from each water meter via ADR’s bespoke water management platform.

Within a few weeks, ADR were getting some interesting insights, which needed to be checked live. For example, sites with hidden connection to the main pipes, householders diverting pipes before the meter, people removing their dataloggers, trucks passing by and refilling from CCC water tanks, overflowing water tanks, and the usual 10% leakages.

From the beginning of the project, based on the difference between sourced water and the captured water from the meters, 60% of the water was missing. By going through each individual meter consumption insights and determining the real issues on site, and at the same time fixing them over a three month period, they were able to reduce the unaccounted water figure to 30%. This 30% unaccounted water loss will reduce further as more leakage issues on the network are identified and fixed.

Bruce Franks from A.D.Riley commented: “From now on, not only are the users properly allocated their consumption, but Duvauchelle doesn’t require as much water to be brought in by truck during summer, a previously highly inefficient and costly exercise for this small, remote place. From this early experience in dealing with IoT smart metering, ADR and the CCC have gained a lot of insights on consumer water consumption in Duvauchelle, such as previously unknown major leaks, unaccounted for home and commercial excess water usage – gains that could be easily replicated to larger scale projects in an even shorter period. “ Additionally – “This project also enabled ADR to develop PowerBI dashboard for analytics which has been instrumental in solving leakage and loss identification”

About A.D.Riley & Co Ltd (ADR) – making utilities smarter since 1909

ADR’s founder, Arthur D Riley, was an engineer renowned for his entrepreneurial spirit, something the company continues to embody as providers of fieldsmart technology. ADR are always there for our customers, with technology and expertise that keeps operations running in the field. From high voltage power distribution, water revenue metering and system control, to data acquisition and parking management systems, ADR offers a proven, fieldsmart solution backed with technical expertise.

More info at http://adriley.co.nz
Contact: Bruce Franks (Marketing and Development) bfranks@adriley.co.nz

About Thinxtra New Zealand

Thinxtra is empowering the Internet of Things by commercialising and operating the first nationwide LPWA network in New Zealand (based on Sigfox connectivity technology) as well as enabling and promoting a full eco-system of partners that provide IoT solutions and services to increase productivity, accelerate decision making, improve quality of service and quality of life, and find more economical solutions to common problems.
Thinxtra is leading this IoT revolution, by connecting the un-connected, for a more sustainable future.

Contact: Shaun McBride (NZ BDM) shaun.mcbride@thinxtra.com


Sigfox Makes For Happy Pãua in New Zealand

New Zealand, May 3rd 2017 – Sigfox IoT Network for the New Zealand Aquaculture Industry
New Zealand is one of the largest and most efficient exporters of lamb, beef and dairy products in the world. It has a strong reputation for the development of advanced techniques in the optimisation of primary industries and many of these techniques are highly prized in overseas markets. But there is another comparatively new primary industry climbing the ranks showing rapid year on year growth.
With 14,000 Kilometres of coastline making it the 10th longest in the World, New Zealand also has a large and thriving aquaculture industry, with major players including Sanfords, Sealord and Aotearoa Fisheries. The aim of all New Zealand fisheries is to provide long term sustainability – thereby not increasing the stock take but to increase production in a smart and sustainable manner.

A long range, low power, low cost network built just for IoT
Thinxtra has deployed a New Zealand wide Internet of Things (IoT) network with its partners Kordia utilising Sigfox technology, now covering 89% of population in NZ. It is an ultra-low power, low cost and long range network that is particularly good over water with messages delivered as far as 150km out to sea. This makes it ideal for connecting assets that previously had no option but to connect to an expensive satellite system and in many cases, the lack of a local power source made this simply impossible. The new network could have a significant impact for the Aquaculture industry, enabling increased yields by smart means and allowing operators to act on real time information.

Joss Birss Moana paua

Joss Birss – Moana’s pāua expert with his happy pāua. Behind him the Sigfox monitored Hot Water Heat Pump.

Sustainable Fisheries are adopting IoT technology
One of the first NZ fisheries to take advantage of the innovative Sigfox IoT network is Moana New Zealand. Moana is the largest Maori owned Fisheries Company in New Zealand with a long term view to ensure sustainability of their fisheries for generations to come.
With pristine New Zealand coastal seawater, Moana harvests some of the highest quality pāua (known globally as blue abalone) in the world on their commercial farm on the East Coast of Northland.
Pāua is a large edible mollusc, with a unique deep blue colour shell. It has a subtle taste and firm texture. At over USD 100 per kilo it is also a very valuable shellfish.
Pāua requires very specific conditions to grow well, ideally with seawater temperature between 17.5˚ to 18˚C. Although they can tolerate colder temperatures, they are very susceptible to warmer temperatures. Last summer, Moana lost valuable stock at the Northland pāua farm, due to a heat wave. Moana Nursery Team Leader Joss Birss is pleased to be able to introduce technology to assist them to act on real time data.
“There are so many variables you can’t control in this industry, particularly with the weather, so we continually look for ways to improve on the things we can control.” Birss says. With a number of the breeding stock lost with the higher temperatures as well as the possible economic impact of losing important genetic variation, this was a situation which Moana had to avoid in future years.

Industrial Monitoring
Moana engaged with Auckland based Hot Water Heat Pumps Ltd to control the temperature of the seawater to the majority of the brood stock pāua tanks. The variable capacity heat and chill unit controls the seawater temperature to a steady 17.5 ˚C to all tanks allowing for optimal growth and consistency for the brood stock pāua.
“Since the industrial heat pumps were installed we have not lost one pāua, and we are seeing increased rates of conditioning and growth which will only increase our productivity.” Birss explains.
The heat pump units were recently upgraded to provide remote connectivity to constantly monitor and control the equipment via the nationwide Sigfox network. Hot Water heat pumps engaged with industrial IoT design company Motiv Industrial IoT Solutions to design and implement a SIGFOX-RS485 Din rail mounted transceiver, which connects directly to the heat pump control circuitry using a standard Modbus protocol.

Preventive Maintenance
Kevin Trigg, Sales and Marketing Manager at Hot Water Heat Pumps Ltd was delighted to discover Motiv and the Sigfox technology they specialise in. “When we engaged with Motiv, it just made sense for such important control equipment which is responsible for such a high value product that we should have constant remote control and monitoring of the unit. Before now, we had no easy way of providing simple connectivity to our -out of the factory- assets that just worked. We didn’t want to rely on our customers WiFi systems to connect our assets and 3G systems were too complicated. We now know if there is problem with the heat pump before our client does and we can react before any performance issues occur.”

This isn’t the first unit Hot Water Heat Pumps have provisioned with Sigfox technology. It is also being used to monitor commercial swimming pools. Mike Day, Service Manager at Hot Water Heat Pumps Ltd was pleased they could be alerted to a problem and that a service agent could be sent before a problem was noticed by the client.

“Before the Sigfox network was implemented, if there was a problem on one of our pool heat pumps, it might not be noticed immediately leading to temperature changes and a delay before repairs were carried out.  We can now turn up on site with the correct parts and disruption to services is minimised.  It dramatically changes our service model and sets us apart from our competitors.”

“The solution presented to us by Motiv ticked all the boxes. The combination of low hardware and operational cost was a must. We don’t want to add this cost burden to our customers so it had to be a level we would accept while adding a point of difference. The hardest part was creating a SIGFOX-RS485 transceiver that fitted into a single DIN rail mounted enclosure, which fits seamlessly within the limited space of our units existing control circuitry. Motiv really delivered here and as far as I know, fitting it all into such a small unit was a world first. Finally, the ease of which the unit is setup to connect and display monitoring data to our service team made it a simple choice.”
Kevin believes they have taken a big step forward in customer service by being able to offer IoT technology to their clients:
“In fact, we have been so impressed with how easy it was to make this change to our products, we plan to offer Motiv’s Sigfox transceivers as an option on all commercial heat pumps leaving the factory and we are even upgrading some of our commercial heat pumps that are already in service”.

About Moana Paua farm
Moana New Zealand is the largest Māori–owned fisheries company in New Zealand. They fish and harvest solely from the coastal waters of Aotearoa. One of the world’s most pristine and sustainably managed fisheries. Connecting customers to the taste of a true and pure place. Bringing to customers New Zealand’s most sought after species of blue abalone, wild abalone, fin fish, lobster and oyster. Seafood as good as it can be, brought to market with a lightness of touch that preserves and protects its pure taste and rare magic. They have a deep sense of responsibility and respect for their kai moana, honouring the taonga they have been entrusted with. Taking a long term view in everything they do, they work in harmony with nature to ensure the sustainability of their fisheries for future generations.
For more information, moana.co.nz contact: Lynette Suvalko

About Motiv
The team at Motiv has been providing bespoke, engineered solutions in the data acquisition and control field for many years. Their solution architects take an end-to-end systems approach to hardware, firmware, software and web specification, design and integration.  They have established a strong capability in wireless telemetry for Internet of Things applications, based on a range of communication channels such as Wifi, Sigfox and GSM connectivity. This has enabled them to help their clients maximise their data aggregation capabilities and better utilise and manage their assets. As they put it: “we take care of the bits and bytes, allowing you the time to take care of your business.”
For more information, motiv.io contact: Ben Birch

About Hot Water Heat Pumps Ltd

Hot Water Heat Pumps has a history of timely product innovations, which saw the introduction of high-tech corrosion resistant tubing within the heat exchanger of its swimming pool heat pump range during the late 1980’s. The advancement came after HWHP’s Don Trigg identified a problem the standard grades of tubing used at the time. These had a tendency to fail when proper pool balance wasn’t maintained, causing considerable damage to the heat pumps refrigeration system. In over 35 years of operation, Hot Water Heat Pumps have developed a solid reputation as a high quality producer and distributor of heat pump water heaters and water temperature control solutions to residential and commercial customers across New Zealand and abroad. Their commitment to service and their belief that customers should have access to the very best water heating technology at highly competitive prices has driven their growth since the beginning.  Today, Hot Water Heat Pumps operates a network of over 80 Dealers, offering a broad range of water heating equipment and services that spans water heaters, underfloor heating systems and industrial water heating and chilling solutions.

For more information, waterheating.co.nz  contact: Kevin Trigg

About Thinxtra
Thinxtra is empowering the Internet of Things in Asia Pacific by deploying the world-leading Sigfox LPWA network as well as building a full eco-system of IoT solutions and services to enable the non-connected to connect, to increase productivity, accelerate decision making, improve quality of service and quality of life, and find more economical solutions to common problems. Sigfox is the world’s leading provider of connectivity for the Internet of Things (IoT). The company has built a global network to connect billions of devices to the Internet while consuming as little energy as possible, as simply as possible.
Sigfox’s unique approach to device-to-cloud communications addresses the three greatest barriers to global IoT adoption: cost, energy consumption, and global scalability. Thinxtra’s Sigfox network currently covers 71% of the population in Australia and 89% of the population in New Zealand and will start deployment in Hong Kong by June 2017. It will cover 95% of the population of those countries by the end of 2017.
Thinxtra was founded by IoT and network experts who share a common passion for connecting things to improve business processes and people lives. It is backed by NZX-listed high-tech company Rakon Limited, which has a history of innovation in communications technology going back some 50 years.

For more information, contact:
Renald Gallis – VP Marketing and Ecosystem
renald.gallis@thinxtra.com +61 404 894 960