Measuring, Monitoring and Controlling a Host of Water-Related Operations

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Author: Brian Robertson, Account Executive (West Coast, Canada), Renteknik Group Inc.

Unmeasured water – Harnessing Sustainability and Cost Savings

Measuring water is vital when it comes to learning how to better monitor and control water flow, as well as improving the overall efficiency of the system within a building. Whether it be industrial, commercial or residential, precise, real-time measurements is crucial in helping to conserve water and support overall sustainability.

If you are an owner or developer of a multi-residential building, then you probably are aware that water rental consumption harnesses an accountable portion of your revenue. With renters being the primary source, a significant portion of this revenue goes towards covering operating expenses and preparing for future capital investments. If you sub meter water thinking you would mitigate annual utility cost increases, think again.  Water costs have been on the rise for years, which has subsequently placed an increased value on controlling water
usage– bringing the importance of water recovery to the forefront, across all flow ranges: low, medium and high.

Kamstrup Water Meter Technology – Measurement Canada Approved

Kamstrup’s Water Meter Technology is Measurement Canada Approved. It Is very important to note that Measurement Canada states that only approved devices can be used in measurement-based trade in Canada.1

Measurement Canada makes electricity and thermal sub-metering services in Canada easy to compare, however, the same does not apply to water sub-metering. Equipment selection often only prescribes American Water and Wastewater Association (AWWA) C-700 standards. These set out tolerances and accuracy requirements. Despite these metrics there can still be large differences in water sub-metering equipment

Low Flow and Why it is Important to Measure

Low flow measurement is increasingly looked to as a means for improved water-measurement accuracy. Ultrasonic flow meters are non-intrusive devices that use acoustic vibrations to measure the flow rate of liquid. There are two types, Doppler and transit time.

These flow meters are also ideal for applications where low pressure drop, chemical compatibility, and low maintenance are required.

Keep in mind that not all water meters are built to measure low flow. There is a financial impact from different water meter technologies and if you have sub metered for water with the incorrect technology, dollars are literally going down the drain.

The Downfall to Mechanical Meters

Mechanical Meters have been reliable and long lasting, but accuracy does decrease over time leading to under reading, especially at low flows. Over time, the internal components of the meter will wear resulting in the meter under-registering the volume of water.

In comparison, there are some significant advantages to Smart Meters (non-mechanical meters) or Ultrasonic Meters including:

  • Accuracy – Non-mechanical meters maintain their accuracy curve for the life of the meter. Typically, manufacturers offer a warranty for the 20-year life.
  • Low Flow Accuracy – Non-mechanical meters maintain their accuracy at low flows for life (typically low flow accuracy degrades more quickly than other flow rates on mechanical meters).
  • Water Loss – Intelligent alerts in the ultrasonic water meter enable efficient leak detection and lower the amount of non-revenue water – because the faster a leak is detected and stopped, the less water is lost as a result of it.

In Conclusion

Smart water metering goes far beyond enabling accurate billing, it is a constant source of information about what goes on within your distribution system(s). Having the right knowledge at the right time makes it easier to effectively target your efforts and be proactive rather than reactive. This will significantly help improve your system’s capabilities while also gaining the confidence to solve challenges for the future, such as sustainability for the environment, cost savings on utility bills as well as your utility’s bottom line.

Sources:1https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/mc-mc.nsf/eng/lm04889.html

Source: https://www.kamstrup.com/en-us/water-solutions/themes/mechanical-vs-ultrasonic

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Energy Manager Canada Article – July 2020

Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting.

A good starting point for your adventure to energy excellence.

With the rapid development in recent years of IoT devices, cloud-based platforms and the cost effectiveness of device level data collection, particularly electrical consumption, the opportunities to get a clear and visual understanding of how your equipment or systems are operating is becoming a reality. This level of insight allows for real actions to be taken with a solid business case and proven results.

The goal of Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting is to ensure operational and energy cost savings are achieved through the implementation of efficiency measures related to systems and equipment as well as the facility operation and overall production. It’s important to understand why these opportunities exist in the first place and this often comes down to a misconception that if something is operating correctly then it must be efficient. This becomes much more complicated to understand in a complex system but a simple example is a light fixture in your own home.

A 60 Watt incandescent bulb produces the required light for the task at hand and is therefore deemed to be effective and efficient, or more commonly the efficiency was not properly evaluated. Replacing that same 60 Watt bulb with a 7 Watt LED would typically produce better light quality, which may improve productivity all while doing it with less energy.

Many pieces of equipment, system, buildings, etc. that exist in facilities today had an initial concept and at that time there were certain maximum efficiencies that were possible, such as pre LED technology. From the initial concept there was a design process, likely with some compromises either related to budget, availability of equipment etc. followed by a construction or installation which likely also had “as-built” conditions. Through further setup and adjustments over time, coupled with maintenance activities, there has likely been further degradation from the optimum efficiency both from a production or operational state as well as energy consumption.

By undertaking Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting the opportunity for improvement is developed by the following:

1. Understanding what is happening
2. Identifying how to improve this, usually with focused service and maintenance rather than capital expenditure
3. Actioning the measures to create documented operational and energy improvements.

It is also important to understand that efficiency gains don’t always create an energy saving, therefore never measure success only on reduction in energy. For example, if improving a process cooling loop results in fewer defective parts and increase the overall volume of parts being produced the measured, energy being used may actually increase so in this case it’s important to use the energy cost per unit produced as the measure for success.

Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting is quite simply these three steps.

1. MONITORING

Monitoring is the first phase, done to create a baseline using historical utility, operation or production data and whenever possible the addition of sub-metering either at a system or device level. Remember, if you are tracking energy savings you will need to be in the ten percent (10%) overall reduction before you see a change on the utility bill, assuming you can accurately normalize for variables such as weather, production volumes, occupancy etc. The monitoring is also to evaluate energy, demand performance of equipment/systems, operation/production and other variables and to establish operational efficiency and productivity metrics by which you are going to measure the success of what is undertaken.

2. TARGETING

Targeting is the second phase to identify and implement Operational and Energy Efficiency Measures. During this phase, the collected data is used to build the action plan which includes a business plan and also an estimate of Demand reduction, Electricity and Energy savings based on the proposed implementations. Implementation of measures usually starts with focused service and maintenance activities that are either funded from an existing allocated budget or have a very short simple payback where the needed funds can be allocated from the operational budget (OpEx), rather than needing to be done through a usually more laborious process of capital expenditure (CapEx).

3. REPORTING

The final phase is the Reporting phase.  This is a very important phase not to be missed or glossed over.  Demonstrating success rewards efforts made and drives a desire to do more.   Reports detail what has been done and include calculations of actual operational efficiencies gained and if possible, the measured energy and demand savings all done in accordance with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) guidelines.  An important part of the Reporting is also to highlight what must be done to ensure that ongoing operational gains, energy management and sustained savings are not eroded over time.  This can include revised schedules for maintenance, alerting and alarming and moving more towards a performance based maintenance program rather than a traditional passage of time approach.

A GOOD ANALOGY:

Look at motor vehicles that historically had no oil monitoring systems. For these vehicles it was accepted that oil changes should be done every five thousand miles or every six months regardless of the operation of the vehicle or the driving conditions. Modern vehicles have oil monitoring systems that determine the need for the oil change based on many factors including how the vehicle has been operated (highway versus city driving for example) and the environment. This same performance based maintenance can be applied to any equipment or system that has sufficient data being recorded and being made readily available for analysis.

There are a few added steps to consider during your Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting project. Remember to develop a written Project Plan and to share this widely. This will help manage expectations and should include who is to be involved in the project with specific roles and responsibilities. Include how to communicate the project to everyone regardless of how involved they will be. Data Collection is another important step. Detail what data is required, for what durations and how this is going to be gathered. There are many very cost-effective wireless sensors that can be used and in some instances these are self-powering or have a solar cell for power. Power over ethernet (POE) is also a developing option. Battery powered sensors can be problematic if they are transmitting a lot of regular data as the battery life can be severely shortened. The investment of battery replacement can be cost prohibitive, not because of the cost of the battery itself but because of the time needed to find, access, change and redeploy the sensor. Wherever possible and practical, make the data collection permanent so that it can be used in the future to assist with performance based activities and to help ensure that efficiencies gained are not eroded over time as things have a tendency to drift back to the old “business-as-usual” state if not watched.

Looking for available grants, incentives, tax credits etc. that may be available to help fund the project is also valuable. Many levels of government and utilities across North America have these available and they are often easy to collect if you have measured the required pre-project base-line data and the post project data in accordance with accepted Measurement and Verification guidelines. Not only do incentives help with financing the business case, but they also represent an external validation of the success of the efforts that went into a project. Happy adventuring!

If your business or facility is interested in learning more and having a discussion in regards to Monitoring, Targeting and Reporting, Renteknik’s Engineers and Technical Experts will be happy to continue the conversation and answer any questions.