New water meter register developed
Posted by: Metering.com
July 4, 2008
AccuLinx is an 8 wheel absolute encoder without batteries that connects the water meter to third party automatic meter reading (AMR) systems using Sagentia’s ‘Gray Wheels’ sensing technology. The new system allows utility companies to read the mechanical odometer for billing purposes accurately, remotely, and electronically, and to detect leaks. This system is extremely low-power and is ‘non-contact’, creating no friction. It allows use with multi-jet systems, which make up about half of the water meters used in the world, most of which have until now been exempt from AMR for this reason.
Sagentia was approached by Master Meter initially to design the mechanics (gearbox and enclosure) for a water meter register based on a third party’s 6-wheel encoder. During a two-year development, Sagentia carried out various phases of work on the design – in particular looking at the number of gears. Through a combination of mathematics and mechanics, Sagentia initially reduced the tooling outlay for the gearbox variants by 90 percent, saving Master Meter millions of dollars. Sagentia also changed the design to include eight wheels.
During this development Dr Robin Lee, Head of Science and Technology at Sagentia, developed an idea for a new sensing principle for the absolute encoder, which reads the position of the wheels in an odometer. The technology was named ‘Gray Wheels’.
Dr Lee comments: "I was trying to think of ways to improve on the existing technology. We had previously been doing work on inductive sensors as a simple detector of a metal object and I was able to build on this to develop an idea that would uniquely determine the position in a number of zones. I spent the weekend writing up the idea and described it to some of my colleagues the following week.
"We were aware of the technologies available for absolute encoders for water meter registers. However, there were still some problems. To make the idea more widely applicable and useful we needed a spatial pattern code for the coils that had some very special properties. Fortunately, one of our mathematical experts, Dr Ross Jones, was able to solve this challenging problem and soon we had the foundations of a unique sensor system."