Eden Prairie saves with modern AMR technologies

The city of Eden Prairie is one of Minnesota's fastest growing communities. Winter temperatures can remain below freezing for weeks at a time. Water meters are set inside buildings to help protect them from frost damage, but this creates meter reading problems.

Meter reader lock-outs happen where readers are unable to gain access to buildings to read the meters. For years the city had addressed the lock-out problem by using meters equipped with generator remotes.

"However, the remotes we had been using did not always remain accurate," says Eden Prairie Utilities superintendent Ed Sorensen. "The actual readings on the meters were sometimes far different from what was showing on the remote."

So the decision was taken to equip any new meters being installed with encoder registers which would transmit the actual reading data, taking the true positions of the register's encoder wheels and transferring the reading through the remote to an interface device carried by the reader.

After considering various types of AMR systems, Eden Prairie utility managers selected Sensus encoder equipped meters with TouchRead® system remotes. They will be used for future installations and replacements of the ageing generator remotes and meters.

Although the TouchRead system solved most meter reading problems, a couple of special situations called for something more. At the sprawling Washington Avenue industrial park, each of 50 buildings had one or more water meters. For various reasons, gaining access to read meters was difficult and two readers were taking up to two days to do the job. Although the encoder registers and TouchRead remotes would help, the layout of the complex would continue to make meter reading a problem.

The answer was the Sensus RadioRead™ system. Because it uses the same encoder registers as the TouchRead system, it was not necessary to adopt different software or change out any existing Sensus meters. All that was needed in most cases was to add a RadioRead meter transceiver unit (MXU) to each meter, to allow radio based reading using either a handheld radio frequency solid state interrogator (RFSSI) or a vehicle transceiver unit (VXU) which is portable and can be used in any vehicle. Today all meters are read by a single person in about an hour, using a handheld RFSSI.