City of Fort Wayne Water Division
Fort Wayne, Indiana
The City of Fort Wayne turns to Xylem Revenue Locator by evaluating the effectiveness of their existing meter replacement program to more accurately identify underperforming meters, reduce water loss, and identify recoverable revenue.
The City of Fort Wayne, the second largest city in Indiana, has a proactive water utility that is always looking for innovative ways to optimize water management and better serve their community. In recent years, they began exploring how to address ongoing apparent water loss (water that is consumed but not properly measured, accounted for, or paid for) and its associated economic, social, and environmental costs.
In 2019, the City of Fort Wayne’s Water Division decided to perform a check on its meter fleet. Specifically, the utility wanted to evaluate the effectiveness of their existing meter replacement program – which, like the traditional programs used by many utilities, relied on random testing and factor-based criteria such as meter age and throughput to prioritize replacement. They suspected that taking an innovative approach involving machine learning and analytics might help them more accurately identify underperforming meters and locate water lost as a result. This could be a big benefit to the utility since apparent water loss can account for about two percent of a utility’s top-line revenue.
Beginning in January 2020, the City of Fort Wayne engaged Xylem in a one-year pilot program to quantify the utility’s current state of apparent water loss in their 2-inch meters, and build a prioritized, economically justified meter replacement program focused on the largest areas of revenue loss.
The city deployed Xylem Revenue Locator, a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription platform. The solution leverages machine learning and analytics to provide utilities with data-driven operational guidance to identify metering inaccuracies, prioritize field maintenance activities, implement efficient meter testing and replacement programs, and maximize revenue recovery.
Over the course of the program, Xylem Revenue Locator analyzed all of Fort Wayne's 2-inch meters. The data that was gathered successfully demonstrated which meters had inaccuracies and provided the quantifiable impact of how much volume or revenue would be lost if the meter were not repaired or replaced. Understanding that no two utilities are the same and off-the shelf software itself doesn’t always provide a universal solution appropriate for a city’s unique needs, Xylem met regularly with utility staff to review data, offer insights and make recommendations on which meters to focus on as well as report on the progress of the program.
“Before working with Xylem, we were managing our meter fleet and making inspection and replacement decisions without true visibility. We are now harnessing the power of our existing data to drive effective, efficient and proactive decision-making instead of being reactive.”
Ben Groeneweg, Utility Asset Management and Sustainability Manager, City of Fort Wayne
At the end of the program, Xylem had “flagged” 85 issues for investigation and found that 80% of the meters tested were under-performing. This translated into $264,871 of potential revenue savings over two-years that can now be recaptured by the City's meter replacement and repair efforts. When compared to the traditional method of random meter tests previously performed, Xylem’s Revenue Locator delivered an eight-fold improvement identifying metering inaccuracies.
This Xylem Revenue Locator dashboard shows all of the City of Fort Wayne's identified meter issues and the associated revenue and water loss volume impacts.
Based on these insights gained and the potential value to the utility, the City of Fort Wayne decided to extend the engagement to a three-year program using Xylem’s Revenue Locator solution to identify metering inaccuracies for all of its mechanical meters between 2- to 10-inches.
By selecting an identified meter issue from the main dashboard, operators can access a detailed view of that meter's operational data.
Additionally, as the utility begins a program to transition from mechanical meters to automated meter infrastructure (AMI) enabled meters, the data gathered from the Xylem program is being used to help develop a prioritized replacement plan. This will ensure that Fort Wayne sees the results of their plan to reduce apparent water loss and gain additional revenue as quickly as possible.
Provided an 8X improvement in meter inaccuracy identification over traditional methods
By working with Xylem, the City of Fort Wayne has been able to maximize revenue recovery, identify opportunities to increase operational efficiency and optimize their meter replacement program with a payback period of just over one year.