Beacon AMA Managed Solution Improves Efficiency and Customer Service

April 15, 2019

Badger Meter product increases annual revenue, improves monitoring abilities and provides an increase in customer savings costs in Pittsylvania County, Va.

When Chris Adcock became the executive director at the Pittsylvania County Service Authority (PCSA) in 2013, he found an aging water system. With customer service concerns and rising costs, Adcock started his search for a water metering solution and found the Beacon Advanced Metering Analytics (AMA) managed solution by Badger Meter.

The Challenge

PCSA, which was established in 1973 to supply water service to 3,200 accounts, faced extra difficulties due to the 900 sq mile, low account density service area. In 2009, PCSA began installing Orion Classic endpoint AMR mobile read system on all new services and repairs. “Due to the nature of our systems, a network with antennas was not feasible, so mobile read was the obvious choice,” said Adcock. With increased refunds being issued due to leaks and maintenance calls on the rise, Adcock knew the remaining 20-plus year-old system needed an upgrade.

Ron Lilley, territory sales manager for Carolina Meter & Supply and a Badger Meter distributor, offered two solutions: continue installing the Orion Classic endpoint AMR mobile read technology over the entire service area or deploy the new Beacon AMA managed solution with Orion Cellular endpoints. Adcock and the board of PCSA were already happy with the Orion AMR mobile read system that was in place; however, they decided to go with the Beacon AMA managed solution. “The functionality of the Beacon system was the real draw,” Adcock said.

The Solution

The Orion Classic endpoint AMR system provided a solution to constantly stopping for a meter read on busy highways, but the Beacon AMA managed solution eliminated the need to send out employees for a meter read all together. Other distinct advantages stood out to Adcock as well, including the ease of getting daily reads and the ability to quickly determine if a leak occurred in the system. The Orion Cellular endpoints use commercial cellular networks and eliminate the issues they initially faced with their system. When combined with the easy-to-use Beacon AMA software suite, PCSA was able to start saving time and money with near real-time data while improving customer service. In Nov. 2015, 100% of the system was switched to the Beacon AMA managed solution and the impact was instantly noticeable.

“We have seen an immediate ability to provide better customer service. We monitor our system daily for leak alerts and notify those customers of the issues, potentially saving them hundreds of dollars in lost water,” said Adcock. For one customer, this meant that PCSA was able to notify them of a leak, and within an hour, the customer found that a toilet was running in their house and fixed it. After the toilet was fixed, PCSA was able to determine the issue had been resolved because they could see the water usage drop from 300 gal per hour to less than 0.1 gal per hour, all without a single employee being dispatched to the account.

The Potential

PCSA is seeing potential changes for their systems moving forward that they had not considered before the Beacon AMA installation, including changing from bi-monthly billing to monthly billing. “Having a monthly bill, which is normal with most services, may help our customers to have the ability to better budget their expenses and reduce the number of late notices we issue and subsequent turn-offs,” said Adcock. Since the beginning of the installation, PCSA has projected a 9 to 10% increase in annual revenues.

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