LoRa® Devices: Enabling Proven Cost-Saving Utility Applications Today

  • March 11, 2020
  • imc

Globally, the proportion of smart water meters will soon exceed a third of all water meters shipped annually. IHS Markit forecasts over 50 million new smart water meters will ship globally in 2022, compared to 30 million (representing 25 percent of total shipments) in 2017. Factors driving the acceleration of smart metering adoption by water utilities include direct benefits of improved billing accuracy with the automated collection of meter data, but even more so the cost savings through the reduction of water leaks and the improved efficiency in resource management. In the past decade, a number of water utilities in North America and Western Europe have adopted the walk by/drive by method to profit from the short-range data transferring capabilities of wirelessly communicating meters. Today, market demand for increased efficiency and digital transformation is pushing for transition from the walk by/drive by system to fixed network connectivity via meters with long range radio technologies– no manual reading necessary. 
Author: Rémi Demerlé, Director of Vertical Marketing for Utilities in Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group

Taking advantage of benefits for water and gas metering, smart utilities are leveraging non-Cellular low-power wide-area networking (LPWAN) technologies, such as Semtech’s LoRa® devices and the LoRaWAN® open protocol. According to ABI Research, LPWAN technologies are expected to represent nearly 20 percent of all connections of smart meters deployed by 2026. With several hundred known use cases (and growing), and more than 105 million devices deployed over the globe, LoRa-based devices and LoRaWAN-based networks are the de facto choice among LPWAN solutions today. 

For example, Birdz, a subsidiary of Nova Veolia and a leading solution provider for the smart water metering market, noticed that between the water plant and end consumer, supply grids in France were losing a significant portion of the water produced to undetected leaks in piping. This equates to a loss of as much as 25 percent of production in some cases. In France, this would mean that out of 6 billion cubic meters of drinking water produced annually, 1.5 billion would be wasted. This represents significant losses for the supplier, largely due to the cost of production and the energy needed to manage and treat the water. Birdz’s water grid management solutions aim to reduce the impact of leaks and save customers money. 

In 2015, Eau du Grand Lyon implemented a LoRa-based smart water metering system with Birdz. The new water management approach generated significant benefits, enabling the identification and faster repair of 1,200 water leaks in the distribution network. As a result, up to one million cubic meters of water have been saved annually in production, creating an eight percent overall increase in water network efficiency from 77 percent in 2014, to 85.2 percent in 2018. Learn more about this unique use case in the recent press release.

By implementing a smart metering infrastructure comprised of sensors and gateways with LoRa devices, utility companies can more efficiently collect data and streamline operations to cut cost. For more about LoRa for smart utilities, visit the smart metering applications page of the Semtech website.

 Explore Smart Utilities Use Cases

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