Future-Proofing Your Utility System

Future-Proofing Your Utility System

You hardly need to be reminded that technology continues to evolve and expand. You see it every day in both your business and your home life. And it’s increasingly clear that simply “keeping up” isn’t going to cut it. You need to stay ahead of the technology, making sure your utility system works for today and is ready for future developments.

Take wireless data transmission, for example. The usual wireless communications frequencies are being overwhelmed with more and more traffic. Technology needs to help your data transmissions cut through the noise and make sure your systems are updated quickly and effectively. The future will also require two-way communications, as green energy sources begin selling power back to the grid and utilities send updated information back to SMART meters. All this, as well as up-to-date account information from the field, requires technology that facilitates system-to-system communications quickly and accurately.

Another “future is now” trend is being driven by companies like Amazon and Uber, not companies you would think of as competitive drivers for utilities. But the transparency, visibility, and seamless experience these companies are developing raise customer expectations for all industries. Real-time data for instant analysis and systems status are becoming expected in all customer experiences, not just in these online providers. Customers want to have the same consumer advantages across all their services.

As higher quality service and range of offerings are expected by consumers, efficiency is increasingly important for your utility. Regulated rates mean revenue is controlled. So you need to keep costs strictly under control, as well. Utilizing technology that allows you to meet today’s needs, as well as keeping you “future ready” as technology expands, helps you contain expenses.

GROEBNER is your partner to connect you with the cutting-edge technology you need. Our supplier network is continually developing new products and services to make sure you can future-proof your gas systems.

Better communications, greater efficiency

For many years, the height of meter-reading technology has been ERT, encoder receiver transmitter technology developed by Itron. This has allowed for automatic meter reading (AMR), done on foot or from a vehicle by utility employees passing through the neighborhood. As years have gone by, however, receiver traffic has grown dramatically. ERT transmissions are often interfered with by this growing frequency noise.

Sensus’ FlexNet EasyLink™ Mobile Communications offers the latest in technology to deal with this challenge and make your meter-reading systems future ready. The FlexNet EasyLink system reads both Sensus’ own SmartPoint® transceivers plus the competition’s ERTs – both SCM and SCM+. This positions your utility to take advantage of the latest and future technology. SmartPoint data transmissions are broadcast at a full 2 watts, over FCC-licensed frequencies and eliminates the interference from other transmitting devices. The more powerful transmissions on quieter frequencies allows for significantly greater range, better read rates, and improved route efficiencies. This kind of efficiency really positions you for the future.

The FlexNet EasyLink system helps you regulate costs too. Transitioning from ERT technology can be expensive if you update your entire utility system all at once. Because the FlexNet EasyLink system can read both SmartPoint (the technology of the future) and ERT, you can begin to replace your AMR systems on an as-needed basis, rather than in an across-the-board manner. This allows you to budget for the updates, while moving steadily toward the future.

Finally, the SmartPoint can future-proof your utility system by ultimately allowing a seamless transition from a drive-by (route) system to a full two-way fixed based radio (direct read) FlexNet communication system. When you’re ready for that step, you just stand up the radio antennas and data backhaul and the SmartPoints immediately start communication to your database on command.

The FlexNet system allows your utility to get real-time data transfer, which can improve how you operate. The FlexNet fixed base system can provide not only meter reading data, but system operational data as well. This includes pressures, CP readings, remote shut offs, and designated alarms. The FlexNet system makes your utility “greener” as it changes the way you utilize resources and only roll trucks on exceptions. The data gathered via FlexNet increases from a monthly read for billing to daily information and on demand real-time information. The FlexNet system will allow you to give your customers the data, access, and transparency they are asking for.

Increased traceability, faster data collection and analysis

Customers demand more data, more quickly. And it’s not only customers. Operations and regulations also require greater data detail and accountability. Data collection is the future. You need to be responsive to these demands, but it’s important for your business that you can do so with an eye to keeping costs in check.

This is where the McElroy DataLogger 6® and McElroy DataVault® can be invaluable tools. With a simple barcode scan, the DataLogger 6 allows you to collect data from plastic pipe fusions, as required by ASTM F3124, the latest in government tracking and traceability standards. With a single scan of the pipeline or fitting, the system is automatically filled with pipe material, size, manufacture date, and lot number. The user can quickly add operator and machine information, along with the GPS location of each joint.

The McElroy DataLogger 6 records all of the fusion parameters during the fusion process and stores that information. All these features ensure you’ll have real-time, complete data collection and accountability. Additionally, the DataLogger 6 has a built-in camera, so photos of the completed fusion can be easily added too.

Once the fusion data gathering is completed, all the data gathered by the DataLogger 6 is uploaded wirelessly to the secure McElroy DataVault in the cloud. Because the data is cloud-stored, the fusion data can be shared in near real-time basis. The fusion data can be used as a final quality check before the pipe is buried, it can be transmitted securely to the utility mapping system, and it can be used for documenting fusions for operator qualification records. The data in the McElroy DataVault can be segmented by job or operator and viewed by multiple people simultaneously for issue resolution.

With the McElroy DataVault you’ll have all the data you want and need, loaded and ready for final documentation. You’ll have data for now and the future, all in a way that allows you to keep operation costs in check.

Tech-compatibility, data gathering on smaller pipes

McElroy is keeping an eye to the future in more ways than one, understanding how important it is that future equipment is capable of providing fusion data records on the joints created. The challenge has always been the interface of the smaller, mechanically operated machines and their interface to the DataLogger 6 for providing data records for quality control and future analysis.

So McElroy developed the Acrobat™, a compact, versatile butt fusion machine with DataLogger capability. As a fusion is being made, the Acrobat interfaces directly with the DataLogger 6, providing you with instant data collection and real-time analysis of the fusion integrity for every field fusion.

The Acrobat 180 fuses pipe and fittings from 2” to 6” (63 mm to 180 mm), with a variety of pressure ratings. The carriages can be configured from a 4-jaw to a 3-jaw machine by removing the base, all without the use of tools. In more confining spaces, the top jaws can be removed completely with the pull of a pin. This allows for easier manipulation around pipe and fittings. A convenient insert design allows an operator to effortlessly change sizes to fit larger pipe dimensions with a snap.

The Acrobat was designed with a small footprint and an ideal weight. The modular Acrobat Hydraulic Power Unit (HPU) consumes minimal power and is lightweight, making it easy to move from joint to joint. For power greater than 400 PSI, the Acrobat is also compatible with the more powerful DynaMc® HPU, that can reach pressures up to 1,500 PSI.

The intelligent design of both the Acrobat and DynaMc HPUs allow the operator to preset the facing, heating, and fusing pressures individually without having to make adjustments between operations. In addition, the heater and facer can be loaded from either the top or the bottom of the carriage (in the 3-jaw configuration), giving the operator better access and flexibility regardless of the joining challenge. Not only will you have seamless interface to the DataLogger 6, you’ll have equipment that’s versatile and easy for your operators to use.

Improved methods, upgraded capabilities

Sometimes, efficiency and cost effectiveness are the best ways to prepare your business for the future. You need equipment that functions at maximum capabilities, while allowing your field staff to work quickly and safely.

SENSIT Technologies’ GAS-TRAC® LZ-30 is designed to do just that. The GAS-TRAC LZ-30 is a hand-held, methane-specific leak detector that uses TDLAS, a laser technology that can achieve extremely low detection limits. It is fast and accurate up to 100 feet, which makes it ideal for use in difficult-to-reach areas. This keeps your staff safe and allows them to move quickly throughout the site. The GAS-TRAC LZ-30 and SENSIT’s other toxic and combustible gas detectors help you keep your worksite and workers safe, effectively and with fewer man-hours.

As technology advances, costs come down and the SENSIT GAS-TRAC LZ-30 is a prime example of that. It puts the latest and safest technology in your operators’ hands.

Partner with us for your future-proofing needs

GROEBNER knows how important it is for you to remain ahead of the technology moves that are shaping the future of the industry. We continually seek out suppliers who look ahead, making sure you have access to all the right technology, at the right values, to ensure your utility’s system works successfully now and into the future. GROEBNER’s expert sales team will make sure you partner with the right suppliers to determine and fulfill your technology needs. Contact us today so we can move into the future together.