The Silicon Review
Master Meter began as an exclusive distributor of premier water measurement technology originating from Israel – global leaders in resource management (solar, desalination, aquafer recovery, water security, micro-irrigation, measurement, etc.).
Master Meter’s story started as Aqua Utilities in the early 1970’s. In 1980, Aqua became Master Meter, Inc., with headquarters located in Longview, TX. 1n 1990, as Master Meter became a significant player in the water measurement and submetering market, manufacturing operations were relocated to a new, larger facility in Longview. In 2001, understanding the importance of being able to offer compelling software solutions was key in a market continually marked by water-
related consumption data, alerts, alarms, etc., Master Meter acquired Greentree Applied Systems, which then became Master Meter Systems. With steady year over year double digit growth throughout the 2000’s, corporate headquarters consolidated in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
On the top of the list
The company’s greatest differentiation is in its innovation leadership. It continually pushes the envelope of applying innovative technology to solve the problems of effective water measurement, reporting and management of water resources. Its abundant R&D resources within its Israel-based parent company, Arad Group, allow it to continually improve upon or completely rethink existing measurement product designs, network data architecture, and software solutions that engage not just the utility, but their ratepayer.
The wonder water
Master Meter is a high-service solutions provider specializing in advanced digital metering, data delivery, and Utility Intelligence (UI) software. Its portfolio of new and innovative smart water and IoT technologies support water utilities in their need to manage a dynamic and rapidly changing water utility business environment. Their solutions help utilities mitigate systematic water loss, while aiding the ratepayer with data sharing and insights via web-portals and apps, hence enabling the end-user to proactively take greater ownership of their personal water consumption footprint. This new approach brings power to the people and supports the notion that everyone must become a water manager.
It’s all about the customers
The company specializes in partnering with municipalities that are missing a sufficient level of internal resources needed to properly meet the demands of today’s regulatory environment, address water scarcity, and deliver upon ever-demanding customer expectations. Master Meter’s technology helps utilities mitigate these issues. Master Meter is present across all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. It has grown its business servicing the heart-land of America, where small, more rural accounts favor and place great value in close vendor partnerships that provide training, customized solutions, and consultation. Nevertheless, Master Meter enjoys and continues to expand its base of large major account customers such as Las Vegas, Seattle, and Philadelphia.
The happy client
The City of Smyrna, Georgia sits in the northwest corner of the Metro Atlanta area. Incorporated in 1872, the city operates under a Mayor-Council form of government. An appointed City Administrator handles the city’s day-to-day operations. With a population of 54,000, the city, a past winner of the Urban Land Institute’s Award of Excellence, promotes smart growth and
sustainability. Smyrna’s Utility Services Department manages all utility billing activities for 14,500 metered customers.
The challenge: Water suppliers face increasing pressure to keep costs low while providing excellent service. Meeting budget constraints is an ongoing challenge. And water loss has a significant impact on both expenses and revenue.
“Real” water losses, such as water leaks, add costs for unnecessary treatment and pumping. In addition, water resources are stretched thin and cannot afford to be wasted.
“Apparent” losses, like incorrect utility bills, affect revenue. When the city’s “cash registers” fail to charge for the water used, less money is available for needed infrastructure improvements, operation and maintenance. In 2004, the city’s then 13,000
meters were read manually. The aging meters were inaccurate, resulting in apparent water loss.
As a forward-thinking city, Smyrna’s goal was to reduce lost revenue caused by inaccurate meters and minimize real water losses. At the same time, city management hoped to improve overall efficiency and customer service within the Utility Services Department.
Smyrna’s managers initiated a thorough investigation of metering technology to find the best solution to these problems. Funding methods were part of the decision as well. Johnson Controls, Inc. approached the city, and tested a representative sampling of meters to determine their accuracy. JCI determined the city could significantly increase billing revenues by replacing the meters. In addition, automated meter reading (AMR) with drive-by technology would increase operational efficiency.
One of the city’s concerns was to ensure fairness to existing employees. With AMR technology, staff could be reduced, but the city wanted to avoid laying off technicians. The city offered to transfer employees whose jobs would be lost, and reduce staff through attrition. After evaluating options, Smyrna entered a performance contract with JCI. Performance contracting allows cities to complete improvements over a short time-period, while financing the projects with future guaranteed cost savings. As part of the contract, JCI introduced Smyrna to Master Meter to provide the new metering infrastructure.
The Solution: The performance contract financed the purchase of Master Meter’s Bottom Load Multi-Jet Meters with 3G AMR Drive-By radios to replace the existing water meters. The JCI contract guaranteed the city a total of $3.5 million from increased billable water usage over a 13-year period. Overall, the project went smoothly. JCI provided a contractor to complete the year-long meter replacement project. Meter Technician Foreman, Dan Martin noted the city provided quality control in the field during the transition. His team would verify the last manual readings were entered correctly on each home’s account to ensure accuracy. Dan rode along with the contractor to closely monitor activities.
In 2014 (Year 10 of the performance contract), Smyrna wished to upgrade their existing Master Meter 3G registers to take advantage of new features, like data logging and upgraded software. Greg VanAntwerp, Utility Services Manager, stated, “Because of the excellent weighted accuracy we were seeing from the JCI testing and past performance of our multi-jets… we were confident that the meters would hold their accuracy. We were able to amend the JCI contract to have the registers changed as opposed to having the meters tested” over the two-year project to change them out.
Visible results: Reduced Water Loss and Increased Revenue. The combination of new, more accurate meters and electronic reads that eliminate human error resulted in increased revenue. And the new 3G registers added functionality including alerts for possible theft or tampering. As of 2013 (year nine of the 13-year contract), JCI and Smyrna reported a $2,606,035 increase in billable water usage — more than the amount guaranteed based on an annual average. The guaranteed revenue increase based on annual average would have been $269,231/year — but Smyrna’s actual increase was $289,559/year.
The Master Meter software also helps to identify system and customer leaks, to reduce actual water losses. The Utility Services Department staff is very happy with the water loss numbers of 10 to 11% (unadjusted for actual losses like leaks, breaks, hydrant testing or fire-fighting).
Meet Jerry Potter
Jerry Potter –President and CEO: Jerry has more than 40 years in the water works business. Jerry began his experience in our industry working for a competitor as a Territory Manager for five years, selling water measurement products. Master Meter began as Aqua Utilities in the 1970’s. It was both a distributor and repair operation for multi-jet (a specific water measurement technology) meters. Today’s Master Meter was established in 1980. Jerry joined in 1982 and helped forge the company to where it is today – a formidable competitor, and contributor to the nation’s water utility management industry.