Canton’s Meter Replacement Project Registers Savings

Fixed network AMI pioneer City of Canton overhauls their first-of-its-kind water meter network

The City of Canton Ohio’s Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system

Carl Seifried Burgess & Niple

Carl Seifried
Burgess & Niple

was originally installed between 1997 and 1999.  It was one of the first fixed-based AMR systems of its kind in the country.  Once installed and debugged, this fixed-based system ran well and had a projected life expectancy of approximately 20 years.  In 2009, after only 11 years in service, the battery powered Meter Reading Transmitter Units (MTUs) began to fail.  The failures came slowly at first, but that soon changed.

Tyler Converse, Superintendent, City of Canton, Ohio

Tyler Converse, Superintendent, Canton, Ohio

Because Canton was one of the first utilities to install a fixed-base AMR system, they also were one of the first
to experience system failure and replacement.  Canton had no replacement plan in place and little experience to draw from when contemplating how best to proceed.

New ACLARA Star 3320 MTU units were relocated outdoors for future access and better communications.

New ACLARA Star MTU units were relocated outdoors for future access and better communications.

Many questions had to be considered and addressed, including:

  • How much time did  the City have before the MTUs began failing en masse?
  • Would the failures occur gradually enough to replace them using in-house staff, or would the Canton Water Department be forced to conduct a full-blown replacement program using outside contractors?
  • Should the City continue with the same automatic meter reading infrastructure or look at other AMR systems?
  • Should the water meters be replaced at the same time as the MTUs?
  • Should MTUs be relocated on the exterior of buildings to easily accommodate MTU replacement in the future?

While keeping a close eye on the MTU failure rate, Canton’s staff began to educate themselves on the latest technology and to evaluate their options. In 2011, Canton decided to upgrade the existing AMR infrastructure.

Canton’s Existing Fixed Base AMR System 

The Canton Water Department (CWD) completed the previous system-wide water meter replacement program in the late 1990s.  During this time, approximately 41,500 residential, commercial and industrial meters were replaced.  Another 2,000 existing meters were retrofitted to work with the newly installed Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) system.  This new AMR system, manufactured by Hexagram (now ACLARA), was one of the first fixed-base AMR systems in the country.  Prior to this, Canton’s meter department staff collected meter readings manually.