Diehl Metering lays the groundwork for the AMR system in Vietnam

In Vietnam, Diehl Metering is helping Ho Chi Minh City to achieve its vision of becoming a smart city with the installation of their AMR system to advance the utility front and equip them with countless advantages. Diehl Metering piloted the AMR system in two of the city’s districts, and is now looking to transform the market.

The job of a utility meter reader in Vietnam is not an easy one. Forced to weave through the streets while avoiding the many cars and motorcycles means that accidents are inevitable occurrences. In addition, domestic meters are placed or hidden inside houses, which further subject meter readers to either disgruntled occupants at best or collusions between the house owner and themselves at worst. To add to the dangers of the job, some meters are even placed under the drainage system, which will see the reader climbing down to get the reading.

And with the hot sun beating down on their backs along with the humidity or heavy tropical rainfall, the potential for human error increases too while reading.

Recognising the physical labour, the poor work environment, and the high stress factors the meter readers face daily along with the high non-revenue water in Ho Chi Minh City, Diehl Metering together with their southern distributor in Vietnam, REICO (Rose Engineering & Instrument Co., Ltd), piloted the installation of water meters (both domestic and commercial) that are equipped with automatic meter reading (AMR) in Ho Chi Minh City’s District One and Three areas, which are managed by Ben Thanh Water Supply Joint Stock Company, a subsidiary of SAWACO (Saigon Water Corporation).

Intelligent results

A sprawling country that is about 331,210km2 in size with a population of 92.7 million, Vietnam’s utility meter readers have been reading meters without an automatic handheld radio device for about a decade; manually keying each serial code into the device to record the data. And in District One and Three alone, there are about 66,500 water meters, currently read daily by 25 water meter readers in 20 days (each meter reader reads about 133 meters every day).

With Vietnam looking to develop into a smart nation, the country wants to install water meters with AMR, and Ben Thanh Water Supply is one of the pioneers leading it with Diehl Metering’s AMR system.

Nguyen Thanh Phuc, Director, Ben Thanh Water Supply Joint Stock Company

The pilot installation took place in August 2016 with an initial 10 AMR water meters installed in the first phase, and an additional 100 added in the second. The additions served to reaffirm the excellent relationship between Ben Thanh and Diehl Metering, as well as reflect the support Ben Thanh has for Diehl Metering’s AMR accuracy and the benefits the system has brought in saving time and labour costs, said Nguyen Thanh Phuc, director of Ben Thanh Water Supply Joint Stock Company.

The 133 readings, which usually require a whole day, is now read in less than 30 minutes with Diehl Metering’s 110 AMR water meters (100 AURIGA, five ALTAIR and five AQUILA), said Phuc.

Lam Thanh Tung, a water meter reader staff at Ben Thanh Water Supply agreed, saying that the integration of Diehl Metering AMR water meters has made the job easier.

“The data collection is very fast, and the accuracy is very good,” said Lam.

Lam Thanh Tung, a water meter reader staff, can easily capture the reading without entering the house

This was proven as Water and Wastewater Asia took a trip with Lam into Ho Chi Min City’s District Three to collect the water data from Diehl Metering’s AMR water meters.

It was a breeze.

All that is required is a radio handheld device and a walk (on a motorcycle usually for the meter reader) through the alleys where the buildings are equipped with AMR water meters. The user-friendly radio device allows the meter reader to just hit the ‘Start’ button.

Water and Wastewater Asia took a walk through the alleys where Diehl Metering’s AMR water meters are installed

From left: Nguyen Le Nhat Vu, General Manager of REICO; Allan Toh, Head of Southeast Asia Operations at Diehl Metering; and Lam Thanh Tung, a water meter reader staff at Ben Thanh Water Supply Joint Stock Company, doing a check on how fast and accurate the data is captured

And as he walks or weaves down the alleys in his motorcycle, the data is automatically transmitted and collected, including the water meter’s serial number and the address of the owner. This allows the meter reader to concentrate on the road while the data is being collected.

In fact, the readings from the 24 meters installed in the area Water & Wastewater Asia was at were collected in less than five minutes.

“While installing the AMR water meters, we had house owners telling us that they liked the idea of the meter readers not having to enter their house,” said Nguyen Le Nhat Vu, general manager of REICO.


The potential of Diehl Metering’s AMR system

“With the AMR system, it’s like having a water meter reader 24/7 by the meter,” said Allan Toh, head of Southeast Asia Operations at Diehl Metering.

This means that the strategically installed system is able to achieve real-time monitoring of the actual water quantity being used by the people, and in turn, helps Ben Thanh to become more resourceful through a better managed distribution network. In fact, the AURIGA meters, which make up the majority of the pilot project, are one of the very best products in the single-jet meter market. The body of the meter features an anti-fraud clamp that prevents any damage to the grey ring, which may result in non-revenue water loss.

An AMR water meter from Diehl Metering installed in a house

The deployment of Diehl Metering’s AMR meters has also brought many advantages to Ben Thanh, such as:

  • Security and safety: Meter readers can now minimise the risks of their jobs, which in turn also helps Ben Thanh reduce the risks of lawsuits should an accident occur.
  • Theft and non-revenue water: Should anyone tamper with the meter or if there is a leakage, Diehl Metering AMR water meters will be able to detect it and send an alarm to the system operator. This helps to prevent theft and reduce non-revenue water loss. Additionally, Diehl Metering’s superb technology is able to detect flow rates so accurately, it can increase revenue through detailed consumption information and precise billing.
  • Power of data: The collection of data helps to create new opportunities for Ben Thanh through analytics to understand behavioural change and consumption so as to produce outcome-based solutions. The positive impact of Diehl Metering’s AMR system has strengthened Ben Thanh’s confidence in the smart metering system, and they are looking to replace around 20 per cent of their current water meters each year.

But more than just providing smart meters, Diehl Metering is a manufacturer that also understands the needs of the customers, and revolves its products and strategies around helping customers meet these needs. For example, the company has its own software that is able to communicate with its clientele’s existing software.

“Vietnam aims to reduce its non-revenue water to 15 per cent by 2025. We hope that in the future, we will be able to cover a full DMA (District Metering Area) with Diehl Metering’s smart system so as to achieve easy reading and help resolve any water losses and issues quickly,” said Vu.


Vietnam progressing towards smart cities

Vietnam is looking to build itself into a country full of smart cities, especially in Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, deputy director of the city’s Department of Information and Communication explained that Ho Chi Minh City is drafting a master plan to build a smart city from 2017 to 2020 that seeks to ensure a high quality of living, working, and sustainability.

According to IOT Business Platform, in recent years, the Vietnamese government has been promoting the idea of becoming smart cities to its municipalities in order to tackle various socioeconomic issues such as traffic jams, environmental pollution, and energy conservation.

For instance, under the plan, thousands of security and traffic cameras would be connected to enable

smart systems of traffic management, including the bus system, and is expected to be completed by 2018, The Economist reported. Seven in 10 residents (69 per cent) considered their city to be smart today with the primary benefit (cited by 61 per cent) being an improvement to the environment, such as reducing vehicular emissions.

Vietnam’s plans to address these critical challenges with intelligent projects, which depicts the country’s eagerness to improve its core systems.

“The country is set to see a quantum shift in several of the city’s major underlying systems,” said IBM.

Understanding the efforts and drive of the Vietnamese government, Diehl Metering believes that being the right partner is more than just about the technology. The company aims to support the country in the utility front by coming closer to the market to accelerate growth and to provide compelling solutions needed for a smart nation.