UTILITY WATER METERS: situation, forecasts, and technologies

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By carefully analyzing the EMEA market, also helped by the recent data of the analysis “Water Meters Report, 2020” conducted by OMDIA, it is evident that after a strong 2019 (27M of shipped units) the water meter market suffered a 15% decline in 2020 mainly due to the COVID19 situation. This threat, which has changed our lives for a year now, seems to have only an effect for this sector of a momentary slowdown in growth forecasts and will probably lead in the post-pandemic scenario to a boost of investments in the medium to long term towards the adoption of smart meters, which to date represent only 15% of the installed meter fleet.

Going into the heart of technology, it is a must make a comparison, given in hand, of what is proposed and chosen by the market. “Looking at the market division of small and medium caliber residential meters according to measurement technology, it turns out that about 50% are volumetric meters 40% from meters at speed and 10% from static meters. Interestingly, the forecasts between now and 2026 give all three technologies growing with a slightly higher percentage for static meters.

The growth of static meters, lower than might be expected, is influenced by the decline in demand from the Gulf Arab states (until now the main drivers). Europe’s growing focus on infrastructure and water, drivers of competitiveness and industrial development, will, however, increasingly stimulate the market.  – comments Giovanni Maddalena, CMO Maddalena S.p.A. – An example above all is that of the Case Italy, where Decree 93/2017 with the obligation to replace the old meters and the longer life of 3 years for static meters, is increasing its demand: and this could become a trend for other countries as well.”

Attention, however, to give the static technology for consolidated and mature which, although already widely used in other applications (e.g., thermal energy), has been present for a few years in the most complex field of drinking water and therefore will need a gradual technological and regulatory evolution. To date, for example, the MID Directive lags the available products, just think of the integrated meter communication component (main advantage) which is considered only as an “ancillary device” and therefore with no tax value.

In addition, outdoor and deep outdoor utility applications require robustness on the part of the tools used well above average (materials and degree of environmental protection to last more than 10 years in the field). The growth in the adoption of static water meters will certainly go in parallel with the real evolution of investments in fixed data centralization, which is still in its infancy and in the face of a difficult technological choice (cellular technologies against band technologies not licensed by LPWAN).

“In the current context, volumetric meters represent a security within utility applications ensuring maximum precision and reliability over time. The extremely low starting capacity and the wide measuring range allow the accounting of the total consumption, facilitating the identification of any leaks. In addition, these meters can be equipped (smart returns) with the most modern remote data transmission technologies (flexibility chosen). Proof of this are the choices of France, a beacon in Europe of smart metering for know-how and investments, which for a long time has been focusing decisively on this type of “hybrid” meters (1/3 of the park installed in France is already smart today). The watchword must therefore be gradual evolution, choosing reliable, flexible technologies for data communication and with an eye to the current situation and needs of the specific markets”– concludes Giovanni Maddalena.

Maddalena S.p.A.

Maddalena Spa is one of the most important international companies in the field of water measuring instruments and thermal energy. Founded in 1919, it has constantly evolved its corporate structure and its offer of meters for domestic use and large users, which today meet the needs of major utilities around the world, thanks to more than 3 million tools produced every year. The Udine plant boasts the highest production capacity in Europe under a single roof and since 2018 the Remscheid production site has also been included to specifically serve the German market. A forerunner in data transmission technologies, Maddalena Spa is committed to the continuous development of solutions according to the new IoT paradigms (2017 Frost & Sullivan AWARD). Maddalena Spa has been a partner since 2020, first within its scope, of the Water Value Community of The European House – Ambrosetti, which has just published, on World Water Day, the second edition of the White Paper “Water: a key resource for the sustainable relaunch of the country“.

Credits: Servizi a reteApril 2021

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