Articles & Case Studies


Posted: Wednesday 24th February 2010

Award-winning developer Redrow Homes has achieved two firsts as part of a United Utilities initiative to introduce automated meter reading (AMR) or “intelligent” water metering.

At Buckshaw Village, near Chorley, in Lancashire, Redrow has installed the very first ‘Groundbreaker wall box’ fitted with an AMR enabled water meter, in what is also believed to be the first time in the country that an “intelligent” water meter has been fitted within a wall box on the rear elevation of a new home.

On most new developments water meter boxes are currently sited beneath driveways or footpaths, making them awkward to read and often a dirty job.

With automated meter reading technology, the meter can be sited on any wall of the property – even inside – and the water authority can collect readings remotely.

Redrow’s first wall mounted meter was fitted in a project initiated by United Utilities, as a pilot to delivering Automated Meter Reading as a ‘business as usual’ offering from 2010.

Locating the ‘Groundbreaker’ on the rear elevation of properties eliminates expensive street furniture (boundary boxes); and makes water meters easier and quicker to read for the home owner and the water company via a radio signal. It is anticipated that in the future, the AMR meter will allow patterns of high use or possible leaks to be identified.

Marcus Maugham, of Redrow Homes, who has assisted United Utilities, said: “The pilot has demonstrated that it is now technically possible and cost effective to locate a smart water meter on any aspect of the dwelling whether it be front, side or back. The ability to locate a wall box on any aspect of the dwelling will satisfy the aesthetic demands of all concerned.

“It removes the need for a footpath meter chamber or any other underground stop tap as the wall box has this included. It also takes away the cost and inconvenience of rectifying damage caused to underground meter chambers during construction work that, according to the results of a survey of housebuilders, affects 53% of all connections on all sites.”

Ian Wilkinson, chair of the HBF (Home Builders Federation) Northern Utilities Committee, added: “To eliminate street furniture must be an advantage to any developer, as the cost of carrying out repairs is particularly onerous on a developer when it runs into many tens of thousands of pounds – a cost that if it can be avoided must be worthwhile.”

Customers benefit from being able to access their water meter more easily to monitor their water usage and, when more properties are fitted with AMR technology, United Utilities will able to read large numbers of meters much more efficiently. Automated meter reading technology will provide customers with accurate and timely bills and reduce the number of estimated meter readings.

Groundbreaker Systems managing director Steve Leigh commented: “This is the culmination of 10 years hard work in providing a platform for either traditionally read water meters or the more sophisticated high tech systems available today; we look forward to working with all stakeholders in the provision of water services – new or existing properties – to achieve the Government’s objectives.

“We would like to thank Redrow Homes for their cooperation and constructive comments in delivering a successful outcome to the project”.

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