Smart Water Network: Why tomorrow's water supply relies on advanced measuring technology

Effective monitoring of supply networks depends on the quality of the collected data. Without powerful measuring instruments, even the best network would remain useless. With its award-winning water meters and system solutions, Lorenz shows how intelligent supply can succeed - and how first-class quality can create real added value for utilities.

Unregistered consumption at house connections and water losses due to leaks in the network are two challenges as old as the water supply itself. After such losses and many other problems could previously only be prevented to a limited extent, modern technology today provides the solution: The "Smart Water Network", in which deeper knowledge can be gained than ever before through the digital connection of measuring points, efficient data collection and systematic analyses. Consumers also benefit by protecting them from unintentionally high consumption through regular data transmission and early warnings.

No Big Data without exact data collection

However, without high-quality measurement technology, even the best digital network is useless: minimum flow as well as measurement accuracy and stability are crucial for obtaining correct and useful information. The minimum flow - i.e. the flow velocity at which a meter registers any throughput at all - must be as low as possible in order to detect even those decisive quantities in the lowest flow range which would otherwise be lost as shrinkage quantities. At the same time, measurement accuracy and stability are essential to achieve correct measurements in all other flow ranges (accuracy) and over the entire lifetime (stability).

If "Big Data" needs to rely on inaccurate data, the overall concept is taken ad absurdum: Not only are there no gains in information and cost savings, which would justify the necessary investments in networking and analysis. Rather, not only none, but rather incorrect information is obtained. This leads to uncertainty and possibly even wrong conclusions about the network behavior. Thus, despite all the costly measures, the water supply would not be "smarter" than before - but in the worst case even worse and more expensive. Imagine a traffic control system in which the measuring points cannot register some of the vehicles correctly - it would be perfect chaos!

  • + Eyes open when purchasing: quality of measurement, hygiene and connectivity are essential expand_more

    There are considerable discrepancies between different measuring devices and technologies with regard to minimum, measuring accuracy and stability, hygiene and connectivity.

    For hygiene reasons alone, the DVGW Water Technology Centre (TZW) makes a clear recommendation for changing from mechanical to static meters in the bulk water meter sector. Due to their design, ultrasonic and magnetically inductive water meters are advantageous for avoiding the fixation of germs such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. However, this is by no means enough: In the Lorenz plant, every measuring device from residential meters to domestic meters and large water meters therefore undergoes a unique, multi-level hygiene procedure under the supervision of independent laboratories and audited by (major) customers and experts.


    Also with regard to minimum flow as well as measuring accuracy and stability, it is worth to take a closer look: Woltman meters are clearly inferior in all areas. Composite water meters usually have a better start-up, but due to the valve switchover they have a transition range with measurement of small quantities. Even electromagnetic meters only guarantee their measuring accuracy from a higher starting value and require inlet and outlet distances for correct measuring results.


    Last but not least, bad surprises should be avoided regarding connectivity. Although Lorenz meets the requirements of various existing proprietary radio systems, we clearly recommend to avoid such models when setting up a new system, as they lead the supplier into a medium-term dependency without significant advantages. Instead, Lorenz focuses on the Open Metering System (OMS) in accordance with EU Directive 2006/32/EC and DIN EN 13757 for such cases, which, as a manufacturer-independent and cross-divisional communication architecture, creates a reliable framework. OMS is the only system definition worldwide that can integrate water (including submetering), heat, gas and electricity into one system. If individual customers reject the radio in principle, it can be deactivated at any time or the corresponding meter can be delivered from the start exclusively with conventional reading.


    At Lorenz, we see it as our mission to guarantee the best measurement technology with comprehensive connectivity, which can be integrated into existing infrastructures or, if desired, delivered in combination with system solutions, right up to complete digital networks including analysis and billing tools. This leaves each customer the full choice to meet their individual needs.

  • + Cutting-edge technology: Not all ultrasonic meters are equal. Better test first-hand. expand_more

    The principle of ultrasonic measurement creates the necessary conditions for lowest minimum flows and highest accuracy over all flow ranges as well as constant reliability throughout the entire product life. Without any moving parts, the meters are virtually wear-free. Nevertheless, there are still enormous differences between different products. Check for yourself: With a start-up from 1 l / h, the residential water meter Sonata is the clear leader in its class. And so is the bulk water meter Octave, which registers flows starting from 15 l / h.


    Both meters have IP68 (thus suitable for underground installation and flooding), can be overloaded >> Q4, have no inlet or outlet distances (U0/D0) and are calibrated for forward and reverse operation. In view of the absence of wear, accuracy and stability, the battery life is also only consistent: at up to 15 years, far more than two calibration periods are covered, so that the best conditions are guaranteed for multi-periodic use as well as for extending the calibration period on a random sample basis. Particularly relevant for large water meters: Due to its construction characteristics, the Octave's measuring section is nothing more than a pipe section in the pipeline, which is why the pressure loss is minimal (type < 0.2 bar).


    However, also here, better check yourself: Decision-makers are should not only rely on manufacturer information, but also examine the measuring characteristics themselves. Ideally, by arranging the compared products in series, so that the differences are clearly visible. This is what has been done by several suppliers who are available as references upon request.


    The Octave has a very attractive price compared to compound and IDM meters, and also compared to the Woltmann meter it is a good investment, even from a purely economic point of view: Because of the significant additional recording of consumption in the low flow range, the additional costs of the purchase are amortized within a few years and clearly within the service life. This effect is particularly significant for the Sonata compared to other residential water meters. This can easily be verified: The necessary test track can be set up quickly and easily.

  • + Sustainable success: All parties benefit from holistic solutions expand_more

    The forthcoming changes in the network infrastructure mark a significant change and promise enormous opportunities for the utilities. Whether more precise monitoring, faster and simpler processes and especially cost savings can be implemented, depends on a holistic approach.

    This begins with a precise requirements analysis and the systematic comparison and testing of possible products and solutions, continues with clear concepts regarding analysis and data protection and extends to the important questions of service life, extension of calibration period, exchange and long-term perspective.

    The overall economic assessment remains indispensable for the supplier, which, in addition to the purchase price of products and services, naturally also takes into account the procedural (additional) costs and savings. Here, it quickly becomes evident that only genuine quality products and services create real added value for the customer and prove themselves through clear economic advantages.


    This is the decisive competitive advantage for high-quality measuring instruments. On the basis of several years of development and an investment volume of several million euros, Lorenz has launched the large-scale expansion of its production site in Schelklingen near Ulm. The digitized production system for smart meters combines cost efficiency and variant diversity: high flexibility and maximum focus on customer needs are coupled with economic efficiency. Production is optimized in terms of time, costs and quality as well as availability, adherence to schedules and stock levels.

    Great importance is also placed on sustainability: Considerable material savings can be achieved by the reconditioning of meters. This not only protects the environment, but also maintains the competitiveness of high-quality materials - to the qualitative and economic advantage of the utilities. Two years ago, Lorenz received an award from the Environment Ministry for this successful concept. Now the success model is to be transferred also to the residential and bulk water meters.

    Whether concerning digital networks, measuring characteristics or the use of materials, it becomes apparent again and again what actually has always been clear: quality and long-term thinking pay off - for everyone.