Member Spotlight

Carlos Tejedor, Instrumentation & Smart Metering Specialist – Idrica

With more than a decade of experience, Idrica is leading the way in digital transformation for the water industry. Idrica’s goal is to help water utilities navigate their digital journey, and unlock the potential from their distributed data. By providing services and technological solutions for the entire water cycle management, Idrica supports their clients in the areas of management, operations and maintenance, engineering, and consultancy.

Smart Metering has become an increasingly popular topic in the smart water sector. Why do you think it has gained popularity and what are some of the benefits it provides?

Many people view water as an unlimited and free resource, as something inexhaustible. In recent decades, there has been a paradigm shift where scarcity is increasingly present across the planet. All organisations and utilities are now aware of this serious problem, and many are interested in any mechanism that offers solutions. Traditional systems have reached their efficiency ceiling and it is in this scenario where technology is the best ally for innovation.

Specifically, in the field of micro-metering, there has been a conceptual change in the vision of meters, from being mere sensors to becoming an element that generates very valuable data-points and information. At Idrica, this has allowed us to develop new value-added services that bring significant benefits to our clients. They have enabled us to better analyse what we were already measuring, but also to develop new metrics.

  • Tangible benefits: smart metering directly impacts water efficiency through the reduction of apparent or commercial losses, but we are now able to measure its cross-cutting impact on other business processes as well.
  • Intangible benefits: some of the new algorithms allow us to offer tools for service improvement or to support vulnerable social groups.

The sum of all these benefits provides a more favourable ROI for our clients, fostering a growing interest within the whole sector. In short, we can now make better decisions to improve efficiency in water management.

How can utilities incorporate all these variables and new considerations into a Smart Metering strategy?

Digital transformation is no longer an option, it is a must. It is the only valid way to meet the increasingly demanding challenges of the industry. It is important to understand that a smart metering strategy is possible, and that it can be done.

At Idrica we are dedicated to help utilities assess their digital maturity level and to develop a digitisation strategy based on their needs. We work with water utilities in the design and implementation phases of smart metering systems and deploy agnostic digital platforms for their management and advanced algorithms. In Spain, we have already helped deploy and manage a fleet of more than 700,000 smart meters, under a single platform. We can achieve this by combining experience with the necessary tools and infrastructure.

What tools are needed to carry out this analysis?

It has always been clear to us that if data is not converted into information, it becomes useless. Approximately 90% of companies collect data from their sensors and business processes, but only 10% recognise that they use it to improve their decision-making. With this in mind, we have developed GoAigua, an agnostic platform capable of ingesting data from any source and in any format by running AI and ML based algorithms to transform data and information into business intelligence.

Idrica recently shared a case study on the deployment of 4,000 Smart Meters and the benefits driven by smart water decisions. Can you share how your partnership with the municipality of Gandia and with telecom company Vodafone enabled these results?

Our partnership with Gandía, the first smart city with NBIoT, is an example of Idrica’s commitment to cutting-edge technology. In fact, the first global communication test was done from one of our water meters. As part of the city’s digital transformation, we were able to detect 300 frauds each month, which resulted in savings of 5000m3 unbilled water in households. We have improved network efficiency by 35% with over 200 customer leaks reported each month. This also resulted in a 60% reduction in bill complaints over the past 5 years, indicating an improvement in customer satisfaction. From an operational standpoint, Idrica also saw 70% savings in system implementation costs or 15% energy savings in operation, and a 45% improvement in the efficiency of field equipment management. Achieving these milestones requires the commitment of all stakeholders and helps Idrica position itself as a leader in the industry.

How can organisations in the water sector attract young professionals to join these exciting digitalisation efforts?

As with water, the workforce paradigm is also evolving. Young professionals want to be part of projects with social commitment, with a collaborative internal strategy and in which they feel that their opinion counts. The digital transformation of the water sector meets all these requirements. This implies that it is possible to develop strategies for attracting and retaining talent.

We must offer goals and objectives that motivate their personal and professional development, where continuous learning and improvement are one of the main attractions. At Idrica we are aware of this and all our projects are based on our motto: Smart Water for a Better World.