图为媒体报道喀麦隆国家水司推广莱宸智能计量方案

作者:郑乐进(莱宸科技 董事长)

摘要:如今,报纸和媒体上关于智能水表的讨论越来越多。但每个人对智能水表的理解是不同的,它如何帮助提高水务公司的运营绩效。莱宸科技是一家专注于智能水表的公司,至今已在30多个国家开展了数百个预付费水表项目,基于这些经验,我们想分享我们对智能水表如何帮助增加收入和减少水损的看法。

关键词:智能计量、预付水表、无收益水、移动支付、物联网(IoT)、公私合作(PPP)


注:本篇为译文,英文版首发于海外媒体

大多数非洲水务公司现在都有两个令人头痛的挑战,首先是高额的非收益水(NRW)率,通常在40%到60%之间,主要原因是糟糕的基础设施和管理问题。第二个问题是拖欠的用户没有及时支付账单,例如,如果账单支付率在70%左右,这意味着3年左右的债务将与一年的营收相似。如博茨瓦纳水务公司(WUC),到2021年底该国水务公司的债务将达到约1.4亿美元。

 

水务公司尝试使用智能水表有几方面原因,第一由于资金不足和经营性现金流不畅,许多上世纪末建造的供水管道基础设施仍在使用,漏水问题非常严重,但目前没有有效的解决方案。第二一些水务公司仍然对终端用户使用统一费率,这意味着计量水平仍然很低,然后DMA系统就不能适用。第三账单与用水量没有严格的关系,浪费水的情况随处可见,如果水务公司将非饮用水作为管理成本的一部分,最终用户就会不断抱怨供水不连续、水质差和账单太高而不合理。而应用智能水表带来的随用随付理念,可以提高客户满意度。

 

智能水表的概念早在20多年前就存在了,也有许多失败的智能水表项目,特别是在非洲地区。由于安装环境湿度大,缺乏维护或售后服务,许多试点项目以糟糕的印象结束,如在尼日利亚或赞比亚的卢萨卡。

 

事实上,伴随着超声波计量技术的发展,NB-IoT或LoRaWAN通信技术,以及M-PESA、MTN等数字支付平台的出现,智能计量解决方案不再只是硬件设备,当然也不等同于预付费水表。它是一整套系统化的数字化运营解决方案,可以帮助水务公司将所有的运营实现数字化操作,如抄表、派发账单和在线支付方式。除了计费相关的功能外,如客户服务、分析和维护管网漏损等,也是该方案的一部分。

 

随着进一步的发展,该系统平台应包括两个主要功能,一个是物联网平台,帮助收集所有物联网设备的数据,如智能预付费电表、消防栓,并将数据提供给计费系统;第二是DMA系统,也可以通过物联网平台的标准API获得计量数据。这两个系统既可以集成在一起,也可以单独运行,系统的目标是解决高NRW的问题和降低应收账款率。

 

当智能预付费水表安装后,人们开始关注他们的房子是否有漏水点,也开始减少消费,这使得水公司能够延长服务时间。由于现金流的改善,水务公司有更多的能力来维护基础设施。很多水务公司可能也认识到了智能计量系统的好处,但智能表计的成本让很多人感到困惑,如何获得资金来启动第一个项目也需要关注。由于物联网设备的广泛应用,实际上现在LoRa或NB-IoT等通信模块的成本下降得非常快,而且随着智能表计市场容量的增加,像LAISON莱宸这样的领先制造商可以通过规模效应,大大降低开发和生产成本。另一方面,缩短供应链和减少汇率波动的风险,也有助于大幅降低智能水表的平均成本。

 

当智能计量系统开始运行时,它从几个方面贡献了收入,如历史债务的收集,特别对于商业和工业用户,提高账单支付率,也提高了运营效率,以减少服务客户的平均成本。这就是像多哥的TDE和津巴布韦的ZINWA等水司采纳应用的原因。水务公司要寻求PPP或分期付款的模式,用水费收入来支付投资。如果智能水表和系统的平均成本为每月2-4美元,90%以上的水务公司应该可以负担得起,并进入正反馈循环。无论如何,最好的证明来自于一个试点项目,该项目从特定的公司输出真实的操作数据进行分析。


How Does Smart water metering helps booming the revenue ?


Author: Mr. Raymond Zheng, the Managing Director of LAISON

Abstract: Nowadays, more and more discussion on the newspaper and media about the smart water meters. But each person has different understanding on the smart water meter and how it helps to improve the operation performance of water companies. LAISON is a company focus on smart water metering and till now has the projects in more than 30 countries with hundreds prepaid water meter project, basing on those experience we’d like to share our views on how the smart water meter helps booming the revenue and reduce the Non Revenue water.

Keywords: Smart metering, Prepaid water meter, Non Revenue Water, Mobile payment, Internet of Things(IoT), Public Private Partnership (PPP)

 

Most of Africa water companies have two headache challenges now, first the high Non-Revenue water (NRW) rate, typically between 40% to 60%, the main reason is the bad infrastructure and management issues, 2nd problem is the defaulting users not pay for the bill in time, for example if the bill payment rate around 70%, which means around 3 years the debt will be similar with one year’s revenue. Like WUC, the Botswana National water the debt around 1.4 billion USD till end of 2021.


Because of the insufficient fund and poor operation cash flow, many water distribution pipe infrastructure constructed in later last century still in service, the leakage comes to very serious challenge but none effective solution at the moment. Because some water companies still use the flat rate for the end users, which means the metering level still very low, and then the DMA system could not applicable. Since the bill is not strictly related to the consumption, the waste of water happening every where, if water companies put the NRW as part of the management cost, end user keep complaining on not continuous water supply, bad water quality and high bill not reasonable. That’s the reason the water companies try to use the smart water meter, the idea of Pay As You Go to improve the customer satisfaction.


The concept of smart water meter exists since more than twenty years ago, and also there are many failed smart water meter projects especially in Africa areas. Because of the installation environment with high humidity, and lack of maintenance or after sales service, many pilot projects end with bad impression like in Nigeria or Lusaka, Zambia.


Actually, accompanies with the development of the Ultrasonic metering technology , NBIoT or LoRaWAN communications, and also the digital payment platform like M-PESA, MTN etc. , smart metering solution no more only hardware device, of course not equals to a prepaid water meter. It’s a digital operation solution which helps the water companies to transfer all operations like Meter Reading, bill dispatching and payment ways online, it also not limitation to billing, like the disputes or complain dealing, analysis and maintenance of the water pipes leakage etc. also a part of the smart metering system.


With further development, the system platform should include two main functions, one is the IoT platform which helps to collect all the data of IoT devices like smart prepaid meter, fire Hydrant and provides the data to the billing system, and 2nd platform is the DMA system which could also get the metering data through Standard API of IoT platform. Either these two system integrated in one or separately operated, the target of the systems are solve the problem of high NRW and improve the bill collection rate.


When the smart prepaid meter installed, people start to concern whether their house has the leakage point, and also start to reduce the consumption, which enable water companies to extend the service hours. Because of the cash flow improved, water companies have more capacity to maintenance the infrastructure.


Many water companies may also recognize the benefits of the smart metering system, but the cost of smart meter makes many confusion, and how to get the fund to start the first project also need to be concerned. Because of the widely application of IoT devices, actually now the cost of communication module like LoRa or NBIoT comes down very fast, and with the smart meter market volume going up the leading manufactures like LAISON could realize the scale effect which significantly decrease the development and production cost. On another side, short cut the supply chain and decrease the exchange rate fluctuation risk, also helps to decreased average cost of smart water meter significantly.


When the smart metering system start running, it contributes the revenue from several parts, such as the history debt collection especially from the commercial and industry users, improve the bill payment rate, and also improve the operation efficiency to reduce the average cost to service the customers. That’s the reason like TDE, Togo and ZINWA, Zimbabwe etc. Water utilities to search the ways of PPP or installment payment, which use the water revenue to cover the investment. If the average cost of smart meter and system belong to 2$ to 4$ per month, more than 90% water companies should possible to afford it and going to positive feedback circle. Any how, the best evidence comes from a pilot project which output the real operation data from specific company for analysis. 

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