Affinity Water is the largest water-only supplier in the UK, committed to delivering high quality water service to all its customers. It provides, on average, 900 million litres of water each day to a population of more than 3.6 million people throughout South East England.
As part of an overall modernisation drive, Affinity identified a need to upgrade 5 scanner stations and around 150 remotes as an individual project. The successful solution had three key criteria to meet:
- Migration to a digital radio that enables implementation of key security features
- Use a solution that allows smooth transition to a new network, without changing or adding base stations or frequencies
- Move toward Water Industry Telemetry Standard protocol
Part of the tender process involved potential suppliers performing rigorous tests to assess their proposed hardware solutions. Initially Bench tests were conducted to confirm the functionality of the Migration solution and to ensure the new radios could handle traffic routed through them on the legacy protocol, Proteus 2000 and Serck RTU’s.
Field tests were then initiated, involving the installation of a migration base station to communicate with 3 remotes, all with very weak RSS on a shared frequency, while the legacy network still ran in parallel. This test was specifically to perform link stability proofing.
Since the RACOM Migration solution is very easy to understand and implement, all tests were passed smoothly by our partner, EMR Integrated Solutions.
After undergoing all these tests and evaluating the hardware and software parameters offered with RipEX and other radios, RipEX was chosen as the optimal solution for this Migration solution.
As noted by Andrew Fletcher, Telemetry Systems Manager for Affinity, “The cost of migrating from analogue to digital shouldn’t be underestimated. With the RipEX base stations we now have, we don’t need to revisit sites twice to change frequencies and we don’t need additional base stations or licenses. There’s a big benefit to that.”
It has also been commented on by Affinity Water management that the roll out of radios is happening exceptionally fast which implies the engineers are particularly comfortable with every aspect of RipEX.
The principal value added extra of the solution, is improved management and monitoring. Affinity has been able to streamline its maintenance programme, undertaking much higher levels of remote monitoring of all radios, thus minimising site visits and making substantial cost savings as a result.
A real life example to further explain the added value of remote monitoring is explained by Andrew Fletcher. “We suffer from atmospheric interference in certain areas and that had a big impact on our signals until RACOM solution was used. With RipEX we can now log in remotely, see how the interference is climbing and where the sites drop off. It reduces the effort required to identify the problem and it’s speedier for to us to enact some backup procedures.”