When I’m about to go on a long road trip, I usually get my car checked out by a mechanic to make sure everything is in good working order. I trust the mechanic to inspect the brakes, fluid levels, tire treads, etc. and let me know if there’s something that needs attention. The last thing I want to happen is to break down in the middle of nowhere, so I make sure any important problems are fixed before the trip.

Sometimes, though, the mechanic might come back with a long list of things that aren’t that important. Maybe they think my windshield wipers should be replaced. While I appreciate their attention to detail, I think my wipers work just fine. There’s no way I would pay them to replace those for me anyway. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

When I know that everything has been checked out and looks good, I can comfortably go on my trip. Plus, I always know that if something does happen on the drive, my car will tell me about it. My car will tell me if the tire pressure is low. My car will tell me if the engine needs to be checked. My car will even tell me if windshield washer fluid needs to be added. Knowing all this information gives me confidence that I can rely on my car when I need it most.

 Do you feel that way about your utility infrastructure?

The technicians who deploy and read your meters can check and make sure things are working properly when they are on-site, but once they leave, do you feel confident that you’ll know when a problem arises? With an AMI system, you get real-time alerts from your meters whenever there’s an issue that requires your attention — just like the check engine light on my car. Whether it’s an issue somewhere in your system like low gas pressure, or an issue at your customer’s site like tampering, smart meters and SmartPoints® connected to an AMI system keep you informed of everything you need to know to effectively operate your utility.

Gas SmartPoint modules can connect to your existing meters to turn your current network of meters into an AMI system that provides real-time data. Take a look at the table below to see the type of information that Gas SmartPoints can provide.

ApplicationType of SmartPointMounting MethodDiagnostic Conditions DetectedTamper Conditions DetectedDistribution Conditions Detected
Residential100-400 GM Direct MountLow BatteryMagnetic Tamper Tilt Tamper Reverse FlowHigh Flow
Commercial500, 600, 800 GM Direct MountLow BatteryMagnetic Tamper Tilt Tamper Reverse FlowHigh Flow
Industrial700 GM and 900 GM Remote MountLow Battery Corrector Alarm (900 GM)Cut Wire TemperHigh Flow

Note: Distributors and Customers can find a more detailed gas alarm guide on My Sensus.

You may notice that the direct mount SmartPoints can detect reverse flow. This is due to the fact that modules directly mounted to the meter drive are able to detect when the encoder wheel moves in the reverse direction. Additionally, because they are directly attached to the meter, these modules can also detect when the meter is being tilted or when a magnet is applied— both of which are possible signs of tampering.

On the other hand, remote mount SmartPoints can detect cut wire since the module is attached to the meter using a pulse output cable. An alarm that is unique to the 900GM is the corrector alarm. The 900GM has three ports, which allows connection to corrected pulses, uncorrected pulses, and a gas corrector device.  Certain problems with the corrector can be detected by the SmartPoint and sent as an alarm to proactively notify the utility.

If you don’t yet have an AMI system, maybe you’re feeling the way I do when the mechanic recommends repairs I don’t want. Nothing seems to be broken, so why invest in changing things? One of the biggest differences has to do with how much you know about your system. For more information on making the switch to AMI, check out our white paper Is AMI Overkill for Gas Utilities?

Don’t get a false sense of peace from a system that can’t tell you when something is wrong. 

Instead, rely on dependable network that has the built-in intelligence to give you the accurate and timely information that you care about, like the City of Long Beach did.

Waiting until an emergency to find out about a problem might leave you scrambling to get things fixed at a time when your customers need you the most. Of course, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”— but you’ve got to have a way to know when it really is “broke”.