A Guide to Smart Water Meters
Today’s consumers can check their power and water usage, pay their bills, and control their utilities all from a smartphone. While individuals and municipalities have already become reliant on this technology, smart water meters that provide access to real-time data on water usage are a fairly recent development due to advances in material science and manufacturing. As the implementation of smart water meters continues to increase all over the world, manufacturers have found that Solvay’s portfolio of specialty plastics for metal replacement can reduce production times, cut costs and produce a higher-performing smart water meter.
What are smart water meters?
Smart water meters are devices that measure and communicate water usage from consumer to provider to facilitate water management and proper billing. These meters are equipped with an electronic computing unit, or ECU, that facilitates communication between the meter and the supplier. Unlike mechanical water meters, smart meters track water usage through technology such as ultrasonic or electromagnetic readings that provide more accurate measurements. Although these more advanced water meters can be manufactured with traditionally used metals like brass or copper, many OEMs are relying on specialty polymers for water management systems to replace metals and promote lightweighting and increased durability.
Why is there a need for smart water meters?
Although traditional mechanical water meters have performed adequately over the years, consumers and manufacturers are expecting more from water management devices. From sustainability and recyclability concerns to the need for more accurate measurement, smart water meters are improving lives around the world. In Africa and the Middle East, smart water meters help address water scarcity concerns, while in Asia, these smart devices can be used in a range of end-use environments. In all parts of the world, smart water meters make it easier for municipalities to identify leaks and accurately measure water. Additionally, these advanced devices benefit consumers by allowing individuals to track their water usage more closely and ensure accurate billing. Smart water meters manufactured with materials like thermoplastics allow OEMs to promote sustainability by recycling these devices at the end of their service life.
What do smart water meter manufacturers need?
Today’s smart water meter manufacturers are relying on advanced materials to replace metal and create longer-lasting, higher-performing water management systems. Specialty polymers for smart water meters offer a range of benefits across manufacturing and performance properties. These specially engineered materials can be produced with injection molding, which streamlines production processes. Additionally, specialty polymers for water meter components offer better resistance to oxidative aging, excellent corrosion resistance, superior strength and lightweighting benefits. These performance qualities are essential in the production of smart water meters, as these devices must maintain strength and performance throughout their service life while protecting the integrity of the ECU.
Solvay offers a range of specialty polymers for water meters that are designed to provide outstanding performance and durability in all environments. For smart water meters that come in contact with extremely hot water, Ryton® PPS ensures outstanding dimensional stability and chemical resistance. Manufacturers rely on this polyphenylene sulfide to maintain design flexibility in the most extreme applications as this thermoplastic exhibits a low viscosity that makes it suitable for injection into thin-walled parts.
Water management systems with intermittent exposure to hot chlorinated water can be developed with Solvay’s Amodel® PPA to guarantee performance superior to conventional polyamides. This polyphthalamide offers reduced moisture absorption, excellent resistance to creep and fatigue and superior dimensional stability compared to conventionally used plastics.
Designed to bridge the cost-performance gap between PA66 and higher-performing polyphthalamides, manufacturers can also depend on Omnix® HPPA as it exhibits excellent dimensional stability, low warpage and good chemical resistance while ensuring cost-efficient manufacturing. This high-performance polyamide is designed for implementation in cold water environments from 20°C to 40°C. Additionally, each of these products comply with stringent international standards for drinking water, including NSF61, W270, DVGW, KTW, ACS and WRAS, so manufacturers can feel confident in the safety of their water meter components.