Sensus Reach Conference puts across-the-board utility advancements on display

More than 1,200 attendees made their way to sunny Hollywood, Fla. in October as Sensus’ annual Reach Conference featured a comprehensive look at smart metering, analytics, customer service and many other water utility advancements.

The Reach Conference is the annual user conference for customers, distributors and partners of Raleigh, N.C.-based utility technology provider Sensus, a Xylem brand. Held Oct. 21-24, 2018 at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, this year’s conference convened attendees from across North America for a week featuring a mix of networking, more than 200 technical sessions and learning labs, awards presentations and countless additional discussions centered around modern utility management though smart water applications.

Sensus works with customers such as utilities, cities and other industrial entities to provide innovative technology solutions in the water, gas, electric and lighting markets. In the water utility market, Sensus develops advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), data analytics software, pressure monitoring tools, non-revenue water solutions and other customer service enhancements for water systems.

Although Sensus’ expertise goes beyond just the water market, the company was acquired by water tech giant Xylem Inc. in 2016, thus expanding Xylem’s portfolio to include smart metering, network technologies and advanced analytics. Sensus is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xylem Inc.

The Reach Conference kicked off this year on Sunday, Oct. 21 with pre-conference meetings and events, including an opening reception for all attendees. On Monday, Oct. 22, Xylem President and CEO Patrick Decker addressed attendees in an opening general session format where he gave an overview on Xylem’s initiatives for the coming year. Decker talked about how the water infrastructure sector is embarking on a “revolutionary stage” in technology application and the impact of Xylem’s comprehensive solutions for both drinking water and wastewater systems. He also talked about the integrity of Xylem’s mission as a company providing critical services around water resources – ranging from everyday municipal utility applications to complex dewatering operations during rescue missions and natural disasters.

Xylem President and CEO Patrick Decker talked about how the water infrastructure sector is embarking on a “revolutionary stage” in technology application.

Colin Sabol, Xylem senior vice president and president of its Measurement and Control Solutions business, also addressed attendees and noted Sensus’ increased focus on helping drinking water utilities reduce non-revenue water by providing customers with data and analytics that can improve their asset management practices. “Across the Xylem brands we can quantify how much leakage is occurring, identify which pipelines are most vulnerable to failure and pinpoint specific leak locations,” he said. Sabol also highlighted monitoring and analytics across the complete water cycle, mentioning a project comparing water consumption data with wastewater flow data to provide insight into the quantity and location of groundwater infiltration events.

The technical program then officially launched, with the conference proceedings continuing through the week with concurrent sessions in each of Sensus’ primary markets of water, electric and gas. On the water side of things, session topics included: case studies of successful advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) installations; considerations for planning AMI projects; best practices for managing metering contractors; managing harmful algal blooms; reducing non-revenue water; optimizing pressure management; valve assessment and rehabilitation; leak detection using AMI; a roadmap for software-as-a-service (SaaS) and network-as-a-service (NaaS) solutions; and much more.

The program featured a number of presentations from Sensus experts, industry thought leaders and water utility customers of Sensus, such as the City of Safford, Ariz. The city implemented a Sensus FlexNet communication network and iPERL smart meters to optimize its water metering operation and save money. Julie Bryce, business services administrator for the city, talked about the culture change that has happened as a result of the project requiring a more tech savvy approach from staff.

In addition to the technical sessions, product demonstrations featuring subject matter experts were also featured at a partner pavilion open to attendees. The pavilion featured both exhibit space for Sensus partner companies, as well as other divisions of Xylem including pipeline condition assessment company Pure Technologies and EmNet, which enables municipalities to better manage wastewater and combined sewer overflows.

The evening of Tuesday, Oct. 23 featured a reception and Gala Dinner. This year, the Sensus Reach Conference also recognized the 10-year anniversary of the Sensus Partner and Advisor Network (SPAN). The SPAN network is open to all Sensus customers, and allows members the opportunity to collaborate with peers and provide valuable feedback to Sensus on product innovations and more.

City of Cedar Park, Aqua-Metric recognized with 2018 Sensus Reach Awards

Nanette McCartan

REACH award winner Nanette McCartan receives congratulations from Xylem Measurement and Control Solutions President Colin Sabol for Cedar Park’s educational campaign, “You’re Running The SHO2W,” which encourages residents to track their water usage.

Each year the Sensus Reach Awards recognize innovation, problem solving and results among public service providers. This year, the City of Cedar Park, Texas, received the 2018 Sensus Reach Customer Community Award.

When tech-savvy residents wanted more data, the City of Cedar Park used its Sensus customer portal to launch a campaign called “You’re Running The SHO2W” to encourage residents to sign up and track their water usage. After one year into the campaign, Cedar Park has saved 15 million gallons of water.

“Conservation is extremely important to our community and we all realize there is not an endless supply of water,” said Nanette McCartan, utility programs manager at the City of Cedar Park. “The Sensus Reach Customer Community Award recognizes all the residents of Cedar Park who are paying attention to their water usage.”

Justin Hamilton

Justin Hamilton and Aqua-Metric win Sensus REACH Award focused on “community.”

In addition, Aqua-Metric, a Sensus authorized distributor in several states, received the 2018 Sensus Reach Distributor Community Award. Justin Hamilton, manager of strategic sales at Aqua-Metric, launched “Operation Appreciation” — an effort to feed tired and hungry utility crews after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Aqua-Metric volunteers made a dozen stops and fed more than 1,000 utility workers restoring service in Texas and Louisiana.

“People don’t necessarily think about their water or power until it’s gone,” said Hamilton. “Our team at Aqua-Metric wanted to recognize all the utility crews for their hard work restoring services in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and a hot meal was a great way to say thank you.”

The Sensus Reach Awards solicit nominations from Sensus customers, distributors and employees. A team of judges rate nominees on three criteria: ingenuity, vision and results.

The 2019 Sensus Reach Conference has been announced for Nov. 3-6, 2019, at the Marriott Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif. For more details or information on submitting an abstract, visit sensusreach19.com.

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