Featured Vendors (1 - 4 of 8)
Today, it is imperative to track the usage and wastage of water through metering and the valuable information metering provides. With demands rising for water resource at agricultural, residential, and commercial levels, distributors, water utilities and municipalities are also being pressured to adhere to industry and governmental regulations and maintain transparency. “But how can one vouch for the accuracy of water meter reading?” The varied types of water meters and their mode of deployment and operations— especially in rugged, remote areas—makes their readings influenced by various factors which may lead to errors and discrepancies in their measurements. These errors, and more, pose challenges to testing water meters. Yet, water meter testing, from a utility distribution perspective, has become as crucial as the very utility itself. Enter MARS Company, an all-round solution provider of ‘everything’ related to water meter testing. Having been in the space for over three decades, MARS Company knows the ins-and-outs of the niche. In an interview with CIOApplications, Dave Corey, CEO of MARS Company shares more about the company’s journey over the years, the innovations it brings to the table, and the visions of the future.
As a water meter testing solutions provider, who are your typical customers?
Our customers range from water service providers, both domestically and internationally, from large utilities to the very small and from the public and private sectors. They can have complex requirements related to water meter testing, meter shop automation, workflow management and asset management of their systems. What we have accomplished is to create offerings to complement these requirements from both an equipment and a high-end software standpoint.
Could you elaborate more on your range of solutions pertaining to water meter testing?
Our test benches can accommodate meters that range from 1/2” in diameter to all the way up to 16 inches. Many test bench systems are coupled with cranes for handling large meters weighing hundreds of pounds, along with hydraulic cylinders and rams that can scale with testing multiple meters instantly. With many of our test bench configurations, one can simultaneously test up to 24 water meters.
When the meter is clamped in place on the bench, either hydraulic rams or electric actuators, based on meter size, are controlled through the software to administer the waterflow rate. The scale systems will then read the load cells down to the level of ‘drop of water’ accuracy. The scale and control systems can even make automated adjustments in measurements based on parameters such as temperature and density of water. From an accuracy standpoint, the notion of being able to control the system and making sure it self-adapts automatically, based upon those parameters, is extremely important. More so for a larger municipality because they have a varied set and higher quantity of meters that they are testing.
Furthermore, testing larger meters requires significant amounts of water that needs to be available through the meter testing system. This is where the effectiveness of our recirculation system comes into the picture. As with all of the other MARS offerings, our recirculation systems comply with American Water Works Association (AWWA) and ISO standards and recommendations.
Owing to our technical expertise and experiences, we, as a company have adorned the hat of an independent third-party body that is capable of providing certified verification on the quality and accuracy on water metering
One of the more significant benefits of the recirculation system is that it ensures a consistent flow of water and a greater level of accuracy as the water running through the test bench can be effectively controlled and adjusted through the recirculation system. Furthermore, a gravimetric system facilitates meter testing using a fixed quantity (by weight) of the water as opposed to a volumetric (less accurate) system. This increases the accuracy of the test significantly. Almost as significant is the amount of water that is not dumped to waste after each test, and is re-used, which is substantial. We are committed to a green environment.
We also offer our clients enterprise-grade software, M3 (short for MARS Meter Management), which functions as the ‘brain’ for controlling, streamlining and gathering insights or metrics from water meter testing. M3’s connectivity module enables users to interface with test benches wirelessly in a distributed fashion. Our customers can centralize test readings by eliminating the need to store data locally which had been difficult to access in past generations. In addition, we have some customers who run seven to ten benches— either all in one location or spread out—networked together. With M3 they are able to gather, compare, analyze, and report upon meter test information.
Another key module within M3 is the advanced scale and control module which assures user interface benefits and cross-compatibility across external systems and other types (brands) of scales typically used for testing. There is also a Custom Test & Enhanced Reporting Module that offers the end user(s) powerful reporting capabilities and the ability to create custom tests. These modules have been designed to expand as our customer base becomes more aware of the type of data they need to extract from the testing of the meters. Our customer base has been terrific in working with us on ideas for software enhancements and modules.
Could you talk about the value propositions of your other singular tool/product offerings?
Our Diversified Product Group offers essential accessories that we have developed over thirty years of service, solving customer needs. We’ve had customers that approach us with tool/design requirements pertaining to specific applications within water meter testing. We enable customers to basically add accessories to their business, which helps them make it easier to run meter testing. To name a few, MARS’ VEROFlow product variants facilitate field testing of water meters; Executive Valve Keys are multi-functional and can turn on and off water meters that are embedded under the ground; Z-plate strainers provide smooth laminar flow and thereby reduces the need for the installation of straight pipes ahead of in-line meters; and remote readers for sub-metering applications for both water and gas. MARS also brings to the table, ‘mobile’ test benches that customers can transport for testing meters out in remote locations in utility vehicles or trailers, utilizing the same M3 software and meter testing practices as performed within the Meter Shop.
Last but not least, could you throw some more light on MARS Maintenance Calibration Certification (MCC)?
Owing to our technical expertise and experiences, we, as a company have adorned the hat of an independent body capable of providing certified verification on the quality and accuracy of water metering. Several of our customers have had significant lawsuits or complaints against them alleging that the billing was not fair. We were asked to act as a third-party subject matter expert connected to meter testing, where we do the testing and certify the systems to be accurate. On behalf of our customers, once their scales are calibrated by an independent entity, we come in to calibrate the entire test system—which includes tanks, valves, piping and test benches—based on the industry and MARS standards. In a nutshell, MCC is an enabler of preventive maintenance and spares management and aims to support equipment accuracy, dependability, and compliance. This enables the Meter Testing Facility to provide a fair and accurate system across the board to not only their customer base but with the various meter manufacturers as well.