U.S. Water came to Digi International for a remote monitoring and management solution to replace their current system, which provided limited remote visibility into field equipment installed at customer sites. U.S. Water relied on regular customer site visits for measurements, chemical and equipment checks and order deliveries. This manual process led to extended customer response times and high costs of doing business.
U.S. Water needed an M2M strategy to solve two business challenges: The need to compete with larger, more mature companies in the space, and the need for an efficient way of monitoring and aggregating data from field equipment.
Digi provided strategic direction to U.S. Water on remotely connecting sites and assets with Digi cellular gateways, and leveraging Digi’s alliance with Verizon to configure the right data strategy.
In addition to consulting services, Digi International provided hardware products and Digi Device Cloud to create an end-to-end solution that could remotely monitor and manage field equipment. The solution connects U.S. Water controllers that are deployed at customer sites with ConnetPort® cellular routers, providing access to data points from local controllers. To pull-in data from geographically dispersed water tanks, XBee® ZigBee tank sensors collect and send data to a centralized cellular gateways. Data is sent to U.S. Water’s customer management platform, so field data is easily accessible and actionable within the regular business processes of the organization.
“We get pitched all the time by hundreds of ‘solutions’ but the offers do not ‘talk’ to our other components. So, we don’t see these other offerings as solutions at all,” said Michael Henk, strategic business leader, equipment service and automation at U.S. Water. “There’s no one who would want to log into two different systems. Digi integrates best.”
Remotely connecting sites and assets gives U.S. Water a direct link to their equipment, to the customers’ usage of chemicals and insight into their supply chain. Digi’s alliance with Verizon puts the right data strategy in place. U.S. Water can now manage, control, and update field equipment as needed from Digi Device Cloud. The company also has access to tank level readings from multiple assets without having to run cables or power to widely distributed tanks.
“We looked at a number of solutions providers. Digi had the resources, products and experience U. S. Water required,” said Henk. “Most importantly, Digi provided the support and assistance on the development of the complete solution – not just a portion of it.”
U.S. Water has nearly 300 connected controllers and sensors at remote sites, and they plan on connecting every site into the complete solution. The solution has helped U.S. Water create supply chain efficiencies and reduce transportation costs, since there are fewer truck rolls and technicians on the road.
US Water now provides a smart system for strategic management of their customer needs. This widens the view of what happens in the plant to support overall operations – the system brings all of the data together, combines it from multiple sources and puts in into an easy-to-use format.
Customers receive a greater level of service because U.S. Water has additional insight as to what they need and when they need it. Customers also benefit as U.S. Water can troubleshoot issues remotely, as opposed to sending field technicians out to analyze every issue. Plus, U.S. Water is now able to offer monitoring services to customers, creating a new revenue stream for the business—and freeing up customers’ time to focus on their core competencies.
“With the system in place, we provide a higher level of customer service, while freeing up our field engineers’ time so they can focus on higher value tasks,” said Henk. “We’ve experienced direct increases in customer retention, corporate sales and pull-through revenue streams as a result of the remote automation solution.”