Beulaville is a town located in Duplin County, North Carolina. It was founded in 1915 and got its name after Beulah Baptist Church, which was the first church to be built in the area. Beulaville was originally a farming community, but it has since become a more diverse town. The town is now home to a variety of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, and retail.
In 2023 Buelaville Public Works Department initiated an infrastructure upgrade program, which included the replacement of water meters. This program could potentially save the town around $34,000 per year in "cut-off runs," which is the process of physically sending a truck and public works staff members out to a location to cut a resident's water on or off.
New meters would enable town officials to read water meters, connect and disconnect water, listen for leaks, and flush the water system from the office. Additionally, final water bills could be provided to movers on the spot, eliminating the need to wait until the next billing cycle to forward bills to new addresses.
The Buelaville town leadership chose Water Works, which supplied Mueller meters, and Aqua Meter consultants as a field service provider. Fieldman Mass Meter Deployment software was used to plan and track all installations, as well as collect all necessary data. The smart meter upgrade project started in July 2023.
Due to supply chain issues, there was no inventory for commercial meters, so it was decided to replace residential meters first and deploy commercial meters in the second phase of the project. On the Fieldman platform, all inventory that was over 1 inch was put on hold and was not considered by dispatch. The platform created work orders only to replace residential water meters.
When technicians began to replace old meters, the Fieldman team learned that the town of Beulaville has a very unorthodox method of keeping track of existing meters. The town had records for only a meter location ID but not an actual meter number and stored this data in the town's billing system.
Field service workers didn't have a way to identify that they were at the right location. 'We've realized that there are a few meters that are very hard to identify, especially at apartment complexes,' explains Vlad Kravchenko, CEO at Fieldman. 'Usually, technicians compare a meter serial number with the one that is in a work order, making sure that they are replacing the right meter. But in this case, there was no serial number on the work order, and field service workers didn't know which meters should be replaced.
Luckily, the town's meter reading department kept track of meter reads in a spreadsheet with actual serial numbers. The Fieldman team used this spreadsheet data to update the old meter serial number information in the work management platform. Work orders for all technicians were updated, and they promptly went to work. Fieldman was able to resolve this issue within a few hours, and there were no delays in the project schedule.
In August 2023, during Public Works updates, the Town of Buelaville board shared with the public that the new water meters were working well. "This morning we had two alerts of high readings that happened over the weekend, and we can show hour-by-hour how much water have gone through those meters. One of them was determined it was a running toilet during the night because it used the same amount of water hour after hour," said Town Manager Lori Williams.
According to Duplin Times, since putting in the meters the town has been able to identify and alert the owners about issues going on, and a meter was even turned off without having to go to the property. Williams shared that the Public Works employees were very happy with the new process. "I'm glad to see it's working well," said Mayor Hutch Jones.
"I am pleased that our software helped field technicians install meters on schedule, and our team successfully made workflow changes on the fly," - shared Fieldman CEO Vlad Kravchenko.
The Beulaville water meter upgrade project stands as a testament to the power of technological innovation in enhancing municipal operations and delivering tangible benefits to both the town's leadership and its residents.