Arad launches Sonata residential ultrasonic water meter: Interview with Yair Zonensein, VP International Marketing

Sonata-Copy-2Q:   Arad’s ultrasonic bulk meter, Octave, just celebrated its 100,000th sale – congratulations! And now you are launching your ultrasonic residential meter, Sonata, at IFAT 2016 (Munich, May 30-June 3). A great deal of investment went into the design and development of Sonata. Why is Arad so interested in the ultrasonic water meter sector?

Ever since Arad was established in 1941, the company has been at the forefront of water metering technology.

Both Octave and now Sonata are part of this long tradition of staying on the cutting-edge of water metering technology. As you probably know, ultrasonic meters have no moving parts. They use an ultrasonic transducer to send ultrasonic sound waves through the water flowing through the meter in order to determine the water’s velocity. Since we know the meter body’s cross-sectional area, we can use the velocity measurement to calculate the volume of the flowing water very accurately. And we can do that across a wide range of water flow rates, including a very low flow. We also measure flow in both directions. No moving parts means low maintenance and a long service life. And, of course, Sonata is fully equipped for the IoT revolution — which we believe will change the face of the water management sector.

Q:   How did the market respond to Octave and how are you expecting it to respond to Sonata?

The market responded very positively to the Octave ultrasonic bulk meter. To the best of our knowledge, today we are the #2 ultrasonic water meter vendor in the world. Although at first there was some pushback because its price is somewhat higher than a regular displacement bulk meter, our customers soon came to understand that the total cost of ownership is actually lower. And, with its super high accuracy, it helps the utility reduce its NRW (non-revenue water) costs.

We are confident that the market will respond enthusiastically to Sonata as well. It will bring all the advantages of an ultrasonic water meter to households around the globe. Although in both cases (both Octave and Sonata) the actual purchaser is the water utility, conservation-conscious rate-payers will benefit directly from the highly accurate and reliable Sonata measurements on which their bill is based. So perhaps we’ll also be seeing a groundswell from the consumers themselves, requesting that their water utility make the upgrade to Sonata.

Q:   Just the other day I saw a press release from Northeast Group in which they say that investment in smart water metering is projected to grow from $3.7 billion per year in 2016 to $7.5bn per year in 2026. How much of this do you think is going to be ultrasonic water meters, and are you seeing demand in emerging economies, or just in developed countries?

It’s hard to give you hard and fast figures here. First of all, I can definitely say that we are seeing very robust sales of Octave right across the globe – from India, to the UK and France, to the US and to large and small countries in Central and South America. In some ways emerging countries, who are just now making serious investments in their water infrastructures and are getting massive help from NGOs to do so, are even better positioned than developed countries to embrace state-of-the-art smart management solutions, including ultrasonic water meters. But any water utility that’s establishing or upgrading its metering capabilities – whether in the US or in India — is going to want to invest in the best meters available and, today, that would be ultrasonic. So we are confident that ultrasonic water meters will be major players in the smart water meter market – probably capturing 30-40% of the market over the next five years.

Q:   The Sonata has a very distinct and sleek design, which won the prestigious iF Design award earlier this year. What can you tell us about the design effort?

We worked closely with a leading product design and engineering firm from Day 1 of the Sonata development lifecycle. Our design goal was to capture and convey the fact that Sonata is a paradigm shift in residential water meter technology. Thus, for example, instead of the traditional round shape of residential water meters, which is a function of their analog components, the Sonata has a square form factor. The Sonata brings a novel high-tech, IoT modality to residential water metering. We wanted it to look like the cutting-edge electronic device that it is, as opposed to a mechanical product. Yet it also had to be rugged and reliable so we were careful to choose materials and incorporate design principles that give the product an unmistakable strength and solidity.

Q:   What can we be expecting next from Arad?

We believe that utilizing correctly all the information that smart meters provide will not only aid in water savings and efficient distribution, but will also affect the way utilities see the value of AMI. Soon data analytics, based on smart IoT-enabled water meters like Sonata, will play an even more dominant role in decision-making.

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