Connected tech helps cities conserve resources and reduce costs
Capstone enables municipalities to save water with a little help from the Internet of Things (IoT) — and Avnet’s IoTConnect platform and Partner Program
Capstone’s IntelliH2O® intelligent water meter monitors municipal assets like utility meters for U.S. cities. These cities can lose as much as 38% of their water during transmission, and Capstone’s smart, connected product limits the amount of water wasted through leaks, waste or theft. As a small company looking to scale their differentiated product, they knew they needed an efficient, scalable and secure IoT platform and a partner that could support them as they grew. With Avnet’s IoTConnect platform and Partner Program, the Capstone team was able to scale their meter installations faster than before, moving from 1,000 installed meters to a projected 35,000 by the end of 2020. Now, not only is Avnet’s Partner Program helping Capstone stay ahead of the competition, it’s transforming the company from an original equipment manufacturer to a systems integrator with multiple recurring revenue streams.
Clean water is a critical part of everyday life. It’s also scarce in many geographies and quite expensive. In the United States alone, more than 50,000 water utility companies serve the $113B industry. On average, municipalities dedicate 15% of their electrical consumption to water production and transmission.
As populations continue to grow, so does water scarcity, and the need to conserve as much of this valuable resource as possible. That’s why many cities are turning to technology to help manage their water resources more effectively.
“The water and municipal industries are severely lacking technologically,” said Jack Williamson, Capstone’s Vice President of Business Development. “Most of the software packages provided to cities for water management are not secure, reliable or scalable.”
Scott Williamson and his sons Jim and Jack started Capstone more than a decade ago to fill this gap by using smart, connected technology to limit the amount of water wasted through leaks, waste or theft. Through years of research, the Williamson family created the award-winning IntelliH2O® smart water metering solution — yet they knew more could be done if they could expand the meter’s reach and functionality.
Focused on staying ahead of the competition, the Williamson family began looking for ways to pragmatically incorporate more scalable technology into the IntelliH2O® meter. After meeting with a number of technology providers, they chose to partner with Avnet.
A more powerful platform, a more powerful solution
“When Jim approached us with Capstone’s unique business needs, I knew they would be a great match for Avnet because they had a vision of where they wanted to be and had many of the pieces they needed to get there,” said Michael Lamp, director of technical sales for Avnet. “They needed a partner to bring it all together for them, and that’s our specialty.”
Michael and the Avnet team worked closely with Capstone to address their current needs while mapping their future goals. As a result, they developed a sound technological solution that supports a long-term business strategy.
“We explored other companies, and they all tried very hard to get us on their IoT platforms — but couldn’t help with anything else,” said Jim Williamson, Capstone’s chief technology officer. “As we worked more closely with Hari and the team, we learned that Avnet could help us with a number of our other stress points that included time to market and compliance issues. They already had the right answers for all the areas that we don’t necessarily specialize in. While other companies enable only themselves, Avnet’s solutions truly enable its customers — they are a true solutions provider.”
Ultimately, Capstone chose the Avnet IoTConnect platform over the competition for three main reasons:
- advanced data security of the Microsoft Azure based platform
- easy scalability
- overall pricing and efficiency
“We needed a forward-looking technology partner that could help us in the key areas of data solvency, scalability of the platform and cost efficiency, and Avnet really came through for us,” said Jack Capstone. “When dealing with public utilities, there are huge amounts of data transmitted and that must be kept secure because it’s the law. The IoTConnect platform runs on Microsoft Azure — it’s got a better handle on security than the cloud service we originally chose.”
Plus, with the secure, scalable foundation of the IoTConnect platform, Capstone has been able to greatly enhance the existing all-in-one smart metering system’s remote valve operation, integrated rechargeable power supply and remote operation capabilities. Now, the IntelliH2O® smart meters seamlessly communicate with each other and the cloud.
Avnet’s IoTConnect platform removes the worry of firmware updates, ensures secure remote operation, expands detailed data gathering and analytics, and integrates pressure, temperature and sensing alarms. The advanced IoT enabled sensing alarms can isolate potential maintenance issues, including leaks and red-flag other events like water theft. Essentially, the platform helps Capstone deliver Water as a Service (WaaS).
“Capstone already has one of the most compelling water meters in the market. Our powerful IoTConnect platform enables Capstone and their customers to securely connect the meters to the cloud, automate data collection and analysis and derive value-driven insights”, said Hari Kalyanaraman, director of product management for Avnet. “This supercharges the IntelliH2O® meter in delivering a WaaS solution with powerful predictive maintenance and data analytics capabilities — which is a real game-changer in the water utility sector.”
Return on investment varies by installation but many municipalities have realized cost savings in the range of 11%-15%.
Capstone has big plans to roll those savings out to more municipalities through the use of a brand-new Avnet Partner Program.
The key to connecting thousands of unconnected municipalities
Avnet’s Partner Program enables businesses like Capstone to quickly build solutions on Avnet’s IoTConnect platform to scale their current offerings. Technology partners in the program can leverage proven software and hardware building blocks that are already compatible with Avnet’s IoTConnect platform to create solutions that meet their customers’ needs. Avnet provides support and handles the automated management of recurring solution billing, so this program both speeds solution development and helps partners scale.
“When developing an IoT solution for a critical need like smart utilities, it’s important to have access to platforms that simplify and speed up how those solutions can be managed and distributed,” Jim said. “Working with Avnet has allowed us to stay ahead of our competition by greatly expanding the capabilities of our IntelliH2O® smart meters. The power of Avnet’s IoTConnect platform and Partner Program means that we can deliver the ongoing support our customers demand as they deploy our intelligent water meters across utility networks around the world.”
Not only is Avnet’s Partner Program helping Capstone stay ahead of the competition, it’s transforming the company from an original equipment manufacturer to a systems integrator with multiple recurring revenue streams.
“Avnet’s Partner Program is built to enable partners like Capstone to transform their business models by unlocking new revenue streams faster and at scale,” Hari said. “Jim and his team were able to use the program to quickly develop a repeatable WaaS solution that added recurring revenue and demonstrated a clear ROI to municipalities and cities with aggressive budgets.”
That transformation means big business for Capstone as well as bottom-line savings for the cities in which we live, work and play.
Capstone’s initial data and analytics have shown that while the average municipality lost 10% of water during transmission, some were losing as much as 38%. By addressing problem areas through the use of IoT technology, Capstone has been able to enhance the security of public utilities and help conserve valuable resources, especially in areas dealing with drought and water scarcity, by shrinking those numbers — by double digits.
The Capstone team sees major growth ahead, not only for the meter but also for a variety of other smart city offerings. Today, 1,000 IntelliH2O® water meters run the IoTConnect platform. By early 2020 that number should grow by 4,000 with an additional 12,000 meters to follow shortly thereafter. Projected installations of the IntelliH2O® meter will exceed 35,000 by the end of 2020.
“We go into municipalities all of the time and they ask us, ‘Can you solve this?’” Jim said. “Being able to confidently say that we can meet our customers’ needs on their timetable is a huge benefit — and that’s all thanks to our partnership with Avnet, and having those tools in our toolbox so we can say ‘yes’ to great opportunities to grow and transform our business.”
|The Solution||Capstone's flagship product is the IntelliH2O® intelligent water meter, which is a Water-as-a-Service (WaaS) solution that monitors municipal assets like utility meters. The WaaS dashboard tracks temperature, flow, pressure, location of the assets and alerts when there is a change in pressure or flow|
Capstone’s WaaS solution addresses several business challenges:
|Target Industries/Markets||Utilities, municipalities, smart cities|
|Target End Point Applications||Utility / water meter|
|Typical Use Cases||Asset monitoring, anomaly detection|