Taking Remote Gas Shutoff Beyond Simple To Next Level

July 2011, Vol. 238 No. 7

Chris Wykle, Sensus

Each year gas utilities issue thousands of orders to shut off service for a variety of reasons. And, if an employee is unable to access the meter on the first visit, additional trips are required. This drives up operational costs, decreases productivity – and potentially increases exposure to liabilities.

This is why Sensus, a utility infrastructure company providing metering and communications technology solutions for gas, electric and water utilities, has worked closely with gas industry engineers to develop the first stand-alone Remote Gas Shutoff (RGS) device. The result is a versatile, programmable device that offers much more than its name implies, enabling operations personnel to efficiently and remotely perform duties from gas meter shut off to safety monitoring.

Gas utilities can now safely discontinue service on the first call by accessing the RGS unit from a handheld or vehicle-based transceiver. Or, those utilities that have deployed the Sensus FlexNet™ fixed-base communications system can remotely shut off service from their call center.

When access to a meter involves some type of risk, such as dangerous on-site conditions, the value of remote shut off capabilities increases. Yet, remote service shutoff isn’t all that the device offers.

The Sensus RGS unit’s remote pressure monitoring capabilities enable a utility to view service line pressure at an individual residence without requiring on site personnel to set a gauge. For added safety, utilities may program high or low pressure limits that will automatically shut off service if predetermined thresholds are breached. Further, the unit offers the ability to shut off service automatically if it detects vibration, such as seismic activity.

The device also offers time-stamped tilt and tamper detection alarms to alert utilities to potential gas theft. With no exposed electronics, the product is designed to meet stringent utility safety requirements. In addition, the patent-pending design of the device is unaffected by dirt buildup. It even self-exercises to clear debris, ensuring that it is ready to operate when needed.

When service is turned off, the RGS unit gives the utility a valve status indicating that closure has successfully completed. And once closed, the RGS seal meets ANSI requirements for bubble tight shut off.

The unit also offers utilities the flexibility to upgrade from walk-by to drive-by or FlexNet fixed base communications systems automatically as operations or business needs change. What’s more, utilities can program the units with their choice of virtually any Windows® Mobile 6® Handheld devices.

The RGS device is manufactured from cast iron in angle- or straight-body configurations, boasts a utility-strength, UV-stabilized polycarbonate cover, and can be added to any type of residential meter set. A 20-year battery life warranty gives utilities confidence that the device will provide years of service.

The unit offers the best value, features and functionality to meet all the needs of gas utilities. At its core, the remote shutoff system enables operations personnel to effectively and safely complete their duties while providing opportunity for future growth and innovation.

Chris Wykle
is director of marketing, Global Gas, for Sensus. He joined the company in his present role in April 2011 and is responsible for marketing all Sensus gas products and solutions offered to customers globally and for defining the marketing strategy for the Sensus gas portfolio. He has more than 16 years of experience in the natural gas industry and has held positions of increasing responsibility in research and development and marketing, most recently as an R&D manager at Itron and Actaris. He holds B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech University and a master of business administration degree from Xavier University.