Gavel & Dorn Engineering, a full-service engineering consultancy headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, has decades of open-channel flow monitoring experience. Like many, Gavel & Dorn personnel have seen firsthand how the process of collecting accurate flow data has changed immensely. Gone are the inefficient days of routinely sending flow monitoring crews to sites to verify meter operation. Today, wireless flow monitoring systems that offer remote communication are cutting expenses, improving efficiency, and dramatically reducing site visits.
Adam Brookshire, Engineering Technician with Gavel & Dorn, says, "Before the use of flow meters with remote communication, you didn't know what was going on at the monitoring site until you sent a crew out to see if the meter was operational or if flow sensors had fouled. Now with (wireless) flow meters, there is so much that we can see and do without leaving the office."
Jason Dorn, PE, PhD and partner at Gavel & Dorn, adds, "There is a definite cost savings to not having to visit the meters. If we didn't have the use of remote communication, we would visit the meters every week. Instead, with the Hach remote system, if the data continues to track well online, than we don’t have to visit the site. There’s a significant opportunity for savings. It differs by study, but it could be as much as half the time in the field."
The Hach Non-Contact Wireless Monitoring System combines the FLO-DAR AV Sensor with the wireless Hach FL900 Series Flow Logger to make a highly efficient monitoring approach. Because the FLO-DAR is non-contact and measures level and velocity from above the flow, it is much less likely to become fouled or lose data. As such it requires far less maintenance than traditional submerged sensors. Dr. Dorn says, "We were one of the early users of the FLO-DAR when it came out and I've been watching the evolution. Now I see FLO-DAR everywhere."
With wireless monitoring, the FLO-DAR is paired with a cellular-enabled FL900 flow logger that wirelessly transmits the flow data, which is hosted for free on Hach's secure servers, to any web-enabled device. The Gavel & Dorn team can then review the data in real-time via FSDATA Online Data Management software. A powerful, yet user-friendly web-based software, FSDATA is a feature-rich program that Brookshire quickly became proficient in. Features like site mapping, data quality analysis, and remote programming allow him to keep track of all of the firm's flow projects and addressing issues at sites can be made very simple. In one circumstance—a small collection system with low flows—reprogramming the logger to successfully collect data was as easy as clicking a radio button in FSDATA. Brookshire explains, "From our desks, in five minutes, we were able to fix four flow meters versus sending someone out into the field to visit all of the sites. That's fantastic! Using FSDATA allows us to do just about anything from the office that I used to have to do from the field."
Brookshire adds, "The usefulness of wireless communication begins for us as early as right after the initial flow meter installation. We can pull up the meter in FSDATA and quickly see if there are any installation problems. We've been able to pick up instances where meters were not installed properly and were able to get the issue corrected immediately. The ability to look at the flow data in FSDATA is a way we can make sure the quality of the data is good, and it's a lot easier to analyze good data than to go back and fix things that may be off."
Gavel & Dorn can also see aerial views of both flow meter and rain gauge locations and use that to determine where a rain event may be happening. Plus, maps with green or red icons indicate each meter's health, including battery life, which is extremely handy in ensuring they never lose data because of a non-functioning meter.
Because most temporary flow monitoring studies have a definite end date, it is critical that all data collected throughout the limited project timeframe is accurate and complete. Wireless monitoring allows Gavel & Dorn to monitor their data constantly and ensure that it is. Brookshire comments, "We want to make sure that we are very involved during the data collection so that, on the analysis side, there are lots of different ways that we can parse the data. This is true whether we're trying to calibrate a hydraulic model or doing an I&I or capacity study."
Gavel & Dorn have used Hach Non-Contact Wireless Monitoring Systems for a wide variety of municipalities over the past few years, including Athens-Clark County PUD, GA; Gantt, SC, Richmond, VA, DeSoto County, MS, Asheville, NC; and the City of Kannapolis, NC, to name a few. In closing, Dr. Dorn commented that wireless flow monitoring has completely changed the way their firm goes about collecting flow data. He emphatically states, "I tell people once you have it you never want to go back."
Get more information about Hach's Non-Contact Wireless Monitoring System.