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Chipsbuilding England

Siemens Metering Services

What is the optimal communications system for a high rise environment?

It’s not just an outstanding landmark, Manchester’s Chips building is hiding some remarkable technology that makes it one of the smartest buildings in the city: it can tell you if it springs a leak.

In 2011 the building was installed with a ground-breaking smart metering system that has the possibility to:

  • Read its own water meters
  • Measure water consumption in real time
  • Communicate breakdowns and leaks as soon as they occur

Chips is one of a series of trials designed to address the High Rise Challenge set by DECC, to ensure that homes in multi-dwelling units (about 20% of UK households) can take advantage of the in-home displays included in the smart meter roll out.

Project details

Manchester (England)

Automated water meter reading and control


Broadband Powerline in the low voltage network

Project partner

“This pilot demonstrates the ability of the technology to help water utilities move from conventional metering to a smart Infrastructure.”

Ian Sykes, Siemens MCS Global Headquarters Product Group

Monitoring water meters

The data is used by Siemens Metering Services to read the meters remotely, not just to track costs and measure consumption, but also to look out for any unexpected results that might indicate a water leak or a blocked pipe. Data from water meters is transferred to the building’s power cables, sending information across the power grid to where it can be read remotely by the system’s operators.


Combination of technologies

Using a combination of technologies, PPC found a solution to a number of challenges that typically affect Smart Metering in high rise environments.

PPC used a combination of radio and 3G signals to bridge gaps, but the core of the system relies on the transfer of broadband data over existing power lines, making it very robust, reliable and cost-effective. As a result, each meter’s data can be read separately and clearly, and in near real-time.

The system monitors 142 water meters around the Chips building. The whole system was installed without any disruption to the building’s occupants, because the devices were connected to cabling in the basement and hallways rather than directly to meters within each household. Each gateway device took just a couple of minutes to connect without any need to switch off power or water supplies. Within hours, data from the meters began to be available to be read in near real-time by the system’s operators.

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