Southern Water: Managing a complex estate to ensure billing accuracy and sustainability goals are met

The Customer
Southern Water serves 2.26 million customers across the Southeast of the UK, and has an estate made up of pumping stations, wastewater, and water treatment plants. Metering across the estate is a mix of Half Hourly, Non-Half Hourly, and sub metering.
Non-Half Hourly, and sub metering.

The Challenge

Appointed as the Metering Services and Data Collection provider to the Water company in 2021, IMServ’s role is to ensure that all 4000+ meters and sub meters across their portfolio are read regularly, performing as they should, and to undertake periodic inspections and replacement of out of date or failed meters. The data is then validated and cleansed, checked for accuracy and passed onto the respective suppliers to ensure accurate billing. There is an added layer of complexity here as Southern Water has two different suppliers for various parts of their portfolio. 

The utility is also delivering a programme to replace legacy non-smart meters on a rolling basis to meet the future requirements of the Market-wide Half Hourly Settlement (MHHS) programme. Providing an independent and trusted source of energy maintenance and granular data is critical to managing costs effectively across their portfolio.


Managing Complexity

This Southern Water metering estate has additional complexities as managing access to critical sites and specific power down requirements for works to be carried out needs close coordination between the team at Southern Water and the Scheduling team at IMServ. IMServ’s engineers and Site Visit Agents need to go through specialist training in order to access sites and so that they can hold their own keys to enable easy access for read appointments.

Flexibility from the IMServ team is also key as appointments often need to be rescheduled at short notice because of weather related impacts, or because the Southern Water engineers are needed at another site in an emergency. A close working relationship between the IMServ Customer Managers and the team at Southern Water is therefore vital to ensure SLA’s are met, and that appointments can be rescheduled flexibly to meet the requirements of the business.

To ensure that IMServ and Southern Water and closely aligned, calls are held twice a week between the IMServ and Customer operational teams – a weekly technical check in with the scheduler responsible for planning engineer visits to manage meter replacement, dial failures and other technical tasks and a further call at a relationship level to discuss the overall portfolio and schedule plans for meter replacement etc. The team also have more strategic meetings monthly to check on SLA’s and ensure
all elements of the contract are delivered.

The collaborative approach has delivered great results – with around 99% 
of actual data from the AMR portfolio being used into settlement – delivering accurate energy bills.

Kayleigh Cornell, Metering Co-Ordinator for Southern Water, said: “We have a close and collaborative relationship with the IMServ team – it is vital we can work hand in hand to manage the complexities across our site. Ensuring our metering portfolio is being read accurately, and any problems or exceptions are dealt with quickly and effectively is vital to ensure that our billing is correct – on a portfolio of our size any errors can have a significant impact.

Contracting directly with IMServ, rather than via a supplier, means we have control over when we carry out remedial work or meter exchanges – vital when we operate critical infrastructure – our energy supplier would not be able to deliver that level of flexibility. The direct relationship also means that we have a real understanding of our portfolio, where issues are occurring and where we can better manage our energy use.

Having a supportive partner like IMServ to manage our meter upgrade programme is also important. As a key utility providing critical
infrastructure, we have our own stringent sustainability targets to meet, and ensuring we are accurately measuring and controlling our energy use is key. IMServ deliver great levels of service, backed up by stringent service levels and are willing to go the extra mile – they really are a key partner in delivering on our business goals.”