Two Years and Counting: The AFC SEMPER® RPM Offers Aqua Insight Into Pressure Transients

AQUA Pennsylvania is using a “lift and shift” approach with the AFC SEMPER RPM in areas the water provider has seen pressure issues. In this particular use, the unit was installed in a vault and attached to a tap with ¼ plastic tubing.

This story also appeared on Water Online.

It’s been more than two years since Aqua Pennsylvania began using an eye-opening technology, the AMERICAN Flow Control SEMPER® Remote Pressure Monitor (RPM), to identify pressure transients and reduce main breaks and non-revenue water. Aqua Pennsylvania provides water to more than 1.4 million residents across the state and maintains more than 4,500 miles of pipeline.

In November 2020, Aqua Pennsylvania saw a significant increase in the number of main breaks in one zone over a six-week period. To better understand what was happening in its system, the AFC SEMPER RPM was deployed. Main breaks are a normal part of operating a water utility and can be caused by many factors including sudden pressure fluctuations, ground movement due to extreme weather or the normal pipe aging process. However, main breaks can also create major issues for water utilities and customers including drops in water pressure or loss of water service.

The AFC SEMPER RPM is a wireless, battery-powered pressure recorder that provides utilities with data to monitor water pressure throughout their system. It can be installed on any system asset or fire hydrant, is portable and can be used for “lift and shift” applications. It seamlessly integrates with the cloud-based Trimble Unity® Remote Monitoring (RM) software for quick and easy data analysis.

“The bottom line is we’ve been able to reduce the number of main breaks by reducing these transients.” – Andrew Strassner, Area Director of AQUA Pennsylvania’s Southern Division

The AFC SEMPER RPM was installed on either side of a pressure reducing valve (PRV) to monitor two pressure zones from one of Aqua Pennsylvania’s facilities. Among the benefits of the AFC SEMPER RPM is being able to install it on various system assets.

“The bottom line is we’ve been able to reduce the number of main breaks by reducing these transients,” said Andrew Strassner, Area Director of AQUA Pennsylvania’s Southern Division. “One of the benefits of the AFC SEMPER RPM is its portability since it can tie into multiple system assets. The units are very precise in relation to each other, which is great when trying to pinpoint a transient source.”

Strassner said the AFC SEMPER RPM has helped the utility discover transients from multiple sources, including ones occurring at the utility’s pump stations. Now Aqua Pennsylvania can see when they are occurring and make repairs quickly. Prior to using the AFC SEMPER RPM, the water utility didn’t have a lot of visibility in seeing and identifying these water pressure events.

“It’s easy to get lost in day-to-day work and not have time to dig into a particular pressure zone to see what patterns exist,” Strassner said. “We operate more than 120 pressure zones and are looking at options to improve our pressure monitoring capabilities in each zone. Currently, we’re using a lift and shift approach with the AFC SEMPER RPM in areas we have issues. The units allow us to view data and monitor trends over time.”

Aqua Pennsylvania is also using the AFC SEMPER RPM for ad hoc issues such as planned outages and weather events. “During Hurricane Ida, we could view data from the units and provide feedback to our teams so adjustments could be made on the fly,” Strassner explained. “We also use them regularly for additional monitoring during planned pump and tank outages.”

In addition, the water utility is using the data collected from the AFC SEMPER RPM in staff training on how to open and close a valve or hydrant, and what can happen when it’s not done properly, Strassner said.

The water utility has also had great experiences with the Trimble Unity software and found it to be very intuitive. “We’re big fans of the Trimble Unity software,” Strassner said. “It’s easy to use and allows us to go back and look at areas over the past year to see current and past results. The software has really opened my eyes on how to look at a pressure zone and its health. Another nice function with the software is being able to set up alarms or alerts when pressure fluctuates.”

Strassner praised AFC Senior Sales Representative Shane Hueth for his help when Aqua Pennsylvania first began using the AFC SEMPER RPM. “We’ve been able to get our questions answered,” he said. “We can now look at the patterns we’re seeing with system pressures and use the data to better understand our system.”

Because of the successful implementation of the AFC SEMPER RPM at Aqua Pennsylvania, it is now being used across Aqua America, with additional units being deployed to address various system issues. Aqua America provides water and wastewater services to more than three million people in eight states.

“I have recommended the AFC SEMPER RPM within our company and to other water utilities,” Strassner said. “It’s a lift and shift device with cellular capabilities. It gives us a view of our system we haven’t had in the past, which is leading to a reduction in main breaks, reduced leakage, improved service to customers and improved reliability in our system.”

To learn more about the AFC SEMPER RPM, visit