AFC SEMPER® RPM Offers Water Hammer Insight for Monroe, North Carolina

An AMERICAN Flow Control SEMPER® RPM on an American-Darling B-84-B hydrant outside of Monroe’s historic downtown courthouse. The AFC SEMPER RPM has helped the city detect leaks and gain greater insight into its system.

The city of Monroe, North Carolina, is the industrial engine of Union County. Located south of Charlotte, precision manufacturing represents a significant portion of the workforce and contributes to the area’s low unemployment rate of 3%. Manufacturing investment and job creation remain high, and it’s easy to see why the city continues to experience rapid growth.

With growth comes the need for reliable water and wastewater services, and those are managed by the City’s own Water Resources Department. In the summer of 2022, the department saw a handful of main breaks but was having difficulty finding the source because of their locations in desolate or hard to find areas. With the implementation of pressure sensing technology – the AMERICAN Flow Control SEMPER® Remote Pressure Monitor (RPM) – Monroe has gained greater insight into its system and why these main breaks are occurring.

“We began using the AFC SEMPER RPM in October 2022 as a basis for leak detection,” said Cole Hancock, a civil engineer with Monroe’s Water Resources Department. “Nine units were placed on fire hydrants in strategic spots across our distribution system to give us spiderweb coverage. We discovered a lot of cool statistics and characteristics about our system we didn’t know.”

Water hammer, or sudden pressure surges and drops, was one issue the city discovered with the devices. “Water hammers can cause main breaks,” Hancock explained. “The AFC SEMPER RPM allowed us to see these pressure surges that were causing water hammer.”

Hancock said when AMERICAN Flow Control Sales Representatives Terry Freck and Paul McNeill first demonstrated the pressure monitoring devices, they were amazed at what they were able to find. “Terry and Paul, as well as everyone at AFC, have been very helpful, informative and responsive.”

While the city operates a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, the AFC SEMPER RPM provides additional insight and an instantaneous measurement of pressure. “With the units, we can more easily identify a problem and narrow our scope of research to resolve it,” Hancock said. “We’ve also been able to pinpoint cases of water theft using the pressure monitors.”

Another benefit of the AFC SEMPER RPM is the Unity® software it works with, according to Hancock. “The desktop and the app are easy to use, and we haven’t had any issues we needed to work around,” he said. “I wish all our software was as easy to use as Unity.”

Because of the success of the first nine AFC SEMPER RPMs, the city purchased eight more units a year later. “Before learning about the AFC SEMPER RPM, I wasn’t aware there was technology that provided this much insight,” Hancock said. “I would absolutely recommend it to other water utilities so they can see what’s going on inside their distribution systems.”

The AFC SEMPER RPM is a wireless, battery-powered pressure recorder that can be installed on any hydrant or system asset. The device’s “Lift and Shift” mobility allows utilities to move the units throughout their systems to help identify problem areas. To learn more, visit https://american-usa.com/products/valves-and-hydrants/semper/.