Vadodara Enviro Channel Limited, active in transporting waste water from industrial sites, needed to overhaul its revenue management. MECOMS was implemented to combine measurements of discharge volume, timing and quality into an automated billing process that reflects the actual cost generated by each customer. With MECOMS, the meter-to-cash process has been streamlined, employees are empowered in their work and revenue has grown significantly.
Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd. (VECL) conveys and treats wastewater of more than 250 industrial units in the Baroda district. Vadodara is one of the major industrial hubs of western India and home to major industrial complexes in the Nandesar, Padra and surrounding areas.
The company was founded in 1984 as a government company when a 55 km long canal was constructed for the conveyance of treated wastewater from the Baroda district. The capacity of the system is around 130 million litres per day. The company was privatized in 1999 and underwent a management reform in 2010.
VECL has expanded its service portfolio to include, among other things, environmental consultancy, recycling and training. However, the management reform also brought to light severe issues with the quality and quantity of the wastewater treated by VECL.
Satish Panchal, Managing Director of VECL, recalls: “Revenue management turned out to be a major issue. We used to charge a flat fee to pay for the conveyance of wastewater and maintenance of our infrastructure. However, this did not generate enough revenue and was unsustainable in the long term.“
A review of waste water discharged by each of their clients indicated that some of them significantly exceeded the quantity and quality in their agreements. Further inspection revealed that some clients exceeded their committed quantity by a factor of five or even ten. This drove up cost, harmed VECL‘s infrastructure and obviously hurt their profitability. Moreover, VECL did not do any quality measurements themselves and had to rely on data provided by their customers.
VECL decided to introduce dedicated flow meters for each of their customers and to start collecting quality measurements itself. This data would enable them to overhaul the revenue management and turn the business around.
Finding a solution
Mr. Panchal: “We reviewed at least 12 different suppliers of flow meters, both from India and abroad. We ultimately settled on magnetic flow filters, which we found to be the best technology. The meters would report the quantity of wastewater discharged by each of our clients at 15-minute intervals. However, installing meters was only a first step. Improving our revenue management would require using that data in a sophisticated manner.“
An analysis team was established. They continuously monitor the wastewater discharged by each client, by collecting wastewater samples several times a day. Half of them are analysed in-house, and the other half are sent to an accredited laboratory. If VECL finds a customer exceeding the norm, this would lead to a penalty on the bill.
Mr. Panchal: “We used to collect revenue two times a year, and invoices were created manually. After consulting with our stakeholders, we decided to reorganize this process, and model it on a utility bill with quarterly invoicing and collection. The price paid by each customer should reflect the quantity, the time of discharge, and the quality of the wastewater disposed by each of our customers.“
Thus, the key requirements were collecting the 15-minute meter’s readings through SCADA, calculating consumptions, taking into account the quality parameters and generating invoices. Mr. Panchal: “We contacted different software suppliers. After vigorous discussions with each vendor and a thorough evaluation of all the proposed solutions, we selected the MECOMS™ software from Ferranti India, based in Gurgaon.“
Mr. Panchal: “When we started working with Ferranti, we put thousands of questions to their experts, to check how our requirements mapped onto their product. The Ferranti people spent around six months with us to evaluate all requirements. They also analysed our measurement methods and devised formulas to ensure the reliability of the calculated consumptions and invoices.“
Ferranti implemented MECOMS Meter Data Management (Automatic Meter Reading, Validation and Calculation), Customer Management (Product Management, Contract Management, Billing and Credit Management), Customer Communication (for CRM) and Performance Management (for management reporting). VECL employees could now access a comprehensive dataset for any customer using a user-friendly 360° cockpit view.
Mr. Panchal: “The MECOMS software met all of our requirements, and helped us reducing manual work and errors due to human interventions, especially in the billing process. Earlier, we needed six to seven people to handle the billing. Now, only one or two can handle the complete billing process and solve any issues within hours.“
Mr. Panchal summarizes: “The main achievements of implementing MECOMS have been a reduction in the level of human intervention, providing us with fast reports and helping us increase the revenue of the organization.“