Antenna System Provides Clean Solution for Automatic Meter Reading and Radio Frequency Equipment

The Monroe County Water District (MCWD) in Paris, Mo., recently prepared to install antenna systems on eight key water towers to accommodate the rural areas’ radio frequency (RF) conversion to automatic meter reading (AMR).

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The Monroe County Water District (MCWD) in Paris, Mo., recently prepared to install antenna systems on eight key water towers to accommodate the rural areas’ radio frequency (RF) conversion to automatic meter reading (AMR). During this process, concern arose over potential Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues arising from the potential risk of damage to the existing tanks’ protective surfaces, limited handrail mounting options and the required capacity range that would be required to link the entire area for the county’s automatic utility use billing system for water, gas and electric.

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The ensuing AMR system would save local utility providers the expense of periodic manual trips to each physical location to read meters—a task that could take meter-readers a month or more to complete in the rural county. The information, coupled with analysis, would ultimately help utility providers and consumers with better control of the use and production of utility consumption.

Given these exacting goals and AMR equipment issues, the MCWD consulted with its preferred AMR equipment installer, Xact Communications of Royce City, Texas, to provide an efficient solution. Xact’s operations manager, David Hutchinson, quickly identified a patented, non-invasive, high-capacity magnetic solution the company had used on a number of challenging installations throughout the Midwest and South—the Magnemount Antenna System, developed by Metal & Cable Corp. Inc. of Twinsburg, Ohio.

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Magnetic Solution and Green Advantage

The Magnemount system is engineered with a series of permanent magnets combined with an independently suspended mounting system to provide a non-invasive solution for adhering to the steel surfaces of water towers with varying curvatures. The mounting system is entirely magnetic, so it doesn’t require invasive welding or epoxy coating that could adversely affect a water tank’s protective surface coatings and bladder seals. This allowed the MCWD to avoid the risk of potential EPA issues and significant expenditures incurred from draining the tank and recoating its interior and exterior steel surfaces because of welding. Xact’s Hutchinson noted an additional green advantage, stating: “Since there is no recoating required, there is no need to isolate the area around the tower from potential fumes or contamination with protective curtains when prepping a surface.”

The high-capacity mounting system is available in five basic designs, which can be modified to accommodate specific needs, and features a lifetime warranty on the magnets. For its installations, the MCWD project utilized the adjustable Magnemount MA model, which features an un-guyed, adjustable upper mast that allowed the installers to aim an antenna to any orientation in the hemisphere above the plane of the mounting plate. This was pivotal to maximize RF coverage for the rural region on the eight water towers, which had severe curved configurations and traditional five-legged and standpipe designs.

Standard Magnemount MA model features include:

• 100 miles per hour wind speed capacity—5.5-foot2 wind surface area;
• 24- x 24-inch square footprint—uses up to 120 magnets;
• 300 grade stainless steel and anodized aluminum construction; and
• Mast size—2 inches outside diameter x 0.375 inches wide x 36 inches long, or 3 inches outside diameter x 0.375 inches wide x 36 inches long.

Magnetic Installation and Clean Advantage

The key to the systems’ cost-efficient profile is its quick, clean installation—which requires no welders, painters or special tools. After a swift hoist up the water tower with bearing and rope, installers simply pick a surface location and place the base plate. The magnets are then loosened to automatically orient themselves to their maximum capacity. The lock-nuts on each magnet need only one turn with a hand wrench to secure the mount in place. Once secured, the antenna is mounted and the installation is completed—usually within about 15 minutes.

According to Xact Communication’s owner, Josh Davis, “Installation on this system is fast and smooth, unlike welding that can often take weeks. It actually takes longer to hoist up the tower than to install it. Plus, there’s no need for repairs or maintenance, such as welding, which could potentially lead to voiding the paint job’s warranty. That alone could represent unwanted time investments and significant expenditures.”

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Results and Conclusion

The MCWD installation was completed in less than a week and Xact Communications has since used about 25 Magnemounts for installation projects throughout the Midwest and southern states.

To date, the high-capacity Magnemount system has had no reported service failures or returns in six years of existence. In addition, an unlimited lifetime warranty is provided on all magnets—five years on the complete system. Both warrantees offer a 100 percent free replacement or refund, which includes freight both ways.


Corporate profile: Metal & Cable Corp. Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of hard-to-find and custom-made metals, electrical wire and cable. The Magnemount mounting system represents an advancement in steel water tank antenna and cable tray mounting. For more details, please visit www.metal-cable.com.

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