Remote Monitor Beats a Ballcock on Tanks


A ballcock sliding on a piece of steel rod has been a tried and true level indicator for farm tanks all over New Zealand for many years. But some innovative thinking from Gallagher has taken that No.8 wire approach much further, to provide a water monitoring system that can remotely monitor multiple water tanks across wide areas of farmland.

“It’s doing what more expensive systems do, Gallagher have managed to make the technology affordable and easy to use.”

​A ballcock sliding on a piece of steel rod has been a tried and true level indicator for farm tanks all over New Zealand for many years.

But some innovative thinking from Gallagher has taken that No.8 wire approach much further, to provide a water monitoring system that can remotely monitor multiple water tanks across wide areas of farmland.

Marty Schurgers manages the Hakataramea Valley Water Scheme, 5km from Kurow in South Canterbury and counts the Gallagher Wireless Water level Monitoring System as an invaluable tool to help him keep water flowing through 100km of pipe network.

The gravity feed system supplies stock water to dozens of farms and 75 households up the valley. With summer temperatures that can easily top over 30C, stock demand can be intense, requiring Marty to keep a close eye on water levels in the scheme’s 7 reservoir tanks that pipe water up to 22km distant.

The monitoring system consists of a touch screen display unit reporting tank levels. It is linked to a level sensor placed in the water tank, via a tank unit transmitter capable of transmitting up to 4km without a repeater.

Marty’s previous role as an electrician on the Hurunui District Council scheme meant he was familiar with remote sensing units on larger schemes, but also aware those systems came with a price tag.

“I came across the Gallagher remote monitoring system at the Farmlands store, and initially linked up one of the tanks. It grew from there to the point I now monitor seven tanks on the scheme.”

His ability to monitor more tanks came in part thanks to a display unit that is capable of holding information from up to nine tanks on a shared home screen.

The development of an active repeater was also critical to Marty being able to scale up his monitoring system.

“Being in a valley there are plenty of hills and dips between my base and the tanks themselves that can interfere with a signal. Without the active repeater I would not be able to get three sites at all, including the intake tank which is 11.5km away.”

The repeater is located on one side of the valley and receives all the tanks’ transmissions, and then bounces it to Marty’s display unit.

Gallagher product manager Graham Johns says the active repeater which Marty played a big role in trialling represents a combination of the best of Gallagher hardware, combined with some innovative software systems.

Power for the repeater comes via tried and proven solar technology typically found in Gallagher electric fence energizers.

“The repeater increases the flexibility of the remote monitoring system significantly, meaning that in more remote, steeper country the contours and distances involved can be overcome,” says Graham.

Even though he has only had the system in for a few months, it has already repaid the scheme’s owners by alerting Marty to a break in a water mains pipe.

“It was a tank we have had problems with before – I check the monitor twice a day and it showed one morning the tank was going down. Checking I found a break and was able to fix it before we lost all the water from the 30,000 litre tank.”

In the peak demand period over summer the loss of a tank can mean a slide in water pressure on the gravity fed system, and stock getting significantly less water until the affected tank has been refilled.

“The system means I can catch any issues quickly and no-one runs out of water.”

Marty appreciates the system’s simplicity to set up, and how it updates tank information every half hour, keeping status current and accurate.

“You don’t need to be a technician and can just work through a couple of screens of information to get it all lined up with the tank transmitters.”

For a cost well under $4000 Marty believes the Gallagher system is delivering excellent value for money, and peace of mind for him as its overseer.

“It’s doing what significantly more expensive systems do, and Gallagher have managed to make the technology affordable and easy to use.”

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Gallagher Group 181 Kahikatea Drive, Private Bag 3026, Waikato Mail Centre,
Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Phone: +64 7 838 9800

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