Meter reading is a core business of Wells. Wells meter reading cars are a well-recognised part of many New Zealand neighbourhoods, but there's also another method of transport that Wells has explored that may have meter readers travelling in a much more efficient manner...
For more information about Wells projects
As Wells has grown it’s operations across the country, it’s vehicle fleet has also grown. From 50 to now over 400 vehicles. With more vehicles comes more petrol consumption and more maintenance. The core business had to stay efficient and provide leadership for the best ways to operate.
A large number of option were looked at, mopeds, scooters, even motorized bikes. But the best option was the electric bikes due to low running costs. Wells calculated and compared the cost of 1 read using a vehicle 0.7 cents, to the cost of 1 read using an electric bike 0.05 cents and the choice became clear. Electric bikes were extremely efficient. Another factor was the environment, Wells also knew that New Zealand and the rest of the planet were worth looking after, and through using electric bikes could greatly reduce their carbon footprint in the meter reading area by using electric bikes.
So they started looking at types of electric bikes, there were many different options, even the technology of electric bikes had evolved, different gearing systems, different battery levels, different frame designs. A bike with a Lithium Iron battery run on 7 speed gear shimano system looked the goods, this was purchased from a local supplier and with Wells innovative brains and engineering prowess, a prototype was developed, with all considerations for what a meter reader needs to stay safe and what key things they need to take with them.
The bike could be used as all pedal power, with the electric motor, or power assistant mode, using the electric motor will take you 35-40km before needing to be recharged, with the power assistant you can travel 60-65km.
Photo: Auckland Meter readers setting up their new electric bicycles.
Photo: Close-up of electric bicycle battery unit.
The next question was who at Wells would be best to use the bikes, Meters readers were targeted as they had a low amount of equipment they needed to carry for work, Urban meter readers, making up two thirds of this group were selected. Rural meter readers were removed from this group as they have large traveling distances, and a bike would not be practical.
An electric bike was sent tout to the Hamilton base. It just so happened that a meter reader in Hamilton was injured and could not drive the vehicle, she could however ride a bike. She ended up enjoying the bike so much that she preferred to use it, even when she was fit enough to use the car again.
More bikes will be sent out to Wells offices nation-wide, where a selected group from each region will put them the bikes through their paces. Then it will be pedal power for most of the 300 Wells meter readers.
The electric bike project reflects one of Wells pivotal commitments, innovation, to keep thinking of new and more efficient ways of doing things.