The software is packed with tools to aid the modeling and joining of whole or part networks. The range of options has been further extended in version 9.0 to simplify the method for running a section of a model. This makes it easier than ever to build a comprehensive model of an entire region that offers the advantage of small, fast simulations to address local issues.
A ‘top-down’ approach
Use of comprehensive models helps ensure that operational and investment decisions are based on the best-possible information. Enormous models can result when all-mains networks including even the smallest pipes are extended across a utility’s entire region.
InfoWorks has been developed with extensive capabilities for hydraulic simulation and modeling of huge networks, but there are times when only a particular section is of interest.
One way of building large models is a ‘top-down’ approach, explains Wallingford Software, Inc. Senior Vice President Dr. Saša Tomiæ. This is a flexible solution that is ideal for regional utilities made up of distinct areas. “Every local city can run its own model and go about its everyday work, but the data can be held within a single large model,” he explains. This dual approach gives the benefits of local models for routine management and an overall model that can be run as required to address wider issues such as budgeting and corporate decision-making.
A new feature in InfoWorks v9.0 is the ability to perform a simulation on part of the model, without having to extract data into a separate model of the area. Simulation of the section simply involves selecting a group of elements to perform a run on. This can give considerable speed advantages over InfoWorks’ already-fast times. This flexibility to run only part of the model may also prove useful when data for the adjoining section is known to be out of date.
The top-down approach requires software that can meet demanding requirements as the overall model size can run into hundreds of thousands of pipes. InfoWorks WS is designed to cater for even the largest regional models, thanks to factors such as its speed of processing and its extensive capabilities in pulling in asset data from different sources. Representation of a huge network also requires rigorous data management and InfoWorks is geared for this, with features such as in-built quality control and a multi-user platform, which prevents the data being compromised. The ability to keep all data in the main model while running only part of it also aids quality assurance.
An alternative ‘bottom-up’ approach to regional modeling involves the creation of separate models that can be merged subsequently to address wider issues. This technique is ideal where each area is the responsibility of a different utility. Organizations that work independently have no desire or requirement to share information about their systems on a day-to-day basis, points out Dr Tomiæ. “But occasionally they want to be able to take the two models and quickly merge them to run a simulation.” The ability of InfoWorks WS to do this makes it ideal for exploring emergency scenarios. Neighboring utilities can collaborate to test scenarios for contingency planning, without having to create a joint model. InfoWorks WS enables them to develop plans so that water can be supplied from elsewhere in case of emergencies such as local supply failures or pollution incidents.
The utilities can use the InfoWorks model to explore the implications of any decision to connect the supplies. For instance, it can be used to test options for which valves to open and by how much. The modeler can analyze the changes to the network and determine any unwanted effects such as excessively high or low pressures. “Utilities can plan how to integrate their supplies efficiently,” says Dr Tomiæ. “This is not something you want to think about for the first time when there is an urgent problem to tackle.”
InfoWorks provides tools so that the integration can be fully automated. The GeoExplorer feature within InfoWorks manages the meta-network, a ‘network of networks’ that defines the correlation between individual networks and describes the state of each (up-to-date, calibrated, old, in development, etc). The user can use GeoExplorer to join models at the network level without any need to see the detail of individual networks.
‘Join models’ is an intelligent tool developed to carry out the merger. It matches and transforms the interconnecting node points that will be used for the transfer. ’City A’ might have created a transfer node in the model, where a volume of water can be exported. ’City B’ in turn will have a point where the water comes in - either as a fixed amount of water or pressure. Alternatively, each city might have shown their pipes ending at dead nodes to represent valves that are normally closed
InfoWorks caters for either approach and replaces the nodes or dead ends with an open pipe. After merging the matched models, they can be run as one. There is no need to exchange data with the neighboring utility - the key requirement is to ensure that the naming conventions avoid any duplication or confusion.