InfoWorks WS: the latest innovations in water supply and distribution modeling


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Introduction and background
InfoWorks WS from Wallingford Software is the leading software solution that integrates asset and business planning with water supply and distribution network modeling. The powerful hydraulic simulation within InfoWorks is exceptionally fast, robust and efficient, especially for very large networks.

InfoWorks WS engine was introduced in 1998 and a major release every six months keeps InfoWorks WS at the vanguard of the sector. The updates continue to add new tools and features to extend the range of its applications and capitalize on advances in technology.

This ongoing development ensures that InfoWorks leads the way in addressing evolving commercial and legislative requirements worldwide. In particular, Wallingford Software has ensured that InfoWorks provides a smooth interface with the asset management systems that are becoming increasingly important in network management.

This allows the creation of comprehensive hydraulic models that make use of the wealth of information available on water supply networks. InfoWorks can be used with third-party asset management applications, as well as integrating tightly with Wallingford Software’s own solution, InfoNet, to provide a live link between asset data and the hydraulic modeling platform.

Continuous software development ensures that InfoWorks retains its market-leading position. Technical features continue to be enhanced, with a regular stream of new and improved tools, functions and run types to extract the maximum understanding of the modeled network. A succession of launches over the years has equipped InfoWorks with an increasingly long list of features.

Modeling trends
Today’s modelers can work with increasingly large models and carry out ever more complex multi-run simulations, thanks to InfoWorks’ ability to perform advanced analyses of large networks.

“A decade ago, models were built by hand and therefore tended to be skeletonized to address only a single question,” explains Wallingford Software, Inc Senior Vice President Dr Saša Tomic. It was too time-consuming to build a model that could represent the entire system. This has changed with the introduction of GIS and asset management platforms. “Modelers now have access to extensive information about all the pipes and other infrastructure in a network and naturally wish to maximize the use of the data,” he adds. “InfoWorks has been designed to make the most of the extensive asset information that an organization holds.”

The data can be used to build all-main models that provide an accurate representation of the entire system and can be used for advanced applications such unidirectional flushing, capacity checking, fire flow simulation, criticality analysis and water quality modeling.

InfoWorks models with 100,000 or more pipes are becoming increasingly common, and present no obstacle either in simulation speed or in managing the vast amount of information.

“Modelers can take advantage of the detailed information available about the infrastructure to gain a better understanding of the behavior of a whole water supply network,” says Dr Tomic. This wealth of information from the more advanced modeling is also enabling the models to become integrated into corporate systems. Modeling no longer sits on the side. “A model has become a decision support tool,” he says.

Key markets
InfoWorks WS is already the leading product for water modeling in the western world and its key areas of growth are expected to be China, the Middle East and Latin America, says Dr Tomic.

Examples from around the world continue to highlight the wide range of uses of InfoWorks. The expansive list of InfoWorks WS case studies includes its key role at the core of Sydney Water’s new Water Modeling System in Australia and its use to create huge models of hundreds of thousands of pipes serving Miami-Dade in the USA and Shanghai in China.

Application of InfoWorks is also expanding beyond its traditional use by engineers within utilities and consultancies, with the corporate decision-making applications in areas such as infrastructure investment. “Another trend that is becoming apparent is an increased market demand to move towards real-time modeling and integration of the models into the control room,” he says. InfoWorks can provide invaluable operational support, such as planning repair strategies or coping with emergencies.
Users around the world are welcoming the increased power that InfoWorks WS gives them to operate more efficiently, which in turn gives a better service to customers. “New features and tools are enabling an increasing range of simulations within the software,” says Dr Tomic. Advanced simulations such as Capacity Checking, Critical Link Analysis and Shutdown Simulation allow work to be planned effectively, which maximizes value for money, minimizes disruption to customers and ensures that future developments will not have an adverse effect on service.

Popular advantages
InfoWorks WS provides a market-leading data management platform combined with unrivalled capabilities in terms of its hydraulics and the accuracy and range of calculations that are performed, explains Dr Tomic.

“Its efficient management of the data differentiates it from other products,” he adds. Today’s hydraulic models can be built faster than ever thanks to the integration of InfoWorks with GIS and asset management systems, including Wallingford Software’s InfoNet.

InfoWorks allows seamless exchange of data and results with GIS and other third party applications, such as CAD or Google Earth. This aids the creation of large, comprehensive models while avoiding any duplication of data or the need to re-enter information by hand.

“Data management is particularly important when dealing with today’s large, complex models,” he says. In particular, InfoWorks provides a multi-user environment, so that many users can work on the same model without data duplication or conflicting changes, he explains. InfoWorks keeps track of the information and includes features such as data flagging, which records the source and the confidence levels for individual values.

Model building and clean-up are automated, which provides further advantages especially when dealing with exceptionally large models. InfoWorks includes many features designed to check the model and avoid labor-intensive manual processes. Examples include the automatic inference of missing model data and the assignment of pipe friction coefficients. InfoWorks also helps avoid gross errors in the data by performing engineering validation checks to ensure consistency with expected values.

InfoWorks offers flexibility in its approaches. For instance, it is straightforward to join models together so that neighboring utilities can plan co-operative strategies. Conversely, part of a model can be run on its own for rapid review of a particular issue. Flexibility of approach is particularly important in a product designed for worldwide use. Issues such as demand management can be tackled in a number of ways and there is a choice in technical details for items such as valves, to take account of different situations.

World trends
Accurate analysis of existing water supply networks is becoming increasingly important as much infrastructure is nearing the end of its life. ”In many places, this is leading to a change in emphasis from construction to repair,” explains Dr Tomic. “Many systems were built 100 to 150 years ago and have deteriorated to the point where action is needed.”

InfoWorks is ideally placed for analysis to check for issues such as excessive pressures that could generate bursts. It can be used to work out contingency plans to manage maintenance, emergencies and replacements.

One of the solutions is Wallingford Software’s InfoNet for Water, he says. This is invaluable for providing access to a pool of knowledge that can help make decisions such as which pipes to replace, he says. It provides umbrella coverage of aspects such as asset condition assessment, pipe replacement management and the history of each pipe including breaks and surveys.

Another important issue is that much operational knowledge is set to be lost to the sector. “In the US in particular some 50% of water system operators are coming up to retirement and will take their knowledge with them,” he says. Many utilities rely on this experience for the management of the operations room and so there will be increasing demand for systems that can support less experienced people.

InfoWorks WS is also increasingly being called on to help with operational decisions. “InfoWorks Live will help operators test the consequences of their decisions in scenarios when they don’t know how to react,” he says. This will be of great benefit in two prime applications, he believes. It can be used to deal with emergencies and for training new operators to become familiar with more everyday decisions.

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