Modeling trends highlight operational benefits


Courtesy of Innovyze

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As the accuracy of models increases, their value as an operational support tool is also growing, and an exciting key trend is for them to be used for this purpose as well as for the usual investment decisions associated with strategic modeling.

Wallingford Software's Senior Vice President for Global Product Management, Dr Saša Tomiæ, says that this trend is already evident in the modeling of water distribution systems. “Water distribution systems are being modeled with more accuracy – the models are more detailed. What is happening is that the increasing power of computers means that models that would have been skeletonized in the past can now be modeled as ‘all mains' – representing pipes down to 2in diameter.”

“What we are seeing now is a move towards real-time modeling.  For instance, hydraulic models are used to optimize power consumption –InfoWorks WS provides automated tools for power optimization – or for emergency response modeling, to track a pollution incident, isolate polluted zones and notify affected customers. Similar tools are used for main failure isolation.  Models are also used to balance systems' sources – some supplies have to combine surface and ground waters and it is important to ensure that the mix is appropriate to the system.”

With an operational model, where a complete model is run every few minutes, catastrophic system failures can be quickly identified by comparing observed and calculated pressures. Sudden deviations In observed pressures would indicate a main failure, which can be quickly investigated, whereas the normal process would mean companies only becoming aware of the problem when the water came to the surface.

The solution is also being used to optimize pumping regimes by forecasting demand, ensuring that tanks are filled when power costs less, and in time to ensure that peak demand is met - for instance when hot days are predicted.

Corporate modeling

Water Technology Consultant Rajko Cavor notes that the dramatic advances in corporate modeling systems leads this general trend. He says: “Water modeling has grown dramatically over the past five to ten years from a single-seat, single-modeler hydraulic package into the database hosted, multi-user, multi-functional, multi-connected company wide system.

“Gone are the days of water engineers using network modeling for hydraulic analysis alone. The scope of modeling has significantly widened and is expanding rapidly to cover all aspects of asset management as well as operational and technical tasks. Modeling systems are growing fast, shoulder-to-shoulder with other, already established water industry systems such as GIS, telemetry, billing and customer care.

“Modeling is fast becoming an important part of the family of essential services in the water business and the only one able to integrate and interpret inputs from all of the other systems, providing new insight into segmented corporate data.”

The ability of models to be an integrated and essential part of water company business is aided by the imminent change in PC architecture to new 64-bit processors, from both key manufacturers AMD and Intel, within the next three to five years. Rajko Cavor adds: ‘This change will bring substantial performance improvements to database and simulation/analysis operations. The new platform will remove any practical database limitations in terms of storage and handling of much larger and complex models together with significant performance increases.

Integrated modeling

Integrated models will be the ultimate expression of this modeling trend, he explains. At present, models cover discrete parts of the water system, which are usually defined by hydraulic or hydrology conditions such as the extent of the network, watershed boundaries or company limits and so on. Typically, many such models were created within water company/authority boundaries and are separately updated and linked to other IT systems such as GIS and telemetry.

“One future trend emerging from our customers' comments and requirements is for the one, all encompassing model of all the company's network assets regardless of their connectivity or lack of it. This means that all of a company's distribution/hydraulic zones will reside together within the same integral model or, to expand the concept even further, even crossing company boundaries to form regional models across several companies for better use of already stretched environmental resources.”

Wallingford Software's InfoWorks RS and FloodWorks Sales Director Tyrone Parkinson agrees that customers around the globe are extremely interested in integration. “We have led workshops in which a lot of interest has been expressed in combining urban drainage models with wastewater, flood impact and river impact models.'

Open MI

Director of Product Management David Fortune agrees that integration is a significant step, and one that has picked up considerable impetus since the addition of the Open MI interface to InfoWorks last year. “We believe we will see enormous growth in 2006. There is considerable interest worldwide in this capability.

“We are seeing a merging of the hard boundaries between urban drainage and river modeling – people are starting to want to consider wider problems, and model catchment and management options.”

Overland flows

InfoWorks CS Sales Manager Andrew Walker says that there were two main trends for this wastewater software solution in 2005. The first of these was the representation of overland flow routes. He says: “InfoWorks CS took detailed modelling above ground for the first time. InfoWorks CS v6.0, available at the start of 2005, allowed users to construct natural overland flow paths directly from the underlying Ground Model Data (Digital Terrain Data), and to join these paths to existing network structures such as manholes and gullies.

“In the summer of 2005 this facility was extended to enable the user to generate overland flow paths from the lines in a GIS background layer - road centre lines, for example.  The AMP4 cycle in the UK has a considerable focus on flooding and overland flow routes, and these two major additions to InfoWorks CS ensured that engineers and modelers had the right tools for the job just when they needed them.”

Last year also saw the introduction of a number of new features to allow modelers to represent SUDs (sustainable urban drainage) structures more accurately. InfoWorks CS now contains a special type of node, called a Pond, which has all the hydraulic characteristics of a real pond. 

In 2006, he predicts that the focus will be on model integration, and particularly on how best to deal with urban flooding and urban flood routes from a modeling perspective.  He notes: “InfoWorks v7.0 allows the tight integration of sewer models developed with InfoWorks CS and river models developed with InfoWorks RS.  Initially, this will be achieved using OpenMI, which has got everyone thinking seriously about Integrated Catchment Modeling and how it is almost certainly the answer to many of the issues that need resolving in AMP4.”


Asset management solution InfoNet has enjoyed considerable success over the past year, says Global Product Manager Stuart Dodd. “The start of AMP 4 in England and Wales [the water companies' new asset management plan period] has led to a large number of water companies releasing work packages and utilising InfoNet's ability to create and manage the process of project creation, validation and auditing,” he explains.

InfoNet is being used to create asset models that are subsequently taken into the hydraulic modeling sphere for network modification or expansion. Once these projects have been agreed the data is then taken back into the asset network for further management by other water company departments.

Other companies are using InfoNet as a replacement solution, incorporating numerous existing departmental applications into one enterprise solution. There is increasingly a trend away from legacy bespoke solutions towards the adoption of commercial off-the shelf solutions such as InfoNet.

“Project management is an increasing focus for water company engineers and InfoNet's ease of use can help them retain control on numerous projects,” he adds. “Some of the new features that enable tracking of events, surveys, repairs and contract management now enable our clients to create and maintain full auditable records of their network expenditure, leading to greater accuracy when predicting future network maintenance requirements along with more precise figures for regulators to use when determining the allowable rate increases.”

In the USA many large cities and nationwide engineering consultants have opted for InfoNet as their solution of choice. In China, Shanghai city recently chose InfoNet as its base asset management system. Belgium has seen an increase in sales and activity even Japanese cities are considering its use, Mr Dodd notes.

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