Do You Make These Mistakes in Hydraulic Modeling?

Achieve Success with Hydraulic Modeling

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July 6, 2021 | David Fortune

For over thirty yearsInnovyze has helped water-distribution, stormwater and wastewater professionals achieve success with hydraulic modeling projects. In that time, we have seen the same mistakes made over and over. We have designed and built the InfoWorks ICM and WSPro Workgroup architecture so that you don’t have to make those same mistakes, again.

1. Your Model is not Purpose-Driven 

The first mistake is embarking on a project without a clear purpose. That purpose could be analysis of sewer overflows or flood events from the past, or implementation of a distribution pressure calming regime, or for future capacity planning. If you don’t have a clear purpose in mind, it could be that you end up with the wrong model to answer your important questions.  

How does InfoWorks help me focus on my goals? 

With each model, it’s easy to build and maintain a set of scenarios, each of which corresponds to a particular organizational, physical and financial goal, whether for planning, design or operational management. 

2. Insufficient Investment

Investing the proper budget and time into developing your hydraulic model is critical to make sure your model solves real-world challenges and that your return on investment is quickly realized.

How can InfoWorks give me the best return on investment?

First of all, the InfoWorks Workgroup allows teamwork in model building – so models can be built using your most cost-effective team. And all the construction tools allow models to be built rapidly – so they are ready to be used as soon as possible. 

InfoWorks allows you to regularly, or continuously, keep your models up-to-date and fit-for-purpose. This gives a much better return on investment than the old norm of building a model to answer a single question, then rebuilding models from scratch repeatedly to answer new questions. 

With the quality-assured model management that InfoWorks provides, the value of your modelling projects will increase while the cost of model building and maintenance will come down, giving you increasing returns on your investment.

3. You work in Organizational Silos

Of course you do – so do most organizations beyond a certain size! And the organizational silos lead to inefficient data and information silos. As with any working project, being collaborative and open to bringing in cross-functional expertise can lead to a better outcome.

How does InfoWorks break down information silos?

At Innovyze, we recognize that building and maintaining models is best done in a collaborative way. And we get most value from models when they can be used across planning, design, asset management, and operations.  InfoWorks is designed to integrate with other corporate systems – drawing on data and distributing results across silos.  And it is  used by people with a range of differing expertise and familiarity with modelling.

In particular, the Live versions of InfoWorks are used to inform Operations teams of the state of the network in real-time – and to predict service levels for the hours and days ahead. The InfoWorks models become the glue that holds together multi-disciplinary teams. 

Watch our Webinar: Increasing Team Synergy with Collaborative Modeling.

4. Low-Confidence in Asset Data

Worse than low confidence is overconfidence in asset data quality. If inaccurate or incomplete data is used to build your model, then the results will be questionable – and the model may not be fit-for-purpose. Often, system data exists in multiple places such as GIS, CMMS, Excel, or manually recorded field notes. Your model should leverage the most up-to-date and verified information from your network. 
How can InfoWorks help give me confidence in my model? 

The reality is that nobody has a perfect set of asset data – and those that think they do should take a closer look! InfoWorks ICM runs a set of exacting tests – called engineering validation – on the incoming asset data to check for missing data and mistakes such as missing connectivity and wrong units. Fresh values for missing data and parameters can be automatically inferred in the same way that a skilled engineer would do. 

As asset data sets improve, InfoWorks’ seamless data exchange allows fresh asset data to be imported and models updated in an automated, quality-controlled way.

5. Your model does not correspond with real-life 

If you receive a compelling output from a model simulation – how does that translate to what is observed in the field? Check observed data to make sure that what you simulate is close to how the hydraulic network is truly operating.

How can I compare observed data with simulated results in InfoWorks?

While the water industry is not yet a great example of Big Data, we are collecting more and more metered and monitored data from the field.  InfoWorks makes it really easy to compare simulated results with monitored flows, pressures and levels – and to flag up any discrepancies. InfoWorks allows you to make permanent connections between operational databases and historians so those comparisons can be simply made at any time. This helps to justify increased spend on your monitoring network.

6. Infrequent Calibration and Verification   

A useful model needs to be recalibrated from time-to-time against monitored network data. A model last calibrated five-years ago is unlikely to reflect the state of the network now and will not be as informative as it could be.

How can InfoWorks help me calibrate more frequently?

Studies have shown that the most frequent cause of calibration errors are mistakes in network asset data – including out-of-date pump and valve settings. We have already discussed how InfoWorks allows your model to stay up-to-date with the network changes. But even with an updated model, calibration values will change over time, and InfoWorks provides the tools to simply latch-on to new monitored values and re-calculate calibration parameters 

7. You just don’t trust your model’s results

It’s all about confidence. To provide a return on investment in modelling, you have to be able to trust your model to answer important planning and operational questions. 

How does InfoWorks inspire trust in the modelling process? 

In many ways, the answers have already been given: InfoWorks is a system that allows cross-discipline working, it has inbuilt QA that allows models to be checked against real-life and updated continuously, and it draws on the best asset data from across the utility.  

But there is more: InfoWorks provides the most trusted hydraulic engines in the world. They have a long pedigree yet are continuously improved. They run lightning fast on the best hardware you can get hold of – or in the cloud if you prefer. And they will run the biggest models you can throw at them so you don’t have to compromise on detail and accuracy. And they have physically based representations of the way water flows through the components of the network, from pipes, to channels, pumps, valves, and weirs. In addition to flooding features that provide fast and accurate simulations of surface inundation.  

Superb hydraulic engines do not come cheaply – but how much do you value trust in your models? 

8. Unfamiliarity with what your model can do for you 

If a model is not delivering useful insights, you may need to refresh your familiarity with the full capabilities available in your modeling software. This will ensure your team’s experience is up to speed with what you need from your model. 
How can I stay up-to-date with the capabilities and insights that InfoWorks provides? 

InfoWorks is by far the most richly functional water modelling package in the world. And it is developing all the time. So how can you and your team stay current? Don’t worry, help is at hand. The Infocare support and maintenance program means you will receive all updates and gives you access to a wealth of online guidance. And it gives you access to our very own Support Team who are experts in the use of InfoWorks. And we offer online and face-to-face training so you too can become an expert.

9. Keeping your models in the modeling silo

While you need to be an expert to build and maintain hydraulic models, the benefits of using models can and should be available throughout the water service provider, from planning, to engineering, to asset management and on to operations. This is the aim behind the rise of the digital twin in water management.  

How can I go beyond modelling and on to Digital Twins using InfoWorks? 

Many water service suppliers and their engineering consultants are looking to digital twins for planning and operational management. Digital Twins give a good representation of what is going on in the real-world networks – the flows, pressures and levels. They can be used to quickly identify and even predict problems with the network such as bursts, overflows and flooding. They can be used to improve operational procedures and plan for the future, and they can help inform your consumers of service levels and potential service problems. 

Does that sound like the way you would use an up-to-date purpose-driven hydraulic model? Of course it does – because that very same model lies at the heart of the Digital Twin. So InfoWorks allows you to think beyond your modelling silo – it allows you to break your models out and make their results available throughout your organization. Using InfoWorks, every water utility can go beyond business-as-usual and take advantage of digital twins. 

To learn more about InfoWorks ICM, click here. 


About the Authors

David Fortune

David Fortune

VP of Innovation


David drives innovation into water management software systems, including real-time operations, asset management, and hydraulic modelling. He specializes in digital twins: virtual models of water, wastewater and stormwater networks that support design, construction, maintenance, planning, and operations.