How to Find Critical Pipe Bursts

When a pipe bursts, how do you find the critical pipes?

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November 6, 2020 | Luca Serena

While there are commonalities for the chief causes of burst pipes (i.e. frozen pipes, water pressure, corrosion, etc.), the impact of each pipe burst will vary depending on the burst size, duration, location, time of the day, and many other parameters.

Knowing which are the most critical pipes in the network with regards to burst events (for example in terms of customers affected by the potential failure) facilitates the planning of the maintenance activity, allowing for adequate resources allocation for critical assets.

Given the large number of parameters involved in the assessment and the extent of the pipework, the identification of critical pipes can be problematic.

In this article, we are going to provide a scalable and reproducible method to perform a burst criticality assessment within InfoWorks WS Pro.

NOTE: Scroll to the end of this article to download a transportable database containing all the necessary elements to perform this analysis on your own network, you’ll only need an InfoWorks WS Pro license!

Modeling pipe breaks with InfoWorks WS Pro

InfoWorks WS Pro 2021.1 provides the ability to model pipe bursts either as a pressure-dependent demand (break option), constant flow added to US and DS nodes (flow option), or to simulate a complete pipe rupture.

Picture 1 - Break options available for Pipe Control

The user can specify the type of break and the location in the pipe, or alternatively can use the ‘Break Picker’ toolbar button to choose the burst location within the GeoPlan view. WS Pro will automatically calculate the distance from the pipe starting point and fill that information in the property sheet.

Picture 2 - Break picker toolbar button

The burst can be set to last for the entire duration of the simulation or just for a certain period (start and end time).

Depending on the type of break you select, WS Pro will automatically compute the break volume and apply it as additional flow to US and DS nodes.

Watch this 2-minute Break Incident video

Assessing burst criticality with Generalized Multi-Run

We'll start by assuming that the average response time for a pipe burst is 1 hr.

Performing this type of analysis for all the pipes in the network could well be an insurmountable challenge. In addition, we want to be assessing against the worst-case scenario of a burst occurring at peak time, corresponding to a minimum pressure. The definition of peak time is not unique throughout the network but specific to the asset that we are considering. Because of that, we'll need to be able to change the burst start/end time for each scenario according to when the minimum pressure occurs. 

We can run a SQL Query to return the minimum upstream node pressure value for each pipe as well as the time when it occurs. This will be the start time of our burst event and we are simply adding 1 hour to define the burst end time.

Picture 3 - SQL Query and output to generate GMR object

The manual definition of the different scenarios could be extremely time consuming, almost impossible when the network size goes above a certain threshold.

InfoWorks WS Pro provides the right tool to support you with the definition of different modeling scenarios, which is called Generalised Multi-Run (GMR).

GMR is essentially a wrapper around standard simulation types which causes the standard network to be run many times, each time modifying one or more values. Each one of these runs is called a Test Case. A GMR wizard allows the user to quickly define test cases from either selection list, CSV file, or output from a SQL Query.

With this, we are going to create a new GMR object based on the output of the SQL Query. This can be done through the ‘Mapped CSV Import’ option under the GMR object.

Picture 4 - Mapped CSV Import Process

The Mapped CSV Import will add a test case for each pipe in the network (named us.node.ds.node.suffix).

Each test case will be made up of 6 rows to assign (1) break enabled, (2) break type, (3) break start and (4) end time, (5) break diameter, and (6) break distance along the pipe.

As you can imagine, the process will generate a consistent number of test cases (simulation scenarios). Those will be run as independent jobs using the remote agent technology to boost performance. The analysis will also leverage on the GMR post-processing tool to generate a summary report instead of saving all of the time-varying results.

Picture 5 - GMR object: test cases tab

Picture 6 - GMR object: results tab

Picture 7 - GMR object: analysis tab

In the analysis tab, you can see that we are using a SQL Query to count the number of Customer Points where the minimum pressure goes below the 15m threshold during that day. This will allow us to assess the pipe criticality by looking at the number of customers affected in each case and easily compare results across different pipes.

Picture 8 - SQL Query to count the number of Customer Points with low pressure.

We could extend the scope of this analysis adding more test cases to account for variation of burst entity (i.e. from 50mm to 100mm) and burst duration (from 1hr to 3 hrs).

The summary report will list for each test case the number of customers affected by low pressure returned by the ‘Count < 15m’ query.

Picture 9 - Criticality assessment summary report

We can build our analysis on this number and apply against each pipe an equivalent number of customers affected.  This information can then be used to colour coded the pipes in the network based on criticality.

Picture 10 - Pipe burst criticality assessment

Watch this short demo to see how

Now, it's your turn

You can download a transportable database containing all the necessary elements to perform this analysis on your own network, you’ll only need an InfoWorks WS Pro license!

Simply click here to get started.

Update your software

To update your InfoWorks WS Pro to the latest version, if you have an active InfoCare subscription, just log in to the Product Download section of the Innovyze support portal.

If you are interested in purchasing InfoWorks WS Pro, fill in a product inquiry form or contact us.

For more information about InfoWorks WS Pro, visit the product page.


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About the Authors

Luca Serena

Luca Serena

Product Manager


Luca Serena is product manager for Innovyze's Water Distribution product family.