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Top 20 Features Engineers Appreciate

In a world with countless software tools available to engineers, picking the right one is critical for completing a project accurately and on time. When it comes to choosing the right software for hydraulic modeling and analysis, many available options may appear to work similarly and accomplish the same tasks. In reality, they have a wide range of capabilities, working assumptions, and numerical approaches. 

This list of 20 top features can help you better understand how to approach the task of choosing the hydraulic modeling software that best fits your needs.

1. Multiple Levels of Software Calculation Validation

How does the company verify their calculations? Approaches can include model comparisons to published examples, official quality assurance programs that adhere to ASME NQA-1 standards for usage in safety-related systems in the nuclear industry, and case studies.

2. Scenario Management

Is the software limited to only modeling one design variant at a time? Software that can model multiple cases within a single model file where any input parameter or fluid properties can be changed to determine their effect on results can be extremely powerful. A “family-tree” like scenario structure allows the engineer to efficiently determine the effect various parameters have on a system and determine which combination creates the optimal system.

3. Global Editing

Can the engineer update multiple parts of the model with one action? If the software only supports editing on one pipe or component at a time, the time required to update a model increases dramatically. A good hydraulic modeling software should allow the engineer to specify the same pump curve for multiple pumps or update the pipe diameter for a whole header with one action.

4. Excel Integration

Can the software interface with tables of data in Excel? Can the software export data to Excel for further manipulation or reporting? Importing model changes from existing data tables makes updating cases with data variances more effective. Exporting specific model output results, such as pump operating points and pump and system curve data in an automated fashion leads to significant flexibility when carrying out other calculations.

5. Design Alerts for Maintaining Code Compliance

Will the software alert the engineer to conditions outside of an allowed range? A given system might need to stay in compliance with multiple dozen different codes. Quickly bringing attention to parameters outside maximum or minimum allowable conditions is an important part of a good hydraulic modeling software.  

6. Heat Transfer

Can the software handle heat transfer calculations? A good hydraulic modeling software should be able to fully account for heat transfer effects including convective heat transfer, buried pipes, layers of insulation, heat exchangers and more. Not only will this capability allow the engineer to take into account the temperature dependency of many fluid properties, but it also allows the engineer to model both the hydraulic and thermal aspects of their system in the same software.

7. Goal Seeking & Transient Modeling

Does the software have Goal Seek capabilities? This capability helps save the engineer time by automatically changing input parameters to meet a desired goal. It can also aid model calibration to measured data.

8. Non-Newtonian & Slurry Modeling

Is the hydraulic modeling software capable of handling non-Newtonian fluids? A quality flow analysis software should be able to handle Power Law and Bingham Plastic fluids, along with Slurries and much more. The effect viscosity has on a system can be dramatic, making it an important part of a system that needs to be accurately accounted for.

9. System Cost Analysis

Can the hydraulic modeling software help the engineer calculate system cost? Since the software already knows piping requirements along with operational requirements (e.g. pump power), a good hydraulic modeling software should be able to determine system installation and operational costs. Monetary considerations can be just as important as pressure, velocity, temperature, and other hydraulic considerations.

10. Waterhammer Analysis

Can the software model fluid transients – or waterhammer – in a system? Waterhammer events cause large pressure surge events which can cause significant damage to a system – including pipe rupture. A quality flow analysis software should have the ability to determine the system pressure response due to events including pump trips and start-ups, and valve closures. It should also have the ability to model surge suppression equipment.

11. Graphing Capabilities

Does the software allow the engineer to create high-quality graphs of model data? Graphing is one of the most powerful tools to aid understanding of system behavior. A quality flow analysis software should have this capability.

12. Understand Pump Performance

Is the software able to report on pump operating conditions? Every pump has an ideal point of operation, or best efficiency point (BEP). A quality flow analysis software should determine how far your pump is operating from its BEP, which is critical to increasing pump reliability and efficiency.

13. Force Calculations

Can the software calculate forces – and in particular, transient forces – in a hydraulic system? These calculations can be difficult and time consuming. Understanding transient forces can also be critical to designing inherently safe systems. Since the software already has the data required for those calculations, a quality hydraulic modeling software should be able to calculate forces for the engineer.

14. Detect and Model Sonic Choking

Can the software model sonic choking and its effect on the whole system accurately? A choked system can see different behavior than a sub-sonic system, and accurately modeling choked flow is a necessary part of understanding gas systems. A quality flow analysis software should be able to detect and model this phenomenon. Some software will model subsonic flow only, putting the engineer at risk of incorrectly designing and modeling their system.

15. Detect and Model Cavitation

Does the software model cavitation in a system? Cavitation is a hydraulic phenomenon that occurs when the system fluid reaches vapor pressure, creating vapor bubbles that collapse when the pressure increases again. Persistent cavitation and can cause rapid degradation of pipe walls, pump impellers and valves seats. Cavitation can also have dramatic effects on how a system behaves during transient events. A quality flow analysis software should be able to detect and model this phenomenon.

16. Select Pumps to Match Operation Conditions

Can the software select a pump and pump curve to best fit the operating conditions determined by the system? When a system is being designed, pump curves are not always available. It can be difficult to find a pump whose performance curve puts the system operating conditions at or near to the pump’s BEP. A good flow analysis software should be linked to pump curves databases, that the engineer can utilize to match the right pump with their system.

17. Automatically System Sizing

Can the software help the engineer size their system? A good hydraulic software should be able to help the engineer model and examine existing systems along with determining pipe sizes and pump capacities to minimize system cost or weight.

18. Compressible Flow

Is the software capable of accurately modeling compressible flow? Not all fluids in process systems can be treated as incompressible. In high velocity gas systems, the difference between incompressible and compressible fluids can be significant.

19. Model Importing

Is the software able to import models built in other types of modeling software? Information defining existing systems may already exist in a CAD or similar modeling software. A good hydraulic modeling software will be able to import that existing information to limit the amount of redundant work an engineer has to do.

20. Reporting Capabilities

Does the software allow the engineer to create reports of the system conditions from within the software? Including that capability inside the software rather than requiring the engineer to first export the data and then manipulate it with other tools for presentations or other reports can save time and money. A good flow analysis software should have this capability.

Interested in learning more about your favorite AFT products?
You're in luck! Below are a few options. Contact us for any further questions.

Free Demos

Sometimes you just have to jump in and work with it yourself. AFT provides a limited version of our software so you can get the basic idea of how it works. Note: these demos are not meant to show you all of the bells and whistles.

Introductory Webinars

Watch a recorded webinar and meet our products! AFT engineers will give you insight into how the products work. Additional webinars help you solve project issues so you can model, analyze, and simulate safe and efficient piping and ducting systems. 

Common Interface

AFT models can be imported between AFT products. For example, build your steady-state model in AFT Fathom, then use that same model in AFT Impulse to analyze the surge transients. Contact us for a live walk-thru or an evaluation license.
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