Iren’s trial of Sim-On Gas demonstrates its benefits

The development of Sim-On Gas is the latest step in an 18-year long cooperation between Italian utility company Iren and HR Wallingford. Having greatly appreciated its other network distribution analysis tools, Iren turned to HR Wallingford to develop real-time gas software, which it believes will result in time and cost savings.

As is typical of most Italian utility providers, Iren supplies its customers with a range of utilities, covering water, gas, electricity and even district heating. This means that if providers identify good practices or products in one area of their business, they can apply it to another utility. This is exactly what happened at Iren: having been very pleased with the water supply management modelling software that it bought from HR Wallingford 18 years ago, and has been using since, the utility company asked if they could produce something similar for gas.

Paolo Boiardi, IRETI’s vice leader in modelling (IRETI is the distribution branch of Iren SpA), explained: “InfoWorks WS Water has made a big difference to us – previously we had used freeware – so, back in 2011, we asked HR Wallingford if it was possible to develop a software tool with a similar functionalities for gas. They agreed and I put them in touch with an Italian gas numerical specialist Ing. Valerio Tarenzi. They worked together to develop an integration between InfoWorks WS and a reliable gas fluid dynamic engine. We have been using this fantastic product combination since 2011 and are extremely satisfied with it.

‘A few years later, we were interested in being able to analyse network performance in real time, and decided to approach HR Wallingford again. We were confident that we could come up with a good product because of our previous involvement with Innovyze and HR Wallingford, and were happy to commit to the development of Sim-On Gas. It was ready last summer for trialling, and we began using the tool in ASM Vercelli (a branch of Ireti SpA) in northern Italy.

‘This area was picked because it has the right sort of network with extensive SCADA data availability in place. I have seen the system running and it is really effective and extremely useful for our operators. Iren is now committed to prepare the SCADA system so that Sim-On Gas can be rolled out to other networks run by Iren.

‘A really important aspect of Sim-On Gas is that its user-friendly web browser allows other people – for example in operations – to run simulations themselves, so they don’t have to always refer to the modelling department. Of course simulations are also much more accurate than those we normally run off-line because we are taking into account real-time boundary conditions from SCADA.
“The really incredible thing about the tool is the graph showing predicted versus real flow. It’s even better than I expected. Sim-On Gas makes it possible to support every maintenance operation by a real-time simulation, to be more confident on the effects of the maintenance itself.’

Sim-On Gas interface with demand prediction and simulation results