With over 35 years of innovation, Microdrainage has done a cracking job of ensuring water professionals across the world deliver accurate and efficient designs and models of surface water and wastewater systems. We took everything we learned over that time to create InfoDrainage, which was released in 2020. This next generation drainage design application has been designed to meet the increased demands for sustainability, compliance, and tight approvals.
But you may not know how big the improvements actually are. Here are 10 things you may not have known about how InfoDrainage has radically improved on Microdrainage:
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1: More accurate representation of SuDS
In Microdrainage, SuDS structures are represented as a storage node with no dimensions. This means that while the SuDS volume is shown, the time of concentration of water flowing through various SuDS structures is not.
In InfoDrainage, we’ve made sure the actual physical dimensions of SuDS structures are spatially represented with advanced parameters to model the depth, porosity, and hydraulic conductivity of various filtration layers that may sit underneath a SuDS structure. If you need to represent gravel and sand underneath bioretention features, InfoDrainage can do it much more accurately.
With this advanced physical representation, InfoDrainage is more capable of capturing the hydraulic performance of SuDS structures with better accuracy.
Consider these benchmarking results from a project related to Claylands Pond in Scotland that shows where the inlet and the outlet chambers of the pond were monitored during several rainfall events as part of the Scottish SuDS Monitoring Programme.
We used the observed inflow and injected the inflows as an input hydrograph at the upstream end of the Claytons Pond model in both MicroDrainage and InfoDrainage to replicate the storm event and compare the simulated outflow from both models against the observed monitored outflows (real-time data) from the flow monitor.
The simulated results show that InfoDrainage better matches the observed flows.
2: You can reconnect sub-catchments
MicroDrainage has a long history, beginning all the way back in 1983.
Microdrainage added digitised subcatchments in the early 2000s, and long-time water professionals may remember the time-consuming task of having to delete and redraw sub-catchments whenever they revised their design. Simply put, MicroDrainage doesn’t allow the same sub-catchment to be redirected.
We took note of that. Now, in InfoDrainage, not only can you reconnect sub-catchments whenever the drainage design is revised, you can also import GIS or CAD polygons, have them recognised as sub-catchments, and automatically connect to nodes within their boundaries.
3: Civil 3D integration (roundtripping)
The DrawNet(CAD) module in Autodesk Civil 3D is used by some water professionals to create MicroDrainage models from any Civil 3D network using the Parts Mapping Manager. In MicroDrainage, DrawNet(CAD) has the ability to export and import pipes, manholes and open-sections and surfaces directly into Civil 3D as these elements are all represented by smart Civil 3D objects. However, if elements of the network within Civil 3D were altered as a result of a clash detection exercise or site constraints identified in Civil 3D or Navisworks, then the drainage network must be simulated again. In that case, the rainfall data, the sub-catchments, and the runoff coefficients need to be redefined in MicroDrainage in order to perform further analysis on the revised network.
We made this work better in InfoDrainage. The data associated with the drainage model (rainfall, sub-catchments, runoff coefficient) is preserved when exporting the model to Civil 3D. This means it can be brought back again to InfoDrainage with all the sub-catchment connections and the associated runoff coefficient ready for simulation.
This roundtrip between InfoDrainage and Civil 3D can be repeated as many times as required in order to ensure that the design is both compliant with the statutory regulations and is integrated within the Civil 3D model.
4: Flexibility for international projects
MicroDrainage was designed specifically for the UK market with additions to allow for rainfall generation from IDF curves to facilitate working on international projects. But InfoDrainage has design rainfall, peak flow calculation, and runoff methods embedded in the software to deliver drainage design in the UK, France, USA, Germany, Spain, Middle East, China, Japan and Australia.
We’re always working to add more details that are specific to more countries and regions to ensure designers around the world can deliver drainage designs that comply with their local regulations.
5: Bifurcation and complex drainage arrangement
In MicroDrainage, modelling bifurcation is not possible due to the numbering system adopted: dendritic numbering. Therefore, offline loops were utilised by the industry to perform volumetric exchange among multiple outgoing branches. A model with multiple offline loops is often associated with reduced accuracy and model instability which requires running the hydraulic model using reduced timesteps.
InfoDrainage lets you model as many bifurcations as required to represent the physical reality of the drainage arrangement. This helps you design to design complex drainage arrangement with confidence.
6: SuDS inlet and outlet structures
In MicroDrainage, SuDS inlets are shown using pipes discharging into the centre of a SuDS node and outlets must be represented within one outgoing pipe from the centre of the SuDS node. This can result in cost inaccuracy when performing the material take-off, as there will be pipes missing – as well as additional dummy pipes created – to enable the representation of complex drainage arrangements. Over time, it became clear that this workflow can create construction issues or clash with existing utilities. This is due to information slipping through the net when exporting drawings from MicroDrainage into AutoCAD – in particular when the hydraulic modeling and the drainage design drawings are undertaken by different teams.
To get things in better order, InfoDrainage was designed to offer designers spatial awareness of SuDS structures, inlet pipes, and outlet structures, which enables a more accurate clash detection analysis against site constraints (eg, existing fence, utilities, trees). Any potential clash can be clearly identified early within the hydraulic model whilst sizing your SuDS structures.
7: Phase management tools
A good drainage design is a design that has gone through an optioneering exercise with multiple iterations to exhaust all opportunities and identify the optimum location, volume, and type of storage structures that achieve the best results for the lowest cost possible.
In MicroDrainage, that kind of optioneering exercise meant creating multiple drainage models/files, running them all, exporting the results, comparing the simulation results in Excel or other data analysis tools, and then writing a report about the comparison outcome. This process can be incredibly time-consuming and sometimes cost prohibitive. We saw that this time penalty associated with optioneering often discouraged drainage designers from iterating on the design or performing an optioneering exercise for every design.
InfoDrainage has a Phase Management tool which allows the creation of multiple scenarios, allowing you to analyse them all together and produce a report comparing all of your scenarios. This tool can save over 90% of the manual effort involved in preparing comparison report. But perhaps most important, having these kinds of comparisons can reduce the human errors associated with exporting and comparing simulation results from multiple models.
8: Model rainwater harvesting tanks
Harvesting rainwater sits at the top of the SuDS hierarchy. It’s the most sustainable practice when it comes to rainwater runoff and demand reduction. Unfortunately, rainwater harvesting was often bypassed by designers in Microdrainage due to the uncertainty associated with modelling demand from the rainwater tank.
With InfoDrainage, you can model the effect of rainwater tanks on a sub-catchment level. This deep granularity allows you to specify the number of tanks, volume of detention (for stormwater control) and retention, outflow from detention compartment, and harvesting demand from the retention compartment. With this tool, designers can test options for various demand values and size their rainwater harvesting tanks accordingly.
9: Validation *before* your analysis
In MicroDrainage, if an error stopped the model from being simulated, you’d see an error message directing you to a certain location where the error occurred. Then, you would repeat this process until you had cleared all issues.
In InfoDrainage, designers have a validation tool that provides a list of problematic errors and warnings that could be causing issues in the simulation so they can be corrected from the outset. In some cases, when issues are associated with levels, InfoDrainage provides suggestions for a fix, giving designers a list of suggestions to implement – letting you do it with the click of a button if possible.
10: Object and project templates
Microdrainage did not come with templates, but InfoDrainage has Project and Object Templates which can be created to provide a starting point for designers to use for multiple designs, templates can be developed per client, per project, per country, etc.
Simpy put, these templates can reduce a designer’s time spent inputting the same data whenever they start a new design, which ultimately makes things much more efficient.
Download the InfoDrainage free trial
Ready to see how much more powerful InfoDrainage is than Microdrainage? Take advantage of our 30-day free trial – no obligation and no credit card required – and try this alternative to our legacy Microdrainage product.
Need to get up to speed on InfoDrainage? Follow along with our video learning series, Introduction to InfoDrainage.