New User Interface in PIPE-FLO Professional to Enhance Work Flow

Customizable Work Flow

In an ideal world, Engineers would have all the data available at their fingertips to model a piping system. This would include pipe lengths, sizes, and schedules; pump curve data, component flow vs. pressure drop performance, control valve flow coefficient profiles, and other device hydraulic performance data.

In reality, because there are many engineering disciplines involved in designing, building, and operating a piping system, the engineer tasked to model the system may have only bits and pieces of the data initially and must concurrently gather additional field information as the model progresses. 

With this as a backdrop, Engineered Software would like to introduce PIPE-FLO Professional 12 and Flow of Fluids 12 with a "New Work Flow Methodology" that closer matches the reality of todays' engineers.  The new work flow methodology comes from 100's of handshakes at trade shows, 1000's of software support calls and many customer feedback emails.  The new work flow methodology revolves around a "NEW USER INTERFACE".

From this screen shot you can see the FLO-Sheet window in the middle.  The FLO-Sheet is the graphical interface where the piping system is modeled and design data and calculated results can be displayed.  On the left is the Toolbox window.  The Toolbox is used to select devices that will be added to the FLO-Sheet and modeled.  On the right, you can see the Property Grid window.  The Property Grid allows the user to add design data to the devices and it is one place where the calculated results are displayed.    At the bottom, you can see the Message, Gradient Color, Lineup and List View windows tabbed together in one window.   

PIPE-FLO has been made easier to use by the new customizable User Interface with its moveable and dockable windows.  This article explores each new window and how they can help the engineers who design, commission, and operate a piping system build faster, easier, and more accurate models.

New User Interface for PIPE-FLO Professional 12.

FLO-Sheet Window

The new flexible design capabilities allow you to build the system with the philosophy of “draw now, design later”.  For speed, you can place the devices on the flow sheet with no data entered.  This allows you to draw entire systems without data entry.  In older versions, a dialog box would pop-up with each device and minimal design information had to be entered.  The FLO-Sheet is the main graphical interface that is used to model a piping system. Various devices can be placed onto the FLO-Sheet and connected with pipelines to create a Process Flow Diagram or Piping & Instrumentation Diagram.  Text, Images, and Rectangles can also be placed onto the FLO-Sheet for additional annotations. The FLO-Sheet can be shown with a gray background, with or without grid lines, or with a white background and no grid lines in Presentation Mode.  The grid lines can be shown with an Isometric or Orthogonal orientation, and objects can be snapped to grid or placed on the FLO-Sheet as free-floating objects. The FLO-Sheet can Pan, Zoom In or Out, or Zoom to the Extents of the model.

Toolbox Window

The Toolbox window contains a palate with all the devices that can be placed on the FLO-Sheet.  

The devices are grouped by the following categories:
- FLO-Sheet Tools - includes the Select, Zoom, Pan, and Close Pipe tools
- Basic Devices – include Pipes, Tanks, Pressure Boundaries, Flow Demands, Fixed dP Devices, and Curve dP Devices.
- Pumps and Fans – include Centrifugal Pumps, Sizing Pumps, and generic Pressure Gain Devices
- Controls & Instrumentation– include Control Valves, Sizing Valves, Flow Meters (Orifice, Nozzle, and Venturi), and Balancing Orifice
- Annotations – used to add an Image, Rectangle, a DXF block (imported as an image) or Floating Text to the FLO-Sheet

Now you can place devices on the FLO-Sheet without entering any design data.  This is an important key feature of flexibility in the new work flow methodology.  Below is a screen shot where different devices are placed on the FLO-Sheet without any design data entered.  

Property Grid Window

This window is used to enter the design data for each device.  Group Editing allows you to enter common design data for multiple devices in one step.  A few examples of shared data might be fluid zones, pipe sizes, or elevations. The use of Group Edit will significantly reduce your modeling time.

The Property Grid contains five collapsible and expandable sections: 
- Design Data input fields – fields for key design data for each device placed on the FLO-Sheet
- Device Results fields – calculation results are displayed
- Text Settings – change the font and orientation of the text on the FLO-Sheet for the individual device that is selected
- Symbol Settings – change the symbol for the device
- Notes - document additional information and create hyperlinks to web pages or files

The Property Grid also has a Property Tips Box that displays information about the selected field, a link to the Help File for more information, and the DataLink Table or Field Name. 

The data input fields and results fields will vary with each type of device. Some input fields are optional, while others are required in order to perform the necessary calculations.

The FLO-Sheet has its own Property Grid with different options.  When no device on the FLO-Sheet is selected, the Property Grid will display the Authorship Settings, Grid Settings, Device View Options, Calculations Settings, and Notes for the FLO-Sheet

Once all the required design data is entered for your system, the model can be calculated and the results will be displayed on the FLO-Sheet, the Property Grid, and in the List View window. If you prefer viewing the calculated results in the List View, the Property Grid window can be closed. 

List View Window

The List View window is like a spreadsheet built into the model and the default location is at the bottom of the FLO-Sheet.  It is very helpful for Designers, Commissioning, and Operations to quickly review design data.  They can also view and sort calculated results by a key parameter of interest, such as pipe flow velocity or pressure drop. The List View window is a view-only table with the design data and calculation results of the devices on the FLO-Sheet. The List View contains tabs at the bottom for each type of device. The data in the table can be sorted by any column, and the columns can be hidden, re-sized, or re-ordered.  When a line item is selected in the List View, that device is selected on the FLO-Sheet and its design and results fields are displayed in the Property Grid. 

Lineup Value Window

The Lineup Values window helps Designers, Commissioning and Operations to simulate the model with different operating conditions.  The Lineup Values window shows the lineup values for of the device that is selected on the FLO-Sheet.  If the name of the lineup is selected in the Lineups Values window, the current lineup is switched to the selected lineup. 

The lineup values can be reset to the design case values by clicking the Reset button (trash can) in the Lineup Values window. 

Gradient Color Window

A color gradient criteria can be applied to the model based on a calculated result, design data, or generated Messages.

One example of the using color gradients is for Designers to quickly review the model for any elevation typing mistakes or excessive pipe velocities.  Different colors can be selected for the Minimum, Midpoint, and Maximum values.

The default criteria selection is None to display colors based on generated Messages with:

  • Level 0 and 1 set to Red
  • Level 2 and 3 set to Yellow
  • Level 4 set to Black

Version 12: 

Version 14:

Messages Window

The Message window alerts the designers to undesired conditions in the piping system and data entry errors that can help you achieve the most accurate model.  The Messages Window gives detailed calculation warnings and other helpful information allowing you to easily identify and resolve issues within your system model.  There are 5 levels of messages that are displayed along with an alert icon in the Message window.  These levels are shown below.

- Level 0: Any pre-calculation check or calculation engine errors that prevent the program from calculating any results. If a Level 0 message is generated, no other level messages will be displayed because there are no calculated results..
- Level 1: Messages based on calculated results that are invalid or a system configuration that is invalid.  The results are unequivocally wrong and require close evaluation.
- Level 2: Messages based on calculated results that exceed either limits of equipment, the limits of the equations used for the results, or input data uncertainties. There is increased uncertainty with regards to the accuracy of the displayed results.
- Level 3: Messages based on calculated results that exceed specified operation limits.  
- Level 4: Informational messages that may or may not be based on the calculated results. These messages provide information about the status of devices, such as isolated equipment or laminar flow conditions.  

You can click on a field in the Message Window and the device on the FLO-Sheet will be selected.  Additionally, PIPE-FLO will load that device's data into the Property Grid. Selecting a device on the FLO-Sheet also selects the associated messages for that device in the Message window.  Line items in the Message Window can be sorted by clicking on the column header.

The following Level 4 message is always generated with every model. 

This message shows how well the model has converged with the last percent deviation shown first.  Thoroughly  reviewing your messages is the bases for the most accurate results.   In the above example, the model converged to 0.0000207 %, showing the calculated results are very fine tuned!

Tabbed Windows

Windows can be moved to a second screen or placed on top of each other to create tabbed windows.  

This screen shot shows the Gradient Colors, Messages, and List View window being layered.  Individual windows can be displayed by selecting the appropriate tab.  


In summary, the new work flow User Interface allows Designers, Commissioning, and Operations to obtain a clear picture of model.  The new work flow user interface allows for a dynamic interaction between the FLO-Sheet, Property Grid, Messages Window, and List View Window.  By seeing these windows at once, our goal is that you build more accurate systems.