Why might you want to use a named pipe in a shell script? One situation might be when you've got a backup script that runs via cron, and after it's finished, you want to shut down your system. If you do the shutdown from the backup script, cron never sees the backup script finish, so it never sends out the e-mail containing the output from the backup job. You could do the shutdown via another cron job after the backup is "supposed" to finish, but then you run the risk of shutting down too early every now and then, or you have to make the delay much larger than it needs to be most of the time.
Read the full thing at http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/using-named-pipes-fifos-bash