Bentley Addresses Entropy with Products that Tackle Process
The Be Inspired Awards program and Innovations in Infrastructure Conference held from Nov. 13-14, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, provided a unique gathering of Bentley customers across a broad range of infrastructure disciplines and project types. The conference portion highlighted best use cases that are judged by a diverse jury. The event culminated with a Be Inspired Awards ceremony to recognize winners. Amid the ceremony and content from users, more than 80 press attendees received a briefing from Bentley executives on new and upcoming products, as well as the business drivers that shape product direction and overall company strategy.
Bentley has been amassing companies and technologies that take a quantitative process-oriented approach to assist AEC workflows. The goal is to introduce greater efficiency in the infrastructure create, design, construct, deliver, operate lifecycle, and to meet the company’s tagline objective of Sustaining Infrastructure.
The awards ceremony has been ongoing since 2004, with a consistent diversity of high-quality projects from around the world. The invitation-only conference has set a high mark in terms of providing conference time for the exchange of ideas among some of the more innovative practitioners that use Bentley software, as well as a high-class and entertaining ceremony. The exotic location adds to the appeal, and thus the competition, among motivated applicants, ensuring a high degree of innovation and excitement amid the contestants.
While Bentley once took pride in its ranking as one of the top three geospatial companies, according to Daratech, this declaration has faded as the functionality has become embedded across products. It’s not that Bentley has distanced themselves from geospatial capability, it’s more that they have addressed geospatial workflows as a fundamental element to all the solutions they provide.
At the event, Bentley announced the upcoming release of Utilities Designer V8i early next year, which includes the tools for design of electric, gas, water and wastewater utilities along with a GIS solution for modeling and documenting as-built assets. This packaged offering bypasses the prior need to install on top of Bentley Microstation in order to simplify the installation. It addresses interoperability among formats by supporting DWG, DXF, PDF, and Esri SHP files to ease integration into existing workflows. It incorporates Bentley hypermodels that allow for seamless 2D and 3D integration. In addition, there’s the ability to connect with other data management options to further ease integration. This offering can be seen as a maturation of strategy that addresses workflow process at engineering-grade precision, and I’m sure we can expect other packaged offerings for other vertical markets.
Bentley has a unique offering with their ProjectWise server and cross-discipline coordination services. The collaboration server helps streamline work sharing across teams, and aids collaboration among disciplines. There are workflows for reviewing documents, and ensuring components of a project are complete and coordinated.
The company adds a new offering this year called Bentley CONNECT that was described in-part as Dropbox with security and collaboration. The offering provides connections as a service to span all the enterprises involved in a project, and to extend the benefits of ProjectWise server to those that don’t have access. Another new element is the i-model composition server that help extend these modeling packages to the field for mobile devices, ensuring everyone has the right information, right version, and the latest work schedule.
Asset Performance Management
Bentley’s recent acquisition of IVARA fills an interesting function to extend the AssetWise server into the area of Asset Lifecycle Information Management (ALIM). The way this was simplified was to think of capturing all details on asset creation through details of how to maintain it. The system contains details on what is allowed to be there, what we say is there, and what is actually there. It also contains operational performance information related to the health, safety and environmental risk. Combined with best practice templates, managers will have better control on management.
With such a system, along with the right data inputs, you can fine tune maintenance, prioritize assets, apply a risk-based approach, and allocate the right resources at the right time. Any such installation is an incremental process to input processes and improve performance, but the software goes a long way in assisting the process. To give you a sense of how useful a tool this can be, it’s now used widely in nuclear power facilities to ensure safety and continuous improvements.
The AssetWise offering hit the market three years ago with a mission to geospatially enable asset management rather than working with a GIS. The idea was not to challenge GIS, but to create a cross-industry common platform for “reliability-centered design.” The company is continuing to compile use cases, and to make APIs available so that it can be more easily incorporated into various enterprise workflows. The future for this platform is to incorporate intelligent positioning and the Internet of Things to create a dynamic system with “positions and pulses.”
Dynamic Water Models
Bentley has long been a pioneer with the dynamic modeling of infrastructure as illustrated with their water/wastewater modeling tools. Hydraulic simulation is now possible in real-time with data from the system through SCADA and other sensors that allow operators to see changes quickly. The system allows you to simulate before making a decision in order to understand the implications as well as to reduce energy costs. This introduces adaptability to the water systems, with a focus on the overall health of the sewer system.
The winner of the Innovation in Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants was a 4D model for rehab and new construction for one of Denver, Colorado’s sewage treatment plant by Carollo Engineers. Here Bentley tools provided links from the model to scheduling software to dynamically visualize the sequence of construction and to optimize the schedule. With an active and complex plant site, such an approach saved an estimated 60 days in a tight construction schedule due to finding conflict issues or missing activities not on the schedule.
This year’s Sustaining Our Society Award was given to the Airport Link Project in Brisbane, Australia that involves a partnership between Arup and Parsons Brinckerhoff. The $5.6 Billion Airport Link and busway project involved 15 km of tunnelling including the road (6.7 km of twin tunnels), busway tunnels and connecting ramps, as well as 25 bridges and over 7 km of new road. The complex series of bridges and underpasses generated 20,000 design documents administered via ProjectWise to 2,400 users across the world.
A detailed 3D and geotechnical model was developed for roads and tunnels, along with models of all major structures (bridges, vent stations, control buildings, etc.). The model helped engineers with complex geometry and provided a means to test the constructability over time as well as to model costs and test alternatives.
In the endless pursuit to create order from disorder, infrastructure professionals have a good partner in Bentley. They are designing new tools to inform design through analysis and simulation, to align models more closely with reality, to generate models that contain semantic intelligence, and to streamline the construction process. Together these advancements will ensure that we build more intelligent infrastructure that is easier to build, consumes less resources, is more energy efficient, and far less costly to maintain.