Bentley Systems: Advancing Infrastructure

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A building information modelling (BIM) strategy enables the integration of data-rich models and project information database to build a virtual representation of a project and all assets, and Bentley Systems is uniquely placed to deliver a truly BIM-enabled solution. In an email interaction, Harry Vitelli, Senior Vice President, Construction and Field, Project Delivery, Bentley Systems, talks about the BIM revolution and how Bentley has been developing applications that popularized the use of visualization for identifying constructability and compliance issues.

Bentley is a global leader in providing comprehensive software solutions for advancing infrastructure. What makes Bentley an irresistible name in the BIM technology?

Bentley Systems provides software and services that empower our users to attain the full potential of BIM advancements. The software and services do this through a connected environment for comprehensive project delivery, ensuring corporate governance and information integrity, while providing the project agility to unify multi-discipline project teams for improved project performance. For example, ProjectWise CONNECT Edition provides a comprehensive work sharing solution that virtually connects every project partner and remote team member to project information and processes throughout the project lifecycle, including initial planning, design, construction and handover to operations.

Bentley’s BIM advancements comprehensively support the delivery of infrastructure projects by offering our users advantages that include a project information management and collaboration solution that is scalable, offers best-in-class design application integration and is supported by dedicated technology experts available 24/7 thought the year. Moreover, Bentley software provides a BIM methodology that delivers exceptional ROI for our users.

Other business advantages that we provide to our users — and what differentiates us from other infrastructure technology providers — is our core business and technology philosophy that we have taken great pride in building over the past 30 years. A few examples of what we have established include:

  • Creating long-term, direct relationships with clients
  • Developing a tip-to-tail vision that enables our users to create a digital engineering model that spans an asset lifecycle from design to build or operations
  • Establishing a willingness to partner and enable interoperability among vendors
  • Enabling a common data environment that creates a single source of truth
  • Focusing on user adoption and outcomes through a combination of industry best practices (embedded in the software), professional services, learning and academies
  • Practicing flexible and fair subscription licensing
  • Offering multiple deployment options, including on-premise, cloud provisioned and a hybrid of both to our users that best supports their organizational and varying project requirements.

What makes BIM one of the emerging construction technologies?

Because of the complex nature of infrastructure projects and the requirement for collaboration across disciplines and project participants, many organizations are beginning to adopt BIM processes to achieve more sustainable assets. These organizations are reaping so many benefits that it is becoming impossible for other infrastructure professionals to ignore if they want to remain competitive.

The benefits that are offered through BIM advancements can be experienced on projects of all types and sizes. From a technology perspective, a BIM strategy enables the integration of data-rich models and project information database to build a virtual representation of a project and all assets. All stakeholders can access reliable information, making collaboration easier, reducing risks and improving ROI.

Bentley is uniquely placed to deliver a truly BIM enabled solution, from 3D visualization for modeling and design, to optioneering for performance improvements, to merging the physical with the virtual to achieve an immersive rich data model throughout the lifecycle of the assets.

Business Review Weekly reports that the use of BIM in construction has the potential to save firms between 3 per cent and 5 per cent in costs. Would you please tell us how can BIM have a huge effect not just in design and construction, but on the economy too?

BIM advancements enhance project collaboration and improve construction productivity, which absolutely contributes toward building a robust construction economy. Employing BIM methodologies leads to faster client approval cycles, which can have a dramatic impact on reducing overall project delivery costs. This BIM ROI enables constructors to confidently select the best team for the job, rather than accepting the lowest bidder.

Implementing BIM best practices for construction enables the ability to test constructability and sustainability models before work begins to build the most durable and green asset possible. The benefits that these processes bring about are eliminating design errors and costly construction re-work, building high performance assets and reducing environmental impacts such as energy performance.

What role is Bentley playing in monitoring the introduction of BIM requirements for the construction workforce and establishing if further training is being developed both nationally and internationally?

While increasing the use of information mobility among our users in the construction industry creates a lasting legacy of best practice and innovation, facilitating the acceptance and implementation of our BIM advancements is easier said than done. To address this and promote the use of BIM methodologies, Bentley has established the BIM Advancement Academy programme with industry experts. The academy works with organizations at all levels of the industry to educate their staff and the entire supply chain about BIM workflows. The academy provides our users with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver world-class projects.

Bentley’s innovative BIM Advancement Academy programme is a powerful vehicle for owners that brings complex construction projects into alignment, helping ensure that contractors and the supply chain understand the processes and deliverables expected for each project. Bentley BIM Academy supports BIM initiatives through industry standards, such as:

COBie: Construction Operations Building Information Exchange
IADD4UK: Infrastructure Asset Data Dictionary for UK
Uniclass: Unified Classification for the Construction Industry

Lastly, I reiterate that the BIM Academy provides a laboratory for establishing and reinforcing best practice among all project participants.

Today, Bentley’s experts in BIM best practices are already providing leadership and training to our users globally by utilizing our BIM Academy in London as well as on-site and through virtual training. We can assess the maturity level of an organization’s BIM methodology and benchmark it against best practices. We can then work with that organization to achieve BIM compliance. The industry standards and processes that form the basis of our academy curriculum (BS 1192, PAS 1192) were sponsored by the UK BIM Task Group. By creating a replica environment of a user’s systems and processes, we can show you the best way to work and how to get the people in your organization ready to execute their projects. This means all project participants are better informed and understand the importance of BIM processes for the project.

One of the challenges firms face in construction is translating design models into meaningful construction models for survey utilization in the field. How does Bentley help in reducing rework and risk when translating the design model to the survey?

Increasingly, our users have been asking for applications that make it easier to conduct walkthroughs and constructability reviews. As a result, we have concentrated our R&D on developing applications that popularized the use of visualization and clash resolution capabilities for identifying constructability and compliance issues. Bentley Navigator, for example, offers our users 3D model review and collaboration, which enables them to get greater insight. Given the ability to immersively explore and investigate the models and their embedded property data, our users can easily perform construction simulation and virtual walkthroughs – before construction begins. Supporting multiple device types –- PCs, tablets and mobile – users can take this technology into the field with Navigator Mobile to improve project coordination among the offices, sites, and fields and gain insight into project planning and execution for faster issue resolution.

What are the most exciting BIM projects you have done? What makes them exciting? What kinds of challenges you faced while working on them?

Among the BIM advancement projects in which Bentley has been involved, the Midfield Terminal Building at the Abu Dhabi International Airport immediately comes to mind. This $3.2-billion project designed and constructed by Consolidated Contractors Company was specified by the owner to be a totally BIM-driven lifecycle to facilitate project delivery. CCC leverage its 17 years of experience using Bentley’s BIM processes to integrate our products with its in-house platforms. Using a BIM methodology that included AECOsim Building Designer, MicroStation, ProjectWise, InRoads, and Bentley Navigator facilitated project delivery and minimized risk. Moreover, the BIM methodology helped the construction team leverage information in ProjectWise to accurately forecast construction schedules, perform logistics studies and validate resource requirements.

A BIM approach was also used by the Beijing Construction Research Institute to design the 500-metre Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope in Karst, Guizhou, China. This telescope will be the largest single-aperture telescope in the world when it is complete in 2016. This enormous project required highly accurate construction, fabrication, installation and collaboration across multiple disciplines and locations. The project team used a standardized BIM methodology that saved the team 1,300 man-days of design modification and 400 man-days of review and field error handling. What is an interesting fact about this project is that by using ProjectWise, the design team reduced management risks by 85 per cent. Additionally, ProSteel’s parametric 3D modelling helped them design and optimize the 445 network cable nodes, which reduced costs by ¥4 million.

Lastly, Crossrail, which will transform transportation across London, reduce congestion and bring an extra 1.5 million people within a 45-minute train ride of the city, is using a BIM approach to build more than 21 million km of new twin-bored tunnels and nine new stations under London. The BIM methodology enabled the team to overcome the challenge of building in close proximity to existing infrastructure. Using Bentley’s BIM solution, Crossrail effectively coordinated and communicated with over 100 contractors and more than 10,000 people working across the project supply chain.

This is just a snapshot of some of the projects we are advancing with our BIM methodologies.

Where do you see the BIM technology in general and Bentley in particular by 2020?

In the past couple of years, we began focusing on how we could advance our software offerings to provide our users with cutting-edge technology that leverage cloud services, mobile devices, and drone technology. This is where the industry is headed, and by focusing on these advancements, we will be complementing our BIM offerings and be well positioned to meet the needs of our uses through the rest of this decade and beyond.

To get us there, we recently made some strategic acquisitions, one of which was SITEOPS for breakthrough site design optimization “software at your service”. The software uses cloud-based computing techniques to empower site development professionals to move beyond engineering to “optioneering,” which enables the exploration of engineering alternatives and their associated costs. Optioneering also substantially improves the choices considered for any site development, including commercial, industrial, institutional, campus and residential projects.

Bentley also entered the world of drone technology early last year with our acquisition of France-based Acute3D, provider of software for reality modelling. We renamed the product ContextCapture and launched our first release under this name at the end of 2015. Context Capture automates the generation of high-resolution, fully 3D representations from digital photographs taken with any camera, even a smartphone.

Lastly, our EADOC technology, which we acquired in March of 2015, offers construction management cloud services. It helps construction managers at engineering and construction management firms and infrastructure owner organizations reduce risk, improve information quality and provide owners with real-time visibility into costs on their capital projects.

That is just a brief look into how we plan to face future challenges and remain competitive. Our mission is advancing infrastructure and we will continue to promote industry best practices, drive standards, evolve solution templates, capture and recycle lessons learned and advance BIM processes via awareness sessions, forums, and targeted seminars and working groups.

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