With more than 1,000 delegates and channel partners, 100 visiting journalists from 28 countries, 57 finalists from the 420 nominations submitted, and countless announcements and sessions, the larger-than-life expo by Bentley Systems, was an exhilarating experience. RAHUL KAMAT, who attended this symposium in London, covers all the elements, including new announcements, technology, acquisitions, and partnerships.
As a leading centre for global trade and commerce, London was the ideal location to host the Year in Infrastructure (YII) 2018 symposium, organised by Bentley Systems, for the world’s best and brightest in engineering, design, construction, and operations.
Over time, infrastructure asset owners and their teams have recognised the potential for leveraging digital twins in many ambitious use cases, including the application of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in simulations and decision support through the lifecycle of design, construction, and operations. If one would consider the sheer volumes of work done, Bentley Systems can partly be credited for this. With more than 420 projects, teaming up with over 300 organisations spread over 57 countries, the company, in true sense, inspired the world to adopt digitisation.
To realise the potential of digitisation, representations of assets need to be digital and, to be safely relied upon, there must be practical solutions as a twin for their synchronisation with the changing conditions of the real world. As rightly put by Greg Bentley, Chief Executive Officer, Bentley Systems, “merely capturing and representing physical conditions, including IoT inputs, can never be sufficient to understand, analyse, or model intended improvements, without comprehending the “digital DNA” captured in the project or asset’s engineering specifications.”
To actually be worthwhile, the digital twins for existing infrastructure must reliably synchronise reflections of both an asset’s physical reality and its “virtuality” (engineering data). A digital twin can meet this requirement by geospatially converging the digital context (representing the physical) and digital components (representing the virtual), naturally resulting in an immersive environment for both visualisation and analytics visibility.
To date, however, the evolving 3D physical reality of an as-operated asset has been too formidable to be captured digitally, let alone be kept updated, even as the corresponding operated engineering information tends to be unavailable or at best, dated, as typically an assortment of effectively inaccessible “dark data” in opaque engineering files or unintelligent document formats. Bentley has now surmounted both of these challenges, with the confluence of its reality modelling, iModelHub, CDE, and web-visibility technologies.
A representation of the physical reality of an infrastructure asset can now be reliably captured and maintained through increasingly continuous surveys and Bentley’s reality modelling software, providing digital context in the form of “reality meshes.” Overlapping photographs and (as needed) supplemental laser scans, largely from drones and ground-level imagery, are processed to generate spatially-classified and engineering-ready reality meshes at any desired level of accuracy – within which each digital component can be automatically recognised and/or geospatially referenced. The reality mesh can provide an efficient and immersive visual “twin” to intuitively navigate for finding, viewing, and querying the associated information within, or the asset’s digital engineering models.
Adding iModelHub to CDE
The challenge in comparably capturing and maintaining the engineering counterparts of the physical asset – that is, its digital components – lies in the opacity of their existing representations, compounded by continuous changes. Bentley’s iModelHub, introduced in 2017, overcomes these hurdles through automated digital alignment (to achieve semantic consistency from otherwise dark data in known formats) and synchronisation, based on change ledgers, corresponding to CDE’s project workflows (ProjectWise) or configuration management (AssetWise).
Once populated and synchronised to the digital context and components, iTwin™ Services deliver their benefits through Bentley’s new (separately announced) opensource iModel.js library (iModeljs.org) for web-based immersive visualisation. Infrastructure teams develop custom applications that connect their digital twin for specific use cases by leveraging a vast opensource ecosystem. In addition, a geospatially immersive environment for city-scale digital twins is now available through Bentley’s new OpenCities Planner services. Digital Twins ProjectWiseCONNECT Edition users of Bentley’s CDE can instantiate cloud-provisioned iTwin Services for any project without disruption to their existing ProjectWise workflows. iModelHub will then transparently create and maintain the project’s comprehensive iModel: a distributed database, with its intrinsic change ledger updated at each deliverable-in-progress check-in state. For each such update to engineering information, application-specific “information bridge” processing effectuates digital alignment of the iModel’s digital components. To the extent of available reality modelling for the physical site, CDE’s corresponding ContextShare service maintains updated digital context. iModel’s digital components and ContextShare digital contexts are immersively merged through Navigator Web and iModel.js visualisation, as authorised and secured by iModelHub.
Accordingly, iTwin services enable comprehensive project status reviews to be continuously available, synchronised to any requested project state on the iModel change ledger timeline, and/or for visualisation and analytics visibility into changes between any project timeline states. iTwin services will also integrate Bentley’s SYNCHRO 4D construction modelling.
ProjectWise Integration with Microsoft 365
The YII 2018 witnessed integration between ProjectWise 365 and Microsoft 365. The collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Flow, alongside analytics from Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Power BI, can now be applied to mainstream automated digital workflows in ProjectWise. The integration will enable collaborative digital workflows that transcend system boundaries throughout infrastructure capital project delivery, by ensuring that the standards and best practices are propagated across projects, and increasing repeatability, scalability, quality, and predictability – in effect, industrialising project delivery, so that project teams can widely replicate the successes of their best projects.
Neil Lee, IT Director – Applications, Mott MacDonald, said, “The integration of ProjectWise and Microsoft Office 365 will be a significant enabler for our ongoing digital strategy for project delivery.”
AECOM, a fully-integrated global infrastructure firm, is an early adopter of ProjectWise 365. Norris Spencer, Highways Information Manager, AECOM, said, “ProjectWise Project Insights delivers a new perspective to leadership and project management, as the dashboards provide unique views of information management practices and the health of Building Information Model across the CDE.” Elizabeth Berna, Information Manager, AECOM, added, “Our project managers also use dashboards to identify trends in project performance, providing the client with new ways of assessing project health.” Adding Performance
The iModel.js library supports functionality to create and curate iTwins fit for particular asset performance purposes, including “agent” updating of “data lakes” for analytics visibility. This enables emerging AI and mixed reality technologies to be advantageously applied throughout an asset’s lifecycle, and across assets. For assured fidelity spanning physical reality and engineering data, it relies upon the necessary digital alignment, change synchronisation, and immersive visualisation uniquely provided by iTwin.
Also, at the conference, Siemens and Bentley unveiled PlantSight, a new range of cloud services to be jointly offered for as-operated digital twins of any process plant. PlantSight will provide increasingly comprehensive as operated digital twin services to incorporate Bentley’s AssetWise APM with Siemens’ operational technologies, MindSphere and Teamcenter for asset performance modelling of industrial plants. And, to accelerate owners to go digital, Atos and Bentley announced a new strategic partnership to create and curate performance digital twins. To this Keith Bentley, Bentley Systems founder and CTO, said “Our work with early adopters of iModelHub over the past year has confirmed to me that its unique strengths for alignment, accountability, and accessibility find the highest and best use, in conjunction with our reality modelling technologies, for enabling project digital twins and performance digital twins." "I look forward to actively working with users and external developers to create an open ecosystem of innovation for iTwin, leveraging the iModel.js library."
Acquisitions and Partnerships
Known for keeping their acquisition strategies under wrap, Bentley Systems YII platform has been a launchpad for many acquisition announcements. This year too, the digital behemoth has elements of surprises for the audiences. The company announced, in total, five acquisitions and partnerships. One of Bentley’s acquisitions that grabbed the attention of all the audience in attendance was that of Stockholm-based Agency9. The firm has already provided nearly half of Sweden’s larger municipalities with city-scale digital twin cloud services for city planning and related web-based 3D visualisation. Legion has already supported more than half of the world’s 40 largest transit agencies.
Talking about Legion acquisition, its pedestrian simulation application offers modelling capabilities of people’s interactions with each other and physical obstacles, and activities including circulation and evacuations, within public spaces like railway stations, airports, sports arenas, tall buildings, and streets with vehicle interactions. Using Legion simulation tools in collaborative digital workflows with Bentley’s OpenBuildings Designer (formerly AECOsim Building Designer), architects, engineers, and owners can consider pedestrian traffic in the conception stage of design alternatives. The newly announced OpenBuildings Station Designer will enable collaborative digital workflows to fully model pedestrian activities and journeys to and from trains, platforms, and through stations. Douglas Connor, Founder, Legion said, “Pedestrian flows should be considered fundamental design criteria for infrastructure assets like train stations or airports which are intrinsically meant to serve the needs of pedestrians.”
The YII 2018 Awards
The YII 2018 marked the end of Bentley’s four-day symposium. However, being a press-jury for one of the categories, my excitement level peaked when I found that my seating arrangement was among the probable winners. Against the backdrop of all the shine and glitter, with rare wine to taste, I sensed both excitement and nervousness.
With 420 nominations from 340 user organisations across the world, the 12 independent panels of jurors had a tough task ahead. After several rounds of brainstorming, the jurors selected 57 project finalists. And, it is here that the real challenge began! In its final leg, every project finalist had to explain and showcase how they are different from their competitors to a sea of audience and the jurors. But no force can stop a winner from winning. Each category witnessed a unique project winner. What made India proud was grabbing three awards in railways, structural engineering, and water sector, respectively. Here is the list of winners of YII2018:Bridges
Pt. Wijaya Karya (Persero) Tbk - Design and Build of Road Bridge at Teluk Lamong Port Project - Gresik-Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia.
Buildings and Campuses
Shalom Baranes Associates - Cannon House Office Building Renewal - Washington, District of Columbia, United States.
iForte Solusi Infotek - iForte Fiber Management System - Jakarta, Indonesia. Construction
AAEngineering Group, LLP - Phase II of Pustynnoe Gold Plant: Modernization and Capacity Increase - Balkhash, Karaganda region, Kazakhstan.
Yunnan Yunling Engineering Cost Consultation Co., Ltd. - New Municipal Road Construction PPP Project of the Municipal Public Facility Construction Project of Guandu Culture New City - Kunming, Yunnan, China.
Pt. Wijaya Karya (Persero) Tbk - Landslide Disaster Protection Project on the National Road Network - Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia.
Digital Engineering (BIM) Center of Shenyang Aluminum & Magnesium Engineering & Research Institute Co., - Alumina Refinery Project Cooperated between CHALCO and Indonesia - Bukit Batu, West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Mining and Offshore Engineering
Northern Engineering & Technology Corporation, MCC - SINO Iron Ore Mine-Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
Sacyr Somague - Hydroelectric Use of the Foz Tua Dam - Alij=- Vila Real, Portugal.
AECOM - Gaining New Perspective through ProjectWise Project Insights - United Kingdom.
Rail and Transit
Skanska Costain STRABAG Joint Venture (SCS) - HS2 Main Works Lots S1 and S2 - London, United Kingdom.
Skand Pty Ltd - Building Envelope Inspection Powered by Machine Learning and Reality Modeling for RMIT University Brunswick Campus - Victoria, Australia. Road and Rail Asset Performance
CSX Transportation - Annual Patch Rail Capital Planning - Jacksonville, United States.
Roads and Highways
Lebuhraya Borneo Utara - Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak - Sarawak, Malaysia.
Shilp Consulting Engineers - Alambagh Bus Terminal -Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Utilities and Industrial Asset Performance
Oman Gas Company S.A.O.C. - Asset Performance Solution for Reliability Management - Al-Khuwair, Muscat, Oman.
Utilities Transmission and Distribution
Pestech International Berhad - Substation Design & Automation for Olak Lempit Substation Project - Banting, Selangor, Malaysia.
Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants MCC Capital Engineering & Research Incorporation - Water Supply Project of Wenjiang District, Chengdu City - Chengdu, Sichuan, China.
Water, Wastewater, and Storm water Networks
-DTK Hydronet Solutions - Conceptioneering and Master Planning of Bankura Multi Vil