Year in Infrastructure 2016 Conference AECbytes Newsletter #84 (November 10, 2016)

Bentley’s annual Year in Infrastructure (YII) conference was held earlier this month in London, and as with previous conferences, it was an opportunity to showcase both the range and depth of infrastructure solutions available in Bentley’s portfolio as well as the wide variety of infrastructure projects around the world that are being implemented with the help of these solutions. In the last few years, Bentley has significantly expanded—and enlivened—its product portfolio with new and exciting applications such as LumenRt, a real-time animation and visualization application for infrastructure design; ContextCapture, a sophisticated reality modeling software that creates actual geometry in the form of a 3D mesh and uses photographs for the reality capture; OpenRoads ConceptStation, for the conceptual design of infrastructure; EADOC, a cloud-based construction management application; and others. Many of these were unveiled at last year’s YII conference, and were described in AECbytes Newsletter #77. Let’s look at the main updates from this year’s YII event as well some of the projects that were showcased.

Updates from Bentley

At YII 2016, Bentley continued with the rollout of the CONNECT generation of more of its products. Recall that Bentley had introduced the CONNECT edition and described its key features at the YII 2014 conference (AECbytes Newsletter #71), and subsequently at YII 2015 last year, we had the opportunity to see many of these features in action with the launch of the CONNECT editions of ProjectWise, MicroStation, and Navigator. This year, Bentley released the CONNECT editions of many more of its design, analytical, construction, and reality modeling applications including AutoPipe, Descartes, Pointools, gINT, RM, LARS, SACS, MOSES, MAXSURF, SITEOPS, STAAD, and RAM. It also announced the CONNECT edition of AssetWise, which constitutes the third leg of its base software platform, the other two being MicroStation for information modeling and ProjectWise for collaboration. AssetWise, as the name suggests, is focused on the operation and maintenance of assets, which is becoming increasingly critical given how little progress has been made so far on the development and deployment of technologies for buildings and infrastructure once they in use.

Similar to ProjectWise, AssetWise is actually a family of individual products for different aspects of asset management such as change management, risk mitigation, proactive maintenance, integration of multiple data sources, real-time predictions enabling operational decisions, and compliance checking, all of which now will be available in CONNECT versions. Collectively, the CONNECT edition of AssetWise now shares a “connected data environment” with ProjectWise, an upgrade from the “common data environment” of prior versions, as a result of which it can take advantage of technologies now in common in design and construction including BIM, reality modeling, geocoordination, engineering precision, information mobility, and work process automation. This means that any asset maintained through AssetWise CONNECT Edition has spatial awareness, network awareness (for example, where it is located on a linear map such as a roadway or a rail line) as shown in Figure 1, contextual awareness, and so on.  AssetWise CONNECT Edition now also provides dashboard and analytics capabilities as part of its base offering, which were previously available only in Bentley’s Amulet product.

Figure 1. Network awareness in AssetWise CONNECT Edition shows all assets in context in a map.

The upgrade to “connected data environment” from what was previously a “common data environment” was a big part of this year’s overall YII theme.  While the latter refers primarily to open file formats and interoperability, the addition of “connectedness” makes the data live rather than static, which can facilitate real-time collaboration on design, construction, and operation. The data connectivity happens through the “cloud,” and more specifically for Bentley through Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, making Microsoft a key partner for Bentley. Another partnership that Bentley highlighted at YII 2016 was the integration of its construction offerings with Topcon Positioning Group, which will allow engineers to connect with surveyors and constructors. Bentley also announced the acquisition of ComplyPro, a provider of UK-based managed services for infrastructure capital projects, making it easier for long-standing Bentley users such as Crossrail to integrate their requirements management and compliance management functions within Bentley’s project delivery and asset performance solutions.

On the design front, Bentley launched OpenRoads Designer, a new civil engineering modeling and engineering application that is the successor to Bentley’s earlier InRoads, GEOPAK, MX, and PowerCivil applications and which consolidates all of their capabilities. Targeted specifically for roadway projects, it combines traditional engineering workflows for plan, profile, and cross-sections with 3D parametric modeling (Figure 2) and supports all aspects of a detailed roadway design, including survey, geotechnical, drainage, subsurface utilities, terrain, and others. Being part of the “connected data environment” of the CONNECT edition, it also draws upon other Bentley technologies to incorporate reality meshes, imagery, point cloud, and other geocoordinated data sources to provide the real-world context throughout the design and construction lifecycle.

Figure 2. OpenRoads Designer provides comprehensive modeling and engineering capabilities for detailed roadway design.

Bentley also highlighted the advances it has made in reality modeling, following up on its launch of ContextCapture last year, the use of which in the creation of a detailed virtual model of downtown Philadelphia for planning the Pope’s visit to the city last September wowed attendees at the YII 2015 conference. Reality modeling is increasingly becoming more mainstream, being used to capture and model existing conditions not just for building and infrastructure projects but for a variety of other use cases, a good example being the event planning scenario that was demonstrated last year. Until now, ContextCapture used only digital photos, acquired from ground-level and/or aerial photography, for its reality capture processing, but it will now be able to combine point-clouds from laser scanning with available photos, as “hybrid inputs,” for reconstruction into a reality mesh. Being able to combine both of these primary reality capture techniques—scanners as well as cameras—opens up the use of ContextCapture to a wider range of use cases and capture conditions. It makes ContextCapture more versatile and strengthens Bentley’s reality modeling portfolio, which also includes the CONNECT editions of its Descartes (Figure 3) and Pointools products with powerful 3D imaging and point-cloud visualization and editing capabilities.

Figure 3. The CONNECT edition of Descartes simplifies the extraction of existing ground surfaces from both point clouds and reality meshes to make them suitable for use in engineering workflows.

Implementation of Bentley Solutions

In addition to highlighting Bentley news and updates, an important aspect of the YII conferences is to illustrate the scope and range of infrastructure projects being implemented around the world using Bentley’s solutions. Some of those presented at the YII 2016 conference include the China Zun Tower, shown in Figure 4, which will house leading financial institutions and is an important structure in the rejuvenation of Beijing’s Central Business District. The use of ProjectWise provided an integrated platform that enabled this project to be constructed using prefabricated sections in only 62 months, faster than any other skyscraper in Beijing. ProjectWise brought together a 350-person team spanning owner, designer, inspector, general contractor, and subcontractors, and allowed for the management of engineering, design, and construction audit drawings and other project documents, which numbered over 540,000 throughout the project lifecycle. In addition to ProjectWise, i-models and Bentley Navigator were used for design reviews, QA/QC, inspections, multi-disciplinary design coordination, and to improve on-site management efficiency.

Figure 4. The China Zun Tower in Beijing.

Other implementation examples that were showcased at YII 2016 were the Hanking Center Tower in Shenzhen, China, by Morphosis, a long-standing Bentley user that is well-known for its cutting-edge use of BIM (Figure 5); the City of Helsinki’s 3D City Initiative, which used a range of Bentley’s GIS, reality modeling, visualization, and coordination solutions including Bentley Map, Descartes, Pointools, ContextCapture, LumenRT, and Bentley Navigator (Figure 6); and a USD 6 billion redevelopment project by the Los Angeles Community College District to build over 50 new buildings and remodel existing ones, which used Bentley’s BIM applications, Bentley Navigator for BIM review and issue resolution, and ProjectWise for collaboration and providing the connected data environment for integrating people, data, standards, and processes throughout the project lifecycle (Figure 7).

Figure 5. The Hanking Center Tower in Shenzhen, China, by Morphosis, using Bentley BIM solutions to coordinate design, engineering, and construction.

Figure 6. The 3D city model of Helsinki, created using a range of Bentley’s GIS, reality modeling, visualization, and coordination solutions.

Figure 7. The use of ProjectWise by the Los Angeles Community College District provided access to the same models and data to the 500+ project participants involved in its redevelopment project.

There were additional examples highlighting the use of Bentley solutions specifically for infrastructure. HNTB Corporation, a leading architecture, civil engineering consulting and construction management firm that is another long-standing Bentley user, used its infrastructure solutions to quickly develop conceptual designs for a new I-84 and SR-8 interchange in Connecticut that satisfied a number of design criteria including cost, and which also allowed the project team to evaluate constructability, manage data across many locations, and visualize and review the designs. HNTB combined the use of OpenRoads ConceptStation, OpenBridge Modeler, OpenRoads technology within Bentley’s InRoads, and the ability to share data between phases and disciplines of the project to deliver the project successfully.

Figure 8. Visualization of the new I-84 and SR-8 interchange design by HNTB using OpenRoads ConceptStation and embedded LumenRT functionality.

There was also an example from the railway industry, not just regular rail but high-speed rail, and this one came from Denmark. Capable of handling passenger train speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour, a new high speed railway—Denmark’s first—running from Copenhagen to Ringsted was commissioned in 2010. The project was undertaken by Banedanmark, Denmark’s national rail owner-operator, which used an extensive list of Bentley software including ProjectWise, MicroStation, and Bentley Rail Track with the aim of constructing the line on time and within budget, setting a best-in-class example for all European rail projects (Figure 9). Construction of the new line started in 2012 and completion is scheduled for late 2018.

Figure 9. 3D model of Denmark’s first high-speed line running from Copenhagen to Ringsted (top image) and a tunnel cutaway along its route (lower image).

The Be Inspired Awards

Many more implementation examples were highlighted as part of Bentley’s annual “Be Inspired” awards, a mainstay of the YII conferences. The call for submissions for these awards goes out in the summer, and from among the many entries in different categories that are submitted, three are chosen as the finalists in each category by a non-Bentley jury comprised of experts in that field. These finalists are invited to present at the YII conference and a winner is chosen, with the awards then being presented in an Oscar-like gala during one of the evenings of the conference. The project presentations, not just of the winners but all the finalists, provide a terrific opportunity to learn more about the cutting-edge use of Bentley solutions in different kinds of infrastructure projects all over the world.

We will look at them in a dedicated article next month.

About the Author

Lachmi Khemlani is founder and editor of AECbytes. She has a Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, specializing in intelligent building modeling, and consults and writes on AEC technology. She can be reached at

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