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Designs on Tomorrow

Packed with corporate announcements, a showcase of intricate projects, and an unforgettable awards evening, Bentley Systems’ Year in Infrastructure 2017 Conference was a stupendous success.

BY Mitalee Kurdekar

For over a decade now, Bentley Systems’ annual gathering has been applauding the world’s finest infrastructure projects for their innovation and advancement in design and construction. Held from October 10-12, this year’s conference saw a series of forums and keynote addresses – boasting 1,500 attendees over the course of three days, with certain individual sessions attracting a crowd of around 800 – and culminated in a grand awards ceremony. Christened the Be Inspired Awards, this one-of-its-kind event has been honouring people and companies that create complex, albeit truly inspiring projects across the world.
This year, for the first time ever, the venue was shifted to Asia, with the iconic Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, playing host. The choice, perhaps, was testimony to the fact that Asia is a rising star as far as superior infrastructure is concerned. As a matter of fact, of this year’s 400 nominated projects from 52 countries, almost half of the selected 51 finalists belonged to the Asia Pacific region alone. Throughout the duration of the conference, the region was regularly touted as being the centre of gravity for infrastructure and BIM advancements.

Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems, in his corporate keynote, acknowledged host city Singapore’s ‘spectacular infrastructure environs’ and spoke of how, even as Singapore was set to inaugurate Terminal 4 at the Singapore Changi Airport, Bentley Systems’ ProjectWise Construction Management was already in use for Terminal 5. He went on to state, “Bentley Institute convenes the Year in Infrastructure because it is only in advancing infrastructure that we can advance our economy at the same time as our environment in the world, and that depends on advancing professions and professionals. That is the mission of Bentley Institute.” He added that Bentley Systems is committed to going digital and the combined use of their portfolio of products such as ProjectWise and AssetWise will help users achieve a connected data environment.

Open Forums
During his product keynote presentation, Bhupinder Singh, chief product officer, Bentley Systems, elaborated on how digital workflows for digital cities are now possible with Bentley’s CONNECT Edition application, for which the entire portfolio will be made available by the end of 2017. “Around 60% of the world’s population will migrate to cities by 2030. Imagine the pressure that puts on city infrastructure,” Singh warned. He further suggested that CONNECT Edition has in scope the breadth of the connected data environment, making digital workflow collaboration between interdisciplinary teams, and hence delivery of complex and multi-faceted projects, possible.

The conference also consisted of forums on a variety of themes, such as Buildings and Campuses, Digital Cities, Industrial, Rail and Transit, Roads and Bridges, as well as Utilities and Water. During the Buildings and Campuses session, Santanu Das, SVP, design modelling, Bentley Systems, stressed on the role of reality modelling in project design, when he proclaimed, “Reality modelling is becoming pervasive. It is for this reason that designers are moving away from 2D drawings and LiDAR technology, so as to avail information about a site or an existing asset. Designers are now moving toward photogrammetry and taking the help of drones to take hundreds of photographs of a site or asset quickly and easily, and Bentley has focussed a lot of attention on this. Bentley’s ContextCapture allows users to take thousands of photographs and produce a 3D model quickly. The other area we are focused on is integrating this existing data with what one is modelling. This results in a hybrid of sorts, which allows the users to generate their own building model in AECOsim Building Designer and run ContextCapture using cloud technology to handle the vast amounts of data that is generated. The designer can then stream what is relevant in AECOsim Building Designer, where they can operate in a hybrid mode and mix the ‘as-is’ model with their proposed asset to make better informed decisions.”

On the other hand, the Road and Rail forum saw Dustin Parkman, VP, Civil Modelling and Visualisation, explain how transportation is going digital. He said, “The quality of roads and highways is a key indicator of a region’s success as well as the connectivity of its people. Singapore, for example, has a thriving economy, growing population, but limited land resources to build new roads. With these challenges in mind, Singapore took initiative to reshape what the future means for urban mobility. For this, they have made a lot of investments and taken initiatives, and, in fact, their ‘going digital’ strategy alone has decreased traffic density in the region by as much as 2-3% in the last 12 months. Bentley’s focus too is all about ‘going digital’, which includes digital components and digital workflows. Last year, at this conference, we introduced the CONNECT Edition of OpenRoads, including its comprehensive portfolio of products that allows people to do project delivery from concept to construction, enabled through its connected data environment through ProjectWise. This year, we are adding AssetWise to this mix. AssetWise is already part of the connected data environment, but we haven’t exploited it to its full potential within the roads and highways division.”

An Indian project that was often discussed during the conference was the Nagpur Metro Rail project, which has used Bentley’s OpenRail connected data environment, including AssetWise and ProjectWise. Dr Brijesh Dixit, MD, MAHA Metro, also delivered a keynote address that highlighted their journey from concept to construction, using the OpenRail platform. He confessed that the partnership with Bentley was about, “using continuous collaboration and firming it over time, cost, quality and safety to create cost effective and sustainable infrastructure.”

In addition to the forums, Bentley also used this platform to publicise product launches and new partnerships. The company announced the completion of its CONNECT Edition application portfolio for design, analytical, construction, and asset performance modelling of infrastructure. This all-inclusive modelling environment will support aligned digital workflows across applications for all project delivery disciplines, in turn addressing the requirements and challenges posed by the most difficult infrastructure projects.

Keith Bentley, founder, Bentley Systems, introduced the iModel 2.0 cloud platform, along with its first new service, iModelHub, which aims to accelerate ‘going digital’ for users of its ProjectWise Design Integration services. He suggested that, “With our iModel 2.0 cloud platform, I foresee an accelerating ecosystem of innovation for true digital workflows around infrastructure assets. To get there, our first priority has been to make possible substantial improvements in infrastructure project delivery and asset performance outcomes, without needing to change current BIM workflows. The best news is that ProjectWise Design Integration users can set up their iModel Bridges to connect to iModelHub without retraining users or changing their existing applications or work processes – and without introducing any risk to their projects. If nothing else, the value of change-based visualisation through Navigator Web will prove so indispensable, I predict most organisations will never want to do another project without it.”

Another development was their tie-up with Siemens to jointly develop projects. “Siemens’ PLM has a head start in what we call the product digital twin, production digital twin, and performance digital twin. Combined with Bentley’s BIM head start, we will especially take the performance digital twin to a new level, and we can accelerate realising the full potential of digital cities, such as here in Singapore,” stated Helmuth Ludwig, global head of information technology, Siemens.
Bentley Systems, along with Topcon Positioning Systems, announced that they would make joined efforts to provide opportunities for construction industry professionals to learn best practices in constructioneering, a process of managing and integrating survey, engineering, and construction data, to streamline construction workflows and improve project delivery. The company also announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire ACTION Modulers’ water modeling software business, near Lisbon, Portugal.

Conference attendees also benefitted from the Alliance Partners Pavilion, in addition to invitation only summits on Project Delivery, Infrastructure Asset Performance and one for CIOs. Bentley also conducted pre-conference learning via academies on BIM Advancement, Construction, and Reality Modeling. There was a panel discussion between Alliance Partners, which made for a robust dialogue regarding industry trends such as IoT, AI, cloud, data management, data security, asset management and asset reliability, among others. The panellists agreed that all stakeholders needed to work together to use technological tools (such as digital twins) to industrialise the infrastructure sector.

Winning Ways
The event ended on a high note with the Be Inspired Awards ceremony. In all, 17 Be Inspired Awards’ winners were handpicked by 10 independent panels of jurors, comprising domain experts, who also elected six projects that deserved Special Recognition Awards. The award categories included Reality Modelling, Bridges, Buildings and Campuses, Construction, Environmental Engineering, Manufacturing, Mining and Offshore Engineering, Municipal Operations, Power Generation, Project Delivery, Water and Wastewater Plants, Water Networks, Road and Rail Asset Performance, Rail and Transit, Utilities and Industrial Asset Performance, Utilities Transmission and Distribution, and Roads. The special recognition categories were as follows: Asset Information Management, Comprehensive BIM Advancement, Conceptioneering, Constructioneering, Inspectioneering, and Operationeering. Each of the finalists – reduced to three in each category – presented their novel projects and explained their intricacies before fellow contenders, the jury, and the media, while also defending their work against a barrage of questions from the audience.

NJS Engineers India’s JICA Assisted Ganga Action Plan II from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India’s sole entry into the hallowed finalists’ list did the country proud, when it won the award for BIM Advancements in Environmental Engineering. Rohit Dembi, MIS Expert, NJS Engineers India, said, “This stretch is the most polluted stretch. There were a lot of challenges in terms of construction as well as in terms of changing the mindset of people. But we have successfully managed that. With the completion of this project in 2018, almost 80% water in the area will be now treated as compared with 30% earlier.”
Overall, the conference gave intriguing insights on the progress being made in the infrastructure arena, internationally. With the sheer multitude of innovative projects that were on display, attendees had no choice but to be inspired.

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