Bentley Systems, an infrastructure engineering software company, has launched new capabilities and advancements for their extensive digital offerings at their 2022 Year in Infrastructure Conference
The event in London is dedicated to shining a light on the digital progress achieved in infrastructure as well as bringing the community up to date on the innovations that Bentley is introducing.
Alongside the conference, the Going Digital Awards highlights the companies that are leveraging digital solutions to the most impressive effect in their projects in addition to those taking notable strides in digital advancements. Since 2004, the awards programme has recognised more than 4,400 of the world’s most outstanding infrastructure projects and, this year, winners are being selected from 12 categories which span the lifetime of projects – from design, to construction, to operations.
While unfortunately no projects from Africa made it into the finals this year, a Founders' Award was presented to a project in Uganda. This was the design and build of the Kotido-Kaabong crucial tourism road based on rural revitalisation. It was conducted by the China Highway Engineering Consulting Corporation, China Communications Construction Company Uganda Branch, and the Uganda National Roads Authority and included a project playbook of ContextCapture, iTwin, LumenRT, MicroStation, OpenBridge, OpenRoads ConceptStation and ProjectWise. Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley, explained that the project occurred in a national park in Uganda to help bring in tourism while ensuring minimal impact on the local wildlife. He added that, with China under strict Covid-regulation laws, the whole project was done with a digital twin approach.
While much of the attention at the conference has been dedicated to the innovative use cases utilising Bentley Systems' offerings, there was also time for the company to explore the progress and directions it has been making to further enhance its portfolio.
Extending the iTwin Platform
Across the conference, key executives from the company took pride in showcasing the new capabilities of the iTwin Platform, intended to extend the scope and interoperability of infrastructure data that engineering firms and owner-operators can use to create and leverage digital twins.
As a new cloud product to enable users to visualise and navigate digital twins more competently, Bentley has launched iTwin Experience. This accelerates engineering firms’ ‘digital integrator’ initiatives to create and curate asset-specific digital twins, incorporating proprietary machine learning, analytics and asset performance algorithms. It was described as a “single pane of glass” which can overlay engineering technology (ET), operations technology (OT), and information technology (IT).
Alongside this release, iTwin Capture has also been added for capturing, analysing, and sharing reality data. It enables users to easily create engineering-ready, high resolution 3D models of infrastructure assets using drone video and survey imagery from any digital camera, scanner, or mobile mapping device.
Finally, iTwin IoT has been launched for acquiring and analysing sensor data, to enable users to seamlessly incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) data created by sensors and condition monitoring devices. By securely incorporating real-time data at scale from among hundreds of sensor types, iTwin IoT increases the value of engineering and geotechnical data.
Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley, noted that of the finalists named in the 2022 Going Digital Awards, 42% credited iTwin as opposed to 27% in 2021 and 19% in 2020s. He added that the use of digital twins has been given a “kick in the pants” by the global pandemic, which restricted access on-site. Instead, many companies looked at digital alternatives and digital twins which has propounded the growing emphasis the global infrastructure community is placing on these solutions. He added that the work of the finalists and their peers has “never been more important” and he hoped this will inspire the next generation of engineers ̵ an important point given that many engineering firms are grappling with a lack of talent pipeline. As Nicholas Cumins, chief operating officer at Bentley, added, “Our users need to be able to do more with less.”
Looking to the future, Keith Bentley, founder and CTO of Bentley, explained, “Phase 2 of our journey involves improving our existing desktop products using the iTwin engine. Users of our MicroStation and engineering design and analysis applications will next gain new features that can make their projects more efficient, more connected, and the results more valuable. We can do that by augmenting, not replacing, their existing tools, workflows, file formats, and deliverables. The iTwin engine will run on the same desktop ‘in process’ with the design applications, synchronising a local iModel and connecting to cloud services when and as necessary.”
Julien Moutte, vice president of technology at Bentley, described the enhanced interoperability of the iTwin Platform, including integration with 3D environments, such as Unreal, Unity, and NVIDIA Omniverse, to enable immersive experiences across a wide range of devices. “From the start, we created services in the iTwin Platform that allow software developers to align and federate infrastructure data from different sources. We are now opening the doors of the metaverse for those digital twins, enabling new use cases and immersive experiences.”
Bentley Infrastructure Cloud
The new iTwin Platform capabilities will power another key focus of the keynote speeches, the introduction of Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, a set of solutions that span the end-to-end infrastructure lifecycle and value chain, encompassing ProjectWise, SYNCHRO, and AssetWise, unified and made interoperable by Bentley’s infrastructure schemas.
Bentley Infrastructure Cloud encompasses ProjectWise, for project delivery; SYNCHRO, for construction; and AssetWise, for asset operations. These enterprise systems now leverage digital twin technologies, to open up data contained in engineering files through automated and intrinsic mapping to Bentley’s infrastructure schemas. By advancing these enterprise systems to become fundamentally data-centric without disrupting file-based workflows, Bentley Infrastructure Cloud provides user organisations with significant opportunities to improve collaboration, productivity, and quality.
Bentley’s infrastructure schemas are both open and extensible, and now link to reality modeling and IoT devices, and incorporate carbon calculation and subsurface data. The ability to share data seamlessly and to enrich it throughout the lifecycle helps engineering firms and owner-operators create and derive more value from their engineering data.
Bentley’s senior vice president of enterprise systems, Ken Adamson, remarked, “Infrastructure professionals deserve an evergreen digital twin environment for data that they can trust and act upon. I believe Bentley Systems is uniquely positioned to fulfill this requirement by virtue of the combined comprehensiveness of our ProjectWise, SYNCHRO, and AssetWise enterprise systems, our software’s intrinsic engineering fidelity, and our commitment to openness – including our unique resolve to semantically integrate the full range of relevant engineering file formats. The iTwin Platform, in becoming the robust foundation for unifying all of our software development, has been proven equal to this challenge.”
Bentley Systems also unveiled major enhancements to ProjectWise to extend its scope from work-in-progress engineering to full digital delivery. Through new project portfolio and programme management capabilities, ProjectWise users can now apply analytics at the level of engineering fidelity across all projects, learn from and reuse rich project data, and retain knowledge to enhance the quality and efficiency of future projects. While, through new digital twin capabilities, ProjectWise users can undertake interdisciplinary design reviews and advanced design validation to improve the effectiveness and quality of their designs, and also increase the richness of their digital deliverables for construction and operations, to position their businesses for transformational digital services beyond handover.
Powered by iTwin, ProjectWise will leverage a range of solutions including iTwin Capture, Bentley infrastructure schemas, and iTwin Experiene. Features including ProjectWise 4D Design Review, Advanced Design Validation, ProjectWise Components Center, and Digital Delivery capabilities will all be in the hands of the user to enhance engineering firms’ opportunities while minimising risk.
Lori Hufford, vice president, engineering collaboration for Bentley, surmised, “ProjectWise users already have a wealth of project experience incorporated in their ProjectWise archives. Now as part of Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, ProjectWise can drive a necessary step-change in the efficiency, effectiveness, and transformation of engineering firms.”
Finally, Bentley also announced the availability of new asset-specific solutions, powered by iTwin, that leverage iTwin Experience, iTwin Capture, and iTwin IoT to deliver real-time asset health monitoring. These include, in early access, the AssetWise Bridge Monitoring solution to transform traditional bridge inspections into a modern, digital workflow and the AssetWise Dam Monitoring solution to offer digital services to dam operators who are modernising their dam safety programmes to reduce risk and address growing regulatory requirements.