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Bentley Systems: Evolution, not revolution

Paul King, Director of Product Solution Engineering – Bentley Systems. Image: Bentley Systems.

Bentley Systems’ Paul King, Director of Product Solution Engineering, sheds light on what is in store for the technological development of infrastructure applications.

For Bentley Systems, the future looks exciting. With innovative applications already available, such as its iTwin Platform or open design and modelling applications, the organisation is looking to push the limits of infrastructure engineering software.

Paul King, Bentley’s Director of Product Solution Engineering, explains that the development of technologies in this space is an evolution, rather than a revolution, growing on the progress made throughout Australia’s infrastructure sector.

He has seen the application of such technologies on projects first-hand. “I joined Bentley in 2006 during our works with building information modelling (BIM) on the Olympics in London,” says King. “I then spent some time in the Middle East on some big construction projects. Then, we had the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) that marked the start of my journey to Australia. It was interesting to take some of those best practices from big projects outside of Australia, to Australia. A lot of Australian projects and teams are now leading globally.”

King is a part of the Bentley Infrastructure Cloud team, managing the company’s solution engineers in the Asia Pacific region and advising on all aspects of project delivery technology. 

This journey to the top has been a gradual progression of improvement and embracing new technologies. As King explains, Australia has come a long way—quickly—when it comes to these aspects.

“In the United Kingdom, we have the ISO 19650 international standard for project collaboration,” King says. “It helps you to standardise how you create and name files. It’s important to manage risk and ensure better outcomes.

“When I arrived at Australia, I came armed with one of the first copies of that standard. I sat down with four big contractors who were discussing technology. They essentially said, ‘We saw that you did at the Olympics and we want to learn from you.’ I brought this document out and two of the four said that they wanted an Australian standard, not a British one. 

“It opened my eyes to the cultural differences between the two countries when it came to technology. Over time, unsurprisingly, more people have been willing to use overseas standards and best practice. That cultural shift has been impactful.”

Bentley has played a key role in opening the door for Australian contractors and infrastructure providers to use the latest in infrastructure engineering software. This focus has long been on getting the technology in the right hands, instead of delivering a blanket solution for everyone.

King said that he has seen this ethos track back to his first contributions on the 2012 London Olympics. 

“Since the early part of the century, Bentley has invested in and recognised that it is not just about the software, it is also about how you use it and how you can get people to adopt it,” he says. “From a technology perspective, something that has always been a part of our solutions is the connected data environment.”

The connected data environment is an essential aspect for collaboration on infrastructure projects, connecting project stakeholders from different supply chains into a singular data environment. It represents a space where data and design are shared and accessible by all. It helps streamline changes and alterations to designs, as well as queries around specific design decisions.

“By standardising modelling protocols and methodologies, stakeholders can have information shared easier and across different disciplines and teams,” says King.

King adds that embracing cloud technology is another aspect that has changed in terms of culture. He says Australia is one of the premier users and developers of cloud technology globally.

“Over ten years ago, when I arrived, very few firms were prepared to use cloud services. There was a perception that it was less safe than having a traditional server. In the last three to four years, that’s completely shifted the other way,” he says. 

“I think the GFC had a huge impact on this cultural shift. We essentially had to do more with less. Now, there’s a significant shortfall of engineers that we require to tackle the coming pipeline of infrastructure. Everyone needs to recognise how important it will be to do more with less.”

There are already examples of major works in Australia, where this focus of doing more with less has proven to be effective. One example is WSP. Recognising the pivotal role of effective information management and the limitations of previous technology approaches, the organisation sought a comprehensive digital solution that could streamline data management and facilitate efficient collaboration while building trust in new digital workflows. 



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It needed user-friendly, integrated technology applications that foster a holistic approach to data management, ensure compliance with ISO-19650 standards, and support a widespread digital shift.

Embracing the capabilities of Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, WSP selected ProjectWise and iTwin to address data management, collaboration, and project lifecycle engineering challenges, enhancing decision-making and delivering superior project outcomes. Leveraging Bentley’s applications, design teams can collaborate, visualise, and review the design model in real time. 

Using their Port Rail Transformation Project (PRTP) as an example, WSP saved approximately 300 resource hours, reducing rework and the project timeline. By communicating and exemplifying the advantages of digital workflows, the company has instilled confidence in the national business shift to digitisation, driving innovation in enterprise engineering.

“I think project teams and organisations are starting to realise that this is what success looks like–delivering your project on time and under budget. They’re asking themselves, ‘what’s the differentiator?’ Having these examples has been critical,” says King.

“The industry has gone full circle from when I first started in the U.K. The difference now is that these technologies are now off the shelf. People are no longer spending millions of dollars on complex technology. It’s about using that data better.”

Bentley Systems can provide the full spectrum.

“We’ve been creating software to support digital workflows on projects through the full lifecycle,” King says. “We work from planning and design through to construction, handover, and asset management. We have insight working with our customers in the space around what they need to do, what does success look like to them, and we then design the software to support that. 

“It’s not revolutionary, it’s evolutionary. It’s principally adopting best practice wherever you can find it.”

De-risking is another feature of Bentley Systems’ technological offerings. King says it is about getting the best possible information, whether it’s models, drawings, and/or specifications to get the complete set of design information.

“Increasingly, construction teams are saying that they need to work with their supply chain to ensure that the information that they get is complete, correct, and consistent. You can have all that information, but it’s just as important to connect it. That’s where a connected data environment is so important,” he says.

The iTwin Platform is just one specific example of Bentley System’s connective technology. This platform optimises infrastructure delivery and performance throughout an asset’s lifecycle. The digital twins can be constantly updated and synchronised to ensure all project stakeholders are on the same page. Streamlining design changes and client communication boosts not only project timelines, but also a company’s bottom line.

Engineering, geospatial, and operational data can all be centralised, while also incorporating real-world conditions to predict future conditions for inspections, reporting, and insights using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“As a project manager, I can open a web browser to view a full three-dimensional model of that piece of infrastructure,”
says King. 

“If I’m a project manager, I don’t care if it’s from one authoring application, or six, because I can see it and interact with it.”

Bentley applications are compatible with other systems and programs, enabling multivendor-based teams to share their information and pool it without worrying about the file formats.

The organisation will soon showcase these technologies and more as part of its upcoming Bentley Illuminate infrastructure engineering conference. The event will pool together like-minded individuals around the future of infrastructure engineering software and hardware, as well as more efficient methods and processes for infrastructure development.

Bentley Illuminate will also host key speakers who will address themes that include sustainability and infrastructure resilience. The event will also include big players from across the sector, including owner-operators, engineering firms, and contractors.

At the event, Bentley’s Mike Campbell, Chief Product Officer, and Oliver Conze, Senior Vice President for Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, will present a technology vision and roadmap offering a glimpse into Bentley’s exciting innovations and advancements for infrastructure digital twins and artificial intelligence.

Attendees will also hear from Aurecon’s CIO Carl Duckinson, SparkNEL’s Digital Delivery Director Jayson Winchester, and TfNSW’s Executive Director of Digital Engineering Services Devon Middleditch. These executives will provide insight on the challenges they are facing today on their major projects, as well as their perspective on the changing industry landscape.

King will be one of the key speakers at the event and said that it will showcase the progress made so far, as well as a path forward for continual improvement from across the infrastructure sector. 

“We’ll be asking how and what can we do better as an industry, as companies, and as individuals. Whether you’re designing, building, or operating, there’s something for you at Illuminate,” he says. 

This article was originally published in the May edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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