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Innovating Infrastructure: Bentley’s leap into AI-driven construction

Live Section identifying minimum clearance location for a skewed bridge over a road. Image: Bentley.

Material provided by Bentley Systems 

Imagine a construction industry where every blueprint and beam is guided by the unmatched precision of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This scenario, once a mere figment of science fiction, is rapidly becoming a reality in today’s digital era. Ian Rosam, Product Management Director for Civil Engineering at Bentley, sheds light on this transformative journey, illustrating how construction practices are evolving with remarkable speed and ingenuity.

“The boom in AI has been phenomenal, with its application in data science and machine learning significantly enhancing our capabilities in optimisation and automation within the construction sector,” he explains. Rosam highlights the recent surge in AI applications, particularly with the advent of advanced language models like ChatGPT. This marks a significant shift from traditional practices to more intelligent, data-driven methods in the industry.

In his discussion on these industry changes, Rosam reflects on the transition from paper-based processes to Building Information Modelling (BIM). “BIM has been important, but it primarily provides static data about the built environment. The real transformation occurs when we integrate AI with BIM, leading to the creation of intelligent, responsive systems,” Rosam explains. This is crucial in the journey from static models to dynamic, AI-enhanced digital twins.

Bentley’s iTwin platform stands as a testament to the technological evolution in construction. “The iTwin platform transcends the capabilities of traditional 3D models, introducing AI-driven analytics and real-time data processing. This allows for dynamic representations of infrastructure, like railways and road networks, in a digital environment,” Rosam discusses.

Highlighting the platform’s broader impact, he continues, “It’s not just about creating digital representations. The iTwin platform optimises project delivery and asset performance throughout an infrastructure asset’s lifecycle.” This advancement provides construction professionals with detailed operational data, enhancing decision-making and project management.

Rosam further clarifies, “These digital twins serve far beyond visualisation. Their versatility extends to digital engineering reviews and applications such as intricate animations for public consultations, marking a shift from simple digitisation to the creation of interactive, living digital replicas of physical assets.”

Highlighting the limitations of current 2D drawings, Rosam adds, “Traditional drawings, while trusted and easily understood, are limited in their ability to convey the rich, detailed information that digital models can provide—a potential that Bentley is actively exploring and developing.”

Rosam points out, “What we’re trying to do is help the industry consume that data in a more efficient way.” Acknowledging the industry’s comfort with 2D paper-based drawings, he discusses the significant mental and physical energy, as well as time, required to produce these traditional documents.

Bentley’s approach bridges this gap by creating “smart sheets” that link these familiar 2D drawings with dynamic 3D models, thereby enhancing accessibility and understanding for all stakeholders involved in a project. This integration of traditional and modern methods is crucial for efficient project execution, from design through construction and maintenance, ensuring that the data is not only more comprehensively presented but also more efficiently consumed by all project participants.

Integrated and linked model, sheet and sectional views. Image: Bentley.
Integrated and linked model, sheet and sectional views. Image: Bentley.

 

Illustrating the possibilities Bentley offers with this technology, Rosam offers an example of calculating the minimum clearance for a bridge in a road project.“This task, traditionally labour-intensive and complex, requires attention to detail and precision,” highlights Rosam. “With traditional methods, engineers would need to conduct numerous cross-sections and calculations to identify the minimum clearance point. These processes are not only time-consuming but also prone to errors.”

By utilising advanced software and digital twins, engineers can more easily identify the required minimum clearance for bridges, leveraging a clash algorithm that compares multiple objects to determine the point of minimum clearance.

Live Section identifying minimum clearance location for a skewed bridge over a road. Image: Bentley.
Live Section identifying minimum clearance location for a skewed bridge over a road. Image: Bentley.

Rosam notes, “This streamlining significantly simplifies the review process compared to traditional methods. It’s a prime example of how a simple analysis tool can greatly enhance efficiency and effectiveness in processes, especially in checks required for safety and auditing purposes.”

Additionally, Bentley’s technology – Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, addresses sustainability challenges in construction. By optimising resources and reducing waste through digital models and efficient planning, Bentley contributes to more environmentally friendly construction practices. The incorporation of AI and data science within Bentley’s platforms is indicative of a trend towards more automated, intelligent construction processes.

Practically, Rosam points out that Bentley’s solutions significantly reduce design and construction errors, lower project costs, and improve project handoff times. This efficiency benefits not only construction companies but also offers value for money to clients, fostering a sustainable and cost-effective approach to construction.

As the construction industry continues to evolve, Bentley establishes itself as a leader, redefining digital delivery with Bentley Infrastructure Cloud to rise to modern challenges. The integration of data science, AI, and digital twin technology in their iTwin platform marks the advent of a new era in civil engineering. This era promises greater efficiency, enhanced sustainability, and an increased appeal to future engineers. For those keen to delve deeper into Bentley’s cutting-edge innovations with Bentley Infrastructure Cloud, visit their website.

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