Analysis

New tech – fresh opportunity for engineers

Bentley Systems CEO Greg Bentley is in the UK at present, highlighting the opportunities being opened up to engineers by new technology. Jon Masters met him to get the full explanation

Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, is keen to get across the power now available to engineers if they take advantage of latest technology. The opportunities are there, he says, for consultants to use their expertise to combine BIM and as-built data with new operational technology, so offering clients the key engineering analysis for the management of infrastructure.

“Technology is enabling better business models,” Bentley says. “People are connecting everything up, creating the Internet of Things with sensors and producing real time data on asset condition and performance. Engineers can take advantage of these models to provide new services for their clients.

“Asset owners or operators may want to own the data, but consulting engineers can show them the possibilities and provide the analysis to get the most from their assets.”

“The opportunity is there for engineers to take on this continuous survey service, for example, to show clients where and why rivers, drainage and streets flood as it happens.”

Another way of looking at this, Bentley says, is to consider it as the convergence of IT and operational technology (OT), connected by engineering technology (ET). As-built data – ‘BIM deliverables’ – are the IT, while the OT is the new smart stuff of asset operations – sensors, wireless communications and live streaming. Engineers can join all of this up, he says.

“Predictive analytics have become very powerful for assessing asset behaviour and performance. We don’t yet have smart cities, but the evident way forward is to sensor and measure everything. The as-built models of infrastructure exist or can be built, which if linked with ET – with engineers’ technology – then the picture is completed: Suddenly we have a far more powerful combination; operational decisions can be made based on captured data. Engineers can benefit by offering this as a service instead of just selling their hours spent on a project and handing over their designs.”

There is a crucial step in moving to this process – the creation of 3D photographic models of assets using devices such as drones and the software that Bentley is marketing. “The opportunity is there for engineers to take on this continuous survey service, for example, to show clients where and why rivers, drainage and streets flood as it happens,” says Bentley.

“Just like how the software industry has changed to provide continuous services, so too engineering consultants can provide operational services, using common asset data environments in the Cloud and the key analysis to help their clients.

“Of course some large asset owners and authorities will have the sophistication to drive this themselves, but many will not. Consultants can step in to help with new business models, Cloud based data and operational technology.”

With BIM, new modelling devices, connectivity and the Internet of Things, there is opportunity for engineers to be even more relevant, for their careers to build beyond producing drawings.”

Cloud based catalogues of standardised products are also being highlighted as in the “here and now”, Bentley says. In the highways sector, for instance, experience from Scandinavia is being applied to Highways England’s (HE) networks of projects.

“The UK started on its BIM journey before this became possible, but now we can aggregate and collect experiences, knowledge of products and components and promote greater consistency, performance and efficiency via a pallet of standardised products held in the Cloud,” he adds.

The HE’s BIM for roads group wants standardisation, reliability and experience shared. Effectively, what they are saying is that now there is the investment to add capacity, what’s needed is much more productivity per mile of road build

“Our suggestion is that engineering software can provide the solution via Cloud services and libraries of intelligent components – products and items built on or off site. We’re providing software for project delivery and asset performance and it can all be linked up much better now. Consultants can provide the service; clients the library of component data in the Cloud.

It’s exciting for engineers. With BIM, new modelling devices, connectivity and the Internet of Things, there is opportunity for engineers to be even more relevant, for their careers to build beyond producing drawings.”

 

 

If you would like to contact Jon Masters about this, or any other story, please email jmasters@infrastructure-intelligence.com.