June 11, 2007
BE Conference 2007 – Platform and Applied Research
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BE Conference 2007 – Platform and Applied Research
by Susan Smith
Bentley’s BE Conference 2007 held in Los Angeles in May attracted over 2,000 attendees. Some new venues were held, one being the BE Executive Symposium, a panel moderated by SparPoint’s Bruce Jenkins. The four diverse presentations of the symposium were presented by Buddy Cleveland, senior vice president, Bentley Software, who spoke on the newly formed Applied Research Group at Bentley; Doug Eberhard, CIO of Parsons Brinckerhoff, who presented their approach to dealing with some issues facing infrastructure professionals with sustaining both physical and professional infrastructure; Sarah Slaughter, a doctor and profession at the MIT Sloan School, who talked about how
research can work with industry to explore and test theory that industry doesn’t have time to do. Jim Amerault, retired vice admiral with three stars spoke about his work for MELE Associates as COO, planning for smooth and coordinated response to natural disasters.
Bell South has been combining GIS and GPS technologies to be able to sustain their COMS infrastructure. After a major hurricane, there are many services to get back up and running as soon as possible. In many cases is people send a surveyor out to the site, looks at the site, the site perhaps wasn’t recognizable as the same place he visited the last time he was there, and he perhaps doesn’t have the information to tell him specifically what should be there. This can make it difficult for him to know which types of people and what kind of supplies need to be sent out there to fix it. Bell South has all their assets catalogued and located inside a geospatially managed
database. They drive down the road with their GPS and their GPS communicates with the GIS database. MELE Associates is exploring ways for the U.S. Navy to catalogue all their landbased assets.
An interesting case study was award winner Bechtel for their extension to an oil refinery in India. The original refinery built ten years ago is about the size of central London, and it will be doubled in size to extend its capacity. Using ProjectWise, they have shortened the length of time it will take to complete construction from 45 months to 36 months. They have also reduced the number of people working on the project but spread them between nine offices in five different countries. With ProjectWise on the project to connect all of the people with all the information across this distributed enterprise, they have identified measurable savings. “In just three months of
implementing ProjectWise it paid for itself,” reported Joe Croser, global marketing director, Platform Products, in a later interview. “We worked with an independent accounting firm called SmartGroup LLC, to assess what value Bechtel has got out of ProjectWise on this project. They measured ROI as being three months which is four times faster than the industry norm for enterprise content management systems. The ROI then accelerated, so after 12 months they were around about 11 times, 18 months into the project their ROI on ProjectWise is 19 times what it cost them.”
For the MicroStation Champions Program, Bentley took four very experienced MicroStation users, and these users (“champions”) offered advice and answered questions in a “tips and tricks” presentation. “Tips and tricks” are always among the most popular presentations at the conference, and the presentation this year attracted a full house.
An email address was provided for additional audience questions and the audience was invited back on Thursday, when the most frequently asked questions were shared with everyone.
“Athens” is the codename to the next major release from Bentley. “It’s not just going to be MicroStation it’s going to be MicroStation, ProjectWise, and all our vertical applications as well – civil, building, plant etc.,” explained Croser. “As we presented and talked about Athens, we’re really talking about it in the context of four themes: conceptual design, dynamic views, distributed projects and geocoordination. Really those four themes, although they are development specific to Athens, are core to the business of our users on a daily basis. They’re themes that we address with our software. They are themes that we have
frequent discussions with our users about, hence why we are taking those four areas of work and putting additional effort into them as we develop toward the Athens release.”
The Conceptual Design tools are “SketchUp-like” in their ease of use, with new tools for sculpture modeling, directly manipulating surfaces and solids. Modeling in MicroStation is fairly agnostic when it comes to surfaces, solids and meshes, because MicroStation has the ability to use almost any geometric representation in the solid/surface/mesh lineup. Historically users have had to master different toolsets within MicroStation to be able to work with solids, surfaces and meshes. Conceptual design in Athens provides a single toolset that will enable you to manipulate any of those geometry types with a reduced number of tool options, which make it much easier to learn
and use, rather than picking up different tools to deal with your model.
Dynamic Views, discussed in
last week's GISWeekly, is a feature which allows you to render elements with a view either by element or region. You can model a building in 3D and you can slice plans, sections and elevations and look in any view at any time, automatically and dynamically seeing your drawing sheet layout as you would expect to see it for a 2D representation for a drawing. Yet it gives you a viewed life in the model and you can work in any view at any time.
Distributed Projects relate to ProjectWise and additional enhancements. There are two major enhancements. 1) a continuation of previous work as it relates to integration with Microsoft Office SharePoint and with the Athens release. “We will be able to use the SharePoint web parts and we have to expose ProjectWise managed content through the SharePoint portal browser,” explained Croser. “We’ll be able to have full check in and check out and read/write capabilities within that environment. At the moment, when we display an exposed ProjectWise content through a SharePoint portal, we do it just for view only so people can access documents but they can’t
make changes to them and they can’t write back to ProjectWise. With Athens we’ll be able to write straight back to ProjectWise.”
2) Delta file transfer can be used if you have a big file of any kind such as Power Point, CAD, or image file, and you store it on a system somewhere centrally where people can get it. When you check it out and download it to your computer, you wait while the bulk of that file is moved across the network. You might make a small change to it and push it back, then you have to move the whole bulk back again because it’s a file. With Delta file transfer, it will do a check and see what’s changed and only move the part of the file that has been changed back to the file. “In performance testing we’ve conducted so far, it makes some large files 90 plus percent
faster to move around the network for sharing,” said Croser. “It’s really important now that many people are using ProjectWise.” Croser said that the ENR top 500 design firms list came out a week or two ago. From the 2006 list, 42 of 50 leaders in ENR 500 now use ProjectWise.
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