BE Conference 2008 Report – Sustaining Infrastructure

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Industry News
BE Conference 2008 Report – Sustaining Infrastructure
By Susan Smith

BE Conference 2008, held this year in Baltimore, Md., attracted over 2,000 attendees from 50 countries.

A new website at; the new BE Communities, where members can connect with similar minded members, and create a profile much like you do on LinkedIn; and new green and white business cards for Bentley employees were some changes to take note of. Green was a theme of the conference: Bentley is going green, pointing out that Bentley technologies were used in Baltimore’s Clearwater Mills’ design of the first waterwheel powered trash collector which collects trash that gathers in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Greg Bentley, CEO Bentley Systems

Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems
Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems
The theme of this year’s conference, “Best Practices for Sustaining Infrastructure,” extended far beyond a basic theme to shape the conference in a cohesive way. “The quality of life depends on the quality of our infrastructure,” Bentley noted. “Sustaining our environment is not incompatible with sustaining our markets.”

The financial returns on the environmental effort will be forthcoming, said Bentley, suggesting that they encouraged public private partnerships in those areas that have been traditionally funded by taxation.

Bentley Systems generated continuous revenue growth of 16% to reach nearly $450 million in 2007, according to a Daratech report. Over $200 million of that revenue was attributable to geospatial. “Autodesk no longer leads us by half,” said Greg Bentley.

In its green effort, Bentley has engaged the help of leading environmental consultants to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and seeks to reduce that footprint 15% per colleague by the end of 2009, by reducing business travel, and growing their virtual online learning with Bentley LEARN and LEARN Server, among other efforts.

Greg Bentley told the audience that “almost every one of your organizations will be involved with integrated project delivery in the future.”

Collaboration is where the greatest gains are expected from IT, Bentley explained, segueing the talk to Bentley ProjectWise, which he described as a “cost performing asset.”

To Bentley’s credit, 80% of ENR top 50 design firms rely on ProjectWise to collaborate globally. For example, the NYSDOT ProjectWise usage connects their ProjectWise real time configuration to show all their 3,400 users across the state – who have access to more than a million DGN files, with functions that span the lifecycle of transportation.

ProjectWise can be used online for public private partnerships, and with the ProjectWise WebView Server which requires no licenses, more people beyond CAD professionals can use it.

The various educational offerings from Bentley include classroom learning closer to your workplace, regional training events, some of which can be co-located with BE user group meetings. Live distance learning via the Internet which offers live collaboration with an instructor, eliminates travel time, cost and waste.

Acquisitions for 2007 included:

• ECT promis*e, offering productive and accurate electrical design that takes advantage of repository of over 2,000 parts
• Hevacomp from the UK. Tony Baxter, formerly of Hevacomp and now director Bentley Building, said that in the UK, you must submit an energy model accounting for all energy consumption. A 30-year old company, Hevacomp provides tools for electrical and mechanical building design, including heating, cooling, pipe and duct sizing and energy analysis software.
• EDSL (Energy Design Solutions Limited) provides energy analysis modeling, and offers worldwide distribution to Bentley of TAS software for dynamic simulation of forced air flow.
• LEAP Software provides analysis and design products for concrete bridges, and is an industry standard across North America. With the trend toward concrete construction over steel, the new Bentley product will combine ProConcrete 3D, companion to ProSteel 3D, into ProStructures.

Bridge design and construction is a foremost offering in Bentley’s Civil division. According to Lee Tanase, VP Bentley BriM, the goal is to integrate Bentley applications and provide data downstream beyond the bridge analysis to other phases like construction fabrication, and maintenance.

Exciting developments abound in Bentley’s new Applied Research division which attendees could view on the exhibit floor. The new research division goes where no ordinary R&D or product development team can go. As research director for computational design, Volker Mueller said, “In Applied Research, you are free to fail.”

That dynamic allows pure freedom of exploration into product or non-product areas, exploring the ‘what-ifs.’ Some recent innovations include:

1) Dynamic plots with special redlining pens that record your conversation and notations while drawing which can be imported back to your designs.

2) Augmented reality technology that allows you to display a 3D model on top of a drawing. Using a portable device equipped with a camera, a MicroStation user can view the 3D model that corresponds to a drawing from different points of view, the model being superimposed on top of the image of the drawing as if it was extruded from it, simply by moving around the drawing and pointing at it with the camera.

3) A Z Corp 3D printer (Z Corp was an exhibitor at the show) can print labels, logos and text around and on top of a physical 3D model. You can create an “interactive” 2D barcode and with software added to a camera phone, it can read the barcode code.

4) Another demonstration showed models being viewed on portable devices based on the user’s orientation. An ultra mobile PC was equipped with an orientation sensor, that was used to calculate the user’s orientation. The model was rendered in MicroStation from the same orientation, in real time, as if the model was virtually located “around the user”. The user could then view the model simply by moving the ultra mobile PC around, without using a mouse or keyboard.

5) The construction monitoring pod showed a tablet PC equipped with a webcam and a GPS, enabling a user visiting a construction site to monitor the progress of the work by viewing the model of the building from his current geographic position. He or she can take pictures of the site and store them with geolocalization information in the DGN, for review back at the office.

6) The collaborative review pod showed a networking technology that lets two or more users of MicroStation connected to the Internet to view and markup a model simultaneously with high efficiency, regardless of model size or network speed.

7) An integrated optimization modeling approach has been developed for predicting whereabouts and size of water leakage hotspots in water distribution systems. It leverages the usage of well-established hydraulic model and enables site engineers to focus on the most likely leakage areas to exactly locate leakage pipelines, thus to achieve cost-effective water loss reduction.

GenerativeComponents (GC) derived from the first Applied Research Group and is now a commercial product offered with the purchase of MicroStation or individually. Fostered by community based development, the product was quickly embraced by architects who wanted to explore a range of alternatives cost effectively. Those enthusiastic users have gone on to become the SmartGeometry Group.

Mentioned was Bentley’s reliance on ISO 15926 for interoperability, intraoperations and persistence in process and plant information. The product OpenPlant PID was introduced early this year, and newly announced is the OpenPlant PDx Manager which makes it possible for users of both MicroStation and PDS to access data in ISO 15926.

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