daratechPLANT 2007—Impressions from My Desktop
[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
daratechPLANT 2007—Impressions from My Desktop

Welcome to AECWeekly! As I did not attend daratechPLANT 2007 this year, I am delivering interviews about that event for you, as I get them. This issue will include discussions with Bentley Systems and Autodesk.

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances, Announcements, Financials, Contracts, Awards, New Offices, New Products, Around the Web, and Upcoming Events.

AECWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think.
Please send me your comments

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
daratechPLANT 2007—Impressions from My Desktop
by Susan Smith

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
As I did not attend daratechPLANT 2007 this year, I am delivering interviews about that event for you, as I get them.

Bentley Systems

Bentley has been extolling the virtues of the ISO 15926 standard as a vehicle to achieve interoperability between disparate systems for some years now, but this year they actually had products to demonstrate the use of the standard. Anne Marie Walters, marketing director, Bentley Plant spoke about what is new with Bentley and their direction.

“This year we are showing people the stuff we’ve been working on that can radically change work processes,” said Walters. There are three new areas of functionality and interoperability that will make huge differences to customers.

Bentley has acquired Design Power (PlantWise) and KIWI Software (ProSteel), extending Bentley’s DigitalPlant portfolio of products and addressing integration within front-end engineering design (FEED) and detailing for fabricators.

Bentley also demonstrated advances in interoperability between DigitalPlant solutions including knowledge-enabled FEED processes (AXSYS, PlantWise); integrated pipe stress and structural analysis (AutoPIPE, STAAD); and visual collaboration for construction (ProjectWise Navigator).

The third significant development for Bentley is the release of ProjectWise Navigator, a visual collaboration client for design review and analysis plus work packaging that supports iterative workflows with content that can be cycled back to the design team.

Product Demonstrations

“We need to be working around the neutral standard for interoperability because we can do a lot of point connections to each other if necessary,” explained Walters. “Everyone could be exchanging data using a neutral format and we’ve absolutely continued to state that ISO 15926 is that standard. This year at the show, we’re demonstrating the use of ISO 15926, not only in the piping environment, in the plant design environment, but we’ve used it to achieve interoperability with STAAD structural analysis and AutoPIPE, piping analysis and PDS. Also we’ve got another very exciting demonstration: our acquisition of Design Power, for which we’re using ISO 15926 data protocols and data exchange to almost immediately have seamless integration between our AXSYS conceptual to the 2D P&ID generation environment with their 3D layout. Within minutes in this demo, you can go from the output of the process simulators through the AXSYS process to generate the PFDs and the initial P&IDs to the schematic layout of the plant to then also be able to be to put 10 inch or 5 inch pipe to do the capacity, to route this piping in PlantWise and give you a cost. We can also plug the AXSYS products in there so you can not only produce an economic plant but a safe plant, and do that all at the front end. The ISO 15926 data format is so rich in terms of the data it can carry between applications, that you can automate this process between completely disparate systems.”

A demo of ProjectWise Navigator showed a site mainly modeled in PlantSpace, a skid unit modeled in PDS, and a power plant section modeled in AutoPLANT, on the back of a lorry modeled in 3D Studio and another part of the plant that’s modeled in 3D Warehouse. One environment brings those five datasets together doing construction sequencing and interference management on all parts of the model. “We actually bring the PDS model off the lorry in a construction animation and as it gets set on the Bentley Structural TriForma structure, and you can see where clashes are.”

The product costs $360/seat; if you have ProjectWise it comes with it at no extra cost.
There is one license for the Interference Manager Server service for the clash detection capability that you buy once for your project and once for your server, supporting however many users are on that server.

More on Interoperability

In his keynote address, CEO, Daratech, Charles Foundyller asked the audience if they were fundamentally happy with the functionality of their software tools, and they said yes. However, they were very unhappy with interoperability between those tools. According to CEO Bentley Systems, Greg Bentley, Bentley’s strategy is to be open to deliver interoperability.

The pressure is definitely on vendors to open up their software to industry standards and interoperability. According to Walters, ISO 15296 has been around for 20 years. One of the issues with adopting the standard is that there are very few people who are experts at it. It is an extensible, object model-based way of managing data. With the proliferation of object oriented architectures available today, hopefully more people will become familiar with how ISO 15926 works.

Walters stressed that vendors need someone policing the neutral environment providing independent verification services associated with it. “A lot of vendors have said they’re ISO 15926-compliant, but there’s no such thing because no one is testing compliance. What happens from an owner operator or contracting engineering perspective, is they still end up with huge interoperability problems because it’s Intergraph’s version of compliance as opposed to Bentley’s version of compliance. This is a place where FIATECH could add some value by providing a place to help owner operators and EPCs independently verify that data coming out of one system is able to be read to another system without loss of information, and be able to set this up as a service for projects so they can be assured that the data that the EPCs are providing is as expected against the ISO 15926 data model and reference data library. What projects really want is their own project set up and tested.”

How does the introduction of Autodesk into the plant marketplace affect Bentley?

“We actually welcome Autodesk’s entry into the plant market because their strategy seems to be to provide some functionally rich tools to make the CAD world move into data at a reasonable price point,” noted Walters.

“With Autodesk coming into it, it’s a real challenge to the big hefty data driven systems that both Intergraph and AVEVA provide, and this will get a whole raft of new users getting into the world of data which benefits us all. You don’t have to go to PDMS to get data, for example. This means that we’re talking about data now, rather than dumb DWG files.”

Bentley’s challenge to Autodesk is that they hope Autodesk is not going to deliver yet another proprietary data environment. Their newly introduced product, Autodesk P&ID, is an environment where the data is more important than the P&ID, or the diagram. And although there are not many details to date, Walters noted that that Autodesk is suing the Open Design Alliance for making DWG open. “So we hope they’re coming into this market with the view that the applications they’re creating will be open and they will also adopt the standard that is working.”

Bentley will be coming out with a new P&ID product which is so far prototyped, and customers will be able to test drive at the BE Conference in Los Angeles this coming. April. “The whole data structure [of the new P&ID product] is ISO 15926. It doesn’t use any proprietary data format whatsoever, it is totally CAD neutral, and the data is completely data neutral. So if any other vendor wants to interoperate with it, they’ll know exactly how to find the data, it is a completely open system,” said Walters.

Autodesk P&ID

I spoke to Mark Strassman, Vice President, Plant, at Autodesk University in November about the then-upcoming Autodesk P&ID, and will reiterate that conversation here, as the product has not undergone any significant changes since that interview.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
This week at daratechPLANT 2007, Autodesk announced its entry into the Plant Design market with that new product, Autodesk P&ID. Strassman said that Plant seems like a logical next step for Autodesk for a number of reasons. First off, Strassman said that 15 percent of the AutoCAD/LT installed base is in the plant market space. "Over 80 percent of the owner operators use AutoCAD," he said. Over the years, many tools have been developed for plant that are based on AutoCAD.

Strassman has been in product management, marketing and design for the Platform Technology Division for the past four years, where his focus was on AutoCAD/LT. In that time, he saw some unmet needs among customers: one being in the power and process market where the information needs of customers were not being met. Two, the need for an easy way to create illustrative presentation graphics, now taking the form of Autodesk Impression. The Plant group is now an entirely new business unit.

"The current high end, scalable plant tools are hard to implement, require database and ERP integration, a lot of IT involvement and are very hard to train on," said Strassman. "Autodesk has been a tacit player in this space for a long time, relying on our partners. The industry has grown quite a bit, there is a huge staffing shortfall, as all of the plant design firms and owner operators have more and more plants and they can't find enough people to design them. It can take six months or more to train people on these plant design tools, which costs the company a lot of money."

In contrast, Autodesk already has an installed base in the plant space, and the new Autodesk plant products will be based on AutoCAD. "It will be very easy to get up to speed on the products, within an hour to two days," claimed Strassman. What's more, Autodesk views plant as more than just the pipes or a plant: it involves civil, infrastructure, piping and structural, the machinery inside the plant, and building around the plant. Considering that they already have integrated, 3D modeling solutions for those other areas, Strassman said they feel they will have a more complete solution than other vendors.
Autodesk's customer-centric approach can work well here, as they can help existing customers define their problems. "We see a huge team of players working together: owner operators, engineers, structural engineers, all doing their part."

The plant lifecycle starts with the concept - process simulation, PFDs, FEED - P&IDs, instrumentation, equipment design, electrical, plant layout, plant safety, detailed - 3D modeling, analysis and project management, procurement - materials management, construction - visualization, simulation, manufacturing, start up - starting up a plant and operations - maintaining the plant. "In the plant design lifecycle this is the whole cycle," Strassman pointed out. "Our first product in P&ID is mainly in the FEED and concept areas. Change management will allow you to go back to your front end design and modify it." Autodesk P&ID will be the blueprint for the plant. New P&ID objects have been added that add just like AutoCAD blocks, so they can be dragged in with a lot of information attached to them, and they have relationships with each other. For example, the pipe knows where to connect to a valve. "It's much like Visio, where you connect things at connection points."

Civil, electrical and manufacturing engineers will make changes on it and share the information of that blueprint.

Plant and process data is all tagged, for example, piping has so much information between each valve and object in the plant. "We see with that all data -- it's relevant to not just plant, but to civil, geospatial, building," Strassman noted. Interoperability is key.
Plant lifecycle management tools must hook up to the high end systems databases of plant industry providers such as Intergraph and AVEVA. Autodesk will be offering specific database integration support.

The intelligent P&ID has intelligent data included with the drawings and is a powerful multiuser application. The data attached to your pipe drawing can be kept in either DWG files or in a high end database. Some users prefer the DWG file because it is easier to implement than the database; however, the database is high end and scalable. For example, contractors won't have their own database, so they can work on individual DWG files and hand it off to put in the owner operator's database.

3D plant design's key functionality includes:
- physical design
- piping, structure, equipment, etc.
- exact pipe length, shape
- ISOs for pipe fabrication
- Industry specific content
- Clash detection
- interoperability with other engineering disciplines

Although BIM is beginning to hit the scene with architecture, civil and structural, plant has had 3D information models for over ten years. However, you have had to install Oracle and spend tens of thousands of dollars a seat to implement it, according to Strassman. As with other Autodesk 3D models, civil, architectural, and MEP can work on the same model, make changes and have those reflected across the entire plant lifecycle.
Autodesk has a road map for the next three releases. The 3D piping product, in development, is using a lot of the same attributes from AutoCAD P&ID such as full model based design, full integration and change management.

The vision for the future includes XML and finding the proper search tools. Autodesk will not only provide individual plant products but also complete plant solutions. “We plan to support the [ISO 15926] standard as we move forward with new products. Sharing design data is central to our vision,” said Strassman.

Autodesk P&ID is being built completely in house. They have done all the software design for 3D piping as well, but are going through the process of deciding whether to build the entire product or to buy some technology. Strassman said they're looking around to fill holes for products they don't have.


Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced at daratechPLANT that it has acquired Design Power, a leading provider of design automation solutions used by major engineering, construction, and manufacturing firms, including Fluor, KBR, General Electric - Oil & Gas, Bayer AG, Emerson Motors Company, Robertson Ceco Corporation, NCI Building Systems, Inc., and the Selvaag Group.

Bentley Systems also announced that it has acquired all operations of KIWI Software, a leading provider of structural modeling, detailing, and fabrication software for industrial plants, buildings, and civil structures.

KIWI Software's flagship product line, ProSteel 3D, is a globally recognized solution for structural steel detailing and fabrication that supports multiple platforms, including AutoCAD, Inventor, and now MicroStation.


Cyon Research Corporation, host of the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (COFES), announced that high-tech visionary Bruce Sterling as the keynote speaker for COFES 2007™.

Bruce Sterling, author, journalist, editor, and critic, is best known for his eight science fiction novels, which explore life in future information-immersed culture. Sterling also writes short stories, book reviews, design criticism, opinion columns, and introductions for books ranging from Ernst Juenger to Jules Verne. His nonfiction works include The Hacker Frontier: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier (1992) and Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years (2003).

McLaren Software, an independent software vendor specializing in engineering-centric applications that help companies meet their intellectual work-management needs, announced that it will extend its software to function with AutoCAD P&ID 2007 software, Autodesk's new application for plant design. By extending the McLaren Enterprise Engineer application suite to support AutoCAD P&ID 2007, McLaren will help process and power customers manage the creation and use of engineering content.

Autodesk, Inc. demonstrated its ongoing commitment to education with a $17 million donation of software and training resources to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the students participating in the 2007 FIRST Robotics Competition. As Autodesk marks its 16th consecutive year as a FIRST Championship sponsor and the FIRST Robotics Competition official 3D and animation software supplier, it is offering a priceless education for tomorrow's engineers. Student participants will soon gain firsthand experience with Autodesk Inventor software, the world's best- selling 3D mechanical design product; and award-winning Autodesk 3ds Max, 3D modeling, animation and rendering software.


Deltek, provider of enterprise management software for project-focused organizations, announced total unaudited revenue exceeding $225 million for its fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2006, an increase in excess of 50 percent over the previous year. License revenue increased approximately 70 percent over the prior year. Revenues from professional services and maintenance were also significantly higher on a comparative basis.

This is the third consecutive year that Deltek's growth has exceeded 20 percent. Deltek's 2005 total revenue was $152 million, a 25 percent increase over 2004. See press release


Intergraph Corporation announced Eskom Holdings Ltd. has selected SmartPlant Enterprise as the core software suite to support its development of new power plant facilities. Working with Intergraph Systems South Africa, Eskom is implementing SmartPlant, including SmartPlant 3D, to facilitate the building of new electricity capacity to meet the increasing demands on South Africa's national power grid.

Intergraph Corporation announced Grenland Group ASA has selected Intergraph's SmartPlant Enterprise suite of plant design and information management solutions. Norway-based Grenland Group provides engineering, procurement and construction services to offshore marine oil operators and shipyards, specializing in drill ship, floating production, storage and offloading, and process plant design and construction.

Bechtel Corporation, one of the world's premier engineering, construction, and project management companies, is using Bentley's ProjectWise system to collaborate on the Jamnagar Export Refinery Project (JERP) in India. In both scope and complexity, the project rivals many of Bechtel's previous exceptional accomplishments, including Hoover Dam, the Channel Tunnel, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. JERP has a plot plan bigger than that of London and a target completion time of less than 36 months.


Oce, a leader in digital document management and delivery solutions, announced that the company is the second-year recipient of the Platinum Award for Onsite Service and Support in BERTL's 3rd Annual Readers' Choice Awards. The award recognizes Oce's total commitment to providing customers with world class service and support to maximize the availability and productivity of their digital printing systems. The BERTL Readers' Choice Awards are based on the cumulative findings from thousands of end-user surveys.

Autodesk, Inc. announced that Stantec Inc. has received a Revit BIM Experience Award for their effective integration of the entire Revit platform for improved design coordination, and their use of the Revit platform for mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) engineering. The Revit BIM Experience Award honors firms for their innovation and excellence in implementing the Revit platform for building information modeling (BIM) to create quality, complex designs and collaborate across the building design disciplines.

New Offices

CH2M HILL's Managed Services line of business, a global provider of end-to-end IT management solutions, announced as a result of exponential business growth, the opening of a new 5,000 square-foot data center facility with the option to expand to a total 20,000 square-feet.

New Products

Autodesk, Inc. announced that it is partnering with Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd. (IES) to further enhance the Revit software platform for building information modeling (BIM) to support sustainable design. At the 2007 AHR Expo, Autodesk will demonstrate a prototype of how the IES building performance analysis tools might be used in combination with Autodesk Revit Systems to generate accurate building performance analysis data. Such data can improve the decision-making process and empower architects and engineers to design better-performing sustainable buildings.

Intergraph Corporation announced the availability of SmartPlant 3D 2007. SmartPlant 3D delivers increased designer productivity for initial modeling, detail design and design modifications, and reduced time to produce and update intelligent drawings.

Intergraph Corporation announced the rebranding of MARIAN(R), Intergraph's market leading materials management solution, created specifically for the plant design industry, to SmartPlant(R) Materials. Now with enhanced integration within SmartPlant Enterprise, SmartPlant Materials is the most broadly implemented materials management solution for engineering, procurement and construction companies and owner/operators worldwide.

Intergraph Corporation announced the release of SmartPlant(R) Enterprise 2007. With this release, SmartPlant Enterprise offers an even more powerful suite of best-in-class solutions with which the world's leading owner/operators and engineering, procurement and construction organizations are managing the plant lifecycle. SmartPlant Enterprise delivers reduced cost of ownership, drives competitiveness, mitigates risk of project overruns and plant downtime, facilitates global project work sharing, and improves Return on Capital Employed.

Cimmetry Systems Corporation, an Agile Software company, announced the immediate availability of AutoVue 19.1c1 Client-Server, Web Edition for SharePoint Server 2007, Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft(TM) Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.

VersaCAD/Parking Structure offers a breakthrough in productivity for architects and engineers who design parking structures. Combining the experience of Gary Miller with the versatility of VersaCAD, this software promises payout in one project.

The software includes a series of macro routines that run on top of VersaCAD 2006 for Windows. It is delivered including: CD, VersaCAD reference manual, parking structure implementation manual plus one year of updates and support. The software is easy to install, learn and use. The user can be productive within one day and proficient in a week.

Mechdyne Corporation announced that its VRCO software division released Conduit™ for Google Earth™ Pro 4.0, a visualization middleware package that enables stereoscopic display of desktop-based imagery and viewing in multi-planar, large-scale immersive and interactive displays such as the walk-in CAVE® and reconfigurable FLEX™ wall-size display systems available from Fakespace Systems, VRCO’s sister company.

Around the Web

Open Book, by Susan Smith, ArchitectureWeek - The new home of the Bridge Academy, a secondary school in a low-income area of Hackney, London, will be a complex seven-story, terraced building, fitted into a relatively small site. With a focus on mathematics and music, the school is one of many specialist academies being built by the British government. It is sponsored by UBS, a global financial services firm.

Upcoming Events

International Builders' Show 2007
Date: February 7 - 10, 2007
Place: Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, FL USA
With more than 1,600 exhibitors offering the latest building products, 200 plus educational sessions, and four days of great networking opportunities, it’s important that you make the most of your time at The International Builders’ Show®. The My Show Planner will help! With My Show Planner, you can ensure that you won’t miss any of the exhibits, events, and educational sessions you want to attend by adding them to your schedule before you leave for Orlando!