June 05, 2006
Bentley Plant – A Distributed Approach to Projects
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Bentley Plant - A Distributed Approach to Projects
by Susan Smith
The problem with the lack of engineers in the workforce has wrought significant changes in the types of solutions offered for plant and process, according to Rob Whitesell, vice president, Bentley Plant in his vertical keynote at BE. The way projects are done has changed from a process whereby you would bring together all parts of the project into one location, with one big project team working together to a more distributed approach. In his vertical keynote, Whitesell spoke about being able to support projects and enterprises that are globally distributed so that the teams are not necessary working in the same office or even connected to the same system.
The keynote encompassed three demonstrations that supported what Bentley introduced earlier this year at daratechPLANT. The focus was on what is being done within ProjectWise and MicroStation V8 XM Edition to support collaboration across the internet.
For example, the tools in the XM Edition of PlantSpace flag where someone is working on the same project. If someone has worked on something somewhere else, it significantly impacts other people because they've added new things to the design. Before their changes are actually accepted back into the model there can be an approval process to accept those changes, which is called management of change.
Also demonstrated was how the same tools can be used not just within the Bentley design environment, but ProjectWise in particular can manage third party models, and bring them in together with PlantSpace or AutoPLANT.
XML is accepted globally as a good transport system to carry information between systems. It is being used to carry packets of data between different applications. With the growth of neutral or open standards based on XML, such as XMLpLant, there is more focus on it.
XMLpLant is an XML format which combines the data structure of ISO15926 and the 3D graphics elements of the STEP standards, ISO10300. XMLpLant is a very robust exchange mechanism, between PlantSpace and PDS, and taking both the graphics and the data of AutoPLANT and PlantSpace. XMLpLant is also a very robust transport mechanism for handling complex 3D models in the plant industry. Bentley and AVEVA have adopted it. Hatch, a customer is using XMLpLant to do project in PDF and PlantSpace and fully exchange models between the two.
The same Microsoft .NET technology that allows you to drag and drop Word to Excel to PowerPoint, taking the graphics as well, and XML is what is layered around the engineering content layer in core MicroStation and ProjectWise.
Project interoperability for XM Edition updates include:
- Project administrator creates PlantSpace projects
- Same database connection and data source
- Shared Isogen styles
- Share tags and properties with Bentley Plant applications
- Data manager
- Data Sheets
- Instrumentation and Wiring
One of the key things that the new MicroStation XM platform allows is that there is no need for the abstraction layer of JSpace to take an abstract of the model to be able to view it in Navigator. Now it's possible to view the full 3D model in a design review workstation without having to take an abstract of that into a lower graphics level. MicroStation has built in streamlined graphics so that if you're only reviewing something in a model it knows to only display certain things in the screen, so you don't have to save as a review model - you review straight. It keeps all the models in sync with each other.
It also has enhanced the ability to bring the AutoPLANT and PlantSpace core functions together. Whitesell said they are not aiming for one single design environment because we see value in having the low cost easy to use start up abilities that AutoPLANT gives us with AutoCAD and the more complex rules driven engine that PlantSpace has got. Bentley is trying to have as much common code as possible between the two design environments in things like the interface to ISOGEN. They are producing Isometrics in the same way, i.e., that code, the core project database and the specs and the catalogs will be the same core code.
Scott Migliore's PowerPoint outlined what's new in XM Edition of PlantSpace and AutoPLANT:
XM Edition Highlights include:
- Spec driven cable tray
- Improved cable tray graphics
- New parametric Equipment Types
- Added default Datums to equipment
- Improved equipment Graphics
- Symbolic 3D valves
- Resymbolized drawing output
- Single line piping
- Visible piping centerlines for double line
- Symbolic valves and fittings
- Many new Catalogs and Component Types
Still provided as DAT files but produced from same source as AutoPLANT (MDB)
ProjectWise Integration includes:
- ProjectWise Explorer authentication (single login)
- ProjectWise Explorer now Creates and edits Project aware AutoPLANT functional and physical documents
- ProjectWise Explorer can copy a model or document
- ProjectWise manages generated documents
- Loop Drawings
- Xrefs managed by ProjectWise / ODMA environment
- No more file system / pathing dependencies
- Support for Remote Projects
- ProjectWise in one database Plant project in another
“Certainly PlantSpace benefits from all the developments MicroStation has in terms of being able to support the DWG formats,” said vice president of Marketing Anne-Marie Walters. “With AutoPLANT we are building straight on top of DWG. They do try to use as much of the core technology as they can from the MicroStation development side in terms of driving the printers and plotters. But the AutoPLANT team has to work directly on top of AutoCAD. We're quite expert in that area as well as on the Civil side with their NX products as well.”
Bentley is a leader in overall plant software sales for 2005; it is one of the top 500 ENR design firms. Interestingly, sales of Bentley piping is not separated so that AutoPLANT and PlantSpace products are tracked independently. Walters said that when a customer comes to order he just clarifies whether he wants the AutoCAD or MicroStation version. “We actually report on just Bentley piping. We can't really tell the difference between what we sell based on AutoCAD and what we sell based on MicroStation.”
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