February 05, 2007
daratechPLANT 2007—Impressions from My Desktop
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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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.

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Industry News

daratechPLANT 2007—Impressions from My Desktop

by Susan Smith

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.

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