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Jury Duty

Bentley Systems Amazes at Singapore Conference

Richard Massey

I recently returned from The Year in Infrastructure 2019, a conference and awards gala hosted by Bentley Systems, Incorporated. The four-day October event in Singapore was a global celebration of technology and infrastructure, as industry experts selected 18 award winners from an impressive 571 project nominations, which came from more than 440 organizations representing over 60 countries.

I had the honor and privilege of serving on the jury for two categories, Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Networks, and Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants. Finalists were judged in part on their innovative use of Bentley software to design and deliver their projects. The presentations, given by three finalists in each category, were spirited, the deliberations difficult and, in the end, the winners deserved the accolades they received.

At the heart of this year’s conference was the concept of Digital Twins, a 6D delivery model that gives project owners a virtual replica of the physical asset, thereby allowing them to efficiently maintain and operate the asset throughout its lifecycle. The very definition of a value add, Digital Twins is expected to issue in a new era for project delivery, one in which the value of services replaces the simple selling of billable hours, and where static documents give way to living, breathing analytics that function well beyond the end of construction. Digital Twins necessitates the use of Cloud computing, a vast array of software, upskilling, and a commitment to the journey, not the destination.     

Bentley representatives stated quite clearly that Digital Twins in the AEC industry is still in its early stages, and that its implementation across all facets of design and engineering will require an ongoing effort. While this is certainly going to be a labor-intensive endeavor, it puts Bentley at the forefront of the digital movement, always looking to the future for the next set of challenges to overcome. As a global software company looking to outpace urbanization and the infrastructure it will require, that’s exactly where Bentley needs to be.

During the conference, Bentley took the opportunity to issue a series of press releases, two of which stood out as particularly newsy. Bentley announced the acquisition of global mobility simulation and analytics software provider Citilabs, as well as 3D and mobile mapping software provider Orbit Geospatial Technologies. The acquisitions will enhance Bentley’s ability to provide Digital Twins for proposed and existing roadway assets.

In what could prove to be a blockbuster, Bentley and Topcon Positioning Systems announced that a jointly owned company, Digital Construction Works, is open for business. Among other things, the new company is focused on improving and institutionalizing digital workflows in construction.

All of this is heady stuff, and if you add in the breakout sessions, keynote speakers, project presentations, and quality of the 1,000-plus internationals who attended the conference, you couldn’t leave Singapore without being impressed, or even overwhelmed. As a member of the 130-person press pool, I know a lot of people went back to their keyboards with more than enough to write about. That was the point, and in that regard,

Bentley succeeded.    

The location was fitting. Singapore, the glittering island city state of 5.6 million nestled off the south coast of Malaysia, is famed for its multicultural society and powerhouse economy. It’s also known for its robust public transit, forest of office and residential towers, and top-tier infrastructure. So, it came as no surprise that two of the category winners came out of Singapore.

One of them, the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant, is part of the S$6.5B Deep Tunnel Sewerage System Phase 2 project. Tuas includes BIM authoring across global offices, features the world’s largest membrane bio-reactor facility, will treat Used water and NEWater, will be energy self-sufficient, utilized nine Bentley brands during the design phase, and had a model-based tender process stipulating 6D outputs for time, cost, and asset management, thus enabling a Digital Twin. The project, by Jacobs Engineering Group and Singapore’s National Water Agency, PUB, edged out a desalination plant in Singapore, and a water purification plant in Houston, to win its category.

If the Tuas facility sounds like an amazing feat of engineering, it’s because it is. But at The Year in Infrastructure 2019 in Singapore, amazing was the only thing on Bentley’s agenda.

Richard Massey is managing editor of Zweig Group publications. He can be reached at rmassey@zweiggroup.com.