Great strides are being made across the industry to roll-out the use of building information modelling (BIM) as a means to drive efficiencies and betterdecision making into construction projects.
The roads sector has often been described as furthest behind the curve, but American software firm Bentley sees no reason why this gap cannot close, and believes its latest v8i updates to its civils design products offer yet more concrete reasons for naysayers to leap on board the BIM bandwagon.
All of Bentley’s tools for civils design live under the Open- Roads umbrella and all meet the key BIM criteria of being wholly interoperable. These tools include InRoads, Geopak, MXRoad and PowerCivil.
For many clients, consultants and contractors this is a key requirement, as they look to improve the power of their technology while preserving their investment in existing civil engineering software - regardless of who made it.
Specifically, Bentley’s Open-Roads technology conforms to the US’s Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act and the UK’s BS1192 methodology for managing the production, distribution, and quality of construction information, which is crucial to implementing the government’s BIM mandate as set out in the its May 2011 Construction Strategy.
“The software understands the design intent by the way the user instructs it”
Bob Mankowski, Bentley
For the reluctant convert, Bentley is also keen to stress that while all of its software is rooted in a fully 3D model, it doesn’t have to appear that way to the end user.
“One of the key things I’d like to highlight is that its not a 3D or 2D proposition,” says Bentley vice president for simulation product management Bob Mankowski.
“With OpenRoads we have combined the best of 2D and 3D workflows into a common model. Obviously you are designing a 3D asset; but for a surveyor, say, they want to know the 2D curvature so you can draw a 2D highway alignment, and the software does the rest.”
How does it do that? Well, says, Mankowski, “there are a couple of interesting and innovative examples” of this in the latest releases.
First, Bentley has developed a mechanism by which a specific design intent - such as a specification that a junction be perpendicular to the main highway alignment - is set from the outset so that whenever the main alignment changes, so too do any junctions.
“The software understands the design intent by the way the user instructs it,” explains Mankowski.
“So if an element is modified, any related elements will recreate themselves based on stored relationships. The result is that you are assured that the project is engineered,” he says.
The second cute innovation is the introduction of what Bentley calls “dynamic civil cell functionality”. Through this, users can create commonly used 2D and 3D geometric configurations as civil cells - templates in other words - to speed up design production by using repurposed design layouts. Design, constraint, and relational intelligence are maintained between elements to ensure design standards are met.
Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) design services section is a long-time early adopter of BIM technology and has already taken an advanced look at the capabilities offered in Bentley’s new OpenRoads technology and in particular the opportunities offered by civil cells.
“We look forward to being an early adopter in order to realise exciting capabilities like the new civil cells functionality,” says MDOT engineering services manager Rachelle VanDeventer.
“This will allow us to create typical layouts and reduce repetitive work as civil cells can be used over and over, with the advantage of the software retaining design intent and automatically updating to meet each design condition encountered.”
“We’re inclined to move rapidly towards implementation and department-wide use,” says VanDeventer.