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Software CEO says 'synthetic capacity' will transform UK rail

BIM

The UK rail industry’s unique attributes make it “a great place to stimulate innovation” according to the chief executive of leading software development company Bentley Systems.

Bentley Systems chief executive Greg Bentley was speaking at the New Civil Engineer’s UK Rail conference.

He said he was excited by challenges, including the UK’s struggle to keep up with passenger demand.

“There are clients and owners who have said today that they can’t possibly afford the capacity increases that are needed, but they don’t seem too worried. Maybe the biggest takeaway from this day is the notion that we can’t possibly get there, even with efficiency and building capacity: someone said ‘we can’t build our way out of it’.

“So therefore there is this need for having our infrastructure work smarter, and in effect getting ‘synthetic capacity’ through information technology and brain power,” he said.

Bentley’s company has been working with Crossrail and offering cutting-edge building information modelling (BIM) technology. This will, among other things, help maintenance staff manage asset renewal.

Questioned on the industry’s future, Bentley said technologies were converging to provide more efficiency, increased safety and improved working conditions for engineers.

“There’s a convergence at this time. We have access to information technology (IT) and have operational technologies (OT) hooked up to sensors, controls, and providing intelligence. Tying things together you can start to make decisions using big data.

“So you have OT, and IT, and to make it all work, to make this synthetic capacity, we need the engineering technology (ET). The DNA in all of this is the engineering knowledge, used to create the models or drawings,” he said.

And rail has a strong future in the global economy, said Bentley.

”Rail is the greatest opportunity for the world-at-large, especially metros, but also looking at high-speed rail that’s linking cities; it [rail] altogether outweighs everything else our company offers software for.”

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