Bentley software acquisitions

By Sandy Guthrie17 November 2011

Greg Bentley, CEO Bentley Systems.

Greg Bentley, CEO Bentley Systems.

US-based infrastructure software firm Bentley Systems has been active in buying a number of companies and forging new alliances, while at the same time introducing new functions for its software.

The company announced the acquisitions at a conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where it also presented its 2011 Be Inspired Awards to projects around the world.

Bentley has bought Pointools, which it describes as the leading hardware-neutral provider of point cloud software technology. It said the acquisition would integrate point cloud processing in innovative ways throughout its portfolio.

Point clouds, usually created by 3D scanners, are used to make 3D CAD models.

According to Bentley, while point cloud images are now cost effective to capture, they have served only for temporary and task-specific purposes. It said this was because the scale of the data files could overwhelm both storage and query accessibility.

The acquisition of UK-based Pointools, according to Bentley, allows it to go beyond embedding the Pointools powerful Vortex engine in its MicroStation, to assimilate point cloud processing and data management through Bentley's ProjectWise and AssetWise platforms.

Bentley has also bought FormSys, based in Perth, Australia, to expand its reach in the offshore energy market. Bentley said its SACS offerings for the design and analysis of floating structures would be increased.

iPad/iPhone app

A new Structural Synchronizer View iWear app from Bentley allows interaction with structural models anywhere, on an iPad or iPhone, and soon Android and Windows Phone mobile devices.

New Bentley agreements with Abobe Systems and Bluebeam Software - provider of PDF creation, markup and editing tools for architects, engineering, construction and operations (AECO) firms - will lead to pdfs to being useful at every stage of a project, according to Bentley. It said this would be the case even as information is transformed from design to construction to operations, and back again.

An expansion of the Bentley relationship with Microsoft and its commitment to the Microsoft Azure Platform partner programme will include the new Bentley Transmittal Services. This will enable AECO companies accurately and securely to package, deliver, receive and track transmittals through a dashboard portal.

Bentley has made is AECOsim Energy Simulator available, and its AECOsim Building Designer software, currently part of the company's early adopter programme, will be available commercially in the first quarter of 2012.

It said AECOsim Building Designer provided multi-disciplinary models for design, simulation, analysis and documentation of buildings. It said the software's capabilities helped users lower project costs, save time, reduce project risk and enhance overall project quality, while providing owner-operators with higher returns on their investments.

Speaking at the Amsterdam conference, CEO Greg Bentley said, "Bentley is regaining momentum from before the downturn." He added that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) were particularly dynamic. "BRIC countries are seeing 10 times the pace of growth of the rest of the world for Bentley - and I think that is so for the market as a whole."

Awards

The 2011 Be Inspired Awards attracted entries from 270 organisations in 42 countries. Five panels of jurors selected the winners from 57 finalists.

Mr Bentley said of the finalists, "Their innovative use of information modelling and best practices has resulted in a legacy of intelligent, better-performing infrastructure that will serve many generations of people around the globe, improving quality of life and helping sustain the environment."

The winners included a €105 million ($142.5 million) government office complex in Groningen, the Netherlands. Housing the national student loan administration and national tax offices, it was designed by UNStudio. It won the Innovation in Building award. Bentley said the building information modelling-enabled design resulted in a fully-integrated, intelligent design approach to sustainability.

The Innovation in Construction award went to Jacobs for automating WorkFace Planning (WFP). It was contracted for engineering, procurement and construction services on a diesel desulphuriser project at Corpus Christi, on the Gulf Coast of Texas, US. It said that using Bentley's ContructSim for WFP allowed it to identify constraints and resolve issues effectively. It is estimated that it saved 1,000 man hours, improved productivity by 11%, and reduced rework to less than 0.5%.

Jacobs was also involved in the project that won the Innovation in Bridges award. With HDR and TY Lin International, it won for the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge - part of the €178 million ($240 million) Hoover Dam Bypass project in the US.

The 580m-long bridge is situated 270m above the Colorado River, anchored into the canyon's steep cliffs. Extensive analysis of the extreme site conditions was necessary before the alignment and bridge type was selected. The bridge is a concrete-steel hybrid arch - a first for the US.

Stopford Projects won the award for Innovation in Structural Engineering for work on a 19th century soda ash plant in Winnington, UK. It was commissioned to conduct a structural survey as part of an ongoing asset management and maintenance strategy. The resulting intelligent 3D model was said to enable rapid and precise mapping of the entire structure, and supported future plant maintenance.

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