In the press conference opening 2017’s Year in Infrastructure in Singapore, Bentley CEO Greg Bentley zeroed in on one of the greatest challenges facing the continued development of infrastructure. “The problem is not the technology,” he said. “It’s convincing a very conservative group of owners and engineers of the advantages of the technology,” and then motivating them to use it.
To solve this problem, Bentley and Topcon have announced a “constructioneering academy.” This learning initiative will help bring construction professionals up to speed on the constructioneering workflows developed by Bentley and Topcon.
What is constructioneering?
Bentley describes these workflows, which connect Bentley’s cloud services and Topcon’s cloud services, as a “process of managing and integrating survey, engineering, and construction data” to streamline work and improve project delivery.”
Here’s an example workflow: Surveyors gather site conditions using a Topcon laser scanner and UAV, then process it into a reality mesh in Topcon’s software (powered by Bentley’s ContextCapture). Next, using cloud services, the project transmits this data to the field, where workers create digital engineering models to use for 3D machine control of automated construction machinery. The information gathered by the machinery is then fed back to the engineering model for further use.
Learn in the field
Greg Bentley explains that he sees the academy as similar to its other Bentley education initiatives, which are dedicated to teaching users how to use digital workflows in BIM, reality modeling, and construction. The difference, he points out, is that the new academies will “look like hundred-acre playgrounds for equipment and engineers to work together. The software will be working in the cloud, but the machines themselves are also part of the academy.” They will focus on every piece of the workflow, including the software, hardware, as well as “the work processes that can unlock so much.”
As Topcon CEO Ray O’Connor explains, Topcon is offering its own expertise as well as many of its locations worldwide where the company teaches users how to get the most out of Topcon products in field conditions.
Long-term benefits: increase investment, bring automation
Having “literally rolled up our sleeves on on construction sites” to test constructioneering in the field, Bentley and Topcon are confident that customers who use these workflows will improve data sharing and project delivery. However, Greg Bentley argues that this is only the most obvious effect of the academies, which will solve much larger problems for the infrastucture industry.
The first is a lack of adequate investment. “I was here in Singapore in May with the McKinsey Global Infrastructure Initiative,” he said to the gathered press, “and a lot of the conference had to do with the question, Why aren’t infrastructure projects bankable? There’s more than enough investment in the world to fund infrastructure—the the impediment is the variability and risk in project outcome.”
Through the constructioneering academy, he argues, Bentley and Topcon can teach construction professionals to “make those projects bankable so that private investment comes in.” He continued to say, “that’s the single thing we can do best. Make these projects bankable and get all the engineers going digital to beat the infrastructure deficit so that the world has an improving quality of life.”
A second benefit of the academies, says Ray O’Connor, is that they will help the two companies to understand the gaps between engineering and construction. This, in turn, will help them to “create automation across every segment of the workflow for construction.”
“Automation is here in construction,” added Bentley. “It’s here in heavy civil construction. But there is so much backlog, that it is a very great shame not to be taking further advantage of it.”
For more information about the constructioneering academies, see the initiative’s dedicated website here. Stay tuned for more reports from YII2017.