Geo Week News

November 5, 2014

What Do Bentley and Trimble Mean by "Construction Modeling"?

It’s about the right deliverables and data continuity “from BIM to bulldozer.”

LONDON — You may remember Bentley and Trimble announcing a “strategic alliance” a few years ago. Monday, as part of the Bentley Year in Infrastructure media day, CEO Greg Bentley spoke on some of the fruits of that alliance: a co-venture to advance BIM by promoting what they call “construction modeling.”

According to a press release, this venture can best be seen as Bentley and Trimble solving a problem: “Architects and engineers perform design modeling with BIM toolsets that support optioneering and analytical modeling, and enable owners to make better decisions for better-performing assets” through the operations and maintenance stage.” 

That may not seem like a problem to you, but the fact is that these deliverables are often too complex for the purposes of construction. As Bentley CEO Greg Bentley explained, “almost all significant construction is done from a 3D model, but the constructor usually doesn’t find the BIM model to be of use and starts over again to create their own constructible model. Then the design intent, the analytical modeling, the optioneering, and the semantics of the model that could be valuable for asset performance, maintenance, and operations will never be able to pay off those benefits for the owners because that model has stopped before construction and can never be updated as built.”

This is where “construction modeling” comes in. According to Bentley, it involves “the process of starting with the design modeling and referencing and overlaying that for the construction modeling so that the design modeling can be updated as built and provided for the owner’s benefit for operations and maintenance.” This construction modeling process, he explained, helps to keep the kind of ad-hoc modeling performed in the construction stage from “lobotomizing the potential of the better-performing asset for which the BIM advancement was undertaken by the design professionals.”

In other words, Bentley and Trimble make it easier to extract the proper deliverable at the construction stage while maintaining a master model that will remain in tact through the building’s lifecycle. 

Huw Roberts, VP of marketing, said of construction modeling that “it’s not about putting more data into the model, it’s about putting the right data into the model,” like procurement data, engineering data, and materials data. It’s about going from “BIM to bulldozer.”

In practice, as the release explains, this means that Trimble is taking advantage of Bentley’s i-models, Trimble and Bentley are using the schemas across their design and construction applications, the two companies are supporting the same standards, and some Bentley software being used in tandem with Trimble’s products.

This last part deserves a second look, and Roberts dug in a bit deeper during an AEC breakout session. “We’re really trying to do what’s best for our users,” he said. Next, he explained how construction modeling has already been implemented  for Kiewit construction: Bentley used the i-model format to create a construction schema with no design data in it, only construction data taken directly from OpenRoads. They put this directly into Trimble Business Center, which fed directly into a Caterpillar device to perform the work.

Such implementations are going to be typical, so don’t expect point-to-point product integration between Bentley and Trimble, says Roberts. “The strategy is really all about using the i-model as a secure container, putting only the data in the i-model that you need, and moving it through our collective platforms.” Think of this as an extension of Trimble’s new Connect product and Bentley’s own CONNECT edition, allowing easier data transfer between platforms.  

The announcement today is just the start, said Greg Bentley, “So look for much more to come by way of construction modeling.”

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