Sept/Oct 2013

Steve Jolley, director of product management for construction at Bentley Systems, www.bentley.com, Exton, Pa., has roughly 30 years experience in design, construction, and operations. This extensive background has instilled in him the importance of matching up good practices and processes with the right people and technology in order to best manage data for the lifecycle of a capital project. Jolley sits down with Constructech to discuss where we are presently as well as where we are headed with respect to accurately managing data for the lifecycle of a project.

Constructech: From your perspective, why is the idea of being able to effectively manage data for the lifecycle of a project such a challenge?

Jolley: Stepping back a bit, when you talk about managing the lifecycle of a project, one of the things that many in this industry are looking at is asset lifecycle information management, or ALIM. This covers everything from clients that have a portfolio-management aspiration all the way through to all the players that fit into the sector. ALIM is something that we at Bentley are very much focused on, making sure the information can move throughout that entire lifecycle so that, for example, engineering design information can be reused or repurposed to help facilitate projects initiated in the operations phase. Likewise, it’s great if knowledge gained in operations can be applied to the future design phase of a similar facility.

Asset portfolio management is for owners who have one or multiple assets that they need to look after. Generally, they are managing their portfolio of assets and, at certain points during the operational phase, they’re making sure that they are fulfilling the operational needs of business in terms of performance and efficiency. In addition, they’re really looking at operational costs and budgets. To an extent, they are also managing churn, and that presents an ongoing exercise of managing change. So it’s during the operational phase that issues are identified, and as a result, the operational team may recommend a change to the asset going forward. So you have the beginning of the lifecycle in which the asset is being run and certain things happen inside that asset portfolio that ultimately require change. Other things that could spark change are growth—or the need for growth—in the business, opportunities for new revenue, a general increase in productivity, and other factors that necessitate general expansion and drive capital projects.

All the while, you have data sitting within that asset portfolio that needs to be passed on to those capital projects. So the owner effectively has a lot of information consisting of drawings, specifications, information models, and other business and engineering content, that in an ideal world, would all link together in order to help project and operations teams make informed decisions.

Constructech: So then let’s talk about all this data and the challenges that you describe in managing the data. Does this better management of the data need to start early?

Jolley: When a new project starts, the first thing the owner does is put together a system of requirements to meet primary objectives. That means the team needs to take those capital requirements and deliver on them.

What’s needed is assurance when the capital projects are kicked off, the requirements that are requested by the client will be fully met and delivered during that capital project phase. So we need to provide project-information management that enables the capital delivery team to prove to the client it will deliver as promised.

We then need to handover the information from the capital phase to the operational phase in a ‘hands-on’ fashion such that there is continuity in data reuse and an ongoing exchange of useful information across the lifecycle. There’s an immense amount of data exchange and control that needs to take place throughout that complete lifecycle. Currently, these processes are being managed in a fairly inefficient way, with a lot of legacy information sitting in old systems and Excel spreadsheets.

Reducing this inefficiency through information mobility is a major focus of Bentley. This mobility extends from the capital phase, where our information modeling solutions allow designs to be created with constructability in mind, and continues into construction, where our ProjectWise servers and services accelerate teaming and facilitate integrated projects. But it also encompasses the operational phase, where our AssetWise servers and services for operational and engineering integration applications facilitate best asset performance, extend asset life, and ensure operational safety—helping to achieve intelligent infrastructure and maximize operational efficiency.

Bentley has been developing a number of industrial-strength apps that extend this information mobility to everyone from construction workers in the field to operations teams—giving them access to crucial data on mobile devices, including iOS and Android technology. For example, our Field Supervisor Bentley App for the iPad extends the reach of information securely managed by ProjectWise and eB, as well as data stored in other user repositories, to construction workers in the field—providing both online and offline access. As a result, field workers are now uniquely empowered to quickly and confidently make on-site decisions based on a unified view of relevant, current, and complete project information.

And our APM Supervisor Dashboard Bentley App gives operations and maintenance management teams an at-a-glance, actionable, 24×7 view of asset health key performance indicators on smartphones, tablets, and other devices. In addition to providing supervisors, even off-site, with uninterrupted operations and safety dashboards, the new app empowers them to respond to alarms and perform approvals via server connectivity.

Constructech: So, in essence, it sounds as if we are at a point of struggling between the point solution versus fully integrated information, which has caused this disconnect in the process of managing the full lifecycle of an asset. Correct?

Jolley: Yes. What we have identified is that most of the technology being used today is extremely good. However, it generally exists as a point solution and does not provide a level of integration for the information. That’s where ProjectWise comes in. It better enables the project side information, pulls together all of the technical information, and manages it in one place.

Bentley has also looked at all the project information, including 3D BIM models, technical specifications, drawings, and other information that relates to the technical management of documents. This includes document control and communications, project management systems, configuration and contract management, and so on, all of which falls on the project information side.

When comparing a point solution to an integrated environment, a siloed approach never helps improve the efficiency of the entire lifecycle process. The integration of the information and the methods of data exchange from one group to another become extremely important. This all goes back to the original point I made about ALIM and the need for information to be able to truly pass throughout the lifecycle. At the same time, we as a technology provider need to ensure that we can be as open as possible and can leverage the standards that are developing globally.

Constructech: Does this integrated set of data make it easier to tackle such long-term objectives as managing the energy footprint of a facility or perform cost analysis?

Jolley: For years, we as an industry have been looking to tie together BIM and lifecycle costing systems. In a BIM environment, you are creating objects that know effectively what they are, where they are, what they are made of, if they are being delivered in accordance with specifications, and so on. But all too often, those intelligent objects are not being linked to lifecycle costing systems, which have performance ratings compared against the specifications.

Data is available that contains lifecycle usage information, which is generally operational performance data. What we can do is link that data with lifecycle systems downstream so owners can see how long a facility in its current state will last.

Such information can, in turn, influence future capital projects. Someday, I believe systems will link with external information systems and databases, which will enable owners to perform better what-if scenarios with their capital portfolios.

But even today there are some pretty impressive tools available that enable improvements in energy performance. For example, Bentley’s AECOsim Energy Simulator software is used in both design and retrofit work to analyze energy performance. And again, the key is integration. AECOsim Energy Simulator allows users to work seamlessly among applications and allows what-if scenarios that result in capital projects that consume less energy.

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