Steve Cockerell, industry marketing director of rail at Bentley Systems, speaks with Construction Business News ME about the importance of trusted information
What is driving the increased awareness of and reliance on building informational modelling (BIM) in the GCC?
As an industry marketing director, I look at the GCC market as being one of the youngest, yet fastest growing and most aspirational rail markets in the world today. Yet the budgets for the many planned rail projects, while substantial, are likely to be tight. Meaning the pressure to control cost and time certainty will be greater than it has ever been.
Rail projects have complex ecosystems, with delivery partners, programme managers, consultants and contractors, plus other stakeholders. In this type of scenario, it is particularly important to evaluate risk exposure and consider the consequences in terms of time, cost, quality, and safety performance.
What are the major challenges faced by BIM users or potential users in the market today?
These major capital projects will increasingly need distributed projects teams. Whether it is between the different phases, disciplines, or stakeholders, communication and effective management of the supply chain is crucial to the success or failure of the project. With everyone fully aligned with the project objectives, the possibility of problems such as late changes causing delays, are more easily avoided.
Organisations need information to make informed decisions, produce a more reliable solution, understand the risk they are exposed to, improve efficiency, drive productivity and quality, and understand what it is they are building and maintaining – plus when and for how much.
You can say then that increased awareness and demand for BIM is fuelled by the need for reliable information, whenever and wherever it is needed: in the office, site hut, or field. Many get hung up on what BIM is, so it is important to understand that BIM is not a software product or solution, nor is it limited to just design and construction. BIM is about people and processes.
Organisations should ask themselves what it is they are hoping to achieve through the use of BIM. What are the required outcomes? Then look at the technology required to support and deliver these. BIM enables both the consistency and mobility of information from one phase of the project to the next, removing wasted time and effort. When everyone uses the same set of standards and processes – instead of the “my way” approach – with technology that is interoperable and supports information mobility, the information created and collected can be leveraged across the project and asset lifecycle, improving quality and reducing risk at every stage.
Could you tell us about your role as an industry marketing director and what excites you most about your job?
I’m very lucky that my role gives me the opportunity to work around the world, meeting with, listening to, and learning from our many users, about the different ways in which they have deployed our software to solve the challenges they face on a daily basis with their transportation projects.
We are committed to helping infrastructure owners maintain and operate their networks more effectively. Therefore, a significant amount of my time is spent working with these organisations to increase awareness of asset information and performance management software in the industry, and helping build the level of trust they demand in technology partners given the commercial pressures faced.
It is not secret that workforce planning is in critical need for efficient management. what are the most pressing issues which arise from this?
Because of the shortage of skilled labour, it’s no surprise that workforce planning is becoming a growing concern and affecting project performance. Labour constitutes roughly 40% of project costs, so tool time has to be efficient. Our ProjectWise Construction Work Package Server, which includes ConstructSim, provides a structure for execution planning directed at the workforce. It facilitates collaboration between engineering and construction so work can be planned down to the installation level.
ConstructSim’s interactive virtual 3D model lets you visualise the status of a project, so you can see exactly what is being worked on and what has constraints, and make sure the work you plan is logically executable. For instance, you can see when a work package is approved and issue it only when work crews are available, or when weather conditions allow. Your project’s productivity and safety will increase by assigning resources only when materials are in place and work is ready to be performed.
ProjectWise Construction Work Package Server automates your work packaging process. The simple Web-based portal gives your entire project team the visibility needed to perform work, and your project stakeholders the ability to quickly assess project performance and mitigate risk.
How does Bentley Systems’ flexible licensing options set it apart from its competitors?
We historically sold and continue to sell some of our solutions through perpetual licenses together with an attached SELECT subscription. SELECT offers benefits that include software upgrades and technical support, but it also offers subscribers annual portfolio balancing. Annual portfolio balancing entitles organisations to exchange licenses, or any portion thereof, for other software in our portfolio on an annual basis. In this way, Bentley users can vary their license mix as business needs change, providing them with the freedom to use a variety of software solutions during the license period.
While upgrading software, how much significance does market feedback hold?
Feedback is vital. Bentley takes the feedback from our users, the leaders in their respective markets around the world, very seriously and captures it many ways, with varying degrees or formality applied to the processes involved.
As I mentioned before it is part of my role to listen and learn from our users about how they solve the complex 3D challenges faced in their work. I sometimes get asked whether it is possible to extend the software’s capability to achieve a different outcome. This type of question is passed to the appropriate product manager who considers its value and if appropriate, the priority assigned to its inclusion in a product.
Bentley also uses advisory panels. In May of this year, I was fortunate enough to join Bentley’s Middle East Construction Advisory Panel meeting in Abu Dhabi. The event was hosted by Technip and senior representatives from the regional construction firms gathered to hear about how technology available today might increase return on investment in their respective businesses, and also to provide valuable input to product direction. Advanced Work Packaging and ConstructSim were the main topics of interest.
How does using Bentley’s software directly affect the construction industry?
Bentley offers software that supports the delivery of construction projects of any size, complexity, or type. Our solutions span the project lifecycle from design to handover to help solve industry challenges in delivering successful projects. Challenges such as isolated project data, distributed project teams, gaps between engineering plans and construction realities, and field mobility limitations. Bentley offers collaboration, work process management, modelling, and mobile device solutions to make projects more manageable. When everyone has the right information in the right place at the right time, productivity increases, safety improves, and projects perform better.