Bentley creates intelligent paper trail

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Bentley's new ProjectWise Dynamic Plot solution enables users to mark up paper drawings and automatically feed digital redlines back into the CAD drawings from which they were created, writes Greg Corke.

Bentley has launched a new digital solution designed to streamline traditional paper-based redline workflows while at the same time reducing errors. ProjectWise Dynamic Plot enables project teams to redline engineering and architectural paper drawings, while the system automatically feeds back this information directly into the source CAD files that created them.

According to Bentley, project teams still review and markup more drawings on paper than in any other medium. However, transferring this information back into a digital environment requires marked up paper copies to be scanned or the markups from the paper manually transferred into the PC. This, according Joe Croser, global marketing director, Bentley, often leads to a backlog and can lead to errors. “Drawings that get marked up have no ‘persistent’ connection back to their source CAD files, making the markup transfer process from the paper back into the computer error-prone and risky,” he says. “Accordingly, synchronising markups with the original source data is a slow and manual process, and the marked up drawings can easily be misplaced.”

Looking to overcome these problems, Bentley’s ProjectWise Dynamic Plot uses a digital pen, which captures mark-ups in real time while laying down red or green ink on the physical drawing. All of this data is stored inside the digital pen until it is docked, when it synchronises with the ProjectWise database and transfers the redline marks to a file that references the originating design data. The digital pen has a tiny built-in camera that can recognise unique patterns in drawings when they are plotted using a special version of Bentley’s ProjectWise InterPlot software. Each drawing is given its unique ‘DNA’, which is immediately recognisable by the pen, and because of subtle changes that occur throughout the pattern, can also track the exact location of the pen on the drawing, accurate to 3mm – 6mm.

“We all thought that computers signalled the end for paper but, in reality, the more work we do on computers, the more paper we create,” said Kevin van Haaren ProjectWise administrator of multidisciplinary firm, HNTB. “Because our paper-based drawing review and markup workflows are slow, our digital data and paper markups are usually out of sync.

“ProjectWise Dynamic Plot will help us avoid errors and save time. We also believe this new collaboration tool will be extremely easy to implement by using our existing investments in printers, plotters, and ProjectWise, speeding up our workflows with minimal user training.”

ProjectWise Dynamic Plot doesn’t come cheap, with an initial outlay required for the service starting at $10,000 per year, packs of ten pens sold at $6,000, and then a ‘pay as you go’ model which comes into effect every time ‘usable’ markup data is synchronised with the system. However, because this technology is targeted predominantly at larger engineering firms, which often employ a dedicated team for feeding back redline changes manually, it is likely that these costs would be much easier to swallow, as Croser was keen to point out. “Every company we have shown this to which fits a larger company paradigm have just said ‘when can we have it’? There isn’t a cost issue for them because the project risks they get to mitigate as a result of this far outweighs any financial cost that we would look to recover from them. So for them it is not just about cost it is about speed and it is about mitigating risk.”



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