NEWS: Bentley acquires Synchro for 4D construction modelling

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Adding a time dimension to 3D model will help synchronise BIM processes with work packaging, immersive visualisation, and ‘constructioneering’

Bentley Systems has acquired Synchro Software and extended its offering in 4D construction modelling for scheduling and project management. The acquisition will enable Bentley to address the requirements of those working on building and civil infrastructure projects. Its current 4D construction modelling software ConstructSIM focuses primarily on industrial plants.

Synchro is a visual construction project management tool that provides a fully integrated CPM (Critical Path Methodology) scheduling engine with interoperable CAD capabilities.

Chris Barron, Chief Communications Officer, Bentley Systems told AEC Magazine why Synchro is different to other project management systems. “Traditionally people have used CPM – things like Primavera [P6] and they still will, but that only goes to a certan level of detail and doesn’t really integrate with the BIM model. And, too often, the BIM model gets delivered to the contractors and they kind of throw it away and start over again.

“The thing that’s so exciting about Synchro is that it gets down several levels below what you’d have on a P6. A P6 might say ‘pour the concrete floor’, but with Synchro you think about ‘procure the decking, weld the brackets to hold the decking, lay down the rebar, get the concrete mixer on site’. That level of breakdown is key – and with a visual element.”

4D Pull Planning in Synchro PRO. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems

The software can synchronise changes from BIM, schedule and/or site conditions to provide visibility into both the project data and the design, helping making it quick and easy to communicate and analyse the impact of changes on the entire project delivery process. This also enables Synchro users to compare construction strategy alternatives—even in early stages of design and bid processes—and to evaluate the feasibility and efficiency of different scenarios.

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“There’s no perfect way to build a building so they can do different trade offs and visualize that and hopefully improve the whole project delivery process,” explains Barron.

By incorporating Synchro 4D construction modelling through Bentley’s ProjectWise Connected Data Environment CDE, BIM deliverables can be updated for changes which occur during construction, aligning the as-designed, as-constructed, and as-operated digital engineering models. And, in particular for civil infrastructure projects, ‘constructioneering’ digital workflows between engineering design and construction can automate direct relationships between the project’s digital engineering models, the continuously-surveyed digital context of site conditions before and during construction, and positioning devices controlling construction equipment and feeding back as-built conditions.

Synchro is being used on London’s Crossrail to apply iModel work packaging to complete the reach of its BIM application portfolio and its CDE.

Malcolm Taylor, head of technical information, Crossrail, said, “Using specialist software from Bentley Systems and Synchro, our project schedule could be linked to the 3D information to produce 4D models that could show the progress of design and installation at any particular point in time.

“Using 4D models to plan helped speed up the project teams’ understanding of what we needed to do and when. They could also tease out conflicts that were not normally apparent from regular Gantt charts and drawings. Using the 4D model for construction progress also manages payment expectations as it allows teams to readily agree on what’s completed and accepted—as well as producing an excellent as-built record for the future maintainer.”

Synchro 4D construction modeling of Crossrail Station. Image courtesy of Bentley Systems

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