Introducing time dimension to synchronize BIM processes with work packaging, immersive visualization, and constructioneering, by way of Connected Data Environment (CDE).
Bentley Systems announced the acquisition of Synchro Software, headquartered in London, leader (and the market creator) in 4D construction modelling software, for scheduling and project management. Synchro, “construction’s time machine,” has been globally adopted, in particular, for building and civil infrastructure projects. The acquisition broadens Bentley’s ProjectWise construction offerings—which already include ConstructSim, the leader for 4D construction modelling in project delivery of industrial plants. With construction project management in 4D, benefits of BIM can extend throughout infrastructure project delivery and asset lifecycles, as traditionally disconnected workflows become digital workflows.
Synchro’s strong growth, since the introduction of Synchro PRO in 2007, has coincided with the burgeoning adoption of BIM for design workflows—which, however, stop short of considering construction planning, scheduling, and project management strategies. For London’s Crossrail, Synchro digital construction innovatively applied Bentley Systems’ iModel work packaging to complete the reach of its BIM application portfolio and its CDE. Crossrail, the largest European construction project over this period, is now being completed on time and on budget. Synchro has increasingly become the standard for major constructors leveraging BIM through project delivery. Synchro’s 2018 4D Digital Construction Conference in Amsterdam brought together infrastructure construction thought leaders from 18 countries, including presentations by Royal BAM Group, Mortenson Construction, Robins & Morton, Shanghai Construction No. 4 Group, Skanska UK, and Larsen & Toubro, who shared their benefits achieved through innovatively applying 4D construction modelling with Synchro.
In industrial project delivery, characterized by EPC (engineer-procure-construct) contracting, integrated processes are already the norm—leading to ConstructSim’s digital workflows for advanced work packaging. However, in vertical buildings and civil infrastructure projects, notwithstanding the advancement of BIM for design and engineering, prevalent design/bid/build contracting has institutionalized disconnected workflows isolating construction planning from BIM data and geometry.
- Constructors have been constrained by the limitations of stand-alone planning and scheduling programs, without digital visibility into the engineering information coalesced within the separate 3D BIM environment;
- construction planning typically lacks the workface-level granularity and depth of detail, and exploration of sequencing alternatives, to sufficiently minimize risk and schedule variance; and
- constructors characteristically need to create their own 3D models to serve construction only, in the process orphaning the BIM deliverables which can then never, despite their engineering intelligence, accurately represent the as-built asset for operations and maintenance.
Within Synchro, 3D BIM deliverables are linked with the 4D time dimension to intrinsically and immersively synchronize, through digital workflows, the construction strategy, work breakdown structure, schedule, costs, resources, supply chain logistics, and progress. Synchro’s 4D construction modelling appropriately incorporates other construction variables (human, materials, equipment, falseworks, and space) for safe, reliable, and predictable project delivery performance. Synchro includes intrinsic CPM scheduling, or users can maintain external project schedules.
By synchronizing changes from BIM, schedule and/or field conditions, Synchro provides clear visibility into both the project data and the design, 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, deriving insights toward the best possible construction outcomes.
By incorporating Synchro 4D construction modelling through the ProjectWise CDE, infrastructure project delivery can now benefit from unprecedented digital workflow advancements. For the first time, change synchronization can assure that BIM deliverables are updated for changes which occur during construction, aligning the as-designed, as-constructed, and as-operated digital engineering models to improve both project performance and asset performance. And, in particular for civil infrastructure projects, constructioneering digital workflows 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.
“I’m very excited about what Synchro brings to Bentley’s capabilities for comprehensive project delivery, not only in terms of technology, but also by virtue of the proven construction expertise of the Synchro team, led by the vision and advocacy of Tom Dengenis,” said Stephen Jolley, vice president of construction for Bentley. “In construction modelling for industrial projects, the market is already converging around ConstructSim’s advanced work packaging and workface planning. In the advancement of going digital for civil and building construction, the needed impetus for these ‘industrialized’ advantages is precisely what we are now announcing. For infrastructure projects, integrating Synchro’s 4D construction modelling completes the reach of our ProjectWise CDE.”
Tom Dengenis, CEO of Synchro Software, said, “This combination reflects my conviction about what’s imperative for finally driving infrastructure construction substantially forward. At Synchro, we accomplished the breakthrough of 4D construction modelling software many years ago, but we have wanted to advance the market faster than our own continuous growth. With my 40+ Synchro colleagues in the UK, Boston, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Moscow, I look forward to working more directly with our new Bentley colleagues, thanks to our now so much greater combined power and commitment, to accelerate the global industry in going digital.”
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. For me, the news of Bentley Systems’ acquisition of Synchro Software is excellent, and will help reinforce how 4D can be used to improve construction management.”
Bentley Systems’ CEO Greg Bentley said, “Synchro has already inflected upward the construction productivity curve, by leading the adoption of 4D construction modelling for significant projects worldwide. The opportunity to extend digital workflows from BIM to institutionalize 4D construction modelling across infrastructure project delivery, superseding disconnected planning and scheduling, is enormous and immediate; its magnitude is confirmed by the clamor of new startups. Tom Dengenis’ informed enthusiasm and business foresight in anticipating and advancing the market’s potential—reflected in Synchro’s sustained and increasing growth from critical mass to escape velocity—assures me that we now, uniquely, have the right combined team and converged technologies. Every constructor and every infrastructure project can gain from going digital through our 4D construction modelling!”