From buildings and bridges to clean energy and water, Bentley Systems has been sustaining some of the world’s most significant infrastructure projects for a long time.
According to Mark Biagi, Bentley Systems Solutions Executive- Power Generation, commitment to sustainability must include a commitment to sustaining society.
In an interview during the recent Africa Utility Week held in Cape Town, Biagi says sustaining society and the environment require infrastructure. “Driven by new technologies, new requirements, new partners, and focused on infrastructure assets bound to a specific geographic location, each infrastructure project is unique. But all face common challenges, increasing demands for lower cost and shorter schedules, project teams that consist of multiple, globally distributed organisations and much more,” he explains.
Biagi says his company’s sustainability focus is based on making sure that they work toward providing every person on the planet with the possibility of realising a quality of life that includes clean water, sanitation, food, access to critical services, physical security, and economic opportunity.
“Our mission is to provide innovative software and services for the enterprises and professionals who design, build, and operate the world’s infrastructure, sustaining the global economy and environment, for improved quality of life,” he says.
There is now an increasingly significant level of urgency surrounding the world’s infrastructure, with an expanding spectrum of critical global issues in which the world’s infrastructure has an important role to play.
Biagi says that when people think of infrastructure they tend to think about the hardware involved, “be it the materials used or the equipment and tools to bring structures and buildings to life. What we tend to take for granted are the software solutions involved and how crucial they are to the entire process.”
At its core, Bentley Systems is a software development company that supports the professional needs of those responsible for creating and managing the world’s infrastructure, including roadways, bridges, airports, skyscrapers, industrial and power plants, and utility networks.
It is a global leader dedicated to providing architects, engineers, geospatial professionals, constructors, and owner-operators with comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure. Bentley Systems was founded in 1984, the company has grown to the point where it now employs more than 3000 people in 50 countries.
Solutions for the infrastructure lifecycle
Bentley delivers solutions for the entire lifecycle of the infrastructure asset, tailored to the needs of the various professions – the engineers, architects, planners, contractors, fabricators, IT managers, operators, and maintenance engineers – who will work on and work with that asset over its lifetime. Comprised of integrated applications and services built on an open platform, each solution is designed to ensure that information flows between workflow processes and project team members to enable interoperability and collaboration.
“At the core, our mission is to give our clients the ability to leverage information modelling through integrated projects for high-performing intelligent infrastructure. Since 2005, the company has invested more than $1 billion in research, development and acquisitions in order to grow both organically and through successful acquisitions,” Biagi explains.
The solutions offered by the company encompass its MicroStation platform for infrastructure design and modelling, its ProjectWise platform for infrastructure project team collaboration and work sharing, and its AssetWise platform for infrastructure asset operations. These platforms support a broad portfolio of interoperable applications and are complemented by global professional services.
Sustainability is not a single issue and it’s not limited to global warming, climate change, pollution, chronic hunger, unsafe bridges, public health, or contaminated water; it is all of these and more, according to Biagi.
“Climate change, other environmental and social challenges are not problems that we will solve and then move on. They will require constant, continuing, and unrelenting attention.”
“To completely satisfy our sustainability objectives will require more investment in infrastructure and economic development. The road to a sustainable world will be paved by the vision, commitment, innovation, open-mindedness, and pragmatism of infrastructure professionals,” he adds.
First, there’s the issue of reducing carbon emissions. Whether the result of public pressure, government mandates, or international agreements, it’s something that is not going to be solved with a simple answer and probably not with a singular answer.
Developing economies such as South Africa have growing manufacturing and primary industries, which means that the demand for energy is increasing. Distributed renewable power generation is rapidly becoming more prevalent, and renewable energy resources have to be brought into the grid and delivered efficiently to the places where they are needed.
“That will mean a fundamental change in the structure of the grid and its ability to respond to changes in the power source. There will also be microgeneration and local storage as technologies emerge to support their development and commercialisation on a mass-market basis,” Biagi says.
Bentley is all about sustaining infrastructure. Its role is to provide solutions to design, build, and operate that utility infrastructure, along with all of the other types of infrastructure the global community depends on for improved quality of life. On any given day, thousands of our Bentley colleagues and software users around the world are focused on infrastructure and the lifecycle of infrastructure.
Sustainable approach the name of the game
Bentley, according to Biagi, has chosen a very sustainable approach as a company. “We have extensively focused on offering robust, flexible subscription services to our users and more recently on software as a service. We go to market in two ways: with individual products that help our users where there are solution requirements that can be well defined and met with standard, off-the-shelf products, and also through solutions, which are aggregations by industry of capabilities and products across our core product areas.”
Each is designed to meet the needs of infrastructure lifecycles for specific classes of infrastructure. From a products standpoint, the company’s baseline subscription service provides technical support and on-demand updates to products as they are developed and enhanced.
Bentley’s expertise and capabilities have seen it extend its reach into all manner of industry sectors, from power generation and rail to utilities and communications. One area of particular significance is the mining and metals industry. It is here that the company has been striving to deliver solutions that will allow its clients to meet the unprecedented level of demand for raw materials from both the manufacturing and construction sectors.