iTwin Design Review

Bentley's Digital Twin concept has matured into a valuable application for leveraging the data from both real-life construction projects and digital models, enhancing project delivery

It has been a fascinating couple of years watching the concept of Digital Twins developing from an interesting idea that neatly described the possibilities available from the concurrent development of physical and digital models, to its current role as one of the principal drivers of project delivery.

This was borne out by one of the sessions at Bentley's online Year in Infrastructure 2020 conference, and in subsequent chats with the presenters, Rich Humphrey, Bentley's VP of Construction Product Managment, and Mark Hattersley, Senior Director of Construction Operations. The session looked at how Bentley Systems' ProjectWise 365 and SYNCHRO 4D use the advanced features of 4D Digital Twins for project delivery.

From concept to reality, with a bit of a tweak to its name, Bentley has introduced iTwin Design Review as an application in its own right and as a commercial add-on to any of Bentley's Open series of applications. It can be used to aggregate application specific iModels on a cloud based server, and combine the data within the models with other design development and information management tools - in this case with ProjectWise 365's integrated design collaboration solution and SYNCHRO 4D's visualisation software - to improve design and construction workflows.

We have previously looked at Bentley's ProjectWise 365 but not covered SYNCHRO 4D, a complete portfolio of integrated software and services which provides an ideal partner for the digital twin application. SYNCHRO combines digital models with information from PDFs, drawings, GIS and project management applications to provide developers and project managers with an accurate and up to date digital representation of a building construction project. Combined with ProjectWise 365's collaborative workflows, and utilising timeline tools available within project management applications to provide 4D scheduling, SYNCHRO 4D provides an ideal tool for iTwin Design Review to drive both project design and construction forward.

Project Delivery
There are two parts to any construction project - the architectural and engineering design processes and the physical process of construction, starting from the first scrape of earth on site, to completion, handover and operation. The Digital Twin concept provides an ideal environment for developing designs in a 2D/3D environment, and to then coordinate and integrate real-life engineering changes within the digital model.

Bentley's ProjectWise 365 leverages integrated, cloud-based workflows and Microsoft's 365 applications to help project teams store, manage and find designs among the many thousands of project documents, and to collaborate and process feedback in real-time review sessions.

SYNCHRO is able to build model views from a variety of sources and produce visual construction sequences in 4D, and can compare different stages in the digital construction of the model with real-life imagery using Microsoft's HoloLens 2 reality capture capabilities. This provides the perfect combination of real and digital information required to inform Bentley's iTwin Design Review.

iTwin Design Review works on both levels. During its design stage, which Rich Humphey described as iTwin Design Review for practitioners (available through ProjectWise 365) it provides an immersive 2D and 3D environment for exploring and commenting on the design. This allows architects and engineers to mark-up and directly comment on any element of the 3D design, referencing in a single display the relationships between 2D and 3D views and other information.

The end result is faster design reviews in 2D and 3D workflows without having to deal with multiple models and disjointed workflows. Design Reviews can be initiated directly from the 3D model using iModel technology, and from there colleagues can refer directly to connected 2D drawings and documents, providing feedback from all associated resources - and within a full multidisciplinary environment.

Changes within a 4D Model
Post design, iTwin Design Review for projects allows construction teams and contractors to focus on the progress of a project and capture engineering changes using ProjectWise Design Integration Services in conjunction with SYNCHRO 4D to highlight the differences between the plan and its implementation. It provides a record of 'who changed what and when' and enables multidiscipline collaboration to be conducted throughout the construction phases of a project.

Microsoft named Bentley as a finalist in the Mixed Reality category of its Partner of the Year awards 2019 for its SYNCHRO/HoloLens 2 solution for 4D visualisation of project digital twins. SYNCHRO Cloud Services for Construction now provides the information for iTwin's design reviews. It also enables the use of filters that can be used to focus on any element of the design, or on the origin or reasons behind engineering changes.

Filters can also be used to focus on individual disciplines or a particular contractor's tasks to initiate design reviews, quality assurance/quality control reviews, or to foster multidiscipline coordination, and to keep track of changes, iTwin Design Review can be used to create named versions of the model at any point in the project timeline which can be saved for reference, or shared with collaborators.

4D planning, using powerful 4D scheduling and task management capabilities, helps contractors plan and optimise the most complex construction projects in all civil, building, infrastructure and industrial sectors. It also improves the safety, reliability, predictability and quality of all activities on busy construction projects, saving money by avoiding rework and identifying schedule problems in advance.

On-site managers and engineers using SYNCHRO 4D are able to view and record the status of tasks, track and raise issues and synchronise them with the model, and aggregate all of the information made available on a dashboard to facilitate decision making.

Field and Control
An essential element of a digital twin is its ability to tap into all information sources that affect its real-life twin and to use that to maintain its own correlation. The two SYNCHRO tools which feed that source are SYNCHRO Field and SYNCHRO Control. SYNCHRO Field coordinates field data capture with tasks, maps, and the building model, keeping regular tabs on progress and facilitating issue identification. SYNCHRO Control provides a single web interface for collaborating construction teams, enabling submittals and RFI management issues to be handled directly from iTwin Design Review. I suppose the unsung or understressed hero of the hour is Completions, which expedites closeout for construction and commissioning teams.

And what of SYNCHRO 5D?
If SYNCHRO 4D handles construction simulations that include a time element what will SYNCHRO 5D include, or 6D? SYNCHRO themselves mention both 4D and 5D construction for civil construction projects, with 5D categorised as budgetary or resource-based elements. This would enable SYNCHRO to encompass both on-time and on-budget project delivery. The basic elements would not change and it is well within the capabilities of its contributing applications to incorporate costs and contract management to the workflow - and to have iTwin Design Review manage the twinned element between the digital twin and real-life costs.

The introduction of 6D - a rather more fanciful vision - might include elements like people, materials and equipment, or perhaps health and safety issues. Having a tool like iTwin Design Review spoils you for choice.