Sam Sherwood-Hale spoke to Steve Cockerell and Andrew Smith of Bentley Systems about Building Information Modelling and the projects across Asia Pacific that they are most excited about…

Steve Cockerell is Industry Marketing Director, Road and Rail and Andrew Smith, Manager, Rail Asset Performance.
Steve joined Bentley Systems in 2002 and works as part of a team delivering knowledge and expertise to its users across the transportation industry. In his role, Steve leverages his 25 years of industry experience in helping develop and maintain Bentley’s position as the leading supplier of software and services to the world’s infrastructure community.
Most recently, Steve was involved in the launch of Bentley’s OpenRail solution, which uses a holistic approach from planning to performance to incorporate systems engineering methodologies through a Connected Data Environment.
Andrew Smith is solutions executive, rail and transit, with Bentley Systems. He has more than 28 years of civil engineering software experience, with 23 years focused on rail and transit solutions globally. He is regarded as an industry expert in management, integration, and analysis of railway related linear data.
Andrew’s most recent project with Bentley was providing technical leadership for the implementation of a linear asset decision support system for SMRT.
Steve, you’ve been at Bentley Systems for over 16 years and first began engaging with Asia in 2006. How has the region changed and how has Bentley Systems developed its work in the region?

Steve Cockerell: My initial engagements with the region go further back than that, some 25 years in fact. And, the focus wasn’t clearly on rail and transit. The shift in focus from road to rail was most evident to me last year during a visit to Beijing, China. I spoke at a conference there, and it dawned on me that I had not visited Beijing since my first son was born 18 years ago. Since then, China has become a huge tourist destination leading to an increase in congestion on its roads and lift in pollution.
Of course, the global challenge of congestion on our roads, particularly through increased urbanisation, is a problem that is simply not going away. I read a United Nations and World Bank projection at that time, which indicated that by 2050 an estimated 66.2 per cent of Asia Pacific’s population will be living in cities.
What has not changed, whether it is for high-speed, freight, metros or light rapid transit, is that rail industry professionals remain focused on improving it to be the safest, fastest, smartest, and most sustainable means of moving people and goods. Recent visits to Indonesia and Malaysia have shown the progress made in leveraging technology to deliver improved outcomes – whether in terms of improved planning, design, and engineering for new railways, or driving greater reliability and improved performance on rail networks in operation.

You’ve written about Malaysia’s Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRTC) leveraging digital solutions throughout the whole asset lifecycle on its Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) system’s Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya (SSP) line. How successful has that project been and could it be replicated across the region?

Steve Cockerell: MRTC and the SSP line set the standard for all types of infrastructure projects – not just rail. In fact, with the help of my colleagues at Bentley, MRTC is already developing training and education programmes in Malaysia to promote BIM processes as a standard on future national projects.
Using Bentley’s OpenRail Connected Data Environment (CDE), MRTC implemented a BIM solution that demonstrates the power of working in an integrated information management and collaboration platform. It’s the first metro project in Asia to adopt BIM Level 2, and as a result it is already showing how cloud-based collaboration and information management can streamline workflows and improve efficiency and productivity.
MRTC’s CDE enables over 1,500 users to collaborate on approximately 7,500 models and more than 280,000 documents and drawings, which corresponds to 2.3 terabytes of project data in a controlled environment. The team leverages Bentley’s ProjectWise collaboration system for real-time information sharing, design visualization, and coordination, plus virtual design reviews, and distributing drawings, schedules, and equipment lists.
Consistent with that BIM Level 2 approach, MRTC is moving beyond 3D modelling and 2D drawing production by enabling handover of digital information to downstream activities. It’s commitment from the outset to use the valuable information generated during project delivery for asset lifecycle management and maintenance is pushing the limits of its BIM data. The integration of asset lifecycle information management within its CDE is helping it and others to fulfil that aspiration.

Bentley Systems set up an Information Academy for Crossrail in London a few years ago. I spoke to Jeremy Shaffer and Mike Coldrick from Bentley about the LTA and SMRT from Singapore visiting the academy. How does Bentley collaborate with these two transport bodies?

Andrew Smith: The success of Academy visits in London by LTA and SMRT in the region has caused Bentley to open a new Digital Advancement Academy in Singapore. It is part of a global network that partners with industry to facilitate knowledge exchange around the world, with virtual connections to Academies in Beijing, Pune, Dubai, London, and Houston.
Academies’ industry programmes and initiatives allow industry experts and innovators to spark dialogue, drawing on practical experience and knowledge about how to leverage digital context, data, and workflows to optimize outcomes. This ASEAN centre of excellence for digital advancement actively engages with government, academia, and industry visionaries to generate and share innovative methods for the future needs of the local and global infrastructure.

You’ve spoken previously of the importance of adopting BIM (Building Information Modelling), how far along do you believe the rail and construction industries in Asia are in this respect?
Andrew Smith: Several Asian rail owner-operators are embracing BIM as a mechanism for improving efficiency and reducing risk, and they are seeing the benefits of following BIM practices. RFPs are being written and contracts are being raised with BIM as a central part of the delivery process.
More importantly, some governments are seeing the value in deploying BIM advancements and promoting or even mandating adoption for new infrastructure projects.
Some countries are less mature and tend to equate BIM with 3D design than with digital collaboration. These countries tend to have a less mature supply chain, but interest is growing and pockets of expertise are beginning to emerge.
There are still opportunities for advancement in the seamless handover of design and as-built information into operations and maintenance, but this could equally be said of BIM maturity globally.

Which projects in the Asia Pacific region do you think have been most successful in adopting digital technology?

Andrew Smith: Several projects spring to mind, with the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) being one of my favourite examples. Leveraging the collaborative workflow outlined in PAS 1192, and a connected data environment (CDE) based on ProjectWise, KVMRT’s SSP Line is moving beyond 3D modelling and 2D deliverables, to enable the handover of digital as-built information to operations.
To achieve the level of integration MRTC required during design, all stakeholders carried out their work in the same coordinated way, each referring to a ‘central’ model stored in the CDE hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud.
Virtual design review (VDR) sessions brought all disciplines together on a weekly basis to review, coordinate, and resolve clashes in their work. The increased trust and acceptance that information being shared was both current and fit for purpose reduced rework for all involved and enabled MRTC to improve collaboration by 35 per cent.
The projects we’ve discussed so far have been urban metros. How do cross-country railways, such as the Kunming – Vientiane high-speed railway crossing through Laos, differ in the way they would use BIM or other digital solutions?

Steve Cockerell: I’m not sure there is a difference in the way they would use BIM methodologies or digital technology.
On new projects or upgrades, the organisations involved will need to start projects faster, iterate designs more efficiently, and share information more effectively to ensure safe, compliant, on-time and on-budget project delivery.
During operations, owners and maintainers are held to a higher standard for managing their rail infrastructure in an optimal manner – maximizing safety and uptime, while minimizing risk under the pressure of reduced project and track possession times.
Put simply, regardless of whether it is for a compact light rail system in a city, or a very large high-speed network spread over great distances and through several countries, the organisations involved in planning, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining rail and transit networks all need to ensure they ‘get it right first time, every time!’
To meet this challenge one thing is critical – access to information must be trusted. Whether the organisation involved is targeting streamlined project delivery or an increase in the performance and reliability of in-service assets, the only way this will ever be possible is via timely access to information the organisation and people involved can trust.
Bentley’s OpenRail solution is founded on a connected data environment that ensures access to trusted information wherever and whenever you need it. Spanning the entire rail asset lifecycle, the OpenRail CDE provides a framework to enable digital BIM workflows and standards, ensure effective project delivery, improved handover or hand back of assets, and enable informed decision making during operations and maintenance.