EarningsNeed to plan a new housing development or retail site? Bentley Systems last week said that it has acquired BLUERIDGE Analytics for its SITEOPS, a site engineering product that allows civil engineers and site planners to look at a piece of land and simulate its use: where to place parking, how to grade the site, how many building can be placed on the parcel, and so on. SITEOPS lets a project team and owner look at hundreds of options to figure out the best layout vs. cost alternatives.

I’ve seen site planners struggle to produce conceptual designs and cost estimates, and technology like SITEOPS is hugely beneficial. Site planners may work directly for the site developer but, more often, are part of engineering firms’ project teams whose role is to help the owner make the most creative and financially viable use of a parcel of land. Examining and rejecting dozens of alternatives on the road to the ideal design is a huge competitive advantage for these third parties. Doing this quickly is even better; one SITEOPS user quoted by Bentley in the acquisition announcement said that he was able to save, on average, 10 days per store opening — that’s both earlier revenue and avoided cost.

Mike Detwiler, CEO of BLUERIDGE Analytics and now Bentley VP, SITEOPS product development, said, “To date, the development of SITEOPS technology has focused on continuous improvement to conceptual designs. Now, within Bentley’s comprehensive portfolio, SITEOPS’ BIM advancement can contribute throughout project delivery. Accordingly, an initial priority will be to complete the end-to-end workflows that Bentley is uniquely able to offer – from site development through detailed design and construction modeling.” It appears as though most (all?) of the SITEOPS team is joining Bentley.

No details of the acquisition were released, but I believe that SITEOPS revenue will not be material to Bentley’s revenue for 2014. What Bentley does get out of this is a team that clearly knows its site work and has figured out how to do these simulations in the cloud. BLUERIDGE holds patents for SITEOPS that can, presumably, be leveraged for other Bentley products. Granted in 2008, patent 7395191 covers

A computer-implemented land planning system is designed to generate at least one conceptual fit solution to a user-defined land development problem. The system electronically creates at least one candidate solution to the land development problem. The candidate solution incorporates a number of engineering measurements applicable in development of an undeveloped land site. A fitness function quantitatively evaluates the candidate solution based on its fitness. A heuristic problem-solving strategy manipulates the engineering measurements of the candidate solution to achieve a more quantitatively fit solution to the land development problem. A computer output device outputs to a user documentation illustrating the fit solution to the land development problem.

Of course, Bentley can now also take SITEOPS global, using its sales reach to rapidly grow what had been a predominantly US-based business.