Bentley steps up 4D, acquires Synchro

Jun 20, 2018 | Hot Topics

Bentley just announced that it has acquired Synchro Software to boost its 4D construction offerings. Think of Synchro as software for virtual design and construction, enabling visual planning, scheduling, and project management. This lets asset owners, constructors and their project partners to make tradeoffs such as “have we scheduled painters before the walls are in?” and “will this delivery of materials interfere with pouring concrete?” Synchro’s project management, scheduling, file viewers, mobile apps, etc. will be added to Bentley’s ProjectWise construction offerings, which already include ConstructSim.

I get so many questions about 4D use in construction and it truly does have the potential to significantly improve project execution. Project planners have typically worked conceptually using Gantt charts or Excel, applying best practices to scheduling workers and materials deliveries. But delays always happen, throwing these careful plans into complete disarray. By having access to an accurate, up-to-date visual model of the project, planners can better manage all of this change and keep tabs on the actual state of the project, rather than the ideal. This makes it easier to move the puzzle pieces around to the benefit of the project as a whole. Avoided costs and delays, more productive job sites, better and more reliable outcomes.

Synchro PRO has been around for a decade now and has contributed to the success of some massive projects. Bentley’s press release called out Crossrail, which links London’s Heathrow Airport, the West End, the City of London and Canary Wharf — all while minimizing disruption to the city above. Bentley says, “Synchro innovatively applied Bentley Systems’ iModel work packaging to complete the reach of its BIM application portfolio and its CDE. Crossrail … is now being completed on time and on budget. Synchro has increasingly become the standard for major constructors leveraging BIM through project delivery.” Also in the release, Malcolm Taylor, head of technical information, Crossrail, said, “[u]sing 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’s ConstructSim already supports work packaging and workface planning, the disciplines in construction that take data from a BIM or civil engineering model or more traditional drawings and turns that into work instructions for the job site. Think about how an electrical layout is designed: as a system, from a central hookup. But it’s installed room by room, so handing the electrician the overall building concept is far too much information. Breaking that system down into installable pieces, with material lists and detailed instructions enables the installer to be efficient and safe. And it allows tracking at the day’s work level, which is more economically reasonable for everyone. By adding 4D to work packaging, Bentley clients are able to manage projects at a very detailed level.

According to Bentley’s vice president of construction [solutions] Stephen Jolley, “Synchro brings to Bentley capabilities for comprehensive project delivery, not only in terms of technology, but also by virtue of the proven construction expertise of the Synchro team … 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 modeling completes the reach of our ProjectWise CDE.” [ProjectWise CDE is Bentley’s connected data environment (CDE), which shares ProjectWise’s collaboration services and AssetWise’s operations services.]

Tom Dengenis, CEO of Synchro Software, said, “At Synchro, we accomplished the breakthrough of 4D construction modeling 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.”

Bentley Systems’ CEO Greg Bentley added that “[t]he opportunity to extend digital workflows from BIM to institutionalize 4D construction modeling … is enormous and immediate … [W]e 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 modeling!”

As is typical, Bentley did not release terms of the transaction, but it sounds as though it has already completed.