Bentley makes AIworx official, announces second deal

Nov 13, 2018 | Hot Topics

Bentley’s acquisitions just keep rolling. At last month’s Year in Infrastructure conference, the company announced one in pedestrian simulation, LEGION, and Agency9 to complement its existing digital cities offering. Another one was hinted at: AIworx, which makes  machine learning and internet of things (IoT) technologies. At YII, Bentley CEO Greg Bentley said that AIworx’ apps for “smart, connected systems machines, including instrumentation, sensors and communication systems” will improve how infrastructure assets are designed and operated. To recap, Mr. Bentley’ us storm drains as an example: sensors in the wastewater system can predict flooding, which could be a sign of bad design — so feeding back that information can improve the next design iteration. This idea has so much potential to monitor and cause reaction but also to affect next-gen designs.

Today’s announcements make it official. AIworx co-founder Andre Villemaire, said, “The biggest opportunities [AIworx has] worked on have to do with improving infrastructure asset performance on an industrial scale, by way of the data from connected machines, instrumentation, sensors, and communications systems—and we’re excited to dedicate ourselves to that advancement. Now, by incorporating our tools into Bentley’s services for digital twins, we enable infrastructure operators to multiply the potential benefits of machine learning and IoT.”

Francois Valois, Bentley’s VP of portfolio development adds, “Our new colleagues from AIworx have already been delivering on this potential, and now, leveraging the analytics visibility, which Bentley’s digital twin cloud services uniquely provide, these advancements from going digital will accelerate exponentially!”

But that’s not all. Bentley also announced that it has acquired ACE enterprise Slovakia, maker of technology that connects enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM), and geographical information systems (GIS) systems. Why do this? Because in order to effectively develop a maintenance strategy, the operator needs to know exactly which asset (via GIS location), what needs to be done (EAM) and how that ties into the overall corporate environment of spare parts and capable skilled workers. Imagine a rail line; not know exactly which of a possible hundred switches is starting to fail could be an expensive exercise in trial and error testing. Knowing which switch lets a crew pull the correct replacement parts and spawn a task to order additional spares.

According to Bentley’s materials, ACE enterprise is already a Bentley technology partner and the ACE Enterprise Platform underpins the Bentley AssetWise connector to SAP ERP and SAP HANA.

So, what’s the underlying strategy: connecting systems is where asset performance often falls down. Making the correct decision about whether to try to struggle on before replacing a pump requires as-is information about the pump and its maintenance history, real-time operating data, an understanding of the economics of the alternatives … That’s not stored in any one system (and it likely shouldn’t be). And that, in turn, means that the  connections between data and systems are becoming more critical. By bringing this all in-house, Bentley gets closer and closer to helping customers realize a full vision for asset optimization at a much broader, enterprise level.

No terms were disclosed for either deal — but I imagine the acquired companies were relatively small.