Bentley Systems acquires London 4D construction modelling firm Synchro Software
Global construction software solutions provider Bentley Systems has expanded its building information modelling (BIM) capabilities after buying London-based Synchro Software.
Specialist in 4D construction modelling, Synchro’s solutions effectively enable BIM to be deployed over the entirety of a project lifecycle, brining together disconnected workflows into a single digital workflow.
The two companies already combined expertise for London’s Crossrail, whose CEO Malcolm Taylor said helped speed up the project teams’ understanding of what needed to be done and when, helping also to keep a handle on projected costs.
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Commenting on the Synchro deal, Bentley Systems’ CEO Greg Bentley said: “Synchro has already inflected upward the construction productivity curve, by leading the adoption of 4D construction modelling for significant projects worldwide.
“The opportunity to extend digital workflows from BIM to institutionalize 4D construction modelling across infrastructure project delivery, superseding disconnected planning and scheduling, is enormous and immediate; its magnitude is confirmed by the clamour of new startups.”
Synchro will be absorbed into Bentley’s ProjectWise construction range, which already contains a 4D modelling solution for industrial facilities, called ConstructSim.
Stephen Jolley, Vice President of Construction for Bentley, added: “In construction modelling for industrial projects, the market is already converging around ConstructSim’s advanced work packaging and workface planning.
“In the advancement of going digital for civil and building construction, the needed impetus for these ‘industrialised’ advantages is precisely what we are now announcing. For infrastructure projects, integrating Synchro’s 4D construction modelling completes the reach of our ProjectWise CD.”
No financial details of the deal were disclosed in Bentley’s announcement.
Will AR transform hospital construction?
The pandemic has focused minds on healthcare like never before with construction projects mushrooming globally.
Overall, the New Hospital Programme within the government’s long-term health infrastructure plan will help develop new sustainability standards, planning capabilities and care and workforce models. It will also implement "cutting-edge digital technologies" across the NHS, and will support an integrated approach to building new healthcare infrastructure using modern methods of construction.
One of those technologies gathering momentum is Augmented Reality (AR), which projects virtual images into the user’s line of sight, and can be used on-site as a tool for creating the structure exactly as the design intended.
According to a Research Dive report, the global AR in healthcare market is projected to generate revenue of $1,918.6 million by 2026, at a CAGR of 25.5% in the forecast period from 2019-2026.
London-based construction technology start-up XYZ Reality and UCL, were recently awarded a government grant, via UKRI and the Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), to develop XYZ Reality’s AR solution.
Founded in 2017, XYZ Reality developed Engineering-Grade AR to tackle some of the most pervasive and costly issues facing the construction industry. Its technology enables users to view hyperscale BIM models on-site in real-time and to millimetre accuracy, making it particularly beneficial for projects with complex MEP services, such as hospitals or data centres.
Dr Grant Mills, Faculty Lead for Health and Associate Professor, said hospitals are complex construction environments because of the sheer range of MEP services involved. "This often leads to clashes and errors in the build phase, and the need for expensive and time-consuming re-work," he said.
Prof Duncan Wilson, Professor of Connected Environments in UCL Bartlett CASA, said the grant offers an important opportunity to understand how AR can help different users interact digitally with the environment in novel ways, and by doing so improve productivity, and deliver time and cost savings.
XYZ Reality’s founder and CEO David Mitchell said its Engineering-Grade AR technology is already being deployed on construction projects with the same levels of complexity as hospital builds, and is generating significant time and cost savings.
"I’m passionate about supporting the NHS, so I’m glad that this research will enable us to fully understand the benefits that our technology can offer these specific projects, and help those constructing UK hospitals to build it right, first time," he said.
New technologies were key to delivering projects in double-quick time as the pandemic swept the world.
The North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Centre opened in late February following five months of construction. Using BIM, it produced 3D renditions of architectural projects, and shared layouts and other information with factories in mainland China, reducing on-site construction waste.
According to estimates by Goldman Sachs, AR and VR are expected to grow into a $95 billion market by 2025.
But in terms of AR and new tech's benefits to healthcare, it's still early days. The King's Fund study published in April found "very little evidence of their impact on the health system to date, or benefits such as cost-effectiveness," though AR is being used for surgical planning and training.