Bentley Systems – Using Software for Structural Engineering

The past 20 years have seen major advances in both modeling and documentation systems and
structural analysis and design methods. First, 2D CAD platforms evolved into 3D building
information modeling (BIM) platforms customized for specific functions suc

The past 20 years have seen major advances in both modeling and documentation systems and structural analysis and design methods. First, 2D CAD platforms evolved into 3D building information modeling (BIM) platforms customized for specific functions such as the layout, design, and documentation of plants, bridges, and buildings. Then structural analysis and design systems moved from being merely batch processes guided by text file-based input and output to fully graphical 3D applications with advanced features and fully graphical depictions of structural behavior.

Despite the fact that both types of applications are required on virtually every engineered structure, documentation, analysis, and design are still separate, distinct processes on the vast majority of projects. And collaboration within the design team – which is often dispersed in different offices, companies, and even countries – is largely performed by manual processes communicated through drawings and sketches.

The chief reason for this lack of collaboration is that, up to now, no single company has focused on integrating engineering analysis and design with CAD or BIM-based modeling, layout, and documentation systems. However, relatively unsuccessful joint efforts have been made. For example, loosely formed strategic alliances between CAD companies and structural software vendors have resulted in the development of electronic translation links. But these typically lose data due to the difficulties in mapping data between different software platforms. In addition, they often force users into an unnatural, unproductive workflow at the expense of greater collaboration. Together, the problems have led the design community to largely reject these tools.

With the acquisitions of RAM International, a structural engineering software company, and Research Engineers International’s (REI) STAAD.Pro product line late last year, Bentley now has the largest, most comprehensive portfolio of analysis and design software products in the world. A new organization called the Integrated Engineering Group (IEG) has been formed at Bentley comprised of former senior management from both RAM and REI. Bentley believes that by providing integrated engineering tools to enhance collaboration, it will take design teams a major step forward in increasing productivity, decreasing errors and constructability problems, and delivering greater value to the owner-operator.

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