LONDON (Metro Rail News): Metro Rail News Managing Editor Mr. Narendra Shah conducted a one-on-one interview during his visit to London for Bentley System‘s Year in Infrastructure Conference and Going Digital Awards 2022 with Steve Cockerell. During the interaction, Mr. Cockerell talked about the sustainable urban rail transit system.
Steve Cockerell is an Industry Marketing Director – Rail and Transit, Cities and Campuses. Steve Cockerell joined Bentley Systems in 2002 through the acquisition of Infrasoft and has since worked as part of a team delivering knowledge and expertise to its users in the transportation industry.
Cockerell has more than 20 years of industry experience, which he began by studying civil engineering and working as a highway designer for the local government in the U.K. He joined MOSS Systems in 1990 as an application engineer demonstrating functionality and highlighting the benefits of CAD-based design applications for highways, rail, and land development projects.
Following Infrasoft’s acquisition of MOSS Systems, Cockerell served as channel marketing director, where he helped develop and launch Arenium. This engineering collaboration product enabled multi-user access to MX 3D design models. This paved the way for technology that supports building information modelling processes now demanded by industry and governments worldwide.
Here is the edited excerpt:
Metro Rail News (MRN): What is Bentley’s significant development towards integrated rail solutions in recent years across all rail communities? How is inspection & predictive maintenance through Bentley innovations helping to help railways across all verticals?
Mr. Steve Cockerell: What we’ve provided for the rail community worldwide over many years is the ability to design any type of rail line or network, be it mass transit, metro, commuter, or high-speed rail. Our products enable the design of track and catenary to different speeds and standards, along with the related civil and associated infrastructure.
For track design, we have OpenRail Designer, for catenary OpenRail Overhead Line Designer, and on the bridge side, we have an OpenBridge Designer. These products allow engineers and designers to design the track alignment, including geometry for switches and turnouts, and then share this data with other disciplines. For example, taking the track alignment from OpenRail into OpenBridge, where it in can be used to first model, then analyse and design the bridge. We then further enable construction (of the track, bridges, and related infrastructure), by allowing the use of design information in our SYNCHRO products.
Associated with this process, is the management and sharing of data among team members and stakeholders through ProjectWise, which we have announced today is now powered by iTwin, our digital twin technology.
We also have a suite of products under the AssetWise brand that targets the optimization of the railway’s performance and reliability. So users are able to understand when, for example, the track is wearing out, when there might be a failure, and then use that insight to work a little bit smarter by targeting the right maintenance activities, in the right place at the right time. The primary reason for this being to help organisations provide safe and reliable rail networks, and avoid, as far as possible, unplanned downtime. The latter, in addition to costing time and money, inconveniences passengers, and can result in damage to the reputation of network owner operators.
Now the final point is to bring the topic back to updates we’ve provided today. In particular, our announcement of Bentley’s Infrastructure Cloud, which combines ProjectWise, AssetWise, and SYNCHRO, as a cloud-based solution that integrates design and collaboration with construction and operations. Bentley’s Infrastructure Cloud powered by iTwin, ensures that data created in one phase of the asset lifecycle, can be managed and shared continuously, with all the project participants, regardless of their location.
MRN: With the world looking towards customised rail solutions with increased speed and safety, what, in your opinion, can be the significant developments using technologies for a more sustainable urban rail transit system?
Mr. Cockerell: One of the most significant ways we are helping organisations is by enabling them to do more with less. By that, I mean we are optimising the activities the different professionals involved perform, to achieve the best business outcomes.
As an example this might include enabling organisations to leverage in-house expertise, regardless of whether they are based locally to the project, or somewhere else in the world, so that their teams can work smarter to deliver infrastructure of higher quality, faster and cheaper.
The ability to access and understand the assets that exist across a network is therefore key, so making information our users can trust and use to improve the decisions that lead to more sustainable urban rail transit systems, is an essential component of our solution development.
MRN: How is technologies like Digital Twins, Agile Cloud Networking, LIDAR surveys etc., helping modern-day railway transportation? Is there any integrated or customised solution for these features?
Mr. Cockerell: I’d like to step back slightly on this, away from customization (for specific organisations or country standards), and towards open and integrated applications. I think the ability for our solution to adapt to the different challenges encountered within projects anywhere in the world, when working to the different standards involved, is essential. However, instead of creating bespoke solutions for individual organisations or countries, our technology, including the digital twin enhancements we’ve announced here, Bentley is providing platform level improvements that enable engineers and designers across the different disciplines involved, to complete projects faster, better, and cheaper.
We also need to look at improving sustainability as one of the key criteria on future projects, particularly in urban environments, as rail and transit is key to combating pollution, and the current climate emergency. I feel this is a key objective for all the metro projects around India, as getting as many people out of their cars and off their bikes, on to public transport, not only drives economic growth, but the reduction in pollution improves people’s lives by making journeys more efficient, healthier and safer.
Providing technology that enables more sustainable design and project delivery is increasingly important. So our partnering with EC3, announced last week, which enables organisations to leverage digital components that have the carbon cost of the materials or assets embedded, will provide significant advantages in this area. These technology improvements, as part of our open and integrated rail and transit solution, will enable users to address the urgent environmental and climate challenges we all face, and help deliver new projects, or network upgrades, in a more sustainable fashion.
MRN: How do you contribute to the Digital India campaign, which is one of the flagship programs of govt. Of India. What is the contribution of Bentley systems in developing the economy of India?
Mr. Cockerell: I can’t comment on how Bentley is contributing to the Digital India campaign specifically, but I do think the way our technology, enables organisations to let their data drive decisions, will help the Indian infrastructure business, and in turn, the country’s economy.
Why? Because even with the best technology in the world, and I believe that Bentley’s is truly world class by the way, it is access to data they can trust, at the right time, from wherever they are located, that is key. Bentley contribution then, is through its dynamic and immersive technology, that is making data more visible, accessible, and actionable, allowing the professionals involved to complete tasks more effectively and efficiently.
Providing solutions that deliver increased insight into decision making across the asset lifecycle, and ultimately letting the data drive decisions, helps the organisations and professionals involved, improve business outcomes, and in turn contributes to a more digitally enabled Indian infrastructure industry and workforce of the future.
MRN: We’re making considerable investments in a no. of projects around the country. What would be your insights on project management through massive technology projects like station redevelopment, metros, running of high-speed trains etc.?
Mr. Cockerell: We’re in a situation today where many consultants and contractors worldwide have almost got too much work than their teams are able to deal with, some are even being forced to turn away jobs. For these organisations, embracing technology offers the ability for their teams to do more work, in less time, and leverage their limited resources in different, and more profitable ways.
An example of what this might look like is, applying technology to re-use the time, effort, and expertise invested on the design of regularly encountered assets, across different or similar scenarios. Using ProjectWise Components Center, Bentley users can search their cloud-based library of digital objects, for example an over-bridge or under-pass, before inserting it in the required locations within a design model. At this point, our authoring applications – in this scenario it might be OpenBridge Designer, would then be used by the engineer or designer to optimise its form and attributes based on local requirements and criteria.
Digital workflows like this have the potential to cut the design time of regularly encountered assets on projects from days to hours, but its ability to increase efficiency and quality doesn’t stop there. The intelligent objects stored by organisations in ProjectWise Components Center can be accessed and leveraged across any, and all, the projects they are working on, which means teams can design an object once and use it many times, speeding up design, and offering the potential to standardise manufacture and procurement, and optimize construction.
MRN: Just for the concern that data is there. One can use ML (Machine learning), and then based on the previous decision (that I can decide on previous inputs), can we expect the problem with the people to get resolved with the ecosystem?
Mr. Cockerell: In the future, I believe the opportunity to apply AI and ML as a means of optimising business outcomes across the infrastructure asset lifecycle will increase significantly. However, Bentley is very clearly already on that journey, announcing here our iTwin Capture, iTwin Experience, and iTwin IoT products.
A great example of this at work is within our bridge monitoring and inspection solution which transforms traditional bridge management by leveraging digital twin workflows. It uses iTwin Capture to create a 3D digital twin of any bridge or structure using drone or handheld photography, and iTwin IoT to incorporate real-time data and insights on the structure gathered from field sensors.
The combination means users can utilize a reality mesh to augment inspection processes, apply condition notes to the asset directly in a 3D environment, and enable remote review of the condition of the structure. From there, AI and ML defect detection then enables automatic identification and classification of defects in the field. These digital workflows, including the ability to share the operational insights gained within our design tools, enables organisations to take rehabilitation projects to the next level.