Year in Infrastructure conference highlights digital twin innovation

At the Year in Infrastructure conference, hosted by infrastructure software company Bentley Systems, audiences were told that adoption of digital tools for infrastructure delivery and operations will only accelerate after the experience of COVID-19.

With global investment in infrastructure as method of economic recovery coming together with the impetus for more sustainable methods of construction and mobility, efficiencies through using digital tools are becoming unavoidable.

Through the use of digital twins for modelling and simulations in the design and construction phase, or for monitoring asset and network performance in the operational stage, more environmentally friendly materials can be used, waste can be reduced, while costs can be reduced and timelines shortened.

In addition, as COVID-19 has demonstrated, projects will still need to continue even when workforces are dispersed, either working from home, or across countries without being able to easily meet in person.

These factors have meant that digital tools such as those supplied by Bentley Systems are invaluable for infrastructure builders, managers, and operators.

Another macro factor that is impacting on the adoption of digital tools in the infrastructure space is the possibilities of big data and IoT. With more data being collected than ever, modelling and simulation software will be needed to make sense of this data and allow it to be seen as a productive resource.

One example of the benefit of digital twins can be seen in the adoption of digital engineering tools in the design and construction of the world’s tallest rail pier girder bridge in northern India. Constructed by Indian Railways, the railway bridge is required to support high-speed and broad gauge trains for the next century in difficult terrain. Seismic events and strong winds were also a concern for the 141 metre tall bridge.

On of the Year in Infrastructure Awards finalists, Indian Railways is using Bentley tools including OpenRail, PLAXIS, and STAAD, and the project has been able to make savings of US$24.61 million ($34.58m). These efficiencies were found through the better selection of types of materials and construction methodologies.

Once the bridge is complete, embedded instruments and drone surveys will be used to monitor the health of the bridge remotely, with a digital twin used to simulate how the bridge is behaving and the effect of inputs. This will ensure the infrastructure manager will be able to make timely decisions to ensure the sustainability of the bridge.

Fremantle Traffic Bridge

Procurement fast tracked for new rail-road bridge

A new multimodal bridge over the Swan River at Fremantle will be brought forward by six months.

The $240 million project is funded on a 50-50 basis by the Western Australia and federal governments and has had procurement brought forward by six months, with construction expected to start by late 2021, said federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge.

“Fremantle continues to be a bustling hub and we brought forward funds so construction on this project could kick off sooner.”

The bridge will carry rail and road traffic, as well as providing a pedestrian and cycle link between north and south Fremantle. The current bridge is nearing the end of its useful life.

The alliance contract is expected to be awarded in early 2021, said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“Community consultation is now underway and will inform the project’s development and design to ensure we reach the best possible outcome for this significant infrastructure in Fremantle.”

Infrastructure Australia added the project to its Infrastructre Priority List in February, 2019. The independent advisory body noted that rail connectivity in the region is limited due to the shared Fremantle Rail Bridge. Currently, passenger services are given priority, however both freight and passenger volumes on the bridge are expected to increase. Adding more connections would prevent delays and improve freight efficiency into and away from Fremantle Port.

In seeking community input for the project in early August 2020, the WA government noted that the project is highly complex and positioned in a challenging area. Issues including heritage-listing, ensuring continued connectivity while the new bridge is constructed, and ensuring ease of navigation on the river will impact upon the nature of the project.

“It has been well known for more than a decade that the Fremantle Traffic Bridge needs replacing so we’re excited to reach the stage of community consultation,” Saffioti said at the time.

Webinar: Change the way you perform bridge modelling, analysis and design

Major road and rail projects continue to dominate infrastructure investments across Australia and New Zealand as the population continues to grow. A critical part of such projects is the design and construction of bridges.

Bentley Systems has engaged directly with bridge engineers, designers, and modelers across Australia and New Zealand and listened as they described in detail their biggest challenge facing them today – a dedicated bridge solution with an ability to efficiently and effectively integrate and interoperate within a digital engineering workflow.

Others have developed and deployed solutions attached to convoluted workflows built around non-bridge specific technology. Many of these approaches still struggle to meet the needs and address the productivity challenges of bridge professionals, especially when it comes to adapting to frequent project changes.

At this webinar you will learn:

• How to rapidly create bridge projects by integrating multiple disciplines data within a single bridge solution, Bentley’s OpenBridge;

• How to improve project deliverables and achieve a continuous flow of information from survey through construction;

• How to automate plans production from the 3D physical model, and avoid repetitive work to accommodate project changes.

To download and watch the webinar please fill out the form below:

If you’d like more information about OpenBridge, please contact Mike Mahdavi: Mike.Mahdavi@bentley.com