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Bentley Systems - taking structural modelling further

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Bentley Systems, a US software company specialising in tools for infrastructure, is pulling together a number of different software tools to make an integrated suite for modelling offshore structures and operations.

Bentley Systems, a US software company specialising in tools for infrastructure, is pulling together a number of different software tools to make an integrated suite for modelling offshore structures and operations.

Bentley aims to provide a common data environment providing complete, accurate engineering information, from a range of different sources, including pdfs, drawings and unstructured spreadsheets.

Anne-Marie Walters, industry marketing director, Bentley Systems with responsibility for oil and gas, says that the company sees one of its strengths at being better at integrating different types of data together related to engineering and analysis.

'We've got really good at pulling data together - and providing one picture,' she said.

'We've got technology to extract data from different systems - to pull it together with other data. We're known as the company that really solves the interoperability problem, especially for engineering information.'

The software is designed in a 'very visual' way, Ms Walters says, showing engineers where the weak points in their design are, and how elements in the structure will weaken over the service life. This enables engineers to make easier decisions about how to alter the structure to improve its strength, such as with more piles or struts.

'Fundamentally the tooling combines modelling and analysis,' she says.

Bentley has a number of use cases on its files, where an offshore structure was subjected to actual extreme weather or a collision, and was filmed, showing it behaved exactly as predicted, she says.

Acquisitions

Bentley has made a number of acquisitions over the past few years which have broadened its portfolio, growing from its initial development as a structural engineering software company.

In 2011, Bentley acquired a software package called Software for Offshore Structural Analysis (SACS), developed by a company called Engineering Dynamics, which has been developing offshore software for structural engineering since 1971.

Nearly every offshore company is using either SACS to analyse its structures, to see if they might be likely to last another 10 years, or whether they can take more equipment such as injection pumps, , Ms Walters says.

More recently the SACS product has been used for assets like FPSOs, to help extend life.

This year, the company launched SACS Connect Edition Version 12, where it can do finite element analysis for 'extreme events' as part of the design work.

It also added more sophisticated engineering analysis, and better tools for analysing how offshore weather would affect structures, including extreme weather or a ship collision, and extending asset life.

In October 2013, Bentley built on the SACS acquisition with the purchase of a software package called MOSES, developed by a company called UltraMarine.

It is described as the 'premier analysis and simulation software for complex projects involving the transportation and installation of offshore structures, including the launch of jackets and floating over of topsides.'

Another recent acquisition was a geotechnical (subsea) integrity analysis tool called (Plaxis), which will show how a building will affect the rock or soil beneath it.

Much of this software development comes out of university research in the Netherlands, looking at maintaining water protection from the sea, with much of the country on reclaimed land below sea level.

Using all the software tools together makes it possible to model both offshore structures and the seabed they sit upon, at the same time.

AssetWise

In 2012, Bentley acquired a Canadian company called Ivara Corporation, which makes an asset performance software called AssetWise.

By putting AssetWise together with the structural engineering software, it is possible to monitor structures over their lifecycle, as well as when they were constructed.

AssetWise also has tools for managing the various chemicals which are used to manage assets and inhibit corrosion. It can help make decisions about chemical usage, dosage rates and inventory. These capabilities will help reduce chemical costs by at least 10 percent and improve availability of inventory across the operation, Bentley says.

There are analytics tools which can automatically identifying rust in photographs, and being trained to understand the colour, extent and pattern, how much rust has been eaten away and so work out how bad it is.

Working with photos

In 2015, Bentley acquired a company called Acute3D, which produces the ContextCapture software which can combine (2D) photos together to create a 3D model.

The software looks for common points in photographs, and then joins the points, creating a kind of mesh model - wire frame mesh model. The company calls it a 'reality mesh'.

The 3D models can be provided to an engineer, to help her get a better sense of what she is looking at.

They can also be used to make measurements, or understand the condition of an asset better.

The engineer does not need to go back and take any more photos, all the information is there.

One company used this in the Gulf of Mexico, with unmanned platforms and wellheads close to shore which need decommissioning.

They were extensively photographed by sending out just a speedboat with a drone and a drone operator, capturing all the information necessarily within an hour.

There is an interesting comparison between laser scanning and photos, Ms Walters says.

Photographs can have much higher resolution than laser scans, enabling much more zooming in on details, even photos taken with a mobile phone.

But the laser scan allows precise measurement, because there is data about how far away every object and data point is.

The models from photographs do not take a large amount of data. They can be viewed via a web browser - different to laser scans, where a laser scan for a whole plant can be terabytes in size.

Process control

A further collaboration Bentley makes is with control systems software company Siemens, connecting Bentley's 3D modelling software with Siemens' software for equipment and process control.



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