Bentley acquires 4D modelling specialist Synchro Software

US software giant Bentley Systems has acquired London-based firm Synchro Software, which specialises in 4D construction modelling for scheduling and project management.

Synchro has been globally adopted, in particular, for building and civil infrastructure projects. The acquisition broadens Bentley’s ProjectWise suite, which include ConstructSim, the leader for 4D construction modelling in project delivery of industrial plants.

With 4D construction project management, the benefits of BIM can extend throughout infrastructure project delivery and asset lifecycles, as traditionally disconnected workflows become digital workflows.

Synchro’s strong growth, since the introduction of Synchro PRO in 2007, has coincided with the burgeoning adoption of BIM for design workflows which, however, stop short of considering construction planning, scheduling and project management strategies.

For London’s Crossrail, Synchro applied Bentley Systems’ iModel work packaging to complete the reach of its BIM application portfolio and its common data environment.

In industrial project delivery, characterised by EPC (engineer-procure-construct) contracting, integrated processes are already the norm, leading to ConstructSim’s digital workflows for advanced work packaging.

However, in vertical buildings and civil infrastructure projects, notwithstanding the advancement of BIM for design and engineering, prevalent design/bid/build contracting has institutionalised disconnected workflows isolating construction planning from BIM data and geometry.

  • Constructors have been constrained by the limitations of standalone planning and scheduling programs, without digital visibility into the engineering information coalesced within the separate 3D BIM environment;
  • Construction planning typically lacks the workface-level granularity and depth of detail, and exploration of sequencing alternatives, to sufficiently minimise risk and schedule variance; and
  • Constructors characteristically need to create their own independent 3D models to serve construction only, in the process orphaning the BIM deliverables which can then never, despite their engineering intelligence, accurately represent the as-built asset for operations and maintenance. 

Within Synchro, 3D BIM deliverables are linked with the 4D time dimension to intrinsically and immersively synchronise, through digital workflows, the construction strategy, work breakdown structure, schedule, costs, resources, supply chain logistics, and progress.

Synchro’s 4D construction modelling appropriately incorporates other construction variables (human, materials, equipment, falseworks, and space) for safe, reliable, and predictable project delivery performance. Synchro includes intrinsic CPM scheduling, or users can maintain external project schedules. 

“I’m very excited about what Synchro brings to Bentley’s capabilities for comprehensive project delivery, not only in terms of technology, but also by virtue of the proven construction expertise of the Synchro team, led by the vision and advocacy of Tom Dengenis,” said Stephen Jolley, vice president of construction for Bentley.

“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 modeling completes the reach of our ProjectWise CDE.”

Tom Dengenis, CEO of Synchro Software, said: “This combination reflects my conviction about what’s imperative for finally driving infrastructure construction substantially forward. At Synchro, we accomplished the breakthrough of 4D construction modeling software many years ago, but we have wanted to advance the market faster than our own continuous growth.

Malcolm Taylor, head of technical information at Crossrail, said: “Using specialist software from Bentley Systems and Synchro, our project schedule could be linked to the 3D information to produce 4D models that could show the progress of design and installation at any particular point in time.

“Using 4D models to plan helped speed up the project teams’ understanding of what we needed to do and when. They could also tease out conflicts that were not normally apparent from regular Gantt charts and drawings.

“Using the 4D model for construction progress also manages payment expectations as it allows teams to readily agree on what’s completed and accepted – as well as producing an excellent as-built record for the future maintainer. For me, the news of Bentley Systems’ acquisition of Synchro Software is excellent, and will help reinforce how 4D can be used to improve construction management.”

Bentley Systems’ CEO Greg Bentley said: “The opportunity to extend digital workflows from BIM to institutionalise 4D construction modelling across infrastructure project delivery, superseding disconnected planning and scheduling, is enormous and immediate; its magnitude is confirmed by the clamor of new start-ups.

“Tom Dengenis’ informed enthusiasm and business foresight in anticipating and advancing the market’s potential – reflected in Synchro’s sustained and increasing growth from critical mass to escape velocity – assures me that we now, uniquely, have the right combined team and converged technologies.”

Image: Synchro applied Bentley Systems’ iModel work packaging on Crossrail (Bentley Systems)

The opportunity to extend digital workflows from BIM to institutionalise 4D construction modelling across infrastructure project delivery, superseding disconnected planning and scheduling, is enormous and immediate.– Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems

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