Bentley’s ProjectWise Dynamic Plot for Design Review

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Industry News
Bentley’s ProjectWise Dynamic Plot for Design Review
By Susan Smith

By now, most readers are familiar with the Adapx digital pen software from Anoto, which has become ubiquitous in several industries for use out in the field.

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Bentley Systems has taken that Anoto technology one step further with their Bentley ProjectWise Dynamic Plot V8i-- collaboration software that creates intelligent paper plots and digital models for the benefit of distributed project teams, for whom paper is still an ideal medium for design review. ProjectWise Dynamic Plot V8i is a software service that creates an intelligent link between paper plots and digital models, so that paper plots and digital models are always in sync and error-free. As paper is still a viable format for most team members in the field, being able to use pen and paper that actually sync written information and digital data is a profound development. By providing automatic digital backups the solution ensures the markups and workflows are more accurate than they are when information has to be transferred.

Dynamic Plot is to be used to synchronize comments made on paper with digital models stored in Bentley’s ProjectWise. Users can also use ProjectWise InterPlot’s publishing capabilities to apply markups to a plot by adding a pattern of dots to a drawing as it is plotted. The pattern of dots has embedded intelligence that links the paper drawing and model. Markups are applied to the plot with a digital pen, which then simultaneously are captured and stored in memory. The markups can then by transferred to the ProjectWise environment to be automatically synchronized and associated with the model.

Bentley’s Beta tester for Dynamic Plot, HNTB Corporation, an employee-owned infrastructure firm serving federal, state, municipal, military, and private clients, was instrumental in the development of Dynamic Plot. The company expected to see a reduction in paper use, as their adoption and reliance on the PC became widespread. But in truth, the opposite happened, their paper input increased as everyone could more easily plot on demand. Because HNTB converts almost all of its designs and production work in the CAD environment and all that paper based review and markup workflow can, as a result, be slow, this had the opposite effect, meaning that the digital data was also often out of sync with the paper markups.

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The company really wanted something simple: they wanted a way to design on the computer but to continue to markup designs on paper. They needed to be able to transfer captured markups from paper to the PC environment without loss of data, synchronizing the transferred markups with the source files.

Bentley’s John Simmons explained Dynamic Plot, which actually starts before you plot a drawing. “With this software come tools that add a dynamic layer to the drawing, so that when it’s plotted to paper using ProjectWise InterPlot, the new software adds the design data along with the unique pattern that gives the overall plot a slightly grayish background. At the same time a record is made in the ProjectWise database, indicating where design files were used to create the plot. This record is really the key later in the process for associating comments applied to the dynamic plot with the digital model used to produce it. This provenance enables for the first time complete change management between paper and digital copies of the same information. So when someone marks up the dynamic paper copy with a digital pen the markups are immediately captured in real time by the pen and then stored for later synchronization with the original model content. Synchronizing the digital pen and its content is also very easy – dock the pen and the digital markups are transferred back to the PC and transformed into vectors before being synchronized and associated with the source data. This is done by querying the record we created earlier so the result of that all data can be presented on the screen in one place.”

In another demonstration, Simmons showed a walkthrough with a process engineer in the plant who must improve the plant’s production efficiency. “I can cut down the time it takes to make these design changes by using ProjectWise Dynamic Plot solution. Using ProjectWise InterPlot Organizer, I can plot our drawings stored in ProjectWise on common every day printers and plotters to a ProjectWise InterPlot server that’s running the ProjectWise Dynamic Plot service. As I visually review the plot, I can see that the flow rates from the built in pumps are really insufficient to meet increased production, so as result I’m going to mark up the drawing with the digital pen to replace the internal pumps with the external pumps. Each pump is capable of delivering enough flow rate from each of those storage tanks, hence the piping arrangement allows each pump to be connected to either of those tanks. Once the markups are finished showing the changes I can then dock the pen and the Dynamic Plot client stores the redline marks in a redline file that then references the original design file. At that point from the pen client interface, I can navigate immediately to the redline file that is stored in ProjectWise. With that in hand I can now open the redline file so I can either review the markups or replot the drawing or I could incorporate the changes into the originating drawing, it’s my choice.”

For companies like HNTB, Dynamic Plot leverages their original technology investments in plotter and printer hardware and the ProjectWise collaboration system which is valuable for distributed teams.

Currently, Dynamic Plot is for a 2D workflow, and is applicable for field work such as construction management, survey or inspection, anywhere that paper is used in design review. It is useful in BIM processes where numerous 2D drawings are created, marked up and reviewed.

The biggest differentiator between Adapx and Dynamic Plot is the distributed nature of the solution. With Dynamic Plot you can print the drawings anywhere and distribute the drawings anywhere so you can go to remote office or field, mark them up and the pen can be docked at the remote location.

A single pen can be used across multiple plots or drawing sets or projects, without pre-synchronization to a single drawing set, according to Simmons, and do not have to be formatted to original source model data before being put to paper. Thus if you have a single drawing set that needs to be passed through a number of different disciplines, such as structural, electrical, etc. each reviewer could use their own individual pens. They could also share pens, and the marks would come back to ProjectWise and be stored as a redline overlay file associated with the original data.

The data captured by pen is converted to vectors and then perfectly aligned with the digital information in the model.

The real beauty of the solution is about leveraging ProjectWise and InterPlot and capturing the information in the back office, which makes the synchronization easy. “You have a reviewer who is accustomed to drawing up on paper, he does nothing different than what he’s always done, he takes paper, puts comments on it, then he docks the pen,” said Simmons. “At that point it can be seamless, markups are immediately extracted and synchronized there’s no training for people who need to use this in the field or in the office.”

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