NEWS: SITEOPS civil engineering solution acquired by Bentley Systems

Mike Detwiler, Bentley vice president and Rachel Rogers, Bentley director Civil, Geospatial, and Hydraulics & Hydrology, spoke with AECCafe Voice this week about the Bentley acquisition of North Carolina-based BLUERIDGE Analytics, provider of SITEOPS civil engineering cloud software, in August 2014.


Mike Detwiler was CEO and co-founder of SITEOPS prior to the acquisition. He is now vice president SITEOPS Product Development at Bentley. The office will remain in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the SITEOPS staff will be retained.

SITEOPS comes to Bentley with an impressive list of engineers, developers and land planners working in the retail, real estate and AEC industries. Says Rogers, “We’ll continue to support our users and work with them to help take SITEOPS to the next level. Bentley and SITEOPS have highly complementary products, so we’re excited to add SITEOPS to our civil design product offerings.”

Says Detwiler, “Bentley has a global reach, which is going to benefit us tremendously.”

Rogers explained that Bentley didn’t have a site optimization technology that SITEOPS brings, which is breakthrough technology in the cloud. The addition of SITEOPS empowers site development professionals to move beyond engineering to optioneering, which enables the exploration of engineering alternatives and their costs.

Detwiler added that SITEOPS engineering and optioneering can offer site design options, costs management and 3D modeling.

Bentley invested in SITEOPS in 2010, and the company has been a great strategic partner since then. On August 7 of this year, Bentley acquired all of SITEOPS.

“Our initial priority is to complete the end-to-end workflow from site development through the detailed design and construction modeling,” said Detwiler. “Bentley has some great products like Open Roads and ProjectWise, and SITEOPS allows you to do a lot of the upfront work, such as the optioneering—i.e., looking at alternative options. It’s all about workflow at the end of day, and Bentley’s now in a unique positon to offer that entire workflow.”

What kind of ROI does SITEOPS bring to the table? “We’ve run hundreds of thousands of sites, we’ve benchmarked it, and are saving, on average, about $15,000 an acre,” said Detwiler. “Most of that is grading costs with SITEOPS. SITEOPS looks at hundreds of thousands of grading plans for a site layout. And then a hundred thousand-plus storm water drainage plans for each grading plan. So you’re looking at 10 million-plus different permutations on a site. SITEOPS, given a set of constraints, can come up with the most cost-optimized solution for a particular site. Civil engineers use it on all different projects: schools, cell phone towers, nuclear power stations—even some mining apps, and we’re seeing around $15,000 an acre in cost savings. Any time you’re moving dirt, you’re dealing with infrastructure and a number of parameters: rock, contaminated or unsuitable soils, water tables, retaining walls, loading docks, parking lots, water drainage ponds. There are a lot of variables.”

Detwiler said that one of his SITEOPS co-founders was a land developer, and they started the company to solve a hard problem in the industry. That problem is that you know what the land costs, you know what the building costs, but you don’t know what the site development costs are. “That’s the biggest question mark,” he said. “And a lot of times, depending upon the project, it could be 25-30% of the budget. So it’s significant.”

Through optioneering, you can look at all your options, and each one of those options has a budget associated with it. So, right up front, you can determine your site development costs even before you buy the tract of land. “Before SITEOPS, you had to wait until you were in construction. Then, when you went over budget, you lost all your profit on a project.”

There are three main benefits to civil engineers: 1) SITEOPS provides an edge over a competitor. “A lot of our civil clients use SITEOPS to win business. It allows them to present multiple options—with a budget—in a very detailed and professional format to their prospects,” said Detwiler. 2) SITEOPS has proven productivity; it lets the civil do 10 site designs in the time it used to take them to do just one. So the productivity enhancement is huge for these civil engineering firms. 3) SITEOPS lets engineers be engineers instead of draftsmen. “It takes care of the drawing—the mundane, time-consuming work, such as counting parking spaces, drawing parking lots. Our software allows the engineers to focus their brainpower on the harder engineering decisions on the site.”

From company materials: SITEOPS enables civil engineering professionals, real estate developers, and land planners to:

  • perform site configuration simulations that fully assess millions of layout, parking, grading, and drainage options for a site within hours instead of spending months evaluating a handful of options,
  • produce preliminary cost estimates and conceptual designs faster,
  • optimize site designs through advanced optioneering, and
  • minimize overall costs while ensuring engineering quality.

By: Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ newsletters and blogs. She writes on a number of topics, including but not limited to geospatial, architecture, engineering and construction. As many technologies evolve and occasionally merge, Susan finds herself uniquely situated to be able to cover diverse topics with facility.