AVEVA today announced the acquisition of Z+F UK Limited, maker of the LFM software suite of 3D laser scanning software packages. AVEVA and Z+F UK have been partners for years, releasing increasingly sophisticated tools to integrate the output from laser scanning with AVEVA’s 3D CAD models. With this acquisition, AVEVA will be able to achieve tighter integration between laser point clouds and AVEVA Laser Modeler, addressing the needs of plant construction and refit projects.

Laser scanning is a technique used to measure the current state of plants and other large objects by using LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) to detect how far objects are from the laser source. Scanners aim a laser at the object and measure the time to a reflected signal, which yields the distance from the scanner to the object. A scanner can capture around a million points per second and creates an enormous point cloud that represents the objects in its path. But the cloud, in raw form, is only so useful; it contains noise, must be aligned to account for the earth’s curvature (in case of rally large plants or pipelines) and so on. The LFM software suite includes 5 products that clean up the data make it more useful. LFM enables users to import point clouds from many laser scanning devices, process the raw data to knit together individual scans, view the scan data from on the job site, produce 3D CAD models and export intelligent 3D models to CAD packages such as AVEVA’s PDMS.

Z+F UK was the software arm of parent company Zoller + Fröhlich GmbH, a leader in non-contact laser scanning devices. Under the agreement with AVEVA, Z+F GmbH has been granted a license to continue to distribute LFM software together with Z+F GmbH’s hardware products. The initial license was granted free of royalty up to the value of the first £1m of royalties over the next five years.

AVEVA CEO Richard Longdon said, "We’re quite delighted with this acquisition. We had been watching the laser scanning space for a while and liked L+Z’s innovation and neutrality. They were one of the first to enter the market back in the 1990s and have built a set of tools that add value to laser data captured from any hardware vendor, used by many software vendors. We are keen to maintain this neutrality and all partners who currently work with Z+F UK can continue to do so.”

Mr. Longdon says that AVEVA’s salesforce will be able to broaden the reach of the LFM brand and that, while small in terms of the cash spent, the acquisition is strategically important because it “brings under AVEVA’s control a core technology that supports products that will offer substantial efficiencies and cost savings over currently available technology". The company will showcase the combined offering at SPAR Europe and at the AVEVA World Summits user conferences in October and November.

AVEVA is acquiring Z+F UK for a net consideration of £6.3 million in cash. The acquisition is expected to close on October 7, 2011.