We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog to note two acquisitions this week (so far – it’s only Wednesday!). One is decidedly old-school, as AVEVA adds bocad’s structural detailing of steel, glass, wood and more to its portfolio. The other, by Hexagon, is intended to put infrastructure-related data onto your tablet or smart phone.

AVEVA adds to its engineering design offering with bocad
bocad started in the 1970s as CADBAU3, a 3D modeler for steel fabrication. Through the years, the name was changed and capabilities were added until, today, bocad is used for everything from designing and machining the world’s biggest wooden structure (the Metropol Parasol in Spain) to more mundane, but very important, integration of design and construction for smoother project execution.

bocad’s products include bocad-3D, with modules for the design, detailing, and evaluation of concrete, steel, glazings and other materials; and for the design of roofs, walls, towers, tanks and vessels, stairs and rails, and other types of structures. Interfaces to architectural (like Revit) and plant design products (like PDMS) support workflows from design to construction to the generation of fabrication and erection drawings and, in some cases, NC instructions. bocad-PS (for Production Steering) links design to the other trades involved in a project with modules for workshop management, plate and bar nesting nd purchase management, among others.

AVEVA acquired the bocad group of companies (and capitalized the name to “Bocad”) for cash consideration of €17.5m (£14.0 million, or about $27.5 million) on a “debt free/cash free basis which has been settled from existing cash resources”. In other words, no borrowing. Bocad’s team of 90 structural professionals will join AVEVA.

The company’s press release about the acquisition is exactly right: “The acquisition of Bocad significantly strengthens AVEVA’s 3D structural detailing capabilities for the plant, marine and fabrication markets … The combination creates a unique end-to-end offering for engineering design, as well as adding best-in-class structural detailing functionality to the AVEVA Engineering & Design product portfolio.” Structural detailing is a rather unsexy but critical function in any infrastructure project; this acquisition would appear to streamline the process. Too, AVEVA can bring bocad to a much broader audience than the small company was able to do via its offices in Belgium, Germany, Malaysia, Canada and France.

This is the second acquisition in just over six months for AVEVA (after Z+F UK last October). Both improve its design/modeling capability, but also extend its reach into construction and operations. As I wrote earlier about Bentley, moving engineering data beyond design, to planning, construction, commissioning/handover, operations and maintenance is critically important to the infrastructure verticals to reduce waste, improve efficiency and the quality of the end-result.

Hexagon puts maps & models on your mobile device
Hexagon took its acquisitive tendencies in a completely different direction, announcing that it has bought My Virtual Reality Software AS (myVR), which makes software for 2D, 3D and 360-degree viewing for desktop and mobile devices. myVR holds patents for high-resolution, real-time viewing of interactive maps and models over networks with limited bandwidth.

From myVR’s perspective, the acquisition by Hexagon will enable it to ramp up commercialization of its 360 StreetView, 3D Map, 3D MapView and 360 Panorama products. For Hexagon, the myVR software developer kits for smart phones and tablets can make 2D and 3D maps, gigapixel images, 360 degree street view and panoramas, and point clouds accessible to far more of its customers. The mention of point clouds is especially interesting and what Hexagon does here bears watching.

Financial details were not disclosed, but we can infer a bit: myVR was founded in 2003 and is owned by employees and investors including Viking Venture, which had a 46% ownership stake. The company had commercial clients but, according to Hexagon, “the acquisition will not have any visible impact on Hexagon’s earnings in the short-term.” In other words: revenue, but not much.

Including Bentley’s acquisition of InspectTech, that make three infrastructure/built asset software acquisitions in just over a week. All are small technology acquisitions rather than large deals intended to capture significant market share or customer sets. All appear to have been funded from cash on hand, so not putting any undue burden on the acquiring company. All extend the supplier beyond its traditional data creation mode, into consumption and operations. Interesting trend to watch — essential for industry, but also to keep these software suppliers relevant to their customers.