Schnitger Corporation

Autodesk acquires Graitec’s steel/concrete detailing products’s going to be an Autodesk kind of day, as the company hosts its annual investor event for much of the day. We should get more details about the restructuring announced earlier this week and about the company’s plans and expectations for its subscription offering — and the effect subscriptions are expected to have on overall operations. There’ll be some guidance tweaking, perhaps some memorable quotes … What we weren’t expecting was acquisition news before the event started.

Autodesk just announced that it has acquired Graitec’s Advance Steel and Advance Concrete product lines from Graitec’s shareholders. Clearly, this will bolster the company’s BIM and architectural products but also its plant design and civil offerings, since those disciplines also rely on steel and concrete.

When a project includes a steel structure, it’s generally specified in the design drawings (a BIM or other CAD model, 2D or 3D). But think about a stair case: lots of directional pieces, complex joints, short parts and long parts … Detailing how it is to be fabricated and assembled could be a time-consuming and error-prone task if done manually, so systems like Graitec’s have been developed to automate the process as much as possible. Smart objects, automatic joints, standard structures all contribute to generate workshop and installation drawings, with labels and dimensions.

Graitec’s Advance Steel automates the production of drawings, bills of material and the numerical control (NC) files that run steel cutting machines. Originally an AutoCAD-based product, since version 2012, Advance Steel worked with or  in a standalone mode (ie. no AutoCAD). Graitec says that it has over 10,000 Advance Steel users.

Advance Concrete is similar, automating form creation plan generation, reinforcement drawings, bill of materials and NC files.

Graitec has been an Autodesk Application Developer since 1997 and a Unique Application Reseller since 2001.  As is usual in these cases, we wonder why the existing relationship wasn’t sufficient — and why it had to change now. Hope to learn more during the investor meeting.

Autodesk says that the acquisition will close in fiscal Q4 (so before Janaury 31, 2014) and hat that “associated employees” from Graitec will join the company as part of the deal.

The point of adding Advance Steel and Concrete to the  portfolio, according to Autodesk SVP Amar Hanspal is to “provide our customers with a more seamless structural engineering workflow, from design to fabrication and to construction, with enhanced offerings for structural steel and concrete detailing.” 

What happens to Graitec? The company will still sell and support Advance Steel and Advance Concrete, and will also continue to develop, sell and support its remaining products — it’s not vanishing. Graitec will still offer  Advance Design, the structural static and dynamic analysis suite, and Advance CAD, its 2D/3D AEC-specific CAD product. Graitec founder and CEO Francis Guillemard, said that “Graitec continues to develop dedicated BIM software and services that are complementary to Autodesk, and together we look forward to maximizing the efficiency and performance of the global construction industry.”

We’ll learn more in a couple of hours.

Image courtesy of seier+seier.

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