Autodesk acquires Assemble as race to digitize construction stays hot

Jul 9, 2018 | Hot Topics

Autodesk just announced that it has acquired Assemble Systems, makers of a SaaS solution that connects BIM (building information models) to construction workflows such as bid management, estimating, scheduling, site management and finance. Autodesk says that it plans to integrate Assemble Systems’ solution into its BIM 360 platform.

This is the fourth big-ish acquisition in the construction/IT world this year — and it just keeps getting more interesting. Why does all of this matter, beyond giving PLMish vendors entry into new markets? And why is it more important than automating an industry that has long been seen as technology less advanced than manufacturing? Because connecting design, BIM in this case, to manufacturing, construction in this domain, is smart: it leads to better planning and improves communication between all project participants — and that, ultimately, leads to better project outcomes.

So what is it? Assemble Systems’ Assemble solution extract meta data from BIM models and other data sources, then enables users to add specific data for construction industry tasks like estimating, scheduling, material order and management, and serves this out to project participants in a way they can use. BIM models have a huge amount of information; very little of that is pertinent for every person on a project. In order for BIM to be useful, it needs to be served in a way that the user can interact with. Using Assemble, a user can query a Primavera-built project schedule, for example, and connect workflows like project management to connect the model, the schedule and the work packages to carry out the job.

Autodesk says that Assemble Systems’ products are “used by 174 unique customers, in nearly 1,000 sites and offices working on 12,700 projects, including one-fourth of the ENR 400 customer list”. Also per Autodesk, Assemble Systems todays sells primarily in North America and products are in English — so one immediate action for the team will be expanding sales and translating products to make it accessible in other markets.

Autodesk did not disclose the purchase price, except to say that the transaction is expected to have no impact on Autodesk’s financial guidance. Autodesk had led Assemble Systems’ Series A funding round, so part of this deal was a buy-out of other investors. The company said that it used a combination of cash and stock to finance the deal. The stock part must have been significant, because Autodesk went on to say, “Autodesk has committed to offsetting the shares issued for this transaction within the current quarter through its ongoing stock repurchase program.” Hmm.