GRAITEC + StrucSoft boosts independence & readiness for modern AEC build

Apr 20, 2021 | Hot Topics

I often write about Germany’s Mensch und Maschine (MuM). MuM is an Autodesk reseller and a software developer in its own right; I’ve been covering their quarterly earnings releases to better understand how Autodesk resellers did as a large proportion of their revenue went from perpetual to subscription. In MuM’s case, the transition was tough but was cushioned a bit by the success of its proprietary software brands, including OPEN MIND. MuM is publicly traded, so we get a consistent news feed but it’s not the only Autodesk partner that both resells and develops.

GRAITEC does both, too, though it’s not publicly traded so we hear less about it. GRAITEC just announced that it has acquired StrucSoft Solutions, maker of prefabrication and offsite construction solutions for the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) market. StrucSoft’s solutions are closely tied to Autodesk’s Revit and are used to design, engineer, and create manufacturing instructions for wood and light-gauge steel structures.

Ironically, in 2013, Autodesk acquired GRAITEC’s Advance Steel and Advance Concrete to add structural fabrication and detailing to its AEC offering. I don’t have time right now to look back at what exactly was bought and what happened to it within Autodesk’s AEC offering.

Anyway, GRAITEC says its FABRICATE plus StrucSoft’s Metal Wood Framer (MWF) will, “significantly reinforce GRAITEC’s CREATE – SIMULATE – FABRICATE – MANAGE strategy and its willingness to provide end to end solutions for the construction industry.”

What’s interesting about this is that, like MuM, GRAITEC has a business around Autodesk products but also built adjacent offerings. MuM’s OPEN MIND complements Autodesk’s manufacturing industry offerings; GRAITEC’s solutions add to Autodesk’s Revit. Revit is typically used in designing a building; StrucSoft is used to analyze and fabricate a design’s wood or steel framing, floors, stairs, and other members — all the way to CNC (computer numerical control) fabrication, if that’s warranted.

We typically think of building sites as artisanal: a framer gets in there and starts hammering. But this brings with it risks of uneven quality across craftsmen and job sites. Keeping to the schedule dependence on good weather for many tasks and just-in-time delivery of materials on constrained urban job sites … All problems that manufacturing industries addressed long ago by bringing production indoors, into controlled environments. As building projects start to see the benefit of modular construction, offsite fabrication, and other strategies that are more manufacturing-production-like, solutions such as GRAITEC’s become increasingly important.

Why? Just as mechanical parts that are traditionally subtractively manufactured must be redesigned for efficient additive manufacturing, AEC designs must be suited to the production method. A section/unit/module that is built offsite must be redesigned to have structural stability during transport and installation, as well as whatever function it serves within its overall building. Have you ever seen a historic building being relocated? The building likely had external bracing for its lift onto a hauler but even with that, probably sustained damage in the move. If this is the build strategy, you need to plan for this, so that the cost of repairs is minimized or avoided.

From a news perspective, then, this is a two-fer: An Autodesk partner grows its independent offering, and it positions itself for what many see as a wave of industrialized AEC projects.

Financial details were not disclosed but it sounds like a done deal.