Geo Week News

October 4, 2011

AVEVA acquires point cloud processing software suite


Buy of Z+F UK division brings LFM Server and more

CAMBRIDGE, UK –AVEVA has acquired Z+F UK, developer of the LFM software suite from Zoller + Fröhlich GmbH, Wangen, Germany. AVEVA believes Z+F UK to be the “largest software team focused on as-built data and leveraging that to create deliverables” from point cloud data, said Mat Truche-Gordon, EVP for business strategy at AVEVA, in an interview with SPAR 3D. “They’re absolutely on the leading edge and we want to build on that.”

AVEVA and Z+F UK have a history of cooperation, going back some six years, and the LFM technology has been vital in the creation of AVEVA products like AVEVA Laser Model Interface, IntelliLaser and Laser Modeller.

It was perhaps the recent release of Laser Modeller, however, that put the wheels in motion for this acquisition, which the Manchester Evening News reports is valued at £6.3 million.

“We’ve seen really strong growth in the laser scanning market,” said Truche-Gordon, and AVEVA’s customers are increasingly using laser scanning to create as-built models, whether in the course of renovation or decommissioning, for asset management, or in training and simulation, “keeping people out of dangerous environments.”

“It’s laser modeling where we saw the game changing,” Truche-Gordon said. “We’ve been looking for some time into how we can improve that process, moving from laser scanning to an intelligent model in PDMS. When we look at the cost and elapsed time going from scan to modeling, it’s still a huge barrier, and that presents a problem.”

With the release of Laser Modeller, however, which is built on LFM’s Modeller software, “the early feedback has been absolutely fantastic,” he said. “We’re seeing time savings of up to 50 percent over traditional modeling workflow.

“We feel that’s given us a strong competitive advantage, and we wanted to secure it, and that was a big part of securing this acquisition.”

AVEVA believes that competitive advantage is just the beginning, however. The company will retain all the Z+F UK employees and create a new “global 3D data capture Centre of Excellence” in Manchester, UK, where Z+F UK is located. The focus will be on “pioneering the market for 3D data capture, management and automated design software.”

What are the potential benefits to current AVEVA customers, current LFM customers, and the rest of the market?

For AVEVA’s customers, there is the promise of a future where the LFM tools are even more tightly integrated into their current software packages, making the scan-to-model workflow more intuitive and streamlined. Asset owner-operators will have increased ability to explore and manage assets, associating scan and model data withP&IDs, maintenance records and other engineering data.

For LFM’s customers, the LFM Server platform gives them an easy transition to AVEVA’s Laser Model Interface, IntelliLaser and Laser Modeller products, should they be so inclined. This acquisition will also help them capitalize further on LFM’s openness and ability to work with data from all manufacturers of laser scan hardware. While openness is an LFM hallmark , there may have been some reluctance on the parts of parent company Zoller + Fröhlich’s hardware competitors to truly open the doors.

“We do think that the LFM brand was held back a little by a perception that it only worked with Z+F,” Truche-Gordon said, “and that’s one thing we need to do to educate the service partners and the hardware partners we’ve worked with. It is completely vendor neutral and open. And it takes time to change that perception.”

In fact, Truche-Gordon made pains to emphasize that the LFM openness for export to as many CAD programs as possible, independent of AVEVA, would be not only retained but emphasized.

“It can take in from any laser, and it can write out to any other CAD system,” he said, “and that’s not something we’re looking to turn off.”

How this is good for the rest of the market? All users ought to be encouraged that a company of AVEVA’s stature in the market has made an investment in addressing the scan-to-model pain point for asset owners and service providers and engineering contractors. “Acquisitions also provide proof of an exit path for software company investors, which stimulates even more investment – the dividend is more innovation,” said Tom Greaves, managing director, SPAR 3D.

For a look at AVEVA’s new Laser Modeller software and to speak with them more about the acquisition, visit with the company’s representatives at SPAR Europe, being held Nov. 8 and 9 at the World Forum, in the Hague, Netherlands.


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