Now part of the HexagonPPM portfolio, Bricsys 24/7 has continued to extend its CDE capabilities, with an enhanced BIM viewer and support for IFC. Could it provide the basis for a revamped HxGN SMART Build offering? Announcements are planned for mid-2019.
Following on from yesterday’s lunchtime news that Sweden’s Hexagon had acquired Belgium-based construction software developer Bricsys, the latter’s London user conference saw demonstrations of the the company’s BIM capabilities and then took a quick dive into “The Future of the CDE” [common data environment].
My BIM-embracing colleagues were impressed by Bricsys BIM, so the CDE demonstration was perhaps underwhelming by comparison. Bricsys 24/7 is “big in Benelux” (according to the company’s communications chief, Don Strimbu) and, after defining a CDE (useful for an audience with a large number of delegates from outside the UK), we learned about how the product was being deployed on a major project in Brussels: the Leopold II tunnel project.
Since October 2017, Bricsys 24/7’s viewer has been extended to incorporate full support for IFC (as 24/7 product manager Jurgen Schepers promised; Bricsys is a full member of BuildingSMART International). The viewing platform also uses 3D WebGL, and enables 3D annotations of the model.
Bricsys24/7 will be offered free to all BricsCAD v19 users next year (echoes of how Autodesk tried to expand adoption of Buzzsaw by offering it free to AutoCAD users nearly two decades ago). The roadmap now includes support for BIM Collaboration Format (BCF) and for virtual reality (VR).
CAD and BIM market
After the main public sessions, we learned that the conversations between Hexagon and Bricsys had been going on for around 18 months. For Bricsys, which for a long time has focused most of its resources on software development and relied on resellers to undertake its marketing, CEO Erik De Keyser said a relationship with Hexagon would boost its sales and marketing activities; Hexagon’s Rick Allen said the parent company would also help boost Bricsys’s profile in north America, and Hexagon is clearly in the mood to take on Autodesk in the CAD/BIM market, criticising its aggressive pricing and subscription models, and looking to give its customers an option (“we will be leading horses to water, and a lot of them will drink”).
De Keyser, above, also stressed that it’s not just about Autodesk. He identified that the potential global market for BIM is still under-penetrated, with – even on optimistic estimates – only around 16% of designers using BIM applications – “We are going for the 84% that don’t currently do BIM“.
Bricsys 24/7 and HxGN SMART Build
Asked about the potential ‘fit’ between Bricsys 24/7 and HxGN SMART Build, De Keyser said the Hexagon product extended across a much wider range of capabilities – estimating, planning and scheduling, for example – while 24/7 was specifically aimed at design collaboration activities, but it was recognised that the products complemented each other well. Some work is clearly already under way: “Watch this space in about nine months,” was the message.
HxGN SMART Build was launched at a time when Hexagon was looking to diversify away from its focus on oil and gas, and to use its expertise on detailed project planning and scheduling in other markets such as construction. It looked to integrate 4D and 5D project controls capabilities gained from the October 2015 acquisition of Ecosys, but making technologies designed for specialist engineering procurement construction businesses (EPCs) applicable to architecture, engineering and construction, I think, proved challenging. A collaboration with Skanska and a research project grant in Singapore are the only instances of industry engagement with HxGN SMART Build that I have been able to identify.
So perhaps Bricsys 24/7 will provide the new platform upon which Hexagon can relaunch its SMART Build ambitions?