Hexagon changing the world a millimeter at a time

The marriage of CAD and metrology is the marriage of the digital and the real-world. It is transforming many industries including AEC and manufacturing. Hexagon, which has its roots in metrology, has addressed the digitalization revolution from the sky down. Founded in 1992 in Stockholm, Hexagon acquired ERDAS for their satellite-based geospatial technology and they’ve acquired the leading lidar companies including Leica and Cyra. The company has also augmented its CAD/CAM portfolio with the Optiv line of CMM tools.

Hexagon acquires Melown Technologies of Prague and adds on 3D visualization

In early July, Hexagon’s Geosystems division announced the acquisition of Melown Technologies from investment company Helifreak Limited. Melown develops visualization technologies using 3D reality capture and photogrammetry to enable web-based rendering and 3D visualization of urban and natural landscape digital models.

Obviously, this technology fits in well with Hexagon’s extensive portfolio of reality capture devices, and software tools to make sense of data. With Melown, Hexagon gets the ability to render large realtime models in the cloud. And the company is adding on technology that competes with ESRI’s CityEngine, Bentley’s CityPlanning and digital twin technology for cities.

Ivo Lukacovic, head of Helifreak Limited, says there have been several takeover bids and offers of strategic cooperation for the Melown Technology, but Hexagon “was the most interesting as it offers us the best prospects for the future development of the company.”

Juergen Dold, President of Hexagon’s Geosystems Division, says, “we are very excited that Melown Technologies is joining our organization as it strengthens our competence and technology portfolio to accelerate the accessibility of 3D digital realities that are captured with our broad portfolio of reality capture solutions.”

What do we think?

The company has long been a leader in measurement, positioning, and reality capture, but those market segments have been fairly specialized until the digitalization revolution began in earnest in the last 10 years or so.

When CEO Ola Rollen took over as CEO of Hexagon in 2000, the company began expanding into software to make sense of the information being captured, giving them a position in factory automation, automotive, process and power, and manufacture. The company competes head to head with Bentley Systems, ESRI, Siemens, and Trimble on multiple fronts and is growing its CAD interests. In 2014, the company acquired Intergraph and in 2018 it acquired European CAD company, Bricsys. But, because of its strong position in metrology hardware, Hexagon shares customers with all the major CAD companies.

Hexagon’s origin story is similar to Trimble. Both companies have been adding on software capabilities including design and analysis tools to strengthen their hardware business and both have a remarkably strong position. Trimble is addressing construction and agriculture while Hexagon is growing in industrial fields and process and power. There’s plenty of overlap.

At Hexagon Live in June 2019, Ola Rollen outlined the environmental threats that are growing around the world. He said the year 2050 is the point of no-return for earth. As an enthusiastic capitalist with a taste for irony, Rolla found the bright side. There’s plenty of opportunity, he said, given all the work that needs to be done.

The breadth of Hexagon’s tools and technologies is striking. In addition to visualization tools, Hexagon’s sensors are going to work to help save the world and improve the efficiency of the built environment. The company’s sensors for the automotive industry can help improve the energy use of automobiles.

Bentley Systems, ESRI, Hexagon, and Trimble are building their expertise in markets for the future, and they’re building a distinct market segment in design, engineering, and geospatial.