Trimble SketchUp Pro screenshot
Sean Burke Trimble SketchUp Pro screenshot

AEC software and technology giants Trimble and Nemetschek Group have formed a strategic alliance that will increase interoperability among their products. The companies announced the partnership at the Lake Constance 5D-Conference 2015 in Constance, Germany. Nemetschek is based in Munich and develops Allplan, ArchiCAD, and Vectorworks. Trimble, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., develops SketchUp, Tekla Structures, and Vico Office and makes construction, surveying, and mapping technologies.

In their press release, Nemetschek and Trimble state that the partnership's goals include: sharing data formats to promote workflow interoperability between select products in their respective portfolios to encourage the use of BIM; closing the gap between virtual design and construction tasks (essentially BIM) and field data; and promoting open standards and workflows across the industry. The companies will align their products using the cloud-based Trimble Connect collaboration platform, which was formerly Gehry Technologies’ GTeam.

The lack of interoperability among different design and modeling programs has long been a headache for architects, engineers, and contractors. Design teams often have to create and maintain multiple building information models to use different modeling and analysis tools. “[T]oo often they find that the data they need is not interoperable across their different software workflows,” said Bryn Fosburgh, vice president of Trimble's construction technology divisions, in the press release.

Rob Painter, general manager of Trimble Buildings, told ARCHITECT via email that the all-too-common lack of collaboration among professions in the construction industry is detrimental to project accuracy, efficiency, safety, and overall quality. "We don't believe the problem will be solved by only one company's solutions," he says. "[But] we feel confident that our coordinated efforts and strong technology portfolios will have a major impact to improve the situation."

Trimble and Nemetschek software users will have some time before they see changes to their workflows. "It's too early for us to say exactly how and when the workflows of specific solutions might be impacted," Painter says.

Along with strengthening “the office-to-field connection,” Painter says, the alliance will marry Nemetschek’s architectural 3D design software with Trimble’s project management technologies and precision tools, such as GPS, construction lasers, total stations, scanners, unmanned aerial vehicles, and wireless communications. “Just as there isn't a single tool that can solve the challenges of all disciplines in the design-build-operate lifecycle, there is more than one area that will benefit from our collaboration,” he says.