Intergraph Acquires U.K.-based Alias Ltd.

6 Feb, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

Current Alias partners may have no option but to stay with Intergraph for ISOGEN piping software.

Intergraph announced yesterday that it has acquired Alias Ltd., the developer of ISOGEN piping software, which provides automatic piping isometric drawing generation capability to the majority of 3D plant design and shipbuilding software users. Alias has OEM agreements with Intergraph, Bentley Systems, COADE and many other piping and plant software developers. Of the major 3D developers, only AVEVA is missing from the roster of Alias customers.

Based in the United Kingdom, Alias Ltd. was founded in 1990 and is not to be confused with the industrial design and animation software developer Alias, recently acquired by Autodesk. ISOGEN was originally developed by ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries). Two ICI executives, John Liles and David Lowe, formed the privately held Alias to further develop the product.

Beyond ISOGEN, Alias' product line includes I-Sketch for generating individual isometrics and SPOOLGEN for generating fabrication spool drawings. Its most recent product, I-Route, automatically routes pipes within a 3D model based on cost-optimization techniques.

ISOGEN's broad reach and roster of partners had intensified concerns in recent years about the company's succession plan, or lack thereof. Now Alias will be owned by one of its customers -- Alias and Intergraph two have been OEM partners since 1993. ISOGEN is sold with both SmartPlant 3D and PDS, and Intergraph also sells other Alias products.

Alias says it follows a "strict policy of working with anyone and everyone and operates openly and fairly with all of our partners." Intergraph promises business as usual:

"We remain committed to the advancement of the Alias product portfolio and will continue to provide Alias's high level of support to both their customers and OEM partners," said Gerhard Sallinger, president of Intergraph's Process, Power & Marine Division. "Intergraph, Alias, its partners and, most important, its customers will benefit from this acquisition."

Other Alias partners are no doubt somewhat uneasy about having to rely on a competitor for key technology. ISOGEN is extremely popular in the plant design world -- Alias claims close to 100% market share.

Tom Van Laan, PE, president of COADE, says, "Although it is always disconcerting to discover that one?s competitor has acquired one?s vendor (COADE bundles ISOGEN both with CADWorx Plant Professional and CAESAR II), we are not yet viewing this transaction with excessive concern." He notes that COADE holds a multi-year agreement with Alias and that CAESAR II has long been the primary stress analysis tool interfacing with Intergraph's plant design products. "Our recent introduction of ISOGEN-driven automatic stress isometrics in CAESAR II have been well received by the marketplace," says Van Laan, "so we are glad that we have been assured that the status quo will be maintained for the foreseeable future."

Though there are no indications that Intergraph plans any changes to the status quo, I expect that some partners will be reviewing their 2D isometric options. Bentley,for example, licensed ISOGEN just last year to include in its Bentley Piping product.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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