Time – a precious asset not to be wasted. Numerous surveys tell us that time searching for product information is even worse than normal searches. Not only is the search time often wasted, but engineers wind up taking much more time recreating vital product data.

The result is high cost and lots of frustration. Design teams aren't able to realize the advantages of Design Reuse, and the “leaning” of product development slows down.

If your design team's current systems are inadequate to quickly retrieve product data, there are two classes of software tools that can improve your product data accessibility.

  1. Semantic search uses algorithms that assess the meanings and relationships within text to search and discover product data scattered throughout the enterprise. Due to its structure, semantic search can find product data regardless of its format and how and where it is stored. This methodology is far different – and more powerful – than older techniques, such as relational databases.
  2. Geometric search uses a mathematical representation of a part to find those parts with identical or similar shapes.

I call semantic-based search applications that focus on engineering/manufacturing companies “Search & Discovery Solutions” (SDS). These semantic-based systems appear to be similar to Google. But SDS works in a different way to meet the needs of product development personnel, including those outside of engineering. For example, SDS indexes the company's file contents and ranks search results differently than Google.

If you're involved in selecting an SDS, expect to learn some new language and buzz words. Caution: Don't let the hype about Big Data distort your company's vision.

When evaluating SDS software alternatives, bear in mind that there is no such thing as one size fits all. The alternatives listed in this Mechanical Engineering article represent a range of semantic capabilities and costs. Your company's scope and depth of application requirements may be vastly diverse from the company across the street.

 

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