Getting the Benefits from a Search and Discovery Solution – without a PLM System
Dick Bourke posted on December 19, 2013 |
Don’t let lack of a PLM system stand in your way.

Implementing a Search & Discovery Solution (SDS) can provide immediate operational benefits, even if your company does not have a PLM (or PDM) system. Moving ahead with an SDS can help your company achieve many of the benefits of design reuse, part standardization and duplicate part reduction.

The core benefit of an SDS is saving substantial amounts of non-productive search times and ensuring complete product data retrieval. Numerous surveys have confirmed savings up to 30% of knowledge workers' times.

If your company's current systems are inadequate to quickly retrieve product data, two classes of SDS software tools can improve accessibility – semantic and geometric:

  1. Semantic search – uses algorithms that assess the meanings and relationships within text to search and discover product data scattered throughout the enterprise.

    Each SDS vendor uses various elements of semantic technology to search for desired text. The range of capabilities includes tools with roots in engineering and product development. Moreover, they have the capability to crack open CAD files through connectors. A number of SDS choices are available for multi-CAD environments including:
    • Product Data Intelligence – Actify
    • Alcove9 – Alcove9
    • Exalead OnePart – Dassault Systemes

  3. Geometric search – uses a mathematical representation of a part to seek and find parts with identical or similar shapes.

    There are several key capabilities to assess when evaluating SDS software alternatives. As with semantic search tools, relevance is one. In this case, the tool presents the search results by visualization techniques, spatial and color. Here are three different product/vendor alternatives, all also applicable in several CAD environments.
    • 3D PartFinder – 3DSemantix
    • Geolus – Siemens PLM
    • ShapeSpace – ShapeSpace Ltd

Some product development teams work with very complex mechanical products. For them, a forward-thinking strategy would consider both semantic and geometric technologies to enhance their product development process. Be aware that these two technologies are merging, as can be seen in some of the identified software alternatives.

A question might be, “Which software tool is best?” Don't waste time looking from that perspective. For an individual enterprise, the selection criteria must be situational. Identify the enterprise requirements – before shopping – to ensure an appropriate selection.

CIMdata recently published a report “3D Geometric Search: An Emerging 3D Technology.” You can get an Executive Summary by request to

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