An Easy Way to Learn about Search & Discover Solutions for Product Development
Dick Bourke posted on July 29, 2014 |

Product demos are often viewed as just a sales pitch, but they can be valuable for educational purposes.

I recently watched a Webinar about EXALEAD OnePart.  It was at a high enough level to give a lot of background for engineers who want an introduction to Search and Discover solutions.  The webinar format only took 30 minutes to introduce the features and benefits common to many SDS solutions.

The main benefits common to all such solutions are 1) hard savings, e.g., reduce cost of duplicating parts, and 2) soft savings, e.g., improving Time-to-Market.

The actual product demo then shows you the salient features of how Search and Discover tools achieve those objectives.  In this screen shot you can see the results of a search that was generated with a Google-like" keyword entry. The resulting display includes thumbnail views of some similar parts generated by a geometric algorithm.

Most SDS tools also provide the capabilities to filter and allow faceted navigation that helps users drill down to discover the needed information.

I particularly liked the OnePart scheme for faceted navigation, ala Rudyard Kipling: "I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); their names are What and Why and When, and How and Where and Who." Each of these six facets can be drilled into for more detailed exploration, e.g., for What, family and type.

Drilling further reveals critical information needed to make informed decisions: metadata and file attributes; relationships, such a parent/child (BoM), documents and parts. Comparison charts can display two or more similar parts with all available textual data from a file with the differences highlighted for easier analysis.  

There is no doubt in my mind about the value of these comparison displays. Yet, viewers need to ask about how complete and accurate is the metadata and attribute identification.  Consensus is that most company's metadata is suspect. So while SDSs provide the framework for indexing, searching and displaying, the validity of the retrieved information may be incomplete. To gain the maximum benefit from an SDS, data quality is a factor that must be addressed when planning an implementation

What's more, claiming that OnePart helps an engineer decide between design creation or design reuse in just 1 minute seems a bit misleading.   

Yet, even with that caution, the demonstration portion of the total webinar is short and well presented, and I highly recommend it for both general education seekers and OnePart evaluators.

The next sequence identifies OnePart specifics for connector sources (many PDM), supported CAD and non-CAD formats and a general infrastructure description, including indexing methodology.  These are important considerations for anyone considering implementing a Search and Discover solution for their product development team. 

Questions about pricing were also answered in the Q&A session of the webinar. Because there has been another release since the original Webinar, I hesitate to repeat them.

The term "Unique" – almost universally used in vendor presentations, promotional material and this presentation – should raise a caution flag. I'm sympathetic; a vendor can't very well say, "Here we are, just like everyone else." So, differentiating vendor solutions will depend on drilling into detail.  But I recommend viewing this webinar as a good place to start.

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