Hi! I’m Karin from EXALEAD. This post is the first installment of a three-part series about product parts management that we call “Reveal, Reuse, Reduce”. Without further ado, let’s start by “Revealing Existing Parts“!
Instead of incurring monetary, quality, and capacity expenses associated with creating new parts, you can leverage intelligent search technology to revitalize product development by maximizing design reuse. A completely integrated search experience, adding similarity, metadata, and semantic-linked documents and related information to shape-search capabilities, will help you quickly access in-context product design information throughout your enterprise. In this series we’ll explore why and how companies can reveal, reuse, and reduce existing parts to save time and money.
Managing the Complexity of Doing Business
Business innovation and technology advancements are making R&D departments more sophisticated and global, with teams collaborating around the world. This leads to more complex product engineering and with this complexity comes varied information systems, resulting in more product data that needs to be managed.
Some of the largest volumes of data are related to product parts. From CAD files and drawings to sourcing information and inventory reports, diverse data is commonly located throughout the enterprise. Companies that are equipped to make rapid, informed decisions about whether a part needed for a product already exists can then determine whether:
- based on its associated information, it can be reused, or
- it needs to be modified, or
- a new part needs to be created or purchased.
But in order to make this decision, designers and engineers first must determine whether the part exists, a potentially daunting and time-consuming task.
The Challenges of Locating Part Information
Extracting the potential value hidden within this mountain of product data requires an efficient and cost-effective means for finding existing design assets to facilitate future product development through design reuse. The challenge lies in locating a single part in a legacy data trove that may contain more than a million files.
Many technologies, ranging from Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) to 2D/3D database search systems, allow queries of legacy data based on the shape of a part’s geometry—known as shape search. These search systems typically do not communicate between each other, thus requiring clumsy searching of multiple sources.
Furthermore, today’s manufacturing organizations require more part information than shape in order to support prudent, informed decisions that both maximize design reuse and streamline downstream processes.
The Limitations of Shape-Only Search
Search applications based solely on shape have significant shortcomings, which limit their ability to meet the search needs of today’s manufacturing enterprises. Shape search packages typically support geometry searches from within the specific CAD, PLM, or software application, and fail to tap into an organization’s extended data trove of product information.
Shape-searching by sketching the part in a CAD system can be imprecise and wastes time. Making a sketch accurate enough to identify similar parts often takes almost as much time as designing a new part. This defeats the time-saving advantage of shape searching. And users without a CAD license are unable to access the system.
Part geometries can be extremely complex with sophisticated algorithms that make for an unwieldy amount of shape information to search. Shape-only search typically processes all of this geometric information mathematically in order to find a similar part. If the shape signature/outline is defined from the beginning as being less exact, the simpler format and size of the data will make the search faster. The advantage is that more similar parts will be found, at which time the decision can be rapidly narrowed down. And the discovery of a larger selection of existing possibilities can lead to further creativity and innovation.
Searching on shape alone is analogous to performing a Web search using a single word on only part of the Internet. Because of the narrow set of programs searched, the results will be incomplete and may not necessarily meet the need or satisfy other important usability criteria.
Most importantly, software applications that search only on shape are limited in scope, packaged for use solely by designers and engineers, and cannot support the search needs of other personnel and/or departments that require ready access to this vital information.
Informed Decisions Demand an Integrated Search Experience
What’s really needed is a tool that finds and gathers all existing part-related information—adding similarity, metadata, and semantic-linked documents and related information to shape-search capabilities—through an integrated search experience that mirrors the manner in which popular Internet search engines and user-friendly ecommerce applications operate.
Revealing Information with EXALEAD OnePart
The EXALEAD OnePart search solution addresses the limitations of other available parts search technologies by extending search capabilities to include multiple types and sources of information—including 2D, 3D, and non-geometric forms of data—and by refining the search experience to make part searches fast and easy.
Locating a part by its geometric shape is only one step in the process of gathering the information required to determine whether a part is usable or not. OnePart ushers in a new part search paradigm by combining standard search capabilities based on the 3D shape of a part, with natural language text, 2D drawings, existing part metadata, component metadata, normalized metadata, calculated metadata, and semantically linked documents and information. This experience provides you with the deepest penetration into your enterprise-wide legacy data, so you can uncover the potential treasure hidden within it.
In Part 2, “Reuse“, we’ll explore the cost of creating new parts, the value of reusing existing parts, and who can benefit.
or watch the video below to see EXALEAD OnePart in action:
Stay tuned and talk to you soon!