Product Data: Finding It - Using It (5), Workers Waste Time on Doc Management, PLM-ERP Primer


2PLM Newsletter

John Stark Associates                                                                                                                                          October 22, 2012 - Vol15 #13

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Product Data: Finding It - Using It by Deploying a Search Engine Solution (5)
by Dick Bourke
Part 5: Searching Methods

This part expands on the earlier discussion of the two dimensions of product data searching methods: Deep and Wide. Together they comprise the power to discover all structured and unstructured data in an enterprise.

First, some perspective about them, carried forward from Parts 1 and 2:

  • Structured data is usually already accessible in current systems; however, unstructured data is the most prevalent form
  • Most unstructured data is not reachable by PLM systems that do not have SES capabilities
  • Searching implies lost data; though it is not really lost - just undiscovered
  • Data that can't be discovered has no value

Searching Methods: Two Dimensions - Deep and Wide
Data discovery is the heart of the two dimensions of searching methods (what SESs do). The searching process (how users work with an SES) will be explained further in Part 6. But, it starts with entering search criteria in the user interface (UI), triggering the simultaneous actions of Deep and Wide Searches.

Deep Search
The goal is to drive past metadata into file and document contents by taking advantage of "full text" capability.

"The search engine examines all words/objects in every stored document as it tries to match the search criteria entered by the user. This distinguishes it from searches based on metadata or parts of the original texts represented in databases, such as titles or selected sections." (Source: Wikipedia).

In other words, full text does not rely on the enterprise's metadata being consistent. A real "gotcha" with a relational database query is that it does rely on consistent metadata - a questionable assumption. Users, therefore, need the full text capabilities of an SES to access all relevant product data crucial for decision-making purposes. And, the depth of the search may extend even into notes on CAD drawings.

It is important to recognize, moreover, that there are software solutions to convert unstructured data to meaningful metadata. These may be part of the SES package or available from third party sources, such as the community of developers focused on enhancing Solr/Lucene, one of the most popular search engines.

Wide Search
Its purpose is to unify access to all forms of product data stored throughout the enterprise in multiple repositories by employing an array of appropriate "connectors." These individual software modules extract metadata, data relationships and file contents. They allow users to discover product data previously hidden in isolated silos. Therefore, searching facilitates Design Reuse when the search entries focus on parts and accessing identical or similar designs.  

The ability of an SES to search widely across the enterprises many files and systems is dependent on the availability of connectors.

Some SES vendors offer many connectors; however, an SES suitable for engineering and manufacturing must support collaborative product development (CPD). Thus, in addition to the "usual suspects," e.g., MS Word files, and other unstructured documents, the ability to open CAD files is mandatory. Cracking these files will expose textual data and relationships among files as they reference one another. In the future, this capability probably will be extended to include cracking rich media files, such as video.

What data sources to include in the wide scope of an SES sounds simple. But, determining these inclusions can't be taken lightly. There will be trade-offs.

Including more data sources should lead to discovering additional relevant data that enhances decision-making. The disadvantage, though, is adding potentially massive amounts of data. In contrast, some exclusion decisions should be simple. For example, an SES must only present data that is not security bound, e.g., critical Intellectual Property and sensitive personnel records.

Accordingly, before deciding what data sources to include and what to exclude, the pros and cons - the trade-offs - need to be carefully evaluated.

SES Selection Criteria
Recognize that widely acceptable criteria for an engineering/manufacturing SES do not yet exist. As they evolve, the criteria must account for the informational needs of all CPD activities of the enterprise. This includes not only engineering, but also manufacturing process planning, quality and other CPD functions. Bear these selection criteria in mind when evaluating searching capabilities.

As the capabilities of an SES are explored in general terms, remember, "The devil may be in the detail." These current software solutions range from simple to sophisticated use of semantic technology - of course, with commensurate pricing. Furthermore, the prospective vendor list, offered in Part 1, was representative only; other vendors might be considered, if they meet enterprise selection criteria.

The Value of Deep and Wide Search
In essence, these two searching methods enable significant benefits for the enterprise - they include:

  • Allowing valid and credible mashups
  • Encouraging higher-quality decisions because more relevant data is discovered
  • Avoiding costly reorganizing and migrating data to satisfy relational database retrievals


What's Next
In part 6, the searching process will be explained. Direct questions to me at


Workers Waste Time on Doc Management
by Scott Cleveland
Posted by Dennis McCafferty - 2012-10--05
How much time do you spend creating, approving and distributing documents? Apparently, too much, according to a recent survey conducted by IDC and sponsored by Adobe. In fact, IDC estimates that unproductive document-related time spent by information workers costs organizations nearly $20,000 a year for each employee. For an organization with 1,000 professionals, that equates to hiring 213 new workers. "Information work is inherently document-intensive," writes Melissa Webster, author of the whitepaper that accompanies the survey findings. "Much of the time that information workers spend involves [dealing] with documents or forms in one way or another - whether researching and pulling information together for documents; reviewing, approving and signing documents; managing the document review process; or working with forms and forms data." An estimated 1,200 global information and IT professionals took part in the research.

My Thoughts....
There have been many other studies over the years investigating how much time is spent looking for information.

In each of these studies, they discovered that people spent as much as 25% of their time looking for information. Some of the issues:
  • Most often, the person looking for a file has no idea what the name of the file is
  • They have no idea what directory it is in
  • And, they don't know if the file they found is the latest released file

If you are the person looking and you can't find the file, what do you do? Typically, you or someone else will end up recreating that file. This makes that $20,000 per year number look reasonable.

Your Thoughts....
Does this seem reasonable to you?


Scott Cleveland can be contacted on +1 408-464-6387

The PLM-ERP Primer
by Roger Tempest
The PLM-ERP Workshop series is generating the expected technical structure for PLM-ERP in the form of the Version 1.0 PLM-ERP Handbook, but there are also some business and management conclusions that are equally as important.

These business issues have been brought together in a separate PLM-ERP Primer, or management briefing document, that has been published as the Q1 2012 issue of the PLM Journal.

The PLM-ERP Primer provides a clear view of the background to the current PLM-ERP situation; the new paradigm (see 2PLM Sep. 24) that is necessary for a truly integrated approach; and a list of the fundamental principles concerning roles, governance, assessment and planning. It concludes with guidance on how to orient the PLM-ERP implementation, ranging from status checking to a potential transformation project.

The Primer is available now via PLMIG membership, and by the time that this article is published, the Handbook will be undergoing a new iteration at the second Workshop in Atlanta. The series completes with the Third Workshop, hosted by ZF Friedrichshafen AG at their headquarters in Germany on 06-08 November. Everyone who takes part in the series receives the Version 3.0 Handbook, which will be published early in 2013.

Registration for Friedrichshafen is open, and Registration Forms can be found at the PLMIG web site


Roger Tempest is co-founder of the PLMIG. Membership of the PLMIG is available via


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PLM News

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McLaren Software announced the merger with FMx Ltd following the acquisition by McLaren's parent company the Idox Group. Details

Siemens announced that it acquired Kineo CAM. Details

3D Systems Corp. announced that it acquired Rapidform for $35 million in cash, subject to final closing adjustments. Details 


SofTech, Inc. announced its Q1 fiscal 2013 operating results. Revenue for the three months ended August 31, 2012 was $1.57 million. Details 


Lectra announced the appointment of Tania Garcia as Vice President, Marketing for North America. Details

Lectra annonced the appointment of Peer Wiesner as Marketing Director for Germany, Eastern Europe, and CIS countries. Details

The vdR Group announced the appointment of Louis Salgado to General Manager and Vice President. Details 


Aras announced that Baltur SpA has implemented the Aras PLM solution suite. Details

AVEVA announced that JPNOR Engenharia used AVEVA PDMS, AVEVA Review and AVEVA Global. Details

CDS announced that its online CAD download solution is implemented on the Heli-Tek website for PST Corp. Details 

CONTACT Software announced that Kirchhoff Automotive has gone live with its CIM DATABASE-based PLM solution in Germany, France, Poland, Portugal and China. Details

QUMAS announced that Emergent BioSolutions Inc. has selected the QUMAS Compliance Platform. Details

Siemens PLM Software announced that Continental Structural Plastics has selected its Fibersim portfolio of software for composites engineering. Details 


Alphacam announced 2013 R1. Details

AVEVA announced the launch of AVEVA NET Gatekeeper and AVEVA Change Manager. Details

AVEVA announced AVEVA Everything3D. Details

CGTech announced that VERICUT 7.2 is now available globally from CGTech. Details

Datakit announced CrossManager 2013. Details

Delcam announced an integrated solution for the design, machining and inspection of electrodes. Details

Gerber Technology announced a wide model version of its GERBERcutter GTxL. Details

InspectionXpert Corp. announced InspectionXpert for Pro/ENGINEER & InspectionXpert for Creo. Details

McLaren Software announced the latest release of McLaren FusionLive. Details

McLaren Software announced the availability of McLaren Enterprise - OnAir. Details

Razorleaf announced CADFIT 3.0. Details

Siemens PLM Software announced the availability of Teamcenter software on the cloud. Details

Sopheon announced that it has introduced a mobile app of its Accolade innovation management solution. Details

SpaceClaim announced SpaceClaim Engineer 2012+. Details

TFTLabs announced that it has released TFT4iT. Details

VirtualGrid announced the release of VRMesh library. Details

Visual Technology Services announced PDF3D SDK Toolkit 2.5.0. Details 


Dassault Systemes and Tata Consulting Engineers Ltd. announced a partnership. Details

Dassault Systemes and Philosophia announced an agreement. Details 

 Product                         Lifecycle                         Management: Paradigm for 21st Century Product                         Realisation

Electric Cloud announced that it has joined the PTC PartnerAdvantage Program. Details

Jotne announced an agreement with PTC where Jotne's software solutions "EXPRESS Data Manager" will support the ISO/STEP/PLCS and AIA/ASD S- Series standards within PTC applications. Details

TraceParts announced a partnership with Omron Electronic Components Europe B.V. Details 


InnovMetric Software Inc. announced that it has sold the 10,000th license of PolyWorks since 1996. Details

MasterControl Global Limited announced that its European headquarters has been approved by ISOQAR for ISO 9001:2008 certification. Details

MasterControl Inc. announced its inclusion in Software Magazine's Software 500 ranking of the world's largest software and service providers. Details

MecSoft Corp. announced that Alibre CAM will now be sold and supported directly by MecSoft. Details

PROSTEP AG announced that it has incorporated the Codex of PLM Openness in its product development process. Details

RSA announced it has been positioned by Gartner in the Leaders quadrant of the 2012 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Platforms. Details

Siemens PLM Software announced that it has been recognized by ARC Advisory Group as a leader across all segments of the product lifecycle management (PLM) industry market. Details

TraceParts announced it has recorded over 1.4 million pages indexed inside Google's search engine for its CAD portal Details 


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