Benefits of an intelligent search in PLM/PDM Systems

Efficient search in product data and technical documentation


Due to the increasing dynamics and complexity of product development and manufacturing, linking and rapid provision of product data as well as new concepts for product data management are increasingly necessary, especially for core industries such as the automotive and manufacturing industry.


Indeed, many companies do have IT tools for specific product data management systems for storing and managing product data and technical documentation, but the information contained needs to be used efficiently and made accessible to different target groups.


Challenges in product data management

When managing their product data and technical information many companies face the following challenges:


  • No standardized processes for the collection of product-related information:
    The information collection and provision are often not sufficiently defined or standardized - this hampers the research processes. Later, important information is difficult or even no longer retrievable.
  • Lack of completeness:
    Not all product-relevant data are processed in the PDM system - for a holistic view of the life cycle of a product, information must be drawn from other data sources.
  • Complicated handling:
    The use of PDM systems requires a lot of know-how and in the context of information retrieval, knowledge of system-specific query mechanisms. Consequently, working with PDM systems is time-consuming even for routine research, the training of new employees is difficult.
  • Emergence of information silos:
    Departments and special divisions often use their own filing systems and develop individual structures. This supports the emergence of information silos, knowledge gaps of employees and avoidable additional expenses in the information creation - when a document already exists in the company, but it cannot be found, it often is created anew.
  • Limitited access to information:
    In addition, PDM systems are almost never accessible to all internal departments and employees in the company, although in practice almost every employee needs product data in their everyday work – from their department’s or special division’s perspective.
  • Deficient research support for users:
    The possibilities of an internal PDM-search are limited to the system itself and provide only rudimentary support for the user. On this account, employees which use the system infrequently and therefore have no routine tend to avoid using it.
The use of search across applications in connection with PDM systems provides many benefits for organizations and users
  • Completeness of product-related information:
    The connection of additional data sources to the PDM-Search allows the user to gain a holistic view on a topic or issue. The search will then, for example, in addition to standards, provide test reports and technical documents as well as product-related e-mails and other information from the file system.
  • Improved usability:
    The user is familiar with search interfaces from the internet. They provide an intuitive access to needed information, without requiring a deeper system know-how of the underlying data sources. Mechanisms like auto-complete, suggestion of synonyms, cross-lingual search or the use of search filters offer the user valuable assistance. Knowledge Maps also allow untrained and infrequent users an intuitive access to information. This way, research processes can be implemented conveniently and efficiently, system-related barriers are reduced and information is accessible user-friendly and ACL checked.
  • Higher quality in the hit list:
    The search in the context of PDM systems is usually limited to a simple full-text search. The use of powerful enterprise search products such as iFinder allows to influence the ranking of search results (e.g., an important norm or a current test report is always displayed at the top of the hit list), but also the addition of components for Linguistics, Semantic-associative Search or Cross-lingual Search. These not only provide a higher completeness and precision of the search results, but also allow a simultaneous search in documents in foreign languages.
  • Development of new user groups:
    A search beyond the PDM system also offers the opportunity to provide product data for all areas and departments of a company and to use them in all business processes. This also allows development and construction distant departments such as quality management, marketing and buying department access to product data without having to use a PDM client.