Extending PLM's Capabilities

Search-and-retrieval software solves Weatherford's dilemma.

Management's ultimate prize in the PLM quest is information access, a reward that grows as PLM transitions from vertical integration of departments to horizontal integration of the enterprise. Despite years of investing in enterprise applications such as PLM/PDM and ERP, much of the flexibility and efficiency that this new intelligence was to provide remains unrealized. Case-in-point: Weatherford International, one of the largest global providers of drilling solutions for the oil and gas industry. Despite having one of the premier PLM solutions implemented, Weatherford also had to implement a unique information search-and-retrieval solution when its PLM system failed to answer some key questions. While users could search by part number to retrieve information about a part, this presumed they knew the part number in the first place. Quite often, they needed to answer the reverse question, starting with functionality specs and constraints and then learning if any existing part numbers met those requirements, or if there were any equivalent or substitutable parts. Weatherford's tribulations led to a search-and-retrieval software solution called ProFind for Manufacturing from Endeca, Cambridge, Mass. With this software, Weatherford is discovering thousands of different part numbers that are in fact functionally equivalent. In one example, it reduced 854 grades of steel tubing to just 160 by identifying exact matches and discovering opportunities to consolidate to a single grade suitable for multiple uses. The solution also enabled the company to integrate its existing PLM and ERP data.

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