The PLM concept, as it emerges from its origins in aerospace, automotive and shipbuilding, carries challenges as well as opportunity. A growing challenge is CAD interoperability, a problem that grows as PLM extends design collaboration to include partners and sometimes even competitors. Design collaboration among partners typically involves a variety of CAD applications, such as Unigraphics, Pro/ENGINEER and CATIA. While software solutions offering geometry-only translation are readily available, geometry is insufficient for most product development functions. Design intelligence is necessary in order for a designer, analyst or manufacturing engineer to collaborate on a design or leverage it downstream. That challenge quickly became opportunity for entrepreneurs who formed Proficiency Inc., Marlborough, Mass. Their software solution, Proficiency Collaboration Gateway, automatically translates and shares the highest level of data from each of the five major CAD systems in use today, says Michael Jannery, vice president, marketing. Lack of CAD interoperability brings a huge penalty that can require literally rebuilding designs from scratch. This could mean many translations for one product as it moves through the design chain, introducing error, losing critical information and wasting time and money. Consider the findings of a National Institute of Standards study: One automotive company rebuilds more than 450,000 designs annually. With each manual exchange costing $300 to $5,000, the waste at that one automaker exceeds $200 million annually. Solving that challenge could pare the cost of an automobile by $1,600, says one analyst.