A part is not a part is not a part. Want proof? Ask a designer, a mechanical engineer, a manufacturing engineer, and a production manager to describe how they define a “part”. In very data rich environments, accessing the “right” or desired data is important. But that is not always an easy task when there’s a certain built-in level of name or attribute ambiguity and name variation within the data-sets used. Disambiguation, in case you’re not familiar with this term, is simply the process of eliminating ambiguity and variation within sets of data. Wikipedia says this about disambiguation.
I was recently reading a TopQuadrant blog post, Can semantic technology melt process industry’s icebergs of information?. The process industry has, what I believe, some very interesting data challenges that also apply to discreet manufacturing: lot’s of complex data. Here’s an interesting passage and picture from the post:
Increasing regulatory and competitive demands on the business are forcing decision making to be more timely, and to be more integrated across the traditional business boundaries. However these icebergs are getting in the way of effective decision making. One way to make any or all of this information available to consumers is to create the bigger iceberg. ‘Simply’ create the relational database schema that covers every past, current, and future business need, and build adapters to populate this database from the operational data stores. Unfortunately this mega-store can only get more complex as it has to keep up with an expanding scope of information required to support the decision making processes.
Inforbix takes a semantic technology approach that links and connects disparate sources of data together, inferring useful relationships as applicable AND filtering tools to address the disambiguation of data within manufacturing companies. It does so without creating another iceberg of data. It leaves data in its original location and uses product data crawlers to scan data in-situ and uses product data apps to do something useful with the data. It’s my opinion that by applying semantic technology with a web-like user interface to browse and navigate through data, disambiguation can be practically addressed in manufacturing companies wanting access to the the right data (e.g. the right BOM list, or the latest contents of a parts list, etc.). Here’s a video we recently produced that gives a few examples of how Inforbix helps people locate the data they need:
Conclusion. Disambiguation is as much a technology challenge as it is a human challenge. Attaching meaning consistently across an organization is not always possible or practical. Especially when there are lots of existing “icebergs” of existing legacy data. Inforbix provides tools that give people of any skill levels the ability to browse and navigate semantically connected data by linking all data icebergs together. It can’t prevent people from using the wrong data, because people will be people. However, it can ensure that complex data sourced in CAD, excel, PDM, PLM, and other disparate systems can be virtually aggregated and used in a meaningful and useful way. Try our test-drive demo and see for yourself.