CAD models are jam-packed with data. Everything from design intent, engineering details, quality parameters, manufacturing guidelines, and operational instructions can be included. Effectively, these models are mini-databases, vital to engineering, product development, and construction. Almost everything manufactured today is designed with the help of CAD models.

But finding the right model when you need it can be challenging. Sure, file folder structures can help. Product data/product lifecycle management solutions and enterprise content management systems like Microsoft’s SharePoint and OpenText’s Content Servers can assist by allowing users to assign attributes to the models.

But the reality is, neither file folder structures nor a handful of inherently limiting properties will help a user search for the “latest release of Refinery Unit 123 that uses Instrument A and Equipment B” and find what they’re looking for. Even when the original authoring application is used, the above query can’t be effectively answered.

Users typically search for CAD models when they need to reuse an existing design, apply data to engineering and manufacturing processes, or support existing operations. Delays in retrieving the correct model can be costly and risky. During urgent maintenance and repairs within a refinery, not finding the latest version of a critical instrument replacement quickly can cause significant delays and unnecessary safety mishaps.

What if all the data contained within CAD models could be made immediately accessible? And what if the data is not only easily found, but can be displayed in a full-featured 2D and 3D viewer allowing parts to be isolated and analyzed?

To solve these problems, The vdR Group has created CADnection, a connector technology that uses Lucidworks Fusion as a foundation to enable enterprise access to CAD model content. Fusion comes out-of-the-box with AI-powered search capabilities such as natural language processing, user signal processing, and query analysis, along with connectors to over 300 file formats and 75 applications such as Access, Salesforce, and SharePoint. By extending Fusion’s reach, CADnection provides access to CAD model attributes and properties, manufacturing details, structure and bill-of-material, where-used and composed-of relationships, as well as connectivity to other media. 




Using CADnection, the engineer searching for “latest release of Refinery Unit 123 that uses Instrument A and Equipment B” will pull up the most relevant CAD model in a simple-to-use search interface. 

By linking instruments and equipment to other data sources such as vendor information, data sheets, and last date of maintenance, CADnection creates a virtual single source of data. This gives users a complete 360-degree view of relevant data with a powerful graphical interface for navigation within piping and instrumentation diagrams.

It’s no longer necessary to rifle through disparate file folder structures, formats, and siloed applications, and the original authoring tool isn’t required to access CAD model data. With data reuse optimized, needless, duplicate work is nearly eliminated. With Fusion at its core, CADnection saves significant time and money for its users with the assurance that the correct and latest version of a model has been retrieved.

About Martin van der Roest

Read more from this author


Contact us today to learn how Lucidworks can help your team create powerful search and discovery applications for your customers and employees.