DETROIT (WWJ) — Computer aided design software is wonderful stuff, but even at an auto supplier, only a few people really need it for all of its capabilities.

They’re the designers who actually design the parts.

Yet within that same CAD model is locked a wealth of product data that the whole company needs, not just the designers.

So what do you do? Buy more seats of that very expensive CAD system? Keep bugging the engineers with calls for information from sales, marketing and production? Let your workers go without access to the product data and make best-guess decisions?

Or, you can buy Product Data Intelligence from Actify. This California company founded in 1996, with major operations in Detroit and around the globe, has software that pulls all the crucial product data out of CAD and other enterprise applications, such as PLM and ERP – and makes it available to anybody in the company who needs it – at a fraction of the cost of these enterprise applications.

The software “discovers and leverages data that is hidden or underappreciated, with tools perfectly designed for the job,” said Chris Jones, Actify president and CEO.

Jones said industry analysts state only 4 percent of manufacturing employees are designers, which really need CAD software to author product definition and geometry — the stuff that’s upwards of $30,000 a seat per user to buy, and $6,000 a year to maintain.

Actify can give the rest of your enterprise access to this authored information for much less — the equivalent of a cup-of-coffee per employee per day. Jones said Actify has tools that can work much like a web browser, “spidering” across CAD models and recognizing parts by their physical shape and not just by their part number. The software’s analysis can then drill down to an individual part and all of its associated part data authored across the enterprise.

The technology allows much faster analysis of a company’s operations. Actify did a project for a major European automaker in five weeks whereas a Big Data competitor said would take 18 months, combining seven data sources and producing an easy-to-understand visual executive dashboard for each product.

Another automaker used Actify to identify supply and production bottlenecks where identical parts that happened to have different part numbers could be used as a substitute.

Jones said Actify is expanding in the auto, aerospace, defense, consumer goods and medical device industries. It’s currently hiring developers and sales staff.

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