As an engineer, you struggle to find the right components to piece together a project with exacting parameters or to locate a certain type of datasheet or a schematic diagram that you urgently need. This quest is intrinsic to your day-to-day job.

However, aimlessly searching for parts or documentation is both time-consuming and impractical. There is an imperative need to find ways to make search efficient and accurate. In a Smart Insights survey conducted in June 2020, 81% of users aged 18-64 reported they have searched online to buy a product, while a GE Shopper Research survey from 2019 shows that 80% of customers perform product searches before purchasing. In a business environment that is increasingly digital, searching for the products you need gets harder with each passing project. Luckily, leveraging parametric search can make all the difference.

Today, the ability to use parametric search is an essential skill for any engineer. Imagine trying to find a needle in a pile of needles. Your first thought might be, “How do I dig through a pile of needles to find the right needle as fast as possible?” Parametric search is akin to a highly intelligent metal detector, equipped to search for the right needle in the most efficient way possible.

Parametric search carries only one prerequisite: knowing what parameters are needed. Consider the parameters for a microcontroller that you need for your project:

• How power-efficient does it need to be?
• Does it need a certain type of temperature tolerance?
• How big does the RAM or ROM need to be to meet your project’s requirements?

If you don’t know anything about what you’re seeking, you won’t be able to optimally use parametric search. As projects grow in complexity, it is vital that engineers adapt to the situation rather than stick to traditional (translation: time-consuming) methods. A lack of parametric search would leave you behind your competitors.

Parametric search uses a variety of parameters to sift through the mountains of data, just to locate the single item that you need. By entering the specifications that you know using the parametric search, such as the RAM or power required, the search engine can narrow thousands of results to fewer than 100. Now imagine how much more you could streamline your search if you knew all of the required information about the microcontroller; that might reduce your results from 100 to 10. You might even be able to find your specific item in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes or hours.

Besides looking for product parts, a majority of engineers said that they use parametric search to find complex items, like datasheets, application notes, and reference designs. A schematic diagram or datasheet might hold data on a specific device that helps to explain how it works. By using parametric search, you may start with a general idea of what to look for, and after a few clicks on the parametric table, you can access the relevant datasheet. Try that same task without using parametric search and see if you’re able to match the accuracy and efficiency.

In addition to speed, parametric search offers an intuitive interface. Most, if not all, parametric searches use a simple catalogue-like table, where you can view the various attributes and refine them to further narrow the search results or, better yet, compare different parts or products with similar attributes. Take, for example, two kinds of RAM with similar attributes: they have the same size and capacity, but their clock frequencies differ. Using a parametric search catalogue, you can select the two similar attributes and compare their different attributes. This simplicity when compared with other search methods redefines how engineers can keep pace with technology to gain an edge on the competition.

As engineers, it is not enough simply to familiarize yourself with parametric search; you must be able to fully exploit its potential. Navigating through the thousands of data points with ease provides an efficient and pleasant search experience, especially when you’re tasked with distinguishing between products of similar attributes. If you would like to experience what it’s like to navigate a parametric search engine, request a Big Zeta demo.

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