PLM Siamese Twins

PLM Siamese Twins

Digital Twin is a new cool name coming on the horizon of PLM and together with DIgital Thread, it has a chance to rebrand what PLM does. For the last few years, the interest in the development of Digital Twin and Digital Thread has grown and you can see how these two are actually getting more potential to be sold to corporate executives and PLM ITs. Digital sells and two strange words Twin and Thread make it really cool. Read my earlier blogs about it.

Digital Twin: Is it cool enough to replace PLM?

Digital Twin and Digital Thread – are those two names to replace PLM?

There is no commonly agreed definition of what these two (Digital Twin and Digital Thread) include. The definitions are vague. Generally, you can think about Digital Twin as a set of many models of a product (eg. 3D CAD, Simulation, etc.) combined together into a coherent data set. Digital Thread is a database connecting all changes of the product over the entire lifecycle period. Sounds complex… Here is a new thing revealing. Are you ready? Buckle up.

Buckle up… According to CIMdata, Digital Twin and Digital Thread are actually cannot be separated. You can learn more about it during the coming soon CIMdata PLM event – CIMdata PLM Roadmap 2020. Here is the passage from the agenda of the event. And here is the passage from the opening keynote by Peter Bilello.

The concepts of the digital twin and digital thread have been around for decades. Industry insiders generally agree that keeping them joined maximizes their value and justifies the effort of keeping them current. Yet the gaps between them seem not to be closing. The specifics of digital twins and digital threads differ widely, but many of their underlying considerations are similar; both are fed by many of the same information flows, especially if PLM enables them. Fundamentally, a digital twin without a digital thread is an orphan, disconnected from the decisions and processes that impact it. Whether the product is a drill bit or an aircraft, its virtual representation will undoubtedly struggle to be complete and up to date without a digital thread. When information flows between them are synchronized and unimpeded, every business unit gains. Ultimately, the benefit of joining the digital twin to its digital thread is a competitive advantage. This presentation will make a case for how and why the digital twin and its digital thread are inseparable.

Now, that’s actually a very complex thing. I don’t want to have an orphan twin, but why I cannot actually have it as a model that defines the product behavior. It is like simulation – I can simulate the behavior of the product using different simulation tools or I can even fly a virtual aircraft. This model can be used. The changes of the model, including all states of the model across the lifecycle, are saved in the digital thread. The model can be incomplete and the thread can be incomplete either. They can benefit from each other, but they can live separately.

It appears that my assumption is wrong and CIMdata is going to explain it to me just in a few weeks. If you like me, want to learn first hand about this and many other topics, here is the registration link ( The vent is virtual, so you can watch it from an office located in the cloud. If for some reason, you won’t attend, I promise to share the answer to this question after the event via my blog.

I wonder what you think about the inseparable characters of Digital Twin and Thread? Are you in the process of setting it up in your organization? Or you’re prepared to learn more before and to allow the industry to figure it out first.

What is my conclusion?

According to CIMdata, Digital Twin and Digital Thread are inseparable things and can hugely benefit each other. I look forward to learning from the event. If you cannot attend, please share your questions with me, I will help you to facilitate the conversation and share the opinion. ,

Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital network platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers and their supply chain networks.


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  • The term “digital twin” has an identifiable origin and definition. Spend a little time in Google Scholar and you’ll find it.

    The term “digital thread,” though originally coined about 20 years earlier, started off as somewhat of an orphan. It was a metaphorical concept… something that sounded good, and that a reader could grasp: “You say that someday we’ll have a digital thread? Of course, I know what that must mean.” Eventually, the military (and consulting firms) got ahold of it, and wrapped it in layers of obscure definitions. Too bad they didn’t talk to each other first.

    What a digital thread is is less important than what it does: It shows you how you got from where you started, to where you are. And lets you retrace your steps.

    In the same way that Theseus followed Ariadne’s thread to find his way out of the Labryinth of Minos in the Greek myth of the Minotaur, modern engineers can follow a digital thread to retrace the product lifecycle.

    Unfortunately, you can’t go to the store to buy a spool of digital thread. Resisting the temptation to make jokes about spinning and weaving, the simple truth is that a digital thread is not a “thing” that can be bought. It’s a capability that must be built.

    If you can, from any particular point in a product lifecycle, find your way back to an earlier point, exclusively through the use of digital tools and data, you have a digital thread (at least, for that segment) But, if anywhere in that retracing process you have to rely on human interpretation, you may still have a thread, but it’s hybrid rather than purely digital.

    This may seem like a simplistic way of looking at the digital thread, but try it on for size. Look at the Air Force Digital Thread definition. The Cimdata definition. Or any other. You may be surprised to find that, underneath the bullshit, they’re all talking about the same thing.

  • beyondplm

    @evanyares:disqus thanks for sharing your insight! I think, the description of Digital Thread as the way to come back in the history maybe simplistic, but useful. Retracing back definition doesn’t provide information about what is the scope of digital thread should be captured and traced back. In my view, this is what caused CIMdata to say that both are intertwined and Digital Twin provides a model to capture information in thread. Thanks for recommendation to check back in the historical links. Best, Oleg