Conx18: Digital Thread and PLM For The Great Multitude of Manufacturers

Conx18: Digital Thread and PLM For The Great Multitude of Manufacturers

I’m coming to ConX18 conference next week organized by Institute of Process Excellence.  Here is what you can learn about the even from the website:

In 2017, IpX enhanced its mission, its look, and now its annual symposium. Previously known as the Integrated Process Excellence Symposium and Training, this event connects professionals striving for true enterprise excellence. 2018’s event has the central theme: Your journey towards Enterprise Excellence starts here.  We will have two days of keynotes and panels with speakers who are cross-industry executives within aerospace, agriculture, automotive, building infrastructure, defense, medical, regulatory, and technology. They will share their business transformation stories and real-case studies within the full spectrum of people, processes and technology.

There are several topics on the agenda. My favorite topic on the the digital thread. For the last few years, the digital thread terms refers to the communication framework that allows a connected data flow and integrated view of all asset’s data throughout its lifecycle across  siloed systems and  functional perspectives.

I had a privilege to speak last year at the same event. Here is the link to the blog with my presentation and some additional thoughts – IPX symposium keynote: Digital Transformation and PLM paradigm shift. I think, for the last 12 months, the topic of “digital transformation” became one of the most discussed among vendors, analysts and customers.

It became clear that transformation is coming to PLM. Existing PLM platform and infrastructure will be transformed as a result of major shift in manufacturing, relationships between companies and new business models. Technologies like IoT and AI will create an opportunity based on data acquired from legacy data sources and enterprise systems as well as created by new smart devices.  Since the last conference I had a chance to speak and work with many manufacturing companies, engineers and contractors.

The outcome of these conversation is an experience and thoughts related to the digital transformation and digital thread. What caught my special attention during all experiments and work with users is the way technologies can be build a digital base – a foundation of digital thread. These foundation is combined from multiple technologies such cloud computing, analytics, machine learning, robotics process automation. However, the foundation of all these technologies is data network capable to scale beyond level of single database.

In presentation I will share some analysis, ideas, technological perspective and implementation experience related to how to create a digital thread beyond single company and device. Already complex structure of functional silos is getting even more complex by introducing a dimension of a company. This data architecture requires a network to become a center of a future data paradigm in PLM. Modern PLM systems should be capable to grow beyond the limitations of single database and single company and it will bring a power of networks to PLM and digital thread.

What is my conclusion? The network is much more powerful than a single node.Network is a source of achieving efficiency for many businesses. Ford Model-T, Google Search, Facebook News Feed, UBER and many others. Network principles is a foundation of these and many other businesses. Digital thread demands cross functional coordination between members of product stakeholder network and functional silos. It is one of the top priorities and challenges for efficient PLM implementations. PLM was started as a solution to solve data and process control for a single company 20-30 years ago. Existing PLM paradigm is heavily relies on the principles of single version of truth, single database and process control. How to scale PLM architecture to switch to network paradigm to enable digital thread and digital transformation for the great multitude of manufacturing connected in a network and operating on a global scale? Seems to be a topic for PLM architects and the goal for PLM 2023. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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