What PLM Vendor Can Really Provide Digital Thread Solution?

What PLM Vendor Can Really Provide Digital Thread Solution?

Image credit Aras.com

Earlier this week, I published my Only Aras? article. Check this out. No doubt, Aras made a very impressive journey for the last decade with its enterprise open source business model. Combined with Aras technology, it allowed to Aras to move into the position to challenge top 3 pure CAD/PLM vendors – Dassault Systemes, PTC, and Siemens PLM. Read more from CIMdata article (https://www.aras.com/news/press-releases/2017/06/aras-named-plm-mindshare-leader-by-industry-analyst-firm-cimdata).

Digital Thread is one of the things Aras is very vocal about these days. Aras website gives you powerful graphic to illustrate digital thread by connecting everything. I like Aras’ CEO, Peter Schroer five minutes explanation about the digital thread and digital twin. Watch it here.

The question I wanted to ask today. How are different Aras digital thread and one platform approach?

Differentiation is really hard in the world of enterprise software and PLM. Does Aras have something unique and if yes then what is that? In his video, Peter Schroer compares Digital Thread to 3D CAD. It sounded like a comparison between what Aras does with other CAD/PLM vendors. Let’s check it out?

The question I wanted to ask today. How is different and unique Aras digital thread and one platform approach? Differentiation is really hard in the world of enterprise software and PLM. Does Aras have something unique and if yes then what is that? In his video, Peter Schroer compares Digital Thread to 3D CAD. It sounded like a comparison between what Aras does with other CAD/PLM vendors. Let’s check it out?

CIMdata interview with Dassault Systemes Garth Coleman about digitalization can give you an idea of how 3DEXPERIENCE platform is positioned to provide a hub for digital transformation and digital thread. Read it and draw your opinion. Here is an interesting passage:

Our concept of the 3DEXPERIENCE Twin is a powerful example of this approach. It is so much more than a centralized, digital repository of 3D design information and manufacturing information. It is the full digital product and process definition, including the requirements, the configuration options, the system behaviors, the materials, the virtual simulations, the production plan, and even the marketing assets. All of which can be simulated and optimized, holistically and virtually, so the “virtual” extends and improves the “real.” It allows for rapid iteration and evolution, and creates very mature products, even while still in development.

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform lets you take the massive, big data information from the real-world and use it as inputs to help formulate new hypotheses and then test them using the 3DEXPERIENCE Twin. In this way, the “real” comes back to enrich the “virtual.” This cycle of enrichment supports continuous improvement, bringing a DevOps approach to physical products.

SAE.org article GE Aviation enhances digital thread with Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPEREINCE platform brings an example of how industrial companies build digital thread solution using 3DEXPERIENCE:

Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform is designed with a common user interface so all users have a similar experience and a shared digital reference. By doing this, 3DEXPERIENCE ensures each stakeholder is working on the latest information and in the relevant context, increasing collaboration between engineering and supply chain functions and fostering decision-making based on data-centric rationale.

Solutions like 3DEXPERIENCE help GE Aviation and other OEMs to develop a digital thread – essentially continuity and collaboration across business units – that draws requirements definition, design, analysis, simulation, manufacturing, qualification, and support into one cohesive and trackable narrative. Beyond these immediate benefits, this “big picture” also provides the perspective required for developing new manufacturing technologies and techniques.

Jumping to the publication of another Aras’ competitor – Siemens PLM. On-demand webinar The Power of Digital Thread brings you a number of examples of how Teamcenter PLM allows you to organize the information into a connected network of data. The example of consumer goods is connecting to the one presented by Aras’ Peter Schroer and goes to the discovery of events potentially happening with products and consumers using this product (food, wearable or home equipment)

Consumer Product Companies that work manually, with disconnected work processes and data storage practices can not compete with the new demands of consumers and regulators. Companies that lead in this digital revolution will be better prepared to deliver consumer preferred products, with quality and at a price that delivers top line growth and bottom line savings.


All articles and publications confirm that digital thread is clearly on the list of PLM agendas and it is a new way to sell PLM solutions to industrial companies.

What is my conclusion? While all vendors are actively marketing digital thread, the solution maturity is the main thing to question in my view. The digital thread is a powerful paradigm that takes PLM companies to the next round of the competition. Finally, not only 3D engineering data is at stake, but an entire product lifecycle is covered from requirements to maintenance and support. This is a core concept of PLM going back in 15-20 years that was almost never realized. Finally, it comes to reality. However, the question of a single (or one) platform is the most important one. Does it mean companies need to switch entirely to products from a single vendor to realize digital thread strategy? Is it realistic? And what happens in case a chain of companies, contractors and suppliers are involved. Will a single database strategy used in the majority of PLM products today support it? How to extend the existing PLM paradigm to a network of companies. Good questions to ask PLM architects in all companies. 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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  • pgarrish

    He raises a really interesting point in his presentation. Accepting his point that the 3D model is only part of the digital thread/twin, his comment about maintaining an as-built CAD model for a product is really pertinent. How many companies get close to having a proper 3D representation of the as-built configuration as opposed to the design model and a stack of 2D (if you’re lucky) deviations from that during manufacture? Let alone in the field.

    I’d imagine it’s less of a problem for FMCG type products that are robotically assembled and disposable, but the more expensive the product and the more manual the manufacturing process gets, the more variable the final configuration and the more work to maintain that as-built and as-maintained configuration and representation. IoT will only capture some of that, but other approaches are needed to cope with things like repairs or concessions.

  • beyondplm

    I agree. I’d expect it to be more A&D kind of requirements. Unfortunately, Digital Thread / Twin is turning into marketing. I like this terminology, but with an increased amount marketing BS, it will become irrelevant very soon.