Industrial companies are transforming and the changes will impact everyone who is involved in the manufacturing business. The last few years demonstrated a very high level of sensitivity and dependencies in the manufacturing value chain. The complexity of products is growing and so is the level of dependencies between OEMs and their suppliers. The manufacturing company’s business model is moving from selling products to providing business services. We are not buying products, but services and industrial companies are basically leasing us their products. While it was the case in industrial machinery and some other industries, it is growing and expanding. Car companies nowadays are looking at how to sell services and subscriptions for cars (and cars’ features). Such transformation is demanding a new level of complex software capable to manage digital threads and intertwine companies and services together.
Digital Thread – A Vehicle To Connect Businesses
Digital Thread is quickly becoming the one of most popular and hot trends in manufacturing and PLM systems. If you’re not familiar with Digital Thread, now is the time for you to catch up. Digital Thread describes the integration of digital information across a product’s lifecycle, from design to manufacturing to maintenance and even to end-of-life disposal. It is a connected data-driven approach that allows businesses to gather, integrate, and analyze data from different stages of product development and production, providing a seamless flow of information across the organization. You can say, it is very much like an idea of PLM from the beginning.
Here is a difference. In the original PLM philosophy and architecture, a single source of truth (a single database) was purposely loaded with all information and provided in a central way. While the main idea of a single source of truth is not changing the big difference is the ability to connect data between multiple companies and provide multiple organizations to use the same platform. This is where a big difference in the digital thread (PLM) platforms architecture and capabilities – a network multi-tenant layer.
By implementing a digital thread approach, businesses can connect different departments and processes that were previously siloed and disconnected, resulting in a more efficient and effective product development and manufacturing process. The digital thread provides a single source of truth for all product data, making it easier for teams to collaborate, make informed decisions, and react quickly to changes.
A Business Opportunity for PLM Vendors
The digital thread also enables businesses to better manage the entire product lifecycle, from initial design to final delivery, and beyond. This includes tracking the product’s performance in the field, identifying issues or defects, and feeding that information back into the design and manufacturing process to improve future products. By having a comprehensive view of the product lifecycle, businesses can improve quality, reduce costs, and increase customer satisfaction.
Moreover, the digital thread approach also allows businesses to better integrate with their supply chain partners, providing real-time data and insights to suppliers and partners, allowing them to coordinate and collaborate more effectively.
CIMdata Market Forum
CIMdata, a leading PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) consultancy firm, is set to host its 2023 PLM Market & Industry Forum series. This year’s theme is “The Digital Thread: Powering Business Transformation,” and the event will feature presentations on how industrial users can respond to new and evolving PLM requirements.
Check the CIMdata website for more details.
The digital thread refers to the application of digital technologies to the product lifecycle, starting from its conception to its eventual retirement. It has come a long way since its inception in the 1980s when it was limited to engineering data management. Nowadays, data and process management solutions can support collaborative product development across far-flung value chains in many industries.
According to Stan Przybylinski, CIMdata’s Vice President, “The notion of the digital thread has been around since almost the inception of the concept of product lifecycle management (PLM). But supporting linkages with a large, heterogeneous information technology landscape was always challenging and did not always achieve the desired results. But today’s solutions, architected and defined to support international and de facto standards are proving more up to that challenge.”
CIMdata’s recent digital thread research asked industrial firms what solutions were on their digital threads at that time and in the next three years. The survey covered vendors working on requirements management, model-based systems engineering, mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD), application lifecycle management (ALM), electronic design automation (EDA), product data management (PDM), simulation and analysis, and maintenance-related applications. CIMdata believes that the growing importance of the digital thread is a significant opportunity for PLM Vendors and the Economy.
The 2023 CIMdata PLM Market & Industry Forum is a live event in Ann Arbor, MI, USA, on March 30 and in Frankfurt, Germany, on April 4. A series of virtual-live events will follow, each held over two half-days designed to share the same information in the following geographies, India, China, and Japan.
What is my conclusion?
Companies are paying more attention these days to digital technologies that can help to improve their business. By connecting different stages of the product development and manufacturing process, businesses can gain a holistic view of their operations, improve collaboration, enhance decision-making, and create a more efficient and effective supply chain. As such, the digital thread is a powerful vehicle for connecting businesses and driving success.
The PLM market is transforming and solution providers are looking for new opportunities to grow in the future digital economy. The digital thread can be a big opportunity for the PLM Economy. Therefore, it is essential to stay informed and up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. CIMdata is a PLM industry-leading forum to learn about the PLM market and vendor trends. It is also a place to learn about new and evolving requirements of industrial companies. I’m coming to Ann Arbor to participate in the event and share more information with you. Stay tuned.
Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing a digital cloud-native PDM & PLM platform that manages product data and connects manufacturers, construction companies, and their supply chain networks. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.