What is the Digital Thread?

Innovation Central: The Digital Thread

Sharing Data Across Disparate Operations

As manufacturers modernize their operations and move toward Industry 4.0, a new capability has emerged: The Digital Thread. Built on digital technologies pioneered from engineering and design and CAD applications, the Digital Thread gives manufacturers a powerful way to better leverage the valuable data generated at each step of the production lifecycle. Use the Industrial IoT and enterprise applications to take full advantage of all the data available to gain insights necessary for high-performance operations.

What is a Digital Thread?

The Digital Thread is a communication framework that integrates design, production, inspection, testing, and maintenance data to create a continuous thread of information that spans a product’s entire engineering and manufacturing process. It is both a snapshot at any moment of a product’s lifecycle, and a moving picture of how that product was designed, produced, and maintained. By unifying all a product’s upstream and downstream data, manufacturers can gain new insights to drive improvement in cost, performance, and quality.

Read more about the Digital Thread.

The Digital Thread in Complex Discrete Manufacturing

Complex discrete manufacturers working in industries like aerospace, nuclear, medical devices, and private space exploration are faced with especially difficult challenges, from complex supply chains to stringent regulations. A single design change can affect the manufacturing of multiple components. Keeping track of as-designed, as-built, and as-maintained records at every stage of the process can quickly become impossible to govern. Multiple Digital Threads must be managed and integrated to help ease this complexity.

Read about managing digital threads as a digital cloth: Tying Together All the Threads of a Digital Cloth.

Why Adopt a Digital Thread Today?

The Digital Thread is not a promise of the future—it is today’s competitive reality. Many manufacturers see it as the next logical step in their digital transformation. Once a company has digitalized the foundation of operations, design, and manufacturing, the major investments have already been made. The Digital Thread is a powerful way to leverage that investment and gain more value from it.

Is your firm ready for the Digital Thread? Try our Digital Thread Adoption Calculator to find out.

Making Your Digital Thread Project a Success

The specifics of your Digital Thread project will depend heavily on how far along you are on the digital transformation journey. Nevertheless, there are several steps every organization can take to help ensure success, such as carefully defining goals, identifying risks, understanding possible technology disruption, and establishing clear milestones. You’ll also need a vendor who has the technology and vision to match your needs

Read more about enabling a successful Digital Thread.