The digital thread is fast becoming one of the hottest topics in industry. However, for many businesses, clarity is required on what it means and how it can truly benefit innovative organisations. Steve Puetz, business development manager at CFMS, simplifies what many believe to be a complex concept.
Over the last few years, the digital thread has been gaining traction across UK industry. Its reputation has quickly grown based on its successful use by early adopters in the aerospace and defence industries and, more recently, by digital, high-tech businesses managing rapid innovation, fast development cycles and heightened customer expectation.
If businesses want to become more responsive to customer needs, reduce their costs and increase efficiencies across the supply chain, they should start by looking at the flow of data generated during their development, manufacturing and service stages.
The digital thread enables the power of collaboration. In its simplest form, the digital thread is about connecting machines, data, processes and people across a whole business or supply chain. Another way of putting it is that it helps deliver the right data to the right place within a business at the right time. If done right it provides an environment rich with data, enabling predictive analytics and innovation opportunities without incurring time, productivity and cost oversights.
However, capturing and tracking data at all stages of a product lifecycle – from initial concept through to the design, manufacture, operation and decommissioning of a product – is not widely practiced in industry. This results in the retracing, translating and moving of data between systems and the supply chain, with regular repetition of these time-consuming processes. Removal of this ‘non-value-add’ activity has the potential to increase productivity, through the reduction of time, cost and time-to-market.