What is the Digital Thread?
The Digital Thread is a system of interconnected data, processes and applications that create a closed loop between the digital and physical worlds. It enables a flow of data between these two worlds, creating a critical capability in model-based systems engineering (MBSE).
The Digital Thread is part of an overall MBSE approach that helps organizations:
- Design better products faster by using models as the basis for decisions rather than documents
- Reduce costs by eliminating rework caused by changes made after initial design stages
- Avoid errors by ensuring all stakeholders always have access to up-to-date information about product status
Why Use the Digital Thread
The Digital Thread utilizes a communication framework that links previously disconnected elements within the manufacturing process, providing a unified view of an asset throughout its entire lifecycle. It is a fundamental aspect of model-based systems engineering and forms the foundation for a Digital Twin. Business processes, including daily tasks, activities, and decisions, are digitized and integrated into the Digital Twin through the Digital Thread. The Digital Thread also supports standardization, traceability, and automation initiatives.
This enterprise connective solution optimizes products by bringing people, processes and places together to provide traceability of the Digital Twin back to requirements and parts. The Digital Thread also provides an end-to-end view of control systems that make up physical assets across their lifecycle. This benefits a company by transforming how products are engineered, manufactured and serviced.
The Digital Thread is a powerful tool that is used to improve business processes and enhance customer satisfaction. The applications of this technology are numerous, including:
- Product lifecycle management (PLM)
- Supply chain management (SCM)
- Quality management
- Risk management
- Service and maintenance
The Digital Thread in Action
The Digital Thread is a concept that’s been around for a while, but it has only recently started to gain traction. It isn’t something that you can just jump into and expect to understand immediately. Instead, it’s best to look at the ways in which companies have utilized this idea in order to get a picture of what they’ve done with it and how they’ve used it successfully. Here are some examples of companies who have made use of their own Digital Threads:
A retail company uses its Digital Thread to improve customer service by connecting customers directly with product experts via chatbot technology. This allows them access information on products before making purchases so they can make informed decisions about what they buy and why they buy it. It also gives them an opportunity to ask questions if anything comes up later on down the line (i.e., when they’re actually using products).
Another retailer uses its own version of this concept as part of its online store where shoppers can find information about any given item without having access beforehand. Instead, everything from sizing charts down through reviews from other buyers will pop up automatically once someone clicks “add” on any given product listing page (and even before then!).
Creating a Digital Thread
The Digital Thread is a new way of thinking about your business. It’s more than just data connection or enterprise collaboration, it’s an integrated approach to connecting with the product lifecycle, employees and customers in real time.
The first step in creating a Digital Thread is understanding the production journey – how your employees or customers interact with your product at each stage of the production process. You need to know what information they should be consuming and how you can provide it through all stages of the product lifecycle. Once you have this information, it’s time to put together a plan for how the data will be distributed across all departments. This could be through IoT initiatives and product lifecycle management software.
The Future of the Digital Thread
The Digital Thread is the idea that every product interaction you have, whether it’s before, during or after the creation of the product should be connected through shared data. This means when a product is designed, built and put on the field with the customer, all the information is connected together. This sort of enterprise connection minimizes process disruptions and creates a cohesive product lifecycle.
The concept has been around for years but it’s only recently started to gain traction among businesses as more of them embrace breaking down data silos and integrating technology into every aspect of the product lifecycle.
It’s easy enough to see how this could benefit both consumers and businesses: Consumers get better service because service technicians are alerted early and accurately about the performance of their products and when they need to be serviced. Customer service improves greatly when a company can minimize downtime for customers with real-time monitoring and preventative maintenance.
The impact of the Digital Thread is not only changing the way we design and manufacture products, but also how we service them. This shift has significant implications for businesses.
The ability to track a product through its life cycle has huge potential for companies looking to improve operations and customer experience. It’s no longer enough to simply make sure that your product works when it leaves the factory; now you need to ensure that it will continue working throughout its entire life cycle and be able to respond quickly if something goes wrong along the way.
There are challenges to the Digital Thread, however. Data security, privacy and integrity are all important considerations when it comes to data sharing. These issues are addressed by industry best practices such as encryption and authentication protocols that protect information from unauthorized access or tampering.
The Benefits of the Digital Thread
The benefits of the Digital Thread include:
Cost savings. The Digital Thread allows you to reduce costs by eliminating excess inventory and reducing waste. For example, if a product is out of stock at one store, it’s not available for purchase in any other stores or online either. This means that customers won’t be able to buy it unless they go directly to the manufacturer’s website–and many will simply give up and look elsewhere instead.
Improved efficiency. With the Digital Thread in place, manufacturers quickly identify where there are problems with production or distribution so they can fix them immediately rather than waiting until after an entire batch is produced before finding out about any issues (and having already paid for those products). By being able to identify problems before they occur, companies save money on wasted materials while also ensuring better customer satisfaction because their products will always be available when needed most!
The Digital Thread is beneficial to manufacturers because it enables automation, traceability, and standardization efforts. It allows manufacturers to access data quickly and easily, and to make decisions based on real-time data. Additionally, it helps to reduce costs associated with product development and production, and to ensure that products are manufactured to the highest quality standards.
The Digital Thread also helps to improve the customer experience by providing them with access to real-time data, allowing them to make informed decisions about their purchases. It also improves the efficiency of the supply chain, as manufacturers track their products from start to finish, ensuring that they are delivered on time and to the correct specifications.
Overall, the Digital Thread for Manufacturing is a powerful tool that can help manufacturers to improve their operations, reduce costs, and provide a better customer experience.
The Digital Thread is the concept that all of your customer interactions are connected, and that your business uses this to its advantage. The Digital Thread has many applications, including:
Providing a better user experience for customers by connecting all of their interactions with you in one place
Enabling companies to provide better support through real-time communication with customers
Helping businesses understand their customers better by analyzing data from various channels
If you want to learn more about how the Digital Thread could impact your organization, chat with one of our experts!
The capabilities and functionalities of computer-aided design software determine the achievements of design teams and, ultimately, the profitability of manufacturing companies. From concept design and large assemblies to emerging technologies – PTC Creo will always beat SolidWorks.
1. Concept Design
Within Concept Design, tools that help designers achieve quicker design iterations, reduce design rework, and testing on design concepts early on are vital. SolidWorks struggles with basic foundations to quickly create multiple and complex concept ID and proposal models. While easy revisions of concept models and conceptual design tools (aside from traditional and basic surfacing functions) seem like they should be a standard in CAD design programs, SolidWorks comes up short. The missing capabilities make design iterations like freeform surfacing an impossible task.
Contrary to SolidWorks, PTC’s Creo provides numerous, flexible tools so users can quickly turn ideas into concepts and models into detailed designs. With capabilities like freestyle, designers can quickly and easily create freestyle and parametric combination surfaces. Creo’s concept design tools empower engineers to quickly create 2D conceptual geometry, easily generate proposed concept variations and are seamlessly compatible with other sub-divisional initial surfacing. To minimize prototyping costs and decrease waste, Creo also provides early simulation for shaping initial surfacing.
2. Large Assemblies
Large assemblies are typically fighting three persistent problems: lengthy opening times and lack of memory, large drawings for slow loading, and lagging graphics with sudden crashes. SolidWorks does not provide solutions to those issues, but rather it has performance and stability constraints when loading large assemblies. SolidWorks is slow to respond to full assembly changes and lacks the capabilities for top-down design and concurrent engineering. All of these vulnerabilities lead to slow design processes and an increase in time-to-market – ultimately hindering the bottom line.
PTC Creo is the recognized leader in large assembly management and top-down design. PTC’s CAD solution is the strongest-performing software in loading and working with large assemblies. Multiple people can work on large assemblies and they don’t have to suffer usability and performance scales as the assembly size grows. As engineers make major changes to the assemblies there are predictable outcomes that are easy to fix with flexible tools such as simplified reps, data sharing, and more. The tools in Creo allow large assemblies to be created with ease and confidence in a smooth process as assemblies continue to grow.
3. Robust Modeling Functions
A robust model is defined as a model structure that can easily adapt with minimal negative feedback when changes are made to the design and model. SolidWorks is lacking in adaption for sheet metal, direct editing, multi-body designs, top-down designs, and complex surfacing. SolidWorks struggles with fluidity in progressing from conceptual models to creating robust, detailed models. Robust models need to be able to adjust with scaling. SolidWorks fails to attain that scalability as models change and evolve to create more innovative and complex products. In other words, with SolidWorks there is no assurance that your designs will reach the same efficiency as the model becomes more complex.
Contrary to SolidWorks, Creo is a single, scalable suite of integrated solutions with powerful direct and parametric modeling. As a single source of truth, Creo allows you to design without compromise, regardless of complexity, and achieve full associativity and automatic change propagation. These capabilities open up the opportunity to work on complex models without any interruptions.
4. Late-Stage Design Changes
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the end of your design iteration and realizing that you missed something along the way to finish the model. SolidWorks software makes it difficult to make late-stage design changes to complex geometry which often results in having to rework and fix the model geometry. Performance and productivity are impacted by late-design changes that require a recognition of the entire model geometry and all its features. When designers try to move parts and surfaces, these changes could require rebuilding or an import/export of CAD data. This makes it difficult to make changes to dimensions and pattern features, copy geometry, and move complex surfaces. When you can’t easily make late-stage design changes there is a disruption in the workflow – time and money are lost.
PTC Creo helps companies save money by delivering powerful capabilities for late-stage design changes. Functionalities like direct copy/paste geometry, flexible pattern tools, round editing, and the ability to follow geometry upon move are all ways that designers can keep production moving. When designers can move complex geometry and Flexible Modeling intelligently adapts geometry to the given use case, they can be confident in making late-stage design changes without disrupting their workflow. Creo saves teams from headaches, time lost, and missed opportunities.
5. Emerging Technologies
As far as new emerging technologies and the development of existing technologies go, SolidWorks lacks a strong initiative to keep up with the changes. While there have been proposed solutions for emerging technologies, SolidWorks focuses on extending the functionality of traditional capabilities rather than architecting a complete, and well-implemented new solution. Furthermore, their solutions are entry-level or non-existent without smooth workflows and are not fully integrated into the CAD environment. The world of technology is constantly changing and keeping up with the times is vital to bringing success to companies around the world.
PTC has unmatched capabilities in the emerging technologies that are shaping the next evolution of product development. New CAD technologies introduced by PTC are deeply integrated with Creo including generative design, simulation-driven design, augmented reality, smart connected products, and additive manufacturing. By creating compatible integrations for new, emerging technologies, PTC can stay ahead of the game with its CAD software.
From the design concept to late-stage changes, offering the best and newest capabilities is vital to the growth and success of every company. Between SolidWorks and Creo, the functionalities speak for themselves. Offering a wide expanse of tools, PTC Creo will help your designers save themselves from frustrations, shorten the design process, and increase profits year over year.
Want to learn more about how Creo could transform your business? Get in contact with our EAC experts or learn more about Creo’s capabilities here.