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The Seven Building Blocks of The Digital Thread

The Seven Building Blocks of The Digital Thread

The 7 building blocks of the digital thread help organizations streamline processes and bring information into a common data model and platform.

Here is a brief overview of each of these blocks.

Building Block 1: Manage data

To develop a successful digital thread, it is important to have proper data management. The first step in developing the digital thread is to ensure the accuracy of data and check that the data is under control. This data is the skeleton for the digital thread and enables concurrent engineering and cross-functional collaboration. The product data should include mechanical CAD, software designs, electrical designs, requirements, systems models, and simulation data. This data should be managed in a common repository where it can be easily accessed.

Building Block 2: Manage configurations

The digital thread needs to reflect products, configurations, and bills of materials (BOMs), which should be multidisciplinary and reflect physical parts, software, and electronics. Maintaining accurate and updated BOMs ensures that the intended design aligns with downstream operations. The configurations should be independently defined and create a unique BOM. These configurations and BOMs should be easy to visualize with a complete 3D digital mockup (DMU) of each configuration.

Building Block 3: Prepare for production

After the product design, the digital thread also includes the design of manufacturing and execution processes. Design engineers and manufacturing engineers work together to design manufacturing processes, equipment, and tooling. It helps in making the process more efficient and improves cost, quality, and the time needed to market the product.

Building Block 4: Manage parts, suppliers, and reuse

The digital thread is based on a standard parts catalog and should encourage rationalization and reuse. It should be easy for engineers to find sourced and internal part data to incorporate into the design. The designers should be able to access the detailed part data, including suppliers and cost details. Having accurate part data helps reduce supply risk and avoid the high costs of part proliferation.

Building Block 5: Design in quality

The digital thread must also include quality information similar to manufacturing data. The quality processes should be incorporated with associated design data to ensure that the engineers are designing to maintain the desired quality. All the product data should be included in the digital design continuity and product traceability to ensure that the requirements are met and the desired quality is achieved.

Building Block 6: Manage change

Creating and collecting the right data is necessary but being flexible is equally important. The information must be complemented by supporting business processes to maintain data integrity. One of the most significant processes that support digital threads is the functional change management process. Change management best practices are well defined and the key value of supporting change in PLM is the connection between supporting data and intended change. It provides the right information to understand the implications of change and support change reviews.

Building Block 7: Support secure collaboration and IP Protection

People need to be able to collaborate on digital thread data and develop, maintain, and gain value from the digital thread. A PLM system supporting digital thread should provide the basics of CAD collaboration and these capabilities should be extended beyond the company to support a secured collaboration with the global supply chain. There must be Intellectual Property policies supported by the system to ensure regulatory compliance and manage risks.

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