As industry and technology continue to evolve, so does the way we manufacture products. The digital thread has become a vital part of the manufacturing process in today’s industry. We are in the era of Industry 4.0, which is marked by the digitalization of production processes. This digitalization is made possible by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) in manufacturing, enabling machines to communicate and share data.
The digital thread helps us understand the manufacturing process better and optimize it for maximum efficiency. Digital thread relates to the connectivity that enables linked data flow and an integrated view of the asset’s data throughout the life cycle, beyond traditionally fragmented functional viewpoints. This whitepaper examines the role of the digital thread in maximizing business value.
Digital thread adoption is the core of digital manufacturing transformation. It is a set of technologies and processes that interconnect people, data, and machines throughout the lifecycle of a product or service. The idea behind the digital thread is to have a single source of truth for all product data that can be accessed and used by everyone involved in the product development process, from design to manufacturing to customer service.
With the advent of Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data analysis, manufacturers can now collect and store vast amounts of data at every stage of production.
This data can improve product designs, streamline manufacturing processes, and provide better customer service. Furthermore, the digital thread has become a powerful tool for manufacturers looking to gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
Implementation Challenges with the Digital Thread
Maintaining and sharing the flow of information with relevant context throughout the process will challenge many manufacturers. With industry standards and technology platforms in flux, it will be difficult for companies to know how or where to start.
The major challenges in digital thread implementation include:
- Interoperability of current solutions: The current industry standards and technology platforms are not compatible. This lack of interoperability makes it difficult for companies to exchange data between systems essential for the digital thread.
- Lack of data standardization: There is no single standard for representing manufacturing data. This makes it difficult to exchange data between different systems and leads to inconsistencies in the data.
- Lack of integration: Most manufacturing software solutions are not integrated. This makes it difficult to share data between different applications and leads to silos of information.
- Insufficient knowledge and experience: There are a lack of knowledge and experience in implementing the digital thread. This includes a lack of understanding of the technology, the process, and the data. HCLTech have been working on the digital thread for a few years and have developed a deep understanding of the technology and process.
- Scalability and business effect: The digital thread needs to be able to scale to the size of the manufacturing business. It also needs to positively impact the business, such as reducing costs or increasing efficiency.
Pragmatic Strategy to Digital Transformation
The term “digital transformation” is no more a catchphrase. It is now a business reality becoming an integral aspect of day-to-day operations. Two factors principally drive the digital transition. The first step is to enhance end-to-end procedures. The second force is the development of whole new business models. Other than these, many have proposed the big bang and the siloed strategy, which eventually failed to integrate with other systems to achieve complete business objectives.
Problems are diagnosed and tackled pragmatically instead of obeying fixed theories, rules, and ideas. When it comes to digital transformation, a pragmatic approach does not need to start from scratch or redesign current processes and assets entirely. Its guiding premise is to reuse/build existing models beyond siloed data utilization. With time, it adds incremental value. Organizational transformation entails more than just altering internal procedures and systems.
Innovation and quick concept testing must be fuelled by digital techniques, platforms, and offers. It is best to consider predictive maintenance, digital supply chains, end-to-end customer experience, and even cybersecurity as a service.
Implement the Digital Thread
A digital thread is critical to success in the industry today. It’s the backbone that allows you to connect your data, people, and processes across the enterprise—and ultimately create a competitive advantage. Here are three tips to get started:
- Define what data is most important to your business and make sure it’s captured at every stage of the manufacturing process.
- Use industrial IoT (IIoT) technologies to connect your data and gain valuable insights into your operations.
- Make sure your teams are aligned with your digital transformation strategy and have the tools and training they need to succeed.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a competitive advantage with digital thread in manufacturing.
- Digital Thread enables consistency, cooperation, and alignment across functions by synchronizing linked upstream or downstream source information in real-time.
- Despite the challenges in implementing the digital thread, the industry is moving towards digital transformation, with Industry 4.0 and IoT playing a pivotal role in this journey.
- Supply chain visibility is the main motive behind the industry’s focus on digital transformation.
- Change management is another significant challenge that the industry needs to tackle while implementing digital thread. Employees should be adequately trained to use new technologies to have no negative impact on productivity.
- Industry 4.0 developments require delivering the factual data at the right place at the right time, which digital thread enables.