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Blog

Building the Digital Thread

Wednesday, June 03 2020

In the 21st century global market, products never stop changing. Features may pivot during conception and design; software may evolve in response to customer feedback. Yet while this kind of agility is the key to product quality, it also produces a high volume of data and documents generated by different systems, such as MCAD, ECAD, ERP, CRM and other systems. Unfortunately, this information tends to get trapped in siloes – and manually transferring data between systems leads to multiple copies and in turn, poor version control. This can be especially destructive for organizations who need to meet rigorous quality and compliance standards, which demand accurate part numbers, instructional drawings, service reports and other critical information.

The solution: a digital thread that establishes informational relationships across the company and across the product lifecycle.

Digital threads offer a continuous link that connects concept to design to engineering to validation to production and beyond. With all types of documents digitized and available, different teams that may not work closely together still base their actions on the same information. The key is a Digital Product Data Backbone that offers a “single source of truth” while linking product and dependency knowledge across departments. Whether teams are planning a market launch, managing contracts or mitigating risk, the digital thread ensures they understand the context of other teams‘ actions, which can help them create smarter strategies.

Transcending Limited Visibility

Unfortunately some manufacturers are still using dedicated departmental solutions that store their data in silos. Forward-thinking manufacturers are using next-gen platforms that offer a central data repository and a separate application design for each department,

The result is a seamless flow of data that ushers in smoother product and document lifecycle management. Modern products and modern organizations are too complex today for workers to foresee every detail and consequence without it. By aligning teams like development, design, manufacturing and customer service, the organization can respond nimbly to complaints, reduce waste and develop more innovative solutions.

Turning Unity into Profit

Here’s an example of why this matters. Let’s say customers tell your support representatives that certain product parts are continually malfunctioning. Inventory and asset managers also notice frequent orders of those parts, though they don’t understand why. Eventually the complaints find their way to the manufacturing manager and he/she initiates the engineering change management process. By the time the product designers and engineering staff are informed about the situation, more customers experience the same problem and what began as a small issue has turned into a major issue.

With a digital thread, those gaps and multiple degrees of separation vanish. Now there’s a unified source of all information and a standardized process for managing change. The product design team can access customer service records and can put those complaints into context. However, digital threads aren’t just about course correction – they’re also about prevention and quality. Armed with the right insights, teams can avoid future failures and proactively replace faulty parts ahead of time to minimize complaints and warranty claims. By digitally tracing relationships and repercussions, leaders can conduct more informed analysis and innovate intelligently – instead of wasting budget on ideas that may not be profitable.

PRO.FILE and the Future of Manufacturing

To realize these benefits, leading manufacturers are adopting a forward-thinking platform approach that involves a single solution. That’s PRO.FILE, a unified configurable platform coupled with PRO.CEED best practice application packages. Organizations achieve end-to-end product data management, seamless and accessible across all systems. The ability to configure the solution to meet individual needs means faster implementation, while ready-made application packages make process flows simple and efficient. Cloud-based deployment makes digital product engineering and digital product management even more effective.

Manufacturing first-class products will always bring challenges – but there’s no longer any reason leaders should leave their teams mired in manual mistakes and siloed data. By implementing a digital thread through their systems and product life cycles, manufacturers can take their workforce and their revenue into a more successful future.

For more information check out our new eBook, Digitally Connecting Product-Related Data and Documents Throughout Your Enterprise