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Concurrent Engineering Blog

How strong is your digital thread?

Posted by Concurrent Engineering on 31-Jan-2022 10:00:00

When your product data is complete and current, it makes your entire business work better. Let’s find out more.


In manufacturing, your digital thread is a detailed collection of product and process information. It aims to pull together every piece of information involved in producing a product, often from a sprawling range of disparate sources, holding it in a digital environment. When your digital thread is strong, every part of your business functions better. It boosts communication, improves processes and makes everyone’s lives easier. 




In this article, we’ll look at how Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the base for a strong digital thread. We’ll also show you five things you need to think about when designing your digital thread.


PLM is the key


PLM brings your digital thread together. It enables teams to collaborate on a product regardless of their specialist discipline or where they are in the world. It provides up-to-date product and process information from a single source of truth.


If you’re starting your digital thread journey, getting your PLM right is essential. First, ensure your organisation has the digital infrastructure capacity to run PLM. Here are five other factors you need to consider.


1 – Organise your data


Your digital thread needs to be based on a single source of truth. Your first task is to leverage Product Data Management (PDM) that provides reliable, accurate and up-to-date data, so teams across the globe can collaborate using whatever CAD tools they choose without causing confusion elsewhere.


2 – Update your bill of materials


Your digital thread will contain your products along with their various configurations and their bill of materials (BOMs). Update your BOMs that represent precisely where your product is at the moment and how it relates to your underlying design data.


3 – Be everywhere


Your PLM digital thread should touch all areas of your design and engineering processes. It should help your teams plan the strategy, allow for tooling and equipment changes, and locate parts. It should also include quality management processes so engineers can design for quality and adapt to changing industry rules.


4 – Allow for change management


A robust change management process is an essential part of your digital thread. Your digital thread helps everyone connect the dots between the current situation and the proposed changes, supported by data.


5 – Get buy-in from everyone


Everyone involved in manufacturing needs to understand why a strong digital thread is essential. Explain how it will make their individual lives easier and get their buy-in. However, when implementing your digital thread from an innovation point of view, always consider the people using it every day (CAD designers, engineers, supply chain etc.) and keep them on board. Excellent communication and teamwork will help them gain the most value from your digital thread.


Creating a strong digital thread with PLM is an essential step for your organisation on its own - and part of a broader digital transformation programme. Of course, there will be challenges, but get it right and everyone benefits.


Interested in learning more about controlled innovation, including broad participation in clinical trials? Join us on the 17th of February for the Design Control for Medical Device Manufacturers Webinar. Click the link below to sign up.


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