It’s estimated that by 2025 there will be 175 zettabytes of data generated annually. That’s an impressive stat. And, when utilised properly, it can lead to significant business results. The challenge we face is that industrial enterprises are struggling to manage large amounts of data and can be overwhelmed by the prospect.
A digital thread is a single source of truth data, it unites upstream, and downstream data flows, in real-time. When the digital thread is implemented in small and focused use cases, it can become the foundation for greater visibility and collaboration across the enterprise.
In this blog, we will explore the three leading digital thread use cases that engineering executives should know about.
1. Scale to drive enterprise, digital transformation
A digital thread isn’t one dimensional; it’s layered and connected. Choosing the initial digital thread use case is a big decision; it needs care and consideration, it’s essential to the long term success of the digital thread, across the enterprise.
A digital thread becomes more powerful and more transformative with each new data source. By carefully building out a digital thread, adding functions, departments and roles, business are able to realise the value of the digital thread and the ROI it can reap.
2. Increase collaboration - products, people AND processes
To accelerate product design to meet market demand, it’s crucial that we have upstream and downstream communication in as real-time as possible.
A digital thread helps to promote a full lifecycle loop across product design, engineering, manufacturing, service and back! In a vast amount of enterprises, there has been reduced communication between engineering and service. Now with the influence of IoT and connected products, we have more insight, and more incentive to grasp the end to end connection.
A digital thread also enables greater communication and insight across the product lifecycle. It informs processes and gives people empowerment with access to in-depth analytics. Armed with a greater understanding of how a product’s features are utilised, engineers and designers can create better products in the future, meeting and exceeding the growing customer demand. This, in turn, improves quality and accelerates innovation.
3. Promoting agility within your organisation and the marketplace
Industry 4.0 is utilising every digital capability to accelerate into the marketplace. Agility is one of the most sought after attributes for companies who want to be the most successful in digital transformation.
Real-time visibility into products, processes and people across the enterprise is undoubtedly the most effective way of creating a more agile organisation. Often, critical enterprise data ends up siloed, in multiple domains with no thread in common. The results can have a considerable impact, in the following areas: duplicated work, multiple ‘sources of truth’ and challenges with data security, control and interoperability.
A digital thread that’s enabled by a suite of interconnected tech, upstream and downstream is available in a single source. Updated data and analytics can be delivered to role-specific lenses. This, then allows the workforce to grasp data insights in a way that as never deemed possible before. This ultimately leads to more agility and more prompt reactions to business and market changes.
Let’s take the example of Volvo. We all know who they are. The global truck and construction equipment manufacturer recently implemented a digital thread to accelerate its quality assurance process. This market is increasingly demanding custom products; therefore, Volvo needed to match this and streamline their products and operations. They forgot the laborious paper-based processes and adopted augmented reality. This helped them to deliver the most up to date upstream engine engineering and design information for downstream QA operators.
This made Volvo more agile in a few ways; they can be operationally more efficient, they can be more reactive to the changing market, improve the QA process experience and commit to the best level of product quality.
With all of this in mind, we now know that the digital thread has the power to be transformative in your organisation. The digital thread will help to achieve the best possible results in engineering, design, manufacturing efficiency and product and service innovation.