Have you ever been put in a situation at your company where an issue has been brought up by a customer, or worse, many customers, and you need to get to the root of the problem—fast? What about a regulatory body requesting comprehensive information as to what decisions were made by whom during the development or manufacture of a product? Daunting, right? It can feel like you are about to solve the mysteries of how the universe works, all the moving parts, how they relate, which came first to influence the next. But, this actually is solvable, if you take a digital thread approach. And if you don’t have a digital thread approach, the two basic situations I just brought up should be more than enough to justify taking action and developing one.
Digital Thread goes beyond collaboration
Much time has been spent on the need to connect silos of information to give disparate groups access to product data and work more effectively. Beyond that, these newly connected silos can now be further leveraged by employing a platform approach and building applications that can use this available data to collaborate on ideas, manage changes, and resolve engineering, manufacturing and service issues all while continuing to provide both context and traceability for its users.
This is beyond social collaboration; this is collaboration in context that can now extend beyond your four walls of business to your employee’s home offices and to your secure supply chain as well. Many have recognized, or have been forced to pursue, this collaboration to keep business going in these difficult times. The good news is that you are also capturing more product data across the lifecycle, which will enable use cases that require the ability to trace back. Let’s next see how you tell a story with your digital thread.
Let the story unfold with the Digital Thread
Once you have that digital thread, and have used it to collaborate across the product lifecycle and get your innovative products out the door and into customer hands, you might think the usefulness of this information fades into the background, gathering dust, never to see the light again, BUT, it still has value!
Think about the scenarios I’ve already mentioned. I’m sure you could come up with many more. This digital thread, connecting silos of information, with context, is traceable. This means you can explore information to create the baseline for the next generation product, what ideas where there that were captured for the next time? You can also trace a part failure in a product from the customer back to the point where the team or engineer made the decision. This insight enables organizations to move quickly to the resolution of problems and the ability to adapt their products to improve future performance, all because you can create a story with your digital thread.
Exploring a story is easier with visualization
The ease of the story telling requires intuitive ways to access it, search it, and explore it. But what’s the best way to explore it? How best can I extract that story I am looking to tell, or solve the case of the faulty part? It’s hard to find your way to a destination without a map, this is why it’s important to make your thread searchable, and navigable, with visual capabilities so that product data and context can “jump off the page.”
Here are two examples:
Explore the Digital Thread using a Digital Twin Configuration
Using a 3D digital twin configuration of a product, you can simply select the parts within the product you want more detail on and begin to trace backwards through its history. For example, you could understand what maintenance was performed last week, or who made the decision to select a specific supplier when the product was manufactured 10 years ago.
Trace relationships in the digital thread with Graph Navigation
Using a graphical representation of the digital thread of a part or a product, users can browse and explore content with context. This view is configurable, based on the user experience required and, better yet, the user can click on what is displayed to interact further with the digital thread to visualize content beyond what has been displayed, to uncover the story to be told.
How Aras Innovator will help
Using a platform approach to create and sustain your enterprise digital thread allows your organization to collaborate in context while a product is in development, but just as important, it captures a historical representation of decisions that have been made by stakeholders that led to the product that is ultimately operating in the field. Accessing this information after the fact and visualizing it in intuitive ways, speeds up use cases for failure diagnosis, design questions, and more. Supporting these use cases without a digital thread is time consuming, if not impossible. When regulatory bodies need specific information, your digital thread allows you to answer inquiries with “I KNOW” rather than, “I think,” with confidence in your response. So, what story do you want to uncover in your digital thread?