If manufacturers and industrial enterprises have taken away one learning from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, it is that they will not survive without undergoing a digital transformation. The larger the enterprise, the more laborious a digital transformation will be, as a key determinant of success is the fluidity and uniformity of their data, analysis, and design – a holistic digital thread.
For new entrants, and those unfamiliar with industrial technologies, the space is crowded with digital this, and digital that jargon. So, what is a digital thread? It is a single source of data truth creating consistency, collaboration, and alignment across functions by real-time data synchronization of related upstream and downstream derivative information. This scalable common set of democratized data enables enterprise-wide accessibility and continuity across products, processes, and people.
Still on the fence about the need for a digital thread? Here’s just a few “statistics” to put those concerns to rest.
Faced with a growing workforce shortage and increased knowledge gap, major semiconductor manufacturer, GlobalFoundries implemented a digital thread across their products, processes, and people to digitally transform the way in which they work. Emphasizing augmented reality as the method by which they transposed the digital world onto the physical one, GlobalFoundries was able to reduce onboarding time of new employees by 50 percent and accelerate standard operating procedures by 10 times.
Without a digital thread, organizations lose valuable time implementing data from their products because data professionals spend approximately 10 percent more of their time searching for it than analyzing it, said a 2018 IDC survey of over 400 data professionals.
Competitive intelligence reports have enabled companies to stay ahead of the competition for years. With the emergence of Industry 4.0, companies now have a better understanding that the tools required for market disruption lie within their own organization – it is just a matter of how they use them. Around 60 percent of executives echoed those same sentiments, in a study by Forbes, recognizing the top path to circumvent being disrupted is to leverage their own data and technologies for new operational efficiencies, differentiated products and/or services.
Capitalizing on the data and insights generated from their digital thread implementation, GE was able to incorporate additive manufacturing and generative design into the development process for a remodeled bracket. The resulting product was 75 percent lighter than the original design and improved on material yield stress.
By reducing margins of error with more precise insights, the digital thread has been able to allow companies such as the Volvo Group to move the needle towards their 0 part per million quality goal. In the past, Volvo took over 24 hours to conduct quality assurance reviews for engines in their facilities. Weaving in data from the digital thread and visualization capabilities from augmented reality, reviewers are able to complete their checks in under an hour as time is not wasted toggling back and forth between the variety of manuals and checklists.
Yikes. However, 90 percent of executives surveyed in the aforementioned Forbes study did indeed report that a startup or incumbent had the potential to overtake them with a more digitally transformed model within five years.
All the read outs and no idea how to leverage them. Instituting only part of a digital thread puts organizations at a disadvantage as the product lifecycle will inevitably falter when the company is not able to design efficiently, accurately generate data, or even properly conduct maintenance on their products. This mass aggregation of data, known as a data swamp, severely harms companies, confirm Gartner with an analysis claiming 80 percent of these swamps, also known as data lakes, do not include effective management capabilities.
Catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers are now faced with a crucial sink-or-swim choice. Undergo digitally transformative initiatives such as weaving a digital thread through their products, processes, and people, or don’t, and fall behind the competition.
Want to learn more about implementing a finely woven digital thread? Click here to read the PTC whitepaper, Digital Thread: Connecting Products, Processes, and People.