What is an Information Silo? How Can You Break One Down?

Written by: Carlos Melgarejo

Read Time: 3:30 min

What is an information silo?

Have you ever felt like teams across your product development processes are disconnected and lack up-to-date information? If you said yes, your organization might be working in information silos. An information silo occurs when teams like engineering and manufacturing work in disparate, disconnected systems, creating a divide and lack of collaboration. This situation impacts time to market, costs, and product quality. 

Many of today’s manufacturers are designing products that include a mix of mechanical, electronic, and software elements. Managing these components and their related documentation, bill of materials, supplier certifications and more, often happens in various disconnected, enterprise systems (i.e PLM, ERP, MES). These distinct systems result in data silos that affect visibility between product development, manufacturing, quality, service, procurement, and more. 

How do information silos impact you as a manufacturer?

It’s crucial to provide the most accurate, up-to-date information across enterprise teams in order to deliver better products to the field. As a manufacturer, you can be affected by disconnected information silos and suffer from:

  • Product failures
  • Scrap and rework
  • Low first pass yields
  • Inability to identify the impact of proposed changes
  • Delays introducing new products

In this blog, we’ll be looking at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) as a real-world example of a company who successfully removed barriers to enterprise and value chain collaboration. As one of the world’s most admired manufacturers with a strong reputation in medical innovation, J&J realized it needed better ways to securely collaborate across global product development teams. With 130,000 employees worldwide and a diverse product portfolio, the manufacturing giant needed to break down its information silos. Also, a large group of its workforce (22,000) needed access to additional enterprise systems and PLM information requiring expedited software integrations. 

For Johnson & Johnson, it was critical to enable real-time data sharing across development, manufacturing, and support to drive better decision making and innovation. On top of that, the manufacturer must meet strict FDA requirements, for which it needs to be on top of its game. Leadership recognized the urgent need to digitally transform using a PLM-enabled digital thread as the key element to remaining a competitive, global healthcare leader in today’s world.

Breaking down information silos

As a manufacturer, to break down the information silos across product development you need to build a complete digital thread that spans the entire product lifecycle. Upstream and downstream information is enabled with real-time synchronization to all users simultaneously. Teams across the organization and value chain gain access to real-time product data leading to greater consistency and collaboration.  

By leveraging PLM as the foundation to the digital thread, manufacturers can achieve a seamless and complete workflow from planning through design, down to the factory floor and into the field for service. As a manufacturer, this approach can help you deliver concurrent product and process definitions and ensure closed-loop changes between engineering, manufacturing, and other downstream teams. Additionally, discrepancies between process definitions and work instructions will be eliminated on the shop floor. 

Empowering PLM processes with ThingWorx Navigate

To dissolve the information silos that affected J&J, the manufacturer leveraged ThingWorx Navigate. This platform enhances information and collaboration amongst all disciplines within the company. Everyone in the business is able to see, access, and contribute to PLM processes using a single authoritative source of product data throughout the product lifecycle, which adds value to the work done. ThingWorx Navigate empowers your organization to make educated decisions and save time with a state-of-the-art user experience.

Learn more about how Johnson & Johnson broke down information silos by registering for the webcast, How J&J is Building Better Collaboration with ThingWorx Navigate. In this event, the lead ThingWorx Navigate architect in the Medical Device Business will describe J&J’s journey to the digital thread. 

For Johnson & Johnson, ThingWorx Navigate is a rapid app development platform for custom apps, on average taking only three months from end to end to create a new app. Using this platform was crucial for the manufacturer as it quickly helped integrate data not only from PTC’s Windchill but also from other legacy PLM systems, program management systems, and ERP systems. 

 “Navigate is simple, the best user experience that we can give our enterprise users along with the fastest enterprise integration – so much value to our users.”
-Preeti Gupta, Lead ThingWorx Architect – J&J

Windchill is PTC’s PLM solution that enables easy integration with other enterprise systems, providing a solid core for a product-driven digital thread that improves collaboration. This powerful PLM system delivers complete out-of-the-box benefits and highly customizable role and task-based apps.

In summary, breaking down information silos requires implementing a complete digital thread across product development teams. Your organization can benefit from having a digital thread by getting broad access to product data, which is a single source of truth. Also, different teams across the enterprise can easily collaborate by aligning different functions around a complete and consistent set of data. 

How J&J is Building Better Collaboration with ThingWorx Navigate

Tags: Navigate Windchill Digital Thread Life Sciences Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Industrial Internet of Things

About the Author

Carlos Melgarejo Carlos is a Sr. Content Marketing Specialist for PTC’s PLM technology. He comes from a broadcast journalism background where he developed a love for writing and visual storytelling. He is also passionate about developing creative content and communications, having received a Master’s degree in Marketing. He enjoys the outdoors, the beach, exercising, riding his motorcycle and car restoration.