Digital Thread is a relatively recent concept coined a few years ago during the rising of trends such as Smart Manufacturing, Digital Twin, and Product Lifecycle. Being literally overwhelmed by data, the connected digital manufacturing industry started to feel the need to create consistency and homogeneity across the whole production chain. Digital Thread is not a product. Therefore, it has required some years of theoretical thinking and digital transformation advancements in order to be thought of as something useful – and necessary – at an operational level. At last year’s LiveWorx, PTC has extensively talked about the benefits of creating a digital thread as a single data source that guarantees real-time data synchronization and accessibility across products, processes, and people. Among the advantages of a digital thread, there are lower costs, agility, higher-quality products, faster throughput.
Overcoming information challenges
This year, PTC has released the whitepaper ''Digital Thread Building Continuity Across Products, Processes, and People’’ where the digital thread is presented as a solution to overcome information challenges and promote democratic and easy access to upstream and downstream information. The whitepaper demonstrates the validity and effectiveness of getting an overall view over operations and people through a series of successful use cases. PTC conceives software development in a sense that consolidates the digital thread strategy. Different case studies demonstrated that augmented reality could help deliver up-to-date upstream engine engineering & design information to downstream QA operators in a timely fashion. This was the case of the Volvo Group or GlobalFoundries, for instance. In other cases, the digital thread was enabled by linking product centric software (CAD, PLM), manufacturing systems (MES, MOM), and floor devices.
The ''architecture for the new normal''
At this year’s LiveWorx, PTC has added an essential piece to the digital thread strategy focusing on SaaS-based offerings and promoting it as the ideal architecture for the new normal. PTC reported that according to research from Deloitte, 93% of CEOs surveyed are adopting or planning to adopt SaaS. Most CIOs interviewed listed among the main benefits of cloud-based SaaS higher employee engagement, optimization of application costs, agility, and scalability.
''SaaS is more accessible than traditional enterprise software installations. Users can access the software easily from any location with internet. And you don’t have to deploy any special hardware. Users can use all the devices they already have. And finally, it’s safe.’’ said Jon Hirschtick, EVP and Head of SaaS.
PTC integrated all the advantages of SaaS into a comprehensive platform called PTC Atlas and announced that all future PTC SaaS applications will run on it. PTC Atlas’ set of core services is built on Onshape SaaS and completes Onshape CAD and PLM offerings. ''Atlas includes user provisioning, data management, data translation, cloud deployment, and management tools, analytics services, and many, many other core elements of modern powerful SaaS applications.’’ Jon Hirschtick explained. Covid-19 gave momentum to Saas-based solutions, accelerating its adoption. This perfectly aligns with the promotion of a holistic approach that embraces digital thread at a tipping point.