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AD PAG logoCIMdata’s 2023 PLM Market & Industry Forum series theme is “The Digital Thread: Powering Business Transformation.” At this industry-leading Forum, CIMdata will frame the digital thread and discuss the issues faced by industrial users. Event sessions provide critical information to the PLM Software and Service community enabling them to respond to new and evolving requirements. Learn more about the 2023 PLM Market & Industry Forum here.

CIMdata continues to investigate many topics of interest to the PLM Economy. One area we are currently focusing on is the digital thread, a topic important enough to be featured as a stand-alone topic on our 2023 PLM Market & Industry Forum agenda. Here is some current thinking on how we are developing that session. This is the last of three blogs on this topic.

The Digital Thread-The Industrial Perspective

CIMdata, on behalf of the Aerospace & Defense PLM Action Group (AD PAG), has conducted a collaborative research effort with five PLM solution providers on the topic of digital thread. This research’s shared objective was to understand needs and opportunities within industry that would inform Digital Thread solution strategy and roadmap and guide industrial implementations. CIMdata was responsible for project management and the creation of the project artifacts.

Since its founding in 2014, the CIMdata-administered AD PAG has sponsored research and jointly staffed projects on topics such as Model-Based Definition, Multiple-View Bill of Materials, PLM Technology Obsolescence Management, Global Collaboration, Model-Based Systems Engineering, and Digital Twin/Digital Thread. The members regularly interact with the principal PLM solution providers in project collaborations and executive-level strategic discussions. AD PAG members include Airbus, Boeing, GE Aerospace, Gulfstream, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, and Safran.

The Group’s leadership recently decided to expand its reach into the PLM solution provider community and engage in collaborative research and dialogue on strategic topics. For this research effort, CIMdata and the AD PAG partnered with Aras, Eurostep, Jama Software, PTC, and Siemens Digital Industries Software, all solution providers committed to addressing the digital thread challenges of industrial companies.

The project used two methods to gather information: subject matter expert (SME) interviews and an online survey. CIMdata interviewed three communities: the participating PLM solution providers, key A&D customers nominated by the participating solution providers, and the AD PAG member companies. The second method of information gathering was through a web-based survey targeted toward a broader community of PLM practitioners in industry. The learnings from the interviews were applied to develop the line of inquiry in the web-based survey.

CIMdata conducted 15 interviews: 5 with our solution provider sponsors, 5 with key customers recommended by our solution provider sponsors, and 5 with AD PAG members. A total of 90 complete and validated survey responses were received and have been analyzed. The survey was open to all industries, but it was targeted toward and most heavily promoted within aerospace and defense, and nearly 60% of responses were from that industry. A review of the names of companies represented and the positions held by the interviewees and survey respondents confirms that the information received is representative of the most influential companies and leading thinkers within the aerospace and defense industry.

The following are some of the key findings derived from analyzing the interview and survey results:

  • CIMdata’s analysis clearly indicates that digital thread investment within the ecosystem of industrial users, their customers, suppliers, and solution providers are poised for rapid growth. Initial implementations of targeted digital thread solutions have provided proof points of value and essential learnings. New rounds of investment are ramping up, guided by these early achievements and with expectations driven by the value potential revealed.
  • The conceptual understanding of digital thread within industry is very immature. Nearly half of the companies surveyed do not have a commonly accepted definition of the digital thread. However, there is a broadly shared perception of what a digital thread does and what a digital thread is. The most prominent characteristics of what a digital thread is and what it does relate to “establishing traceability of product information.”
  • The most striking indicator that digital thread investment is in its very early days is the contrast between the importance assigned to digital thread use cases and the prevalence of current implementations. For example, lifecycle BOM management is considered essential by 62% and important by 26% of respondents but is currently implemented as a digital thread within only 25% of respondents’ companies.

The 2023 PLM Market & Industry Forum will be a live event in Ann Arbor, MI, USA, on March 30 and in Frankfurt, Germany, on April 4. A series of virtual-live events will follow, each held over two half-days designed to share the same information in the following geographies, India, China, and Japan.

Please let me know your thoughts on this topic by sharing them in the comments section of this blog!

Or contact me directly at j.roche@CIMdata.com

I hope to see you in Ann Arbor or Frankfurt!


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