Innovation — products, processes, organization structure, business models — is the most critical challenge CEOs face, and technology is the number-one enabler to accelerate that innovation. A Model-Based Enterprise (MBE) business strategy maximizes the benefits of model-based digital data. An MBE captures product intellectual property (IP) while the digital framework links the value chain with critical IP characteristics. The underlying technical infrastructure for an MBE is ideally managed with a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) platform that facilitates collaboration in product design and development: from ideation, analysis, design, build, test, and field support - operation and maintenance.
The Digital Twin and Digital Thread are essential elements in the MBE, and they both enable new ways to assess practices, processes, and product concepts in a virtual environment. The Digital Twin is the representation of a product or system, mirroring a company's designs, machines, controls, workflows, and systems. While the Digital Thread is a record of a product or systems lifecycle, from its creation to its retirement. Both have enormous benefits for operating models, revenue streams, and customer relationships.
A Digital Twin is the virtual model of an asset, and pairs the virtual and the physical world together allowing product designers to rely on the digital representation of a product without having to see the physical body. The benefits of this are many, one of which is that a Digital Twin contains all the information of the physical product and is a representation of all its facets — mechanical geometric representation, electronic representation, including embedded software, micro software, product data, sensor data. Digital Twins provide the opportunity to enhance asset performance, help managers anticipate adverse environmental effects, and forecast maintenance activities.
The Digital Thread oversees traceability throughout the product lifecycle, and associates all the aspects of the Digital Twin — designs, analysis, simulation and performance data, product data, supply chain data, and software — which go into creating the product. Digital Threads, in combination with Digital Twins, prove useful in the creation and optimization of both physical and digital processes and will pinpoint problem areas in the event there is an issue. Adopting cloud services for the Digital Thread provides manufacturers the ability to implement "smart" machinery, optimize the manufacturing processes, and convey measurable feedback to their product teams.
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