Digital thread is a communication framework that connects traditionally siloed elements in manufacturing processes and provides an integrated view of an asset throughout the manufacturing lifecycle. In addition to technology, the establishment of a digital thread requires business processes that help weave data-driven decision management into the manufacturing culture.
Technology vendors, not-for-profit organizations and individual organization are working to address the challenges of creating digital threads in disparate digital manufacturing environments. One challenge is simply that partners in the supply chain can range from large, fully digital manufacturers to small shops that don't have a single piece of digital equipment. The lack of standard protocols and messaging standards also stands in the way of the information exchange needed for a digital thread. Experts recommend starting with one subsection or business problem, such as exchanging certain information among supply chain stakeholders, may be a far more fruitful path than trying connect everything all at once.