Where could you most use a digital thread?
Authentise customers appear to be managing their entire digital thread
Tell us where you see most value from applying a digital thread?
Are there other areas where we could use a digital thread?
What are your thoughts about a digital thread solution?
One of the first things I did when joining Authentise was to talk to our customers and ask them “what
they really thought”. Their insight prompted us to find out more. We spent some time fleshing out a few areas that we think a digital thread could be beneficial...
Is there space for an overall "Digital Thread" solution that connects traditional PLM, ERP, MES, MRP and other traditional islands of IT?
So, why these questions?
As a body our customers were quite ebullient about their input around Authentise, and what our platform
A really flexible way to drive distributed industrial engineering and manufacturing processes
A way to drive their process from order, through to delivery
A place where all their efforts, internally, and externally with suppliers, were included
A central repository of information for industrial engineering and manufacturing
A single place for collaboration, internally and externally
A place where commercial and technical details of work were all included
A place where planning meets tracked execution
A place where operational needs can be coordinated across the people, materials, resources, machines, manually or automatically, to execute
A distinct “lack of operational latency!”
This sounds great, right! In many of cases our customers were able to outline clear business benefits
associated with these ideas. It’s awesome to understand how we helped them so far. However, in order to add more value to these guys, we needed to go a level deeper…
Nearly all had extremely variable, unique offerings and, or processes
All had a tailored system, matched to their unique processes
Their wider process were working, and thriving…. Whether contained within the Authentise environment, or connecting to it
Customers were not just using Authentise for additive manufacturing processes.
Customers are also using it to track other aspects of their work. This meant a variety of general, sometimes manual, engineering work.
Many customers covered other manufacturing processes such as tooling creation, CNC development etc. Some were managing material handling. Others included shipping and packaging processes.
All of them were connecting a variety of additional tools, systems and hardware to the Authentise platform.
What every single one of them had in common, was a desire to hook together their broader processes into a coherent thread.
The more we talked the more it became apparent that we’re providing an interesting mix of process resource management, execution and contextual data, all delivered on a common platform…. A Digital Thread?
This idea is something our industry has talked about a lot. Was I looking at it, here, with these customers?
The more we talked, the more I thought “It is!”.
That's where we began to understand that we’re doing something slightly different from some of the traditional IT solutions. What we’re doing is not a data based, BOM management toolset with additional functionality, as per some PLM systems. Nor is it a series of disconnected apps like many ERP or MES
systems. This appeared to be a common problem. While our customers often had many IT systems with
three letter acronyms, (PLM, ERP, MES, MRP and so on) they rarely connected outside of their immediate remits. PLM or PDM was being used by design. MES and often ERP being used by manufacturing and purchasing, supply or sales.
What we were talking about was a much more dynamic network of interaction that didn't care for
these traditional TLA (three letter acronym) notions as our customer’s tried to keep their customers
happy and adhered to increasingly complex compliance regulations. What we were discussing
seemed to overcome many of the traditional, disconnected, islands of process automation we often
see in IT.
As I reflect a little, what we appeared to be looking at was the digital thread, integrating processes
together; allowing them to see their key industrial engineering and manufacturing data in the wider
context of the overall process around it; understanding what’s going on, seeing value and opportunity for improvement…
And what’s a more interesting question was “How many other companies out there have these challenges? Why are more people not doing this, and if we had something, where could we use it?" Hence why we are keen on listening to your insight!
We would specifically like to thank 3M, Danfoss, Boeing, Rolls Royce and Carpenter Additive, amongst
others, for their insight.