In an era where the management of complex products demands more than just traditional approaches, the concept of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and its modern extension into digital threads is increasingly important. The Product Life Cycle Support (PLCS) standard has been at the forefront of this technological evolution, particularly in how it aids in the creation and management of digital threads. This article explores the pivotal role played by PLCS in this context.
What is a digital thread?
A digital thread is the communication framework that provides a connected data flow and an integrated view of the product’s data throughout its lifecycle, connecting the many digital twins. Data should be reusable and flow both downstream and upstream through feedback loops. Considering the data applications outside of the data-generating domain, all the data in a digital thread must be clear, concise, and validated. Traditionally, a digital thread spans siloed functional perspectives, but for value networks, which include suppliers, partners, and customers, it also needs to extend outside of an organization’s borders.
The role of PLCS in creating digital threads
A standardized framework
PLCS offers a standardized framework for the structured organization and management of data within PLM systems. This makes it easier to create digital threads that adhere to the definition above, ensuring data flows cohesively from one stage of a product’s life to another, and even beyond organizational borders.
Traceability through the life cycle
The PLCS standard enables robust traceability features, allowing users to trace and understand relationships between various elements of a product’s life cycle. This capability enhances the data flow within a digital thread, making it both reusable and cyclic.
Holistic data management
PLCS provides a unified way of capturing diverse elements such as requirements, functions, systems, and physical characteristics of a product. With PLCS, it’s possible to attach related information like change requests, 3D models, or other documents to these elements, thereby enriching the digital thread with validated data.
Real-world applications of digital threads supported by PLCS
Utilizing a digital thread facilitated by PLCS, organizations can quickly diagnose problems that may occur during product usage. The digital thread helps in investigating whether the issue lies in the maintenance schedule, manufacturing processes, or even in the initial design requirements, thus enabling quicker resolutions.
A digital thread offers customers the means to determine if they are using a product within its designed capabilities, or ‘comfort zone,’ helping to avoid voiding warranties and optimizing performance.
With the help of digital threads, systems engineers can identify patterns of quality or performance related to specific suppliers. Such insights are invaluable for decision-making processes in supplier management.
The Product Life Cycle Support (PLCS) standard is a pivotal tool for the creation and management of digital threads. It offers a standardized data structure, traceability throughout the product life cycle, and a holistic approach to data management. These features make it indispensable for organizations that aim to fully utilize digital threads as a knowledge asset for multiple stakeholders, both within and outside organizational boundaries.