Manufacturing is complex, involving an array of design, engineering, production, distribution, and service activities. Comprehensive, end-to-end processes are essential for operational efficiency and product quality. This has led to extensive investments in business process reengineering programs and software applications like ERP, PLM, and Supply Chain Management (SCM). While adopting these systems has resulted in many benefits, it has also reduced organizational agility because the flow of information is interrupted across disparate
legacy systems and applications. The digital thread describes this flow of data throughout the manufacturing process, including design, modelling, quality assurance, manufacturing, and post-production sales and services. It is the information that is collected, communicated, and analyzed at each stage in every process. As a body of knowledge around a product grows, gaps in connectivity prevent the manufacturer from gaining full visibility into processes and overall performance. Having the appropriate digital infrastructure—one that can store, access, digitize, and analyze vast amounts of data and interoperate across multiple systems and processes—is critical.