With the ever-evolving IIoT space within the industrial marketplace, the understanding and the journey of what the Digital Thread means to your business is vital. The Digital Thread is not just buzzwords like cloud, IoT, edge devices and others, it is the core of what digital transformation and industrialization will attain in the coming days, months and years. To better understand the impact of this upon industry and commercialization, we must focus on the building blocks of what Digital Thread requires to be successful. Simplistically, the consumer space has provided these types of solutions with the use of edge devices and cloud computing services for data pushing from the point consumer to a central cloud solution which is able to use this data and provide insight to health, athletic performance metrics and various other metrics as part of the device ecosystem.
Industrialization requires a greater emphasis on data quality, sourcing and pathway. Therefore, it is critical to understand that Digital Thread begins at Layer 1 of the Purdue model. It is here where we define success of data with PLCs, Smart sensors, Data Collection Modules and industrial PCs, to name a few. The construct of building your own edge device within your manufacturing workspace is critical to Digital Thread success. As we pull on this “thread” through the manufacturing network, we move to the Layer 2 and Layer 3 systems and respectively these data sources (HMIs, Historians, Industrial Databases) are the first major health check of the Digital Thread infrastructure. These systems define the ability of IoT solutions and the like to be able to quickly and efficiently be constructed for Analytics and data science initiatives. When using products such as FactoryTalk® Historian and FactoryTalk® AssetCentre the Digital Thread is enriched with metadata that can be used for workforce enhancement and provide business intelligence for the in process decision-making, enhancing the agility of manufacturing.
The Digital Thread journey converges the needs of business intelligence sourced from Automation and Operations to provide key insights in rapidly delivering products, reduce time to quality and blur the lines of IT/OT segmentation.
The need for a Digital Thread plan is an ever-growing requirement with the unpredictable supply chain landscape in the current post pandemic era. The need for the clarity of planning and production scheduling is tightly coupled with Digital Thread and the data necessary for achieving predictable business operations and can be optimized with the use of leading industry MES solutions allowing for the unification of IT and OT systems both standardizing and providing traceability through the supply chain and manufacturing operations.
Digital Thread and the learnings provided by the execution of IIoT platforms improves predictive manufacturing and improves not just the workforce but the assets and equipment that they impact. Through continuous innovation and the limitless transformation of the digital manufacturing workspace, these impactful data solutions are successful.