All things digital
The digital thread, digital twin, and Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) are key enablers that allow program and product managers to reduce both technical and programmatic risk through better business and IT interfaces and more robust collaboration — while getting more visibility on implications from design choices on cost and schedule. This is all about leveraging the virtual to create, simulate and enhance the real.
virtual+digital (v+d) is a technical and business strategy blog which focuses on digitalization, business transformation and enterprise solutions, including (albeit not limited to) data management strategies across the PLM+ERP+MES+CRM stack — a.k.a the 'four cornerstones of manufacturing'.
Our purpose is to inform and debate about the complex choices that leaders and technologists face — in digitalization, business transformation, IT modernisation, MDM strategy, enterprise data integration, operations, governance, organisational change management and other technical and business domains — and the impact of their decisions.
Lifecycle of things
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) applications are often referred as a 'single system of record' for product data across the product creation lifecycle. Product and process information flows from PLM to downstream systems, namely Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). As products mature throughout their respective lifecycle, the need for close-loop integration increases.
Simply put, the combined digital ecosystem PLM+ERP+MES and its related process portfolio provide creation, strategy alignment and operational backbone of the enterprise, for project teams and supplier base to collaborate. Regulatory compliance and data traceability requires effective integration levels, upstream and downstream across the three platforms and their respective purpose. This includes the need of customer requirement ('voice of the customer') integration, typically handled by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
Virtual reality describes an interactive computter-added experience or immersive simulation of the real, sharing important functional aspects with other things (real or imagined); by contrast of augmented reality which is about overlaying virtual things onto the real. Not all virtual objects that are used today are digital models of physical objects, sometimes these objects are new concepts designed for any type of task or information encapsulation.
As technology advances, more and more things appear in digital format; any thing or object, conveniently tagged, may be able to communicate with other objects equally tagged through internet or any other protocols. Broadly speaking, this links to the Internet of Things (IoT) which rely on things communicating with other things or persons. Simply put, virtual objects are digital elements with a specific purpose, comprised of data series and which can perform dedicated actions.
As products and services mature, virtual twins evolve into full digital representations of the real. More and more objects called things which are merely physical start to be seen also in digital format. Digital twins are representations of product or service attributes, informing decision making from ideation to experimentation and service optimization. Digital twins combined with IoT enable communication and integration of physical objects (with each other) and people to automate tasks and improve efficiency.