A&D Digital ThreadChoosing PLM for the A&D Digital Thread (survey results)


A&D Digital ThreadHow can Aerospace and Defense (A&D) companies streamline collaboration and create digital continuity? What should they look for in a PLM system to support a cohesive digital thread, especially given that their IT systems were not designed for remote work during a pandemic? 

This eBook takes a deeper dive into the data from our original, cross-industry study on the digital thread to better understand how the value and considerations for digital thread adoption apply to A&D companies.

Please enjoy the summary* below. For the full research, please visit our sponsor PTC (registration required).

You can also watch our related digital thread webcast.

Table of Contents

  • Choosing the Right PLM
  • Introducing the Buyer’s Guide
  • The Digital Thread Imperative
  • What to Look for to Streamline Engineering
  • What to Look for to Create Digital Continuity
  • Digital Thread Business Value
  • Considerations by Role – Engineering
  • Considerations by Role – Manufacturing
  • Considerations by Role – Quality
  • Considerations by Role – IT
  • Considerations by Role – Service
  • PLM is the Digital Thread Backbone
  • Special Considerations – Emerging Technologies
  • Implementation Considerations
  • Vendor Considerations
  • Conclusions and Next Steps
  • About the Research
  • Acknowledgments

The Digital Thread Imperative

Business Strategies Demand a Cohesive Digital Thread

Over three-quarters of companies say that the digital thread is either important or critical to achieving their business strategy.

A&D companies report a variety of goals for their digital thread initiative (see chart). A&D companies are 88% more likely than other manufacturing industries to focus on keeping product data in sync across the product lifecycle, 63% more likely to target compliance, and 50% more likely to aim for managing product knowledge and intellectual property (IP). This is expected based on the nature of the industry. They are also significantly more focused on streamlining design processes and eliminating errors, which highlights an increased need to control cost and improve time to readiness.

While definitions vary, there are two primary values of the digital thread; streamlined engineering and digital continuity.

Streamlined Engineering

The digital thread supports a Digital Engineering Strategy by allowing product development teams to share and reuse design data across the stages of innovation. Design continuity along the digital thread allows engineers to add their design information to a cohesive model, directly incorporating and extending design data from prior steps.

Digital Continuity

The digital thread ties product information, decisions, and history together in a structured, integrated way that captures product innovation and knowledge throughout the product lifecycle. This is increasingly important due to the impact of COVID-19 on IT infrastructure. It establishes traceability from early in the front end of innovation through development, manufacturing, service, and field operation.

A&D Digital Thread

Conclusions and Next Steps

Invest in the Digital Thread

Invest in the digital thread to streamline engineering and create digital continuity. Top Performers are 2.6 times as likely to view the digital thread as critical to supporting their business strategy.

Extend the Thread across the Lifecycle

Adopt a comprehensive scope that incorporates cross-departmental data. Top Performers are more likely to include manufacturing, quality, and service plans in the scope of their digital thread, and enrich it with actual data from the IoT.

Leverage PLM as the Digital A&D Backbone

Adopt PLM to support the digital thread. Top Performing companies are 2.4 times as likely to view PLM as critical to supporting the digital thread and are much more likely to use PLM to support it.

Enjoy the Benefits

The digital thread provides significant, measurable benefits including, increased engineering efficiency, improved quality, faster time to market, enhanced innovation, and better compliance. Top Performers gain even higher benefits than others. For example, these more successful product developers enable their technical resources to spend 27% more time, on average, on value-added activities than their poorer performing counterparts.

*This summary is an abbreviated version of the research and does not contain the full content. For the full research, please visit our sponsor PTC (registration required).

If you have difficulty obtaining a copy of the research, please contact us.