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Razorleaf’s Digital Thread and Your Enhanced Production

As many organizations digitalize their engineering and product development processes, the need for a traceable, reliable digital thread becomes a critical element in turning a corner in digital transformation. Knowing how, when, and why product decisions were made can become a very important factor when innovating on existing designs. It becomes even more critical when you are pulling up older product designs from previous years.

    • Why did this drawing change?
    • When did this design change occur?
    • Why was this material changed?
    • What was wrong with the previous material?

A comprehensive digital thread enables an engineering team to fully record and trace the product development process from start to finish. It provides a mechanism to collect all relevant documents, files, and contextual information that go into how products move from one stage of the process to the next. This data is typically stored in a PLM system, which is designed to manage and support engineering design processes.

Let the experts at Razorleaf assist you on your journey. We can help you identify what data, files and contextual information are needed to support your engineering processes. We will help identify all integration points needed for success, and bring all the moving parts together to achieve a thread that represents the development of products or processes in your organization.

Razorleaf's Digital Thread

1. Requirements Traceability

Capturing, decomposing, and allocating requirements is critical to communicating effectively from the start of a product definition project. Tying those granular requirements into the downstream design components, virtual tests, and validation plans (traceability) allows a team to move seamlessly between inputs and outputs during the product lifecycle.

2. Systems Engineering

Complex, multi-discipline products require holistic system planning and modeling, and formal systems engineering tools/techniques are the cornerstone of this activity. But great system models depreciate quickly if they are not connected into the digital thread of downstream product definition. Feedback between detailed design and manufacturing data and conceptual systems models is priceless for understanding change and analysis of alternatives.

3. Product-Related Content Organization

Information volume is growing exponentially and email management of content is insufficient. Using product structures as a referential for organizing rich and ever-growing content is only logical for product-centric teams. Classification, linking, and exposing of content unleashes the value to the balance of the organization in a persistently intuitive way.

4. Governance of Projects

Using a multi-user system to track and manage projects is not new, but is much better than disconnected project managers constantly chasing status updates. Using PLM-based project governance takes things to a new level by connecting project tasks and status to the work products (deliverables) directly, for instant and automatic statusing.

5. Change Management Processes

Product lifecycle implies the dynamic nature of product development, and digital change management is essential to understanding the branching and looping of development processes. Artifacts like CAD data and simulation files define the “what” and the “how”, but connection of change processes into the digital thread explain a big piece of the “why” question.

6. BOM and Product Structure

If each component in a product has its own digital thread, product structure is what weaves these individual strands together into the digital thread of the overall product. The hierarchy of components, and relationships of those components to specifying models (and other documentation), provide the most fundamental part of the product’s definition.

7. CAD Management & Model-Based Definition

2D and 3D CAD models and files need to be vaulted and indexed with revision-specific relationships to maintain data integrity in these complex data sets. Ideally, visualization of this content should be leveraged as part of the digital thread to enrich everyone’s understanding of the product.

8. Configuration Management

Product baselines, change control, and component specifications form the magic triangle of configuration management. This combined discipline is uniquely part of the digital thread because of how the elements have to work together to maintain a self-consistent view of the product.

9. Multi-Discipline Analysis & Optimization

As models proliferate and grow in complexity, their expanding value hinges on their ability to be integrated across domains and to be predictive in a way that allows optimization. Understanding how alternatives were evaluated and optimized is important to the historical digital thread, and to the efficient growth of new sections of the thread.

10. Manufacturing Definition

As the process of making components becomes more integral to the performance characteristics of those products (additive manufacturing), the manufacturing definition of product elements becomes crucial to the digital thread. In the same way that material choice is critical to a part’s strength or other characteristics, process parameters like cutting speed or sinter temperature influence part performance as well.

11. Physical Instance Tracking

If the purpose of the digital thread is to enhance decision-making in the real world, connecting the virtual world to the physical world within the digital thread is essential. Tracking physical instances of product components (serialization) and tying that information into the other elements of the digital thread makes this a reality.

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