The manufacturing sector is dramatically evolving with recent technical and digital advances. Among these, the digital thread is revolutionizing manufacturing operations well beyond the historic downloading of programs to computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools and the uploading of edited programs from CNC controllers.
The digital thread is “the communication framework that enables a connected data flow and integrated view of the asset’s data throughout its lifecycle across traditionally siloed functional perspectives” (Leiva 2016). It is pervasive around the world and has changed the way society operates; for example, map apps are used to provide time-optimal directions to destinations using real-time traffic feedback.
The digital thread makes it possible to digitally verify products, ensure that the latest technologies are deployed across the entire manufacturing ecosystem, and strengthen the workforce by making each individual more efficient and effective. These three foundational advanced manufacturing concepts will ensure a next-generation secure, resilient, and adaptable manufacturing ecosystem and sustainably support the current and future needs of society.