Thought Leadership

A practical approach to digital maturity

By Bianca Ward

Optimizing both systems and processes is necessary to address energy consumption, swelling operational costs, and labor shortages in the industrial machinery industry. Many manufacturers want to take the first step towards their digital maturity journeys and need to know where to begin. Digital transformation offers heaps of opportunities and knowing where to start and what is feasible will help OEMs sustain their success and begin fruitful and worthwhile digital journeys. Employing digital threads is a practical way for companies to jumpstart digital transformation.

The digital thread is the digital form of individual business processes. Companies use digital threads to foster a deeper understanding of potential optimization efforts by building links between data produced by business processes; data that is often siloed and disconnected. Digital threads enable businesses to visualize how all their data is related, which then helps them grasp their organization’s digital maturity level and decide where they want to go.

Improving digital transformation

Digital maturity level can be assessed using the five stages of digital maturity framework, which divides digital transformation into five stages: configuration, connection, automation, generation, and closed-loop optimization. The digital thread is at the heart of the second stage, connection, meaning that it is crucial to advancing into later stages.

Ultimately, implementing digital threads as part of digital transformation leads to several outcomes:

  • Optimized product development lifecycle
  • Improved data consolidation and communication
  • Increased automation and generative design

Using digital threads, organizations can learn how to manufacture their physical products more efficiently through sharing data across multiple business systems; simultaneously improving both communication and collaboration. This can be done through digitalizing manual or paper-based processes and undergoing the configuration and connection stages of the digital maturity framework.

With business activities digitalized, companies will be able to see areas where they could better link their data, and therefore, where they could better link their systems. Integrated systems help businesses better understand their individual segments, which could lead to some of those processes being automated.

Once data is standardized and mundane tasks are automated, companies can take the next step into generation. In the generation step of the digital maturity framework, manufacturers could be able to generate artifacts and support material, potentially cutting hundreds, if not, thousands of labor hours and freeing up engineers to do more creative work.

Mapping your digital journey

When companies are intimidated by the prospect of starting their digital transformation journeys, the digital thread works as a roadmap to help them define their maturity. They are a practical manifestation of the steps manufacturers could take to achieve their digital goals because they enable the visualization of relations between an organization’s data and systems. Without the knowledge gained from digital threads, manufacturers will be unable to advance in their digital maturity; at the heart of digital maturity is connection.  

Utilizing digital threads will help a company enhance their manufacturing capabilities, increase communication between its segments, and eventually enable it to automate tasks, all of which will lead to notable cost-savings and a more productive workforce.

Additionally, digital threads are customizable; not every digital solution is one size fits all. It is up to the individual business to decide which processes need to be modernized and which systems would benefit the most from improved connection. Here at Siemens, we will strive to help our customers reach the goals that they want to set. Jumping into digital transformation may seem tough at first, but with time, organizations can reap the benefits and rewards of the transition

If you want to hear more about how to dive into your digital transformation journey through implementing digital threads, listen to our digital maturity podcast here.

Siemens Digital Industries Software helps organizations of all sizes digitally transform using software, hardware and services from the Siemens Xcelerator business platform. Siemens’ software and the comprehensive digital twin enable companies to optimize their design, engineering and manufacturing processes to turn today’s ideas into the sustainable products of the future. From chips to entire systems, from product to process, across all industries. Siemens Digital Industries Software – Accelerating transformation.

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