Digital Thread & Digital Twin

Digital Thread

As industry and military systems transition from paper to digital processes, the “Digital Thread” concept has become critical to the success of a program or product. StraCon has been implementing and pioneering digital thread processes for customers since our inception. StraCon specializes in providing end-to-end processes that support and define the digital thread through concurrency management using a PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system. We believe that it is vital to perpetuate full traceability of the digital thread throughout the lifecycle of a product. Such tracking enables our customers to better refine, maintain, and sustain their product from “cradle to the grave.” Additionally, our methodology paves the way for future capability such as Additive Manufacturing (AM) and real-time data analytics.

Throughout the industry, digital thread is the digital integration of the product lifecycle processes. It utilizes an all-digital approach to managing the collective design, engineering, production, and sustainment processes of a product. By connecting these processes—and by using a standardized set of digital tools and product data—the digital thread accelerates the development cycle and simultaneously lowers costs for product support and/or integration of new capabilities. This accelerated timeframe directly impacts operational readiness via rapid access to the authoritative data necessary for unlocking next-generation fabrication and logistics. StraCon realizes that the digital thread is pivotal to activating modern and cost-effective industrial lifecycle management for the DoD, our focus is upon creating processes to increase productivity and efficiency. StraCon’s understanding of digital thread concepts and the importance of lean processes opens the door for AM to be operationalized across the enterprise. Data integrity is crucial to the efficiency and functionality of a PLM environment. DoD programs require a comprehensive solution whose built-in workflows touch all business areas while maintaining configuration management, data integrity, and appropriate approvals over a common integrated IT framework. Leveraging our DoD experience and industry standards, StraCon strongly advocates the implementation of digital thread principles by means of a PLM system during the early stages of a program to capitalize on the rewards throughout a product’s lifecycle.

Digital Twin

The “Digital Twin” of a product is an all-digital depiction comprised of the product’s design specifications, engineering data (e.g., CAD models), simulation results, material data, etc. Responding to industry’s shift to digital data and concurrency management, StraCon has married our PLM expertise, Model Based Systems Engineering philosophy, 3D modeling skills, configuration management proficiency, and digital thread approach to provide a digital twin solution for customers. This allows all key stakeholders to have access to a digital representation of the product and all of the associated data.

StraCon is working with the Navy to implement this capability for their aviation programs to consolidate disparate data while providing a single authoritative source for all program entities. Currently, StraCon has contracted with NAVAIR 6.8 to deploy digital thread at an enterprise level with an emphasis on additive manufacturing and fleet concurrency management. StraCon specializes in generating and validating 3D CAD models engineered to fulfill the digital twin role. Our expertise includes electrical routing, material and finish data, Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerance (GD&T) information, and all metadata for simplified uploading to PLM systems

The digital twin representation captures more than just the product definition; it also simulates performance and behavior. Carried to logical fruition, the digital twin records as-built production data, operational records (e.g., runtime, mileage, or flight hours), and service logs along with any repair part serial numbers. For complex systems, each manufactured asset would have a corresponding digital twin linked to its own unique identifier or “tail number.” The digital twin is never static with time, and its history of changes is precisely what the digital thread strives to preserve. Together, the digital twin and digital thread form a all-inclusive history of a product. StraCon has the know-how and past performance to assist our customers in getting to the next level via the digital thread.