Part 3: Creating a smart part and managing its lifecycle Following the digital thread

The era of the slide rule is over. In today’s digital age, parts tend to be designed and manufactured faster, and with greater collaboration and control than ever before.


While the digital thread can have operational implications that cross the enterprise, where does it start?  It begins with the design of a product. In this episode, we use the example of a bell crank, a critical component that enables the opening and closing of the nose gear doors on an aircraft, to learn about component scanning and design.

Mark and the team investigate how component design has evolved from the era of “Mylar prints, French curves, and slide rules,” to include the ability to digitally scan an existing part, or to design one using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software (or some combination of both).  Regardless of the approach, the digital thread begins with a design.

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Episode 2: How the digital thread weaves its way through the business

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Episode 4: Augmenting part design with topology optimization

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But the digital thread is about more than simple design. It can also accelerate the development process by affording previously unattainable levels of transparency.  Using the digital thread, multiple individuals can review the same design at the same time.  Product data management tools, serving as the backbone of the digital thread, can provide greater certainty that no one is looking at an old or out of date version of a design.  The result of simultaneous reviews can be increased speed and better function, as engineers can draw upon the accumulated knowledge of the broader supply chain.  Thus, the digital thread can potentially transform a traditionally staid design process into a more dynamic and collaborative approach.

But how can better design translate into better performance?  That’s where topology optimization typically comes in.  We’ll learn more about that topic in the next video.

Further references:

Siemens, “Product Data Management”, accessed January 10, 2018

Siemens, “Product Lifecycle Management”, accessed January 10, 2018

Grigori D. Pintilie, Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, “An Evaluation of Interactive and Automated Next Best View Methods in 3D Scanning”, Computer-Aided Design & Applications, 10(2), 2013

Mark Vitale, Brian Tilton, Matt Conner, Aman Shah, “3D opportunity for scan, design, and analyze”, Deloitte Insights, December 2, 2016, accessed January 12, 2018

Mark Cotteleer, Stuart Trouton, Ed Dobner, “3D opportunity and the digital thread”, Deloitte Insights, March 3, 2016, accessed January 9, 2018.

Brian Tilton, Ed Dobner, Jonathan Holdowsky, “3D opportunity for standards”, Deloitte Insights, November 9, 2017,  accessed January 29, 2018.