Back in my days as an application engineer, I had the distinct pleasure to work in Paris for six weeks. As I was planning my stay, friends and colleagues told me the best, fastest and cheapest way to get around in Paris was with the Métro. In the first week, I couldn’t have disagreed more.
Buying a ticket and locating my position on the graffiti-covered subway plan were challenges in themselves. Then trying to find my way around the Bastille station, where I had to change trains. It’s a wonder I managed to get to work on time…
I grew up in the north of Sweden, and for the longest time, the big city for me was Stockholm. The subway system there is mini compared to the one in Paris. That the Paris Métro can confuse a young Nordic shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Since the first line opened in 1900, the Métro has been growing continuously. A true work in progress that makes getting around much easier and that in a very sustainable way for a lot of people.
So where is all this going? A tech blog going Lonely Planet in Paris? Nope. For me, a complex subway system is a perfect analogy for the concept of digital threads. Digital threads represent processes, workflows and methods in a manufacturing setting. I’ll give you an example from the food and beverage (F&B) sector. The five digital threads that are common to most companies in that sector are Integrated Program and Lifecycle Management, Smart Product and Process Design, Production Design and Optimization, Flexible Manufacturing, and Traceability and Insights.
As you can see, the digital threads resemble a subway plan, but instead of transporting passengers, they transport information to connect all “subway stops.” They make sure you get to your destination as fast and comfortably as possible. The threads are, as you can see in the graphic, related to one another, and by that they generate an incremental increase in value. Merci beaucoup.
To make the digitalization journey even more convenient, the big digital trends of Cloud Computing (MindSphere at Siemens), Industrial Edge, Artificial Intelligence and Industrial 5G enable smart usage of data. All aspects are common to each thread, though to different extents.
I realize it’s not always easy to navigate the digital transformation. However, the combination of our Digital Enterprise and the industry-specific threads can be a fantastic system for getting from one point to another. They are also a big support for figuring out how everything relates – from product development all the way to production and the final product in use. We at Siemens can help you use digitalization to fulfill your goals. Let me give you an example of what we can accomplish.
Less plastic = good for the environment
A F&B customer wanted to cut the weight of its plastic beverage bottles. The two main digital threads that came to play here were Smart Product and Process Design, and Production Design and Optimization. In the end, we lowered the weight of the bottles by a whopping 20 percent. At the same time, the bottles are just as sturdy as ever. We did it by tapping into knowledge that was readily available in the digital threads. Whether it’s sustainability, as in this example, or if you want more flexibility, security and efficiency, or a shorter time to market, or to increase adaptability while keeping quality and profitability high – the digital threads hold so much potential. That’s why they are a core element of our strategy at Digital Enterprise to help customers master the challenges presented by the digital transformation.
A continuous journey
And just like the Paris Métro is still growing after more than 120 years in operation, so too do digital threads through optimization. That’s what makes it all so exciting. With digital threads, the journey is never really over. The only limit is your fantasy of what you want to accomplish in your manufacturing site.
Speaking of journeys, I’m looking forward to one: visiting Paris as soon as the pandemic is over. It will be my way of celebrating. Because aside from getting some valuable experience – and learning to navigate a complex subway system – I fell in love during my time in the City of Light.
Paris, je t’aime!