Today, a digital thread runs through each of our daily lives, connecting what we do at work, at home, and on the go. From email and chat to map and health apps, ride shares, entertainment, and our travels on the web, a cohesive trail is created that connects and identifies each of us as unique individuals. In the same way, we can create a digital thread to run through today’s manufacturing process, connecting products from concept through production, and on through use and disposal. We can use this digital thread in a number of ways, according to Tom Kurfess. We can create a “digital passport” for each product that includes every relevant detail about its design, specs, and fabrication. We can create automated process models that learn continuously, enabling us to tune our machines for ever-better performance. And we can route input and feedback to human operators to augment their performance. This kind of in-line optimization and validation can enable small, independent manufacturers to compete against the largest companies, since the quality is verifiably equal. This, in turn, can democratize manufacturing overall, enabling greater competition at both the global and local levels.
About the speaker
Thomas Kurfess is the chief manufacturing officer for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He earned doctorate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering, and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Want to learn more about the digital thread in manufacturing? Check out these AU sessions:
If you’re using outside resources to fabricate for you when orders spike, a fully digitized workflow enables you to get them up to speed and into production in no time. Markus Gundersen walks you through the possibilities of Fusion Lifecycle.
The digital thread can radically improve your supply chain management. With Fusion Lifecycle, every collaborator and partner in your supply chain can have up-to-date access to complete product details, simplifying tracking, pricing and BOM creation, and change management.
Using the digital thread-based approach also enables you to automate downstream processes. Sven Dickmans and Peter Van Avondt show you how to use the Design Automation API for Inventor in Forge to configure products, automatically generating BOM, pricing, 3D visualization, and other assets.