Edited by John Coleman, Ph.D.
For corrections or updates, contact: John.Coleman@Engility.com
Digital connections between historical and cross-discipline engineering data that seamlessly expedites the controlled interplay of digital artifacts, based on the Digital System Model template, to inform decision makers throughout a system's life cycle.
A Digital Thread contains digital artifacts which are a combination of authoritative professional data, information, knowledge, and wisdom addressing stakeholders’ unique perspective in a digital viewpoint that can be digitally represented in a view within an enterprise data-information-knowledge system/s of a materiel system. The Digital Thread seamlessly expedites the controlled interplay of digital artifacts, based on the Digital System Model template, to inform decision makers throughout a system's life cycle by providing the capability to access, integrate and transform disparate data into actionable information in support of reuse.
Digital Thread as stated by Dr. Ed Kraft during his presentation at the NIST MBE Summit, describes the topic as follows:
Digital Thread: “is the creation and use of cross-domain, common digital surrogates of a materiel system to allow dynamic, contemporaneous assessment of the system's current and future capabilities to inform decisions in the Capability Planning and Analysis, Preliminary Design, Detailed Design, Manufacturing, Testing, and Sustainment acquisition phases. The digital surrogate is a physics-based technical description of the weapon system resulting from the generation, management, and application of data, models, and information from authoritative sources across the system's life cycle .”
Digital Thread as stated by the Office of the Deputy a Assistant Secretary of Defense (Systems Engineering) (ODASD (SE)), describes the topic as follows:
The Digital Thread is “an extensible, configurable and Agency enterprise-level analytical framework that seamlessly expedites the controlled interplay of authoritative data, information, and knowledge in the enterprise data information-knowledge systems, based on the Digital System Model template, to inform decision makers throughout a system's life cycle by providing the capability to access, integrate and transform disparate data into actionable information.”
The Industrial Digital Thread (IDT) as state by the Industrial Internet Consortium, describes this similar topic as follows:
“The Industrial Digital Thread (IDT) is a testbed drives efficiency, speed, and flexibility through digitization and automation of manufacturing processes and procedures. Beginning at design, the seamless digital integration of design systems into manufacturing, leveraging the model-based enterprise, helps to enable virtual manufacturing before even one physical part is created. Sensor enabled automation, manufacturing processes, procedures, and machine data will enable optimization in operations and supply chain. Once the manufacturing process is complete, the digital ‘birth certificate’ (as built-signature) can then be compared to the as-designed engineering intention. This provides the opportunity for powerful big data analytics to enable service teams and field engineers to have better awareness, insights, and practical actions to improve the servicing and maintenance of critical assets .”
Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) as stated by the Defense Acquisition University (DAU) Encyclopedia, describes the similar topic as follows:
The Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) “is an evolving set of business principles, organizational constructs and information management systems used in the governance of modern, technically complex and globally distributed assets. PLM is more about how an organization manages it's people, processes and products than any specific technology investment. It's about how product information is managed across organizational boundaries and how people interact with this information throughout a product's lifecycle. As a business management technique, PLM is product (item) vs. organizationally-centric and emphasizes intellectual property management and protection across organizational boundaries in collaborative, arms-reach business engagements .”
 E. Kraft, “Expanding the Digital Thread to Impact Total Ownership Cost, Proceedings of 2013 NIST MBE Summit,” 18 December 2013. [Online]. Available: https://www.nist.gov/sites/default/files/documents/el/msid/1Kraft_DigitalThread.pdf. [Accessed 30 10 2018].
 Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Systems Engineering) , “Digital Thread,” Defense Acquisition University, [Online]. Available: https://www.dau.mil/glossary/pages/3385.aspx. [Accessed 28 October 2018].
 Industrial Internet Consortium, “INDUSTRIAL DIGITAL THREAD (IDT) TESTBED,” Object Management Group, Inc., 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.iiconsortium.org/industrial-digital-thread.htm. [Accessed 30 October 2018].
 Acquisition Encyclopedia (AcquPedia), “Product Life-Cycle Management (PLM) Integrated Data/Decision Environment (IDE),” Defense Acquisition University, 24 October 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.dau.mil/acquipedia/Pages/ArticleDetails.aspx?aid=e098c0dc-6a51-43c0-8540-a104eec7db1f. [Accessed 30 October 2018].
 T. McDermott, P. Collopy, C. Paredis and M. Nadolski, “Enterprise System-of-Systems Model for Digital-Thread Enabled Acquisition,” Stevens Institute of Technology, Systems Engineering Research Center, Hoboken, NJ, 2018.