Consider the automotive industry and its suite of tools that take an initial idea through to simulation, build and testing. After Autodesk was formed in 1982, it wasn’t long until car designers were creating CAD (computer-aided design) files, testing and manipulating the designs digitally with 3D simulation and engineering in CAE environments (computer-aided engineering), automating their physical build with robotics and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), and managing the whole process of people, engineering, data and assets with PLM software (product lifecycle management). Files are standardized across the board, they work on various platforms, multiple teams can collaborate internationally, and insights from one design, test and build process can be integrated into another. In short, the automotive industry has an integrated suite of tools that allows for digitization, which has been around since the 1980s.
To design, manufacture, and service a new product, multiple systems must work together effectively. With the right integration layers, critical data elements (for example, engineering data, manufacturing data, and bill of materials) can seamlessly move between the core systems of record—which include enterprise resource planning, product life-cycle management, and manufacturing execution systems—to create a “digital thread” from engineering to servicing. Furthermore, the divide between information technology and operational technology can be bridged to enable data exchanges across both areas. An effective integration architecture prevents manual rework, allows products to be brought to market faster, and supports data-driven decision making.