Center Meetings

Due to the recent spread of the corona virus, we have decided to postpone the symposium. We will reschedule as soon as possible.

Digital Enterprise Center Spring Meeting: Establishing the Digital Thread

2020 Spring Meeting

Indiana Manufacturing Institute




8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast and Registration

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.

Welcome, DEC Updates and Meeting Theme/Objectives

Nathan Hartman – Professor, Computer Graphics Technology and DEC Director

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.

Opening Panel – Framing the Challenges and Opportunities

The opening session  will frame the  importance of establishing, and using, a digital thread in standard business practices.  While all supporting technologies are “production ready,” significant challenges confront companies as they attempt to stitch the necessary components together, revise employee workflows, and adapt organizational structures and incentives to realize the available benefits. The remainder of the day will provide concrete ideas and suggestions for how to implement and use the digital thread.

Mo Abuali – Managing Partner, IoTco LLC
Brench Boden – Sr. Industrial Engineer, Air Force Research Laboratory
William Sobel – Chief Strategy Officer & Co-Founder, VIMANA
Larry Bergquist – Staff Engineer, Product Development, John Deere
Diego Tamburini - Principal Industry Lead - Cloud for Manufacturing, Microsoft
Jim Merry - Senior Director of Enterprise Sales, Anark


Use Case: ABC Manufacturing’s Challenges & Opportunities

9:45 – 10:20 a.m.

Digital Thread: Architecture

Creating valuable insights from manufacturing data is not a straightforward pursuit. It is one of the reasons that many projects have stalled, and the outcomes have not kept pace with the hype. The lack of results does not mean the outcomes are not possible; it means the approaches, technologies, and methodologies need to be adjusted. Often more sophisticated approaches, like deep-learning models and unstructured data, subvert more pragmatic approaches. Insights from manufacturing data require a series of transformations to provide then necessary meaning and context so the analytics can make sense of the observations. The data must be stored and prepared for temporal analysis to provide the basis for the classification and context of events. If one follows a few critical steps in the transformation of the data, the outcomes will become much easier to find. This talk will walk through these steps and provide use cases based on projects and actual outcomes. The methodology is heavily dependent on the standardization of information to provide the initial meaning of the data and integrate across the ecosystem of applications as one adds an increased process context to create greater value.​

William Sobel – Chief Strategy Officer & Co-Founder, VIMANA


Use Case: ABC Manufacturing’s Architecture



10:50 – 11:25 a.m.

Digital Thread: Data Acquisition

This presentation will focus on the technologies and processes needed to collect the wide variety of data that will ultimately flow across the enterprise.  It will describe different sensor and network requirements, data types, collection frequencies, etc. needed to fully realize a robust digital thread. It will address such questions as: What hardware and software elements could be used? What data types should I collect? How frequently should data be collected and why? How do you size and scale a network appropriately.

Brian Shepherd – President, Production Software and SFx, Hexagon MI


Use Case: Data Acquisition at ABC Manufacturing

11:25 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Digital Thread: Data Aggregation

This presentation will tie together the two previous sessions by describing how the digital thread’s IT/OT architecture and data acquisition systems combine to collect, store, and make the data accessible to a company’s diverse user base. It will address such questions as: What hardware and software elements are necessary? Should I use cloud-based services or not? Should I use a third-party cloud or build my own? Is a “data lake” really the best solution? Who should have access to this data? How do we keep and protect our data once it is aggregated?

Dottie Shaw – Architect, Microsoft


Use Case: Data Aggregation at ABC Manufacturing​

12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch and Networking
1:00 – 1:35 p.m.

Digital Thread: Analyses and Decisions

With the data acquired and accessible, this session will describe how it can be used in analyses that go beyond traditional engineering and managerial calculations, leveraging the diverse data streams and real time capabilities provided by the digital thread. The final presentation will include a description of how companies are using the digital thread to improve their decision-making capabilities, shorten the time needed to make decisions, and expand employee input into the decision-making process. It will address such questions as: How do I actually use the data I have gathered? What types of software or dashboards do I need to make available to my employees? How important is UX (user experience) in this process? How frequently should data aggregation and analysis be refreshed? What forms should my data presentation take? How do I control the scope for my decisions?

Dr. Mo Abuali – Managing Partner, IoTco LLC
Isaac Bennett – Digital Transformation and IT Manager, Detroit Manufacturing Systems


Use Case: Analysis and Decisions at ABC Manufacturing

1:35 – 3:00 p.m.

Making the Digital Thread Operational – Strategic Doing Session: Part 1

During the course of our day you’ve been introduced to a fictional company, ABC Manufacturing, and some of the challenges and opportunities related to establishing their own digital thread. In this session, you will be guided through an interactive Strategic Doing session to experience how an agile, interactive approach to digital transformation can be archived in an enterprise like ABC. As you work through their digital thread strategy you will gain insights and tools that you can take back to your own workplace and increase the productivity of your own digital thread strategies.

Dr. Scott Hutcheson – Associate Director of the Agile Strategy Lab, Purdue Polytechnic Institute

3:00 – 3:30 p.m.


3:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Making the Digital Thread Operational – Strategic Doing Session: Part 2

In this session, we will take what has been presented and learned over the course of the day, coupled with the strategic doing learning outcomes, and begin to frame those items into actionable problem statements and opportunities. Attendees can take these strategies back to their own workplace and increase the productivity of their digital thread strategies. 

Dr. Scott Hutcheson – Associate Director of the Agile Strategy Lab, Purdue Polytechnic Institute

4:30 – 4:45 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Dr. Nathan Hartman – Professor, Computer Graphics Technology and DEC Director

Travel and Logistics

IMI map