Center Meetings

Establishing the Digital Thread

2020 Fall Virtual Meeting

November 10, 11, and 12     1:00PM - 3:00PM EDT




November 10

Password:  DECFall20

1:00PM – 1:15PM

Welcome and Meeting Theme/Objectives

Nathan Hartman – Professor, Computer Graphics Technology and DEC Director

1:15PM – 3:00PM

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 – Retired Staff Engineer, Product Development, John Deere
Diego Tamburini - Principal Industry Lead - Cloud for Manufacturing, Microsoft
Stephen Collins - CEO & Co-Founder, Anark


November 11

Password:  DECFall20

1:00PM – 2:00PM

Review from previous session

Nathan Hartman – Professor, Computer Graphics Technology and DEC Director


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

2:00PM – 3:00PM

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.



November 12

Password:  DECFall20

1:00PM – 2:00 p.m.

Review from previous session

Nathan Hartman – Professor, Computer Graphics Technology and DEC Director


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

2:00PM – 3:00PM

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



All sessions will be recorded for future viewing.

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