Weaving a Digital Thread Through Aerospace and Defense Product Lifecycles

Imagine you are a technician called out to fix a system with a recently replaced instrument panel.

The panel reports a fault code, so you get out the documentation to troubleshoot it.

The illustrations and the troubleshooting steps do not account for the fault code given by the new panel. Suddenly, you are unable to do your job or get the system back online.

The physical system configuration recently changed, but the documentation is updated by a separate department, process, and schedule. Someone has to manually associate the updated service content including the new fault code with the existing end product.

If the digital thread was leveraged, the panel and its associated service content could have been included in a combined end product update at the same time, to be ready for the technician.

With the digital thread, the initial engineering bill of material (EBOM) for the physical product, the service bill of materials (SBOM) for support equipment, and consumables to the service and training content are all tied together.

The digital thread tightly weaves all aspects of a product's lifecycle together.

The Benefits of a Digital Thread

The digital thread ensures that all groups supporting a product within an organization are informed at the proper time.

No more design changes that were never communicated downstream. Participants no longer need to rely on manual processes or fallible participant memory. When an engineering change occurs, it triggers a workflow that notifies the responsible groups downstream.

The digital thread is digital accountability. You can always find out where a change is in the lifecycle, who has completed their tasks, and who has not.

The digital thread in action for aerospace and defense
Speed and confidence for the military

You may have heard about the digital thread in the commercial sector, but the concept has been spearheaded by the military aircraft industry.

They use digital technology to apply lessons learned to current and upcoming programs and ultimately improve the performance of future programs.

Digital engineering uses 3D virtual representations and models to design and test equipment via computer.

Military services are working with industry partners, such as Raytheon, to refine and implement digital engineering methods. These digital engineering innovations get new technology and systems into the hands of war-fighters faster.

Software development, computer modeling, and the integration of common technical infrastructure standards combine to build better systems faster and more efficiently.

These improvements have the potential to change more than just manufacturing and distribution for the military.


Development won't be done by PowerPoint anymore. It will be accomplished through dedicated engineering conversations regarding technical data. This will drive down costs everywhere. We are handing over technical data through purely digital means in a digital environment.

Madison Dye, WorldView Legion engineering lead. Space & C2 Systems, Raytheon Intelligence & Space

In summary, the digital thread enables military programs to move more quickly.

It brings efficiency, speed, accuracy, and effectiveness to a process typically encumbered by multi-year, bureaucratic milestones, and procedures.

With machines, data, processes, and people across the supply chain connected, you unlock the power of collaboration and the commercial advantage of evolving information into knowledge and insight.

Find out More

If you want to find out more about how the digital thread can assist your organization we can help.

You are an expert in where you are; you need an expert in where you could go.

That is our speciality!

We work with our Aerospace and Defense customers to implement solutions across the length and breadth of the digital thread. Our industry experts look at your problem with an outside perspective to ask the right questions, expose your blind spots, demystify new industry terms, and offer best practice solutions.

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