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Managing industrial data: challenges & opportunities

Deploying digital continuity solutions in complex manufacturing and maintenance processes requires industry players to enable consistent and robust access, use and enrichment of industrial data through effective Digital Threads.

Easier said that done! Good thing is that Diota Generation 4X is fundamentally tailored to make it possible, thus enhancing right-the-firt-time quality and adequate traceability though digitization. How does Generation 4X of our solutions take advantage of digital threads to significantly improve the quality and traceability of complex processes? What does WI4 and its associated services allow? How does it improve industrial data management? Dive into the heart of Diota 4X.

Digital Threads: a Foundation behind Process Optimization

When it comes to industrial process optimization, one of the biggest challenges faced by industry players relates to data access, use, and enrichment. Current pains are often reported as below:

  • Information is incomplete
  • Information isn’t timely
  • Information isn’t easy to use/understand
  • Information isn’t easy to find out
  • Information isn’t 100% reliable

Whether from a back office engineering’s lens or from a field operations’ lens, gaps in data access, use and enrichment are impacting efficiency and effectiveness at both individual and organizational levels, jeopardizing goals, deadlines and market opportunities. Related especially to complex manufacturing and maintenance operations, they are synonymous with high error risk, loss in time and in productivity.

For this very reason, the ability to locate, access, understand and trust data emerges as being key to process optimization. More precisely, 5 key attributes relating to data aresought after:

  • Access to relevant, consistent data
  • Access to always up-to-date data
  • Access to timely data
  • Data lineage and context
  • Data accountability and trust

Digitization is unanimously held as key to make this possible at the era of Industry 4.0. Still, 2 points need to be checked to allow it to effectively unleash its potential:

  • 01/ DATA WORKFLOW: how to create a consistent digital workflow that enable access and use of the right data to all participants, from design, engineering and product lifecycle management spheres throughout manufacturing and service operations.
  • 02/ TRACEABILITY: how to enable effective up- and downstream communication of where the product is in its lifecycle, ensuring all participants access and use the most current data and enrich it the most efficiently possible to enable better informed decision, reaction or anticipation.

That’s where Digital Threads come into the picture. Defined as a communication framework that allows a connected data flow and integrated view of an asset’s data throughout its lifecycle from traditionally siloed functional perspectives, digital threads aim to back digitization and traceability throughout a product’ or system’s lifespan. In other words, they seek to enable streamlined, homogenous and timely data access and use.

Digital threads can be created for many different assets and processes. Moreover, digitization across the value chain, driven by technologies like Interactive 3D, Augmented Reality, AI, Robotics, IIot… and associated field data capture possibilities, enable the emerging of threads for entire operational processes, including worker tasks and workflows. Engineers and field experts are able to experience great gains from the removal of paper processing, in terms of quality assurance, traceability and productivity. 

Main use cases include:

  • CONNECTED QUALITY & VERIFICATIONS: Validating the correct design iterations, system requirements and product conformity, by comparing as-designed to as-built data.
  • STEP BY STEP GUIDANCE: Providing role-based views and work instructions via job-fitted “digital-on-the-field” applications connected to the PLM/MES for improved operator productivity and  production/service quality.
  • PRODUCT TRACEABILITY: Providing universal data access and visibility around a view of a product or system, from requirements to design to the as-built/as-inspected/as-serviced.
  • DESIGN OPTIMIZATION: Enhancing the digital definition of a product with field data to improve quality and integrity of designs.
  • OPERATIONS INTELLIGENCE: Combining, analyzing, and delivering insights from disparate and diverse silos of assets, operators, and information systems into unified visibility of KPIs for better informed decision-making.

Diota 4X: Enhancing Quality Assurance & Traceability through Digital Threads

As an expert in manufacturing and maintenance process optimization, accompanying our clients on how data is passed up and down digital threads to achieve gains in quality & traceability is a top priority. For this reason, our teams worked at a unique and highly business-fitted data management approach, at the core of Generation 4X of our offer, around 3 axes:

  • Data Protocol
  • Data Access, Edition and Use
  • Data Enrichment

Introducing Diota’s WI4 Data Protocol

Our collaborations with various Industry 4.0 players at the deployment of manufacturing and maintenance optimization solutions enabled us to observe that, whether dealing with step-by-step guidance from CAD/PLM definitions to reduce error risk throughout complex operations, or with collecting feedback in the real-world to support traceability, the fundamental receptacle that was handled were work instructions (manufacturing ranges, control ranges, layouts, procedural steps, tool lists, components…).

From this shared observation, our teams undertook to determine a data protocol highly suited to support downstream and upstream digital continuity: here comes Diota’s WI4, or Work Instructions 4.0, data protocol.


Especially thought and built for industrial contexts, the WI4 data protocol supports:

  • BUSINESS-ORIENTED SEMANTICS: structured upon industrial concepts, the WI4 enables product and process definition data used through « Digital-Field » applications to be efficiently enriched.
  • EXTENSIVENESS: additional industry-or job-specific concepts, integrated and advanced business rules, may be easily added.
  • ACCESSIBILITY: data stored and enriched can be easily located and read, in connection with various IT systems (PLM, MES, ERP..) and analytics applications.

and last, but not least,

  • INTEROPERABILITY: among different IT systems, enabling sustainable integration and optimal collaboration across different supply chain actors including various company sizes, environments and capacities (large companies, SMEs and even start-ups)

All this while guaranteeing compatibility with other frameworks that Diota’s.

Empowering Digitization and Traceability

Much more than an extensible data protocol enabling to store work instructions, the WI4 data protocol comes with a set of tools and services:

  • Database system
  • Connectors and services for IT integrations
  • Support for native industrial CAD data and standard formats, data conversion and optimization
  • Content edition
  • Data administration

This combination allows to provide a consistent data workflow, making all the data associated sourced and prepared for digital guidance or captured on the field accessible through smartly organized data silos. Industry players can make the most of it to increase:

  • RIGHT-THE-FIRST TIME QUALITY: by efficiently guiding operators step by step with the right information at the right time through the right work instructions and job-to-be done applications.
  • TRACEABILITY: by efficiently capitalizing on the field data capture through digital-assisted process execution to check and validate all that has to be for each operation or at each process stage (control results, tool parameters, pictures, comments, operations/operators history, reporting…) and feed digital twins.

All this associated to component or product identification and digital models.

Integrating the WI4 data protocol and associated data tools and services, Diota’s Generation 4X can support process optimization with a more than ever before efficient contribution to digital threads. It is definitely synonymous with increased quality assurance, traceability and efficiency throughout manufacturing and maintenance processes.


[Guide] 4.0 Project: ask yourself the right questions before you start!