Implementing a Digital Thread in Packaging
Specification Data is the Key to Connectivity
By: Ayman Shoukry, Chief Technology Officer at Specright
Digital threads are changing the game when it comes to revolutionizing packaging across industries. Deloitte defines a digital thread as “a single seamless strand of data and computing power that stretches from the initial design concept to the finished part, constituting the information that enables the design, modeling, production, use and monitoring of an individual manufactured part.” In simpler terms, think of this as a connected network of information that helps companies operate and innovate quicker than ever before.
Within the packaging industry, implementing a digital thread can help alleviate the problems caused by outdated processes and connect everyone in the broader supply chain together. Let’s explore the impact of digital threads and how packaging companies that are deeply ingrained in manual processes and paper tracking can help build their own digital foundation to help make every day operations easier all around.
The need for digital transformation within packaging
The packaging industry can be slow to adapt when it comes to implementing new and emerging forms of technology as it’s an industry notoriously known for tracking critical specifications in Excel spreadsheets, on post-it notes, and in just about every place that isn’t digitally connected.
These static processes create a hindrance within the industry, preventing packaging companies from adjusting quickly to constantly evolving regulations, consumer demands, sustainability reporting requirements, and so on. Compared to other industries, packaging consists of such a large network of teams and information that has to be managed at all times, and that can be really hard to do for companies that are still using outdated systems. The lack of a digital footprint makes everyday operations and communications more difficult than they need to be.
For companies looking to take their first steps in driving digital transformation within their organizations, a digital thread that connects up-to-date information to anyone who needs it is where a truly successful digital transformation begins.
Impact of having systems that work together across verticals
A digital thread represents systems and products that work together in tandem, talking to one another on an ongoing basis. By implementing a digital thread, packaging companies will experience benefits including increased product quality, visibility and streamlined product innovation and automation, as well as improved production planning and manufacturing.
Packaging is just one component of the product puzzle as there are often multiple verticals across different softwares, like packaging software, procurement software, and quality software, to name a few. The link to everything across all of these verticals is specification data. Specifications, the critical DNA-level data behind every product or package, create a digital thread through supply chains, helping companies understand the relationships of products and packaging to suppliers and manufactures across entire geographies.
When everything works together and data can easily be accessed in one, singular place where systems complement one another, companies are then operating on the spec-level and can then make an impact on sustainability efforts, reducing costs, and keeping the entire supply chain humming.
Building the foundation for a digital thread
Digital threads within the packaging and broader manufacturing industry are all connected by specifications. This crucial data stretches across the entire supply chain, creating a network of information that is necessary to reference throughout all packaging operations – this remains true whether specs are handwritten or digitized. Without real-time access and visibility into current specs, packaging professionals have incomplete sets of data that are sitting across multiple work streams and channels, which can negatively impact operations.
Building the foundation of a digital thread begins with having access to spec-level data through a centralized and digitized platform that allows packaging professionals to have an end result that is more reliable, while also mitigating any risks. Instead of packaging and product specs living across different work streams or channels, this information is easily accessible for teams within one central location. Digitizing specifications is extremely relevant and impactful across industries, whether that be food and beverage all the way to beauty products and other consumer goods.
Bringing packaging into the digital era
New and emerging technology has greatly impacted the packaging industry and accelerated the digital transformation for many companies across the supply chain. Creating a digital thread brings the entire industry incredible benefits including increased product quality, reliability and efficiency, pushing legacy ways of operating to the past and bringing packaging successfully into the digital era.
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