Current trends in product development process highlight the increasing adoption of digital data and virtual processes. Nowadays, a huge amount of product data are collected without a clear management strategy and, oftentimes, they dont even cover the whole product development process. A global and integrated planning about information needed to sustain product design process is not a trivial task and, usually, companies underrates this issue. From the perspective of virtualization of processes, and then their automation, the lack of structured knowledge is certainly awful. This paper aims at making a critical analysis how product data evolve throughout the product design or configuration process and how they impact the product development activities. Efficient digital product twin allows companies to virtualize processes and leverage their automation, but it is important to understand how the knowledge management should be carried out. Three case studies, directly experienced by the authors, have been investigated analyzing digital data and virtual tools that allow companies to automate the design process, each one bringing a peculiar perspective of the problem.

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