A number of manufacturing companies have reported anecdotal evidence describing the benefits of model-based enterprise (MBE). Based on this evidence, major players in industry have embraced a vision to deploy MBE. In our view, the best chance of realizing this vision is the creation of a single “digital thread.” Under MBE, there exists a model-based definition (MBD), created by the Engineering function, which downstream functions reuse to complete model-based manufacturing and model-based inspection activities. The ensemble of data that enables the combination of MBD, manufacturing, and inspection defines this digital thread. Such a digital thread would enable real-time design and analysis, collaborative process-flow development, automated artifact creation, and full-process traceability in a seamless real-time collaborative development among project participants. This paper documents the strengths and weaknesses in the current, industry strategies for implementing MBE. It also identifies gaps in the transition and/or exchange of data between various manufacturing processes. Finally, this paper presents measured results from a study of model-based processes compared to drawing-based processes and provides evidence to support the anecdotal evidence and vision made by industry.

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