The phrase “Digital Thread” is ubiquitous in modern engineering, but newcomers may find it hard to find answers to

  • What is the Digital Thread?
  • Are there real commercially-available solutions?
  • How will it benefit my organization?

Enterprises have many software tools and databases and system data is distributed across them. At the same time, these organiztions want a single authoritative source of truth giving every team member access to the data they need, when and how they need it. This idea has many names, but we will call it the Digital Thread.

Syndeia can be a useful part of a Digital Thread solution.

  • Syndeia lets you build and maintain the Digital Thread, by federating the domain models with a network of connections between model elements.
  • Syndeia lets you use the Digital Thread to access and share data across these connections.
  • Finally, Syndeia lets you view the Digital Thread, to monitor system development and document the system in real time.

Syndeia does this using a microservice-based architecture called Syndeia Cloud, server-based software on-premise or hosted on a cloud platform, and accessed by many users from Syndeia tool plug-ins, stand-alone clients, and third-party applications through an open REST API. Enterprises can create their own scripts and dashboards.

Let’s look at the Syndeia services in action:

Building the Digital Thread

Figure 1 Syndeia

Users can create connections between existing model elements in different tools (Figure 1). Using the Syndeia dashboard, we can view the two models in separate columns and use drag-and-drop to connect individual elements.

Syndeia can also transform models across tool boundaries. In the same interface, we could drag a requirements hierarchy, a PLM bill-of-materials, a CAD assembly, a SysML block structure, or a simulation model into a different domain; Syndeia keeps the shared elements connected.

All connections (but not the models themselves) are pushed to a configuration-managed database in Syndeia Cloud, potentially available to all team members through its API.

Using the Digital Thread

Once the connections have been created, they can be used in a variety of ways. A user in one domain, for example, a system engineer working with a SysML model, can access connected elements in another domain, for example, a JIRA issue  tracking progress on that model, with a single click on the SysML diagram, or ask, has anything changed at the other end of any of the connections since they were last updated?

When there is shared information across tools, Syndeia can compare connected models and generate a difference table as one or both of the models evolve over the system lifecycle. It can update them as tools and workflow allow, maintaining consistency across the Digital Thread.

Viewing the Digital Thread

The Digital Thread becomes a valuable resource for project management. Using modern graph databases, Syndeia can search the Digital Thread with the same technology social media applies to link millions of users. With pattern-matching queries, engineers and managers can ask questions like

  • How many requirements does the project have?
  • How many are currently satisfied by the system design?
  • How many can be verified by simulation?
  • How many have defined test cases?
  • How many are linked to JIRA issues for tracking?

and monitor the progress of the system development on a real-time basis. For one example, Figure 2 shows an answer to the last question.

Figure 2 Graph query, “Show requirements linked to a JIRA issue”

Syndeia and the Digital Thread

Intercax introduced the first commercial release of Syndeia in 2014 and has steadily expanded its capabilities. Contact us to learn about the forthcoming release of version 3.3 and get started creating your own Digital Thread.

Dirk Zwemer

Dirk Zwemer

Dr. Dirk Zwemer (dirk.zwemer@intercax.com) is President of Intercax LLC (Atlanta, GA), a supplier of MBE engineering software platforms like Syndeia and ParaMagic. He is an active teacher and consultant in the field and holds Level 4 Model Builder-Advanced certification as an OMG System Modeling Professional.