Written by: Lateef Khan

Business Development Executive | General Manager Digital Services & Solutions | P&L Leader


Before all the chatter of a Digital Thread, there was a lot of discussion and thought around a Model Based Enterprise (MBE). While at times, people get confused with the various terminology of Model Based Definition (MBD), Model Based Design (MBD), Model Based Manufacturing (MBM), Model Based Quality (MBQ), etc. the overall concept is actually pretty simple. Take your traditional design outputs in the form of a 2d drawing and replace it with a 3d model containing all the typical parameters you would find on a 2d drawing (e.g. product manufacturing information – PMI, tolerance information, finish notes, etc.). Then, take that 3d enriched artifact and share it with the rest of your value chain including Manufacturing, Service, Suppliers, Quality, Commercial, and Marketing.


Some of the dilemma that many companies face when deciding on whether to head to an Model Based Enterprise are as follows:

  1. How much additional resource investment is Engineering required to make to develop an MBD design output, compliant to defined standards, and what is the value to the organization in spending this extra capacity?
  2. Is the global supply chain ready to fully consume an MBD design output or will they require, insist and/or request a 2d drawing?
  3. Is there value in taking a short-term step toward an MBD standard in the form of a 3dpdf or JT design output?
  4. How much work is required to develop a quality “recipe” to generate an accurate 3dpdf?


At the end of the day, decisions have to be made based on business outcomes. From my perspective, there is at least an intermediate level between a 2d design output and an MBD model that can deliver value to the enterprise. That is taking the 3D shape model as the design output, the source of truth for your product design, control it and lock it down through PLM workflows and Access Control Lists (ACLs), and share that 3d artifact with the rest of your enterprise.


Some examples of how the rest of the organization can benefit from this rich 3D shape design output are as follows:

  1. Manufacturing and/or Suppliers can consume the 3D design output for their computer aided machining process for tooling fabrication
  2. Manufacturing can leverage a lightweight 3D design artifact, with animation, for enriching their manufacturing/electronic work instructions (EWI)
  3. Service organization can consume the 3D design artifact for training simulators for their field engineers
  4. Service organization can consume 3D artifacts for enriching product service manuals
  5. Supplier Quality can automate the First Article of Inspection (FAI) process through Digital Inspection of the 3D artifact to a scanned part output
  6. Commercial organization can leverage a lightweight 3D artifact for their eCommerce portal to drive online sales
  7. Marketing organization can leverage a lightweight 3D artifact for their marketing brochures


From a process and technical standpoint, all these use cases can be enabled via the company’s enterprise PLM system. The appropriate process workflows, roles/personas, and data model can all be defined, designed and implemented as required. The transition to this level of digitalization within one’s organization is something that should be highly considered and part of a company’s digital transformation.