Customer Story

How Toyota Motor Europe Developed a Flexible Digital Thread With Systems Thinking

 Customer Story – Toyota Motor Europe Systems Thinking
2,700+ employees


  • Teams used complex spreadsheets to track a large number of architectural variants and related simulations
  • The manual management and exchange of spreadsheets led to a lack of clarity about the pedigree and maturity of data
  • Spreadsheet data was not connected to the rest of Toyota Motor Europe’s product data


Replace complex spreadsheets with a “single source of truth,” a digital thread with Aras Innovator.


  • Ability to separate data from its presentation and easily view and edit the data structure
  • Ability to compare different versions of data structures
  • Access to libraries for reusable data models
  • All data relationships are managed within the digital thread, regardless of where the details are authored

Toyota Motor Europe struggled with arduous manual processes and complex spreadsheets used to share data among the engineering teams. Recognizing the need for a new, more sustainable data management platform, the team partnered with Aras to improve data connectivity and management through a digital thread.

decrease in process lead time

reduction in time expenditure

Pain Points

Toyota Motor Europe manages Toyota’s European manufacturing and engineering operations, as well as the wholesale marketing of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, parts, and accessories.

The vehicle performance engineering division at Toyota Motor Europe follows a Model-Based Design (MBD) approach to keep up with the demands and ever-evolving complexity of modern car design. This is a prerequisite to enabling future automation of simulation studies based on frequent and rapid changes.

MBD requires a large volume of data sharing between engineering teams to track architectural variants and related simulations. However, the Toyota Motor Europe team was using manual processes and spreadsheets to facilitate data sharing. This led to a lack of confidence in data quality and configuration control, and an inability to connect engineering and product data effectively.

Leaders within the company recognized that the existing process would only be sustainable with a new data management platform.

PLM Requirements

Toyota Motor Europe needed a way to define and maintain a “single source of truth” — a digital thread — accessible to everyone in the division and with a clear context of the pedigree and accuracy of the data. They wanted to improve modeling lead time, reduce workload and raise the quality of MBD models delivered to the organization.

To achieve this digital thread, Toyota Motor Europe’s Ernesto Mottola, Ph.D., Vehicle Performance Engineering, knew the company needed to first connect engineering data to a resilient and scalable system architecture backbone. Once the digital thread for data was established, the team could design digital processes around it to encourage more efficient and collaborative work. In other words, as Mottola puts it, “connecting data = connecting processes = connecting people.”

  • Improved data quality and consistency for the MBD approach
  • Ability to rapidly make changes to the design to perform what-if trade studies
  • A digital thread on which to build more efficient and collaborative processes

Successes with Aras Innovator

Teams from Toyota Motor Europe, Aras, and the integration partner Inensia worked together for the technology validation phase of the project with the initial goal of extending Aras Innovator’s data model to encompass structures and relationships for Toyota Motor Europe’s Engineering Data Management (EDM).

After identifying critical process needs, the plan’s second phase applied Aras Innovator to manage revisions, lifecycles, workflows, and access control. Using Agile methodology, the teams developed a pilot, then continuously improved the solution until they arrived at a “minimum viable product.” In true Toyota (Kaizen) fashion, the solution will be continuously improved as new needs are identified.

Rapid implementation was possible thanks to the modeling flexibility of the Aras platform and the hands-on collaboration between Aras, Inensia, and Toyota Motor Europe experts throughout the process.

Results: Toyota Motor Europe’s Digital Thread Centralizes Data Management

The team’s original spreadsheets are gone, replaced by a “single source of truth” — the digital thread in the Aras platform. This new system manages the large volume of data tracking variant-design-simulation relationships in a central location, regardless of where the system and design details are authored.

Now, distributed engineering teams of the vehicle performance division can remotely, rapidly, and efficiently create, review, and edit the data, increasing confidence in the data quality and therefore the consistency of simulation models.

Due to the success of the digital thread within this division of the company, other groups in Toyota Motor Europe have started implementing the digitalization of other processes based on the Aras PLM platform.