An agile or composable digital business model in today’s manufacturing environment is one that applies the core principles of composability (modularity, autonomy, orchestration and discovery) to the foundations of its business architecture and leverages industry 4.0 technologies to scale the human contribution to production in manufacturing.

According to a recent insight report by Gartner, by 2023, organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new initiative implementation. That’s why manufacturers that wish to remain competitive must prioritize mastering the risk of change through agile implementation in their pursuit of reaching untapped business value.

How Agile Gives Manufacturers a Competitive Advantage

An agile or composable approach allows manufacturers to quickly identify and resolve problems as they arise, by implementing short, inexpensive pilots at a time that targets those specific challenges. Each pilot represents a cycle of establishing goals, gathering the proper team, implementing sprints, and iterating and improving. Depending on the problems being tested, ROI can be seen within days or weeks, versus with a traditional MES, where you may have to wait several months before seeing any value. Key areas in which agile holds a competitive advantage over traditional MES include:


  • Agile allows manufacturers to increase resilience by responding quickly to economic and environmental factors and strict compliance regulations with rapid iteration, operator augmentation, operational flexibility, and bottom-up innovation.
  • A traditional MES struggles with flexibility, operating as a top-down hierarchy with bureaucracy slowing down decision-making, resulting in costly changes that are difficult to implement and maintain over time.

Workforce Transformation

  • Agile teams are autonomous and goal-oriented, with accountability, transparency and collaboration as core values. As workers become more engaged and motivated, productivity increases. These core values are realized through connected apps that enable real-time data shareability and open dialogue between teams, along with a bottom-up approach that decentralizes decision-making and streamlines approvals.
  • Conversely, a traditional MES system usually relies on IT departments or vendors to make updates to machines and identify inefficiencies, and employees are usually tasked with training new hires which is a problem when those employees leave. In contrast, an agile approach empowers engineers with no-code technology to create custom solutions to existing problems without relying on external support.


  • Rapidly evolving customer demands, short product cycles, and fast new-product-introduction cycles require a flexible operation that can shift at a moment’s notice. An agile approach is ideal for a high-mix, low-volume manufacturer or any other type of operation that requires a high level of customization. By leveraging agile and Industry 4.0 tools, frontline workers can standardize high-mix processes, while reducing human errors and improving overall efficiency. A practical example of this would be utilizing a 3D printer, which makes experimentation and mass customization realistic for manufacturers who need flexibility when responding to changing customer requirements.
  • With legacy MES systems, manufacturers may find themselves hard-pressed to be able to produce at a high level of customization, given the inflexible nature of these models, mainly due to the fact that MES’s were built to last for stability, not resilience, so change is only considered when there’s no choice left, not as a reason to grow or experiment.

Cloud Adoption

  • Cloud adoption typically results in a lower cost of ownership than traditional on-premise systems, while enabling manufacturers to quickly resolve issues using real-time data. The cost difference exists because rather than paying upfront for expensive hardware or high fees for IT support, businesses only pay for the resources they use, when they use it.
  • On-demand availability of data and expanded analytics capabilities enable manufacturers to act on real-time insights and solve issues immediately, supporting growth and innovation to keep up with a rapidly changing environment. Instead, traditional thinking models favor large systems heavily reliant on IT that barely keep up with rising demands.
Traditional vs Composable Thinking

Agile disrupts traditional top-down hierarchies by eradicating data silos and disparate approval frameworks. It leverages data digitization and shareability along with no-code tools for faster, better decision-making and an augmented workforce that’s flexible, responsive, and equipped to support a resilient operation and faster time-to-value implementations.

Tulip was designed for an agile workforce

Learn how manufacturers are using our no-code platform to connect the people, machines, and systems across their operations with a 30-day free trial.

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