So far in our blog series on our position as a challenger in The 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES), we’ve discussed how composability is redefining MES, and we’ve covered the various roles and mechanisms that manufacturers require if they want to build a composable business that enables citizen developers.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at real-world examples of how composability can play out in General Manufacturing, including reasons, challenges, and wins.

Why Composability? Why Now?

We know that composability is on the forefront of manufacturing innovation not only because we support it. We know it because of what’s happening in the general manufacturing industry today, including:

  • Workforce disruptions, such as people leaving and staying shorter periods of time

  • Market disruptions, with consumers looking for new and/or customized products

  • Supply chain challenges requiring agility with supplier slow-downs, shortages

These trends have implications for general manufacturing. They tell us not only that composability is a requirement, but also what fulfilling it may require in practice.

What are the Requirements for Composable Solutions in General Manufacturing?

First, any choice you make in a composable general manufacturing operation should empower the people closest to the work. That’s a fundamental belief of ours at Tulip. Any solution you implement should do the same.

Second, when you consider which solutions to roll out and how you should roll them out, you should put the people and the process first. Meaning: Rather than considering the strict capabilities of the solution first, consider the needs on the floor first. Doing so should let you prioritize flexibility enough to allow your citizen developers to adapt as reality changes, both in the moment and long-term.

Lastly, when you do have a best practice or solution that’s broadly applicable, you have to be able to roll that out across sites.

Meeting Composability Challenges

We’re making it sound simple, but the reality is, manufacturing is naturally complex. At any given site, you’re likely to have inventory management, shipping processes, production, and assembly happening all at once.

This complexity is the exact reason for composability. It may feel overwhelming to begin to implement a continuous improvement process, but in a composable business, there’s no need to boil the ocean. You can work toward improvement incrementally, even within each of the areas described above.

Importantly, doing so allows you to understand the interdependencies and limitations of each area, so you can make better decisions about how to connect them and their data structures, or, alternatively, how to decouple them. You can do this even while working toward a data model that lets you share information horizontally and at the correct moment.

Real-world examples of areas where Tulip has seen general manufacturers develop applications include:

  • Inventory control applications to understand quantities

  • Production visibility to make data-driven decisions in real time

  • Packing and shipping tracking processes that guide operators

  • Machine monitoring applications to minimize downtime

  • Process audit applications that make safety audits easier

  • Guided assembly applications that increase operator productivity

As the incremental improvements facilitated by each of these applications demonstrate, composability (and the architecture that allows for it) gives general manufacturers a new opportunity to upgrade their way of doing business.

Moving from an outside-in, top-down approach to technology to an inside-out and bottom-up approach helps problem-solving happen more efficiently — with long-term results for the business.

Read the next post in this series to learn more about how Tulip is challenging traditional MES with a platform approach built for composable business.