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SOA in Manufacturing Guidebook

Manufacturing companies are facing many new challenges today to become more flexible and agile as business models change. Companies’ ability to adapt quickly to a changing business environment mainly depends on the agility of their corporate cultures, flexibility of their business processes and interoperability of the IT system(s) they employ. Unfortunately, many manufacturing companies today have IT systems that are inflexible, antiquated, and difficult and expensive to enhance, maintain and support.

One business shift, or trend, requiring flexibility today is the use of many suppliers to manufacture the end product. Increasingly, manufacturers are using more materials, semi-finished goods, parts and sub-assemblies from a globally distributed network of suppliers who come and go rather quickly. In order to maintain profitability, companies need to seamlessly and securely integrate their IT systems with their suppliers’ in order to track product, supplies, schedules, etc. The IT systems of both manufacturer and supplier need to be flexible enough to handle different requirements as different suppliers and manufacturers do business.

One technology or architecture that helps companies with this problem is called Service- oriented Architecture (SOA). SOA in manufacturing (SOAm) is used in combination with appropriate industrial standards and Continuous Improvement (CI) methods to allow for a plug-and-play type of IT architecture calle Manufacturing 2.0 (Mfg 2.0). In essence the IT system’s functionality can be added to, changed or removed quickly as market demands require business changes.

This paper discusses the current business drivers and trends in the manufacturing industries, and explores how those drivers and trends are causing companies to re-think their IT architecture. The paper introduces SOAm and its components. It also discusses the new tools that are available to help companies realize the benefits of SOAm. There are different means of accomplishing SOA, depending on the technology and development platform chosen.

Date Published: October 2010


  1. Alan Boyd, IBM Corporation
  2. David Noller IBM Corporation
  3. Paul Peters, IBM Corporation
  4. Dave Salkeld, IBM Corporation
  5. Tim Thomasma, Capgemini
  6. Charlie Gifford, 21st Century Manufacturing Solutions LLC
  7. Steven Pike, IBM Corporation
  8. Alison Smith, AMR Research, Inc.
  1. Julie Fraser, Cambashi
  2. Paul Ashmore, Digital Applications International Limited (DAI)
  3. Alicia Bowers, GE Intelligent Platforms
  4. Kay Freund, IBM Corporation
  5. George Hudson, IBM Corporation
  6. Aaron LaBella, IBM Corporation
  7. Bas Pluim, IBM Corporation
  8. Victor Valle, IBM Corporation
  9. Mohammed Zuhair, Rockwell Automation
  10. David R. Hinkler, Rockwell Automation
  11. Simon Jacobson, Gartner Group