Tulip has integrated with a variety of MES and ERP systems.
However, since there are many ERP and MES products on the market, it is difficult to say how easily Tulip can connect to your particular ERP or MES. It depends on:
- The ERP/MES product itself
- The complexity of your company’s IT environment
- Your IT team’s capabilities around working with the ERP/MES system
Note that in this example, we focus on an ERP or MES system, but this information is applicable to most software systems including CRM, QMS, LMS, and BOM management systems.
Many customers find that they are able to take the information in this article alone and build an integration themselves. Should you want help from Tulip with an integration to a service, providing answers to these questions will be the first step to a successful project.
1- What is the goal of the integration?
It's important to establish early on what the short-term and long-term goals for the project are. Do you really need all information shared between two systems? Or does it make more sense to focus in on a few high-value exchanges at first?
2- Who are the key stakeholders within your organization?
Who is the end-customer for this integration? Who is most familiar with the service to which you would like Tulip to connect? Who will be able to organize access to the service?
3- What documentation does your service provide?
Many enterprise software customers provide documentation for their services only to paying customers. This means that Tulip will not be able to access this documentation. Obtaining access to as much documentation about your software will help Tulip scope the work required for an integration and set the project up for success.
4- What transactions need to be made between Tulip and the service to be successful?
Here we try to be very specific. Some examples are:
- Get information about a work order given a work order ID.
- Mark a work order as completed given a work order ID.
- Find all of the open work orders assigned to a station given a station ID.
5- Who will maintain this integration?
As new use cases are uncovered, who in your organization will be tasked with being the subject-matter expert for the integration? In some organizations, this is a 3rd party integrator or contractor.
In order for Tulip to determine the details of an integration, here are some questions that can guide the process:
- Does your ERP/MES have an API? Or does it allow you to build an API?
- If your ERP/MES is sending data to a SQL database, can a third party connect to that SQL database? And if so, what privileges can it have?
- Does your ERP/MES send data via any industrial protocol, like OPC?
- Can the ERP/MES be accessed from the cloud?
Generally, Tulip connects to external software systems via one of three methods:
If your ERP/MES has an HTTP (including REST and SOAP) API, Tulip can initiate requests that can send or retrieve data through those endpoints. Note that Tulip will need to initiate the connection as opposed to your ERP/MES when using Tulip Connectors. If the ERP/MES needs to initiate the connection to Tulip, use the Tulip Tables API.
You might be able to configure the API from the administrator interface of your system. This information should also be available on the software provider’s website.
Existing SQL Database
If your ERP/MES is already sharing data with a SQL database, then Tulip can also access that database and share data. This may require you to write some new queries within your ERP/MES in order to access the new data from Tulip.
If the SQL database is strictly deployed on-premises, then Tulip can deploy a Connector Host on-premises that allows the database to work with Tulip’s cloud platform.
New SQL Database
Some organizations store their ERP/MES data in a sensitive database that is not accessible to third parties. But, they still want to share data with Tulip. So, they set up a new database where they can share specific data from their software systems, and Tulip can share data without any security concerns.
If your ERP/MES shares data via an industrial protocol, like Modbus, MTConnect and OPC UA, then Tulip can connect via a server that is running the Tulip Connector Host.
In this case, your ERP/MES will be acting like a "machine" within Tulip. Check out our Introduction to Machine Monitoring article for more details.
One-Way Data Sharing
Some ERP/MES systems have built-in methods for taking in data from external systems, but make it difficult to send their own data into other systems.
If this is the case, you may need to choose whether one-way data transfer is acceptable, or if you want to invest more time and energy into finding a way to make two-way data transfer possible.
For example, you may be satisfied with making Tulip your primary system for collecting data on the shop floor. Then, after sending the data into your MES/ERP system, you can align shop floor data with the existing data in the system.
Let’s say that you use NetSuite as an ERP, and you want to know whether it can connect to Tulip. You can search “Netsuite api” on Google and you will find this page that describes SuiteTalk, NetSuite’s tool for integrating with third parties.
Here’s what SuiteTalk does:
It looks like SuiteTalk allows you to build an HTTP API, so this would be the simplest way to integrate it with Tulip.
You can either create the endpoints yourself within the administrator portal for your MES/ERP, or work with a Tulip Partner that can create the endpoints for you.