For a third year, Tulip was recognized on the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). Thank you to the Tulip customers who have spoken about their experiences and those that have helped guide us as we execute our vision!

The thing is – Tulip is not an MES, at least not in the traditional sense. Tulip solves the same kind of problems as MES but with a fundamentally different approach.

Traditional Approaches Can’t Adapt Fast Enough

Traditional MES were designed and built at a time when using a monolithic architecture – one large interconnected system – was the only way of building software, when the cloud didn’t exist, and when worker-friendly interfaces weren’t a priority. With today’s technology, the pains manufacturers have had to endure – the headaches of customizations and making updates, the disruption of months-long upgrades, and the lengthy end-user learning curves – are no longer necessary.

Today, microservices and cloud-based platforms are the norm. The need for adaptability and resilience isn’t going away. Worker augmentation – connected digital workflows, computer vision guidance, and augmented reality – is growing in importance with workforce shortages and a new generation of workers.

The monolithic approach is failing, the needs of manufacturers are changing, and the concept of an MES is evolving – and it needs to, but what does the next generation of MES look like?

Empowering Innovators

When the co-founders of Tulip first met at the MIT Media Lab, they set out to build an augmented reality system for manufacturing. Through testing their early products with manufacturers, they discovered that the engineers they worked with found the most value not in the advanced augmented reality projection system they designed – but in the freedom and flexibility of the platform they built to support it. The engineers' eyes lit up with the possibilities.

At the core of Tulip, as a company and a platform, are the innovators it empowers.

Through years of partnering with our customers to build and iterate on the platform, we have seen what works and what doesn’t as they build incredible systems that power their operations. Again and again, we observe the same things:

  1. Engineers become engineers to solve problems. They love having the tools they need to build solutions to make things work more smoothly and efficiently.

  2. Those closest to the humans using the systems best understand how to remove friction. The shorter the distance between the end user and the person developing the solution, the faster the iteration cycles and the better the outcome.

  3. Technology advancement isn’t slowing down, and openness is critical for future-proofing. With new technology constantly making its way to manufacturing – computer vision, AI, spatial intelligence, wearables, edge computing, and cloud systems – we cannot predict what innovators will need to incorporate into their tech stack. We can prioritize openness and extensibility.

  4. Reusable and sharable building blocks accelerate deployment. What works on one line is likely reusable as a starting point for the next line over. What works for one site might work at ten more.

So, what have innovators done with Tulip's Frontline Operations Platform?

- A manufacturing engineer at a custom orthodontic aligner manufacturer leveraged Tulip alongside custom-written code to follow each patient’s case from the this Dentist Portal where orders are placed all the way through to packaging and shipping, all while capturing all the eDHR data they needed for compliance.

- Manufacturing engineers at Laerdal took off-the-shelf cameras and used computer vision to error-proof medical kit assembly and packaging with guidance and visual verifications.

- A workshop supervisor at the Autodesk Technology Center in Boston leveraged analog sensor monitoring and AI to track the performance of a CNC machine and get an alert when it is time to change a tool.

Tulip’s Vision for the Future

What does empowering innovation at the frontline of operations have to do with MES? The systems that these innovators are building with the Tulip platform are replacing MES – and doing so much more – all while providing more value in less time.

Instead of time-consuming top-down deployments, platforms allow innovators to gradually augment and then replace existing systems – without weeks of disruption. When the product or process needs to change, no-code app editing allows innovators to rapidly make updates to the systems that support operations so that those changes are made with this risk.

We predict that the future of MES is a shift from monoliths customized by vendors to composable, extensible, and human-centric tech stacks built by innovators.

The Gartner Take on the Future of MES

Throughout the report, the Gartner team discusses how the MES landscape is evolving.

“There is a fundamental technological shift taking place in the MES market, driven by evolving new technologies that challenge the MES status quo and driven by vendors with the agility and talent to accelerate the adoption of those technologies.”
“The next phase in the evolution of MES will be the convergence of technologies (processes) that support end-to-end supply chain planning and execution functions. These capabilities will increasingly be provided through composable enterprise technology platforms, applications and processes.”

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems. April 2023.

Tulip is a Frontline Operations Platform – a cloud-based, composable, human-centric PaaS with no-code/low-code capabilities – that manufacturers (or those with frontline operations) use to solve the kind of problems that MES traditionally solved plus much more. Our approach, in terms of implementation, use, and structure, is fundamentally different from that of traditional MES – solving many of the shortcomings of MES that people in manufacturing are all too familiar with.

We believe that Tulip is the most composable platform for MES on the Market, and Gartner's continued focus on composable technology is aligned with our vision.

Redefining MES for the Next Generation of Manufacturers

In this webinar, we explored the role of composability in unlocking resilience and innovation and how manufacturers are using composability to drive value with less risk.

an operator assembly something referencing a Tulip app

Showing the Way for Composability

Despite this increased focus on composable enterprise technology platforms, we fear many may still find the concept of “Composability” confusing. In our experience, it is much more than a change in software architecture. To take advantage of composability to enable more human-centric and resilient operations, manufacturers also need to adopt changes in culture, ownership, and development.

Through working with our customers, we have learned not just what individual innovators using our platform need, but also what organizations need to empower dozens or hundreds of innovators across global and local teams.

  • To support innovators in getting started, we continually invest in the Tulip Library - full of examples, templates, how-tos, and connectors.

  • To support governance and controls, we invested in granular permissions, local workspaces with global settings, versioning, and approval workflows.

  • To support best practice sharing, we introduced the ability for enterprise innovators to create libraries of curated solutions for local innovators with the enterprise app exchange.

  • To support openness and future-proofed systems, we prioritize our open APIs and document our endpoints for developers to use.

  • To support extensibility, we have introduced low-code widgets allowing innovators and the ecosystem to develop custom components.

Hear from Tulip Customers


Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems, Rick Franzosa, Christian Hestermann, 26th April 2023.

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