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. 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 need for adaptability and resilience isn’t going away.

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. Their eyes lit up with 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 better understand how to minimize 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 solutions. We can prioritize openness and extensibility so that they can.

  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.

What does this 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 with platforms.

Tulip’s Vision for the Future

What have innovators done with the Tulip platform?

- A manufacturing engineer at ArchForm leveraged Tulip alongside custom-written code to follow each patient’s case from the 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 leveraged off-the-shelf cameras and computer vision to error-proof medical kit assembly and packaging with guidance and visual verifications.

The Gartner Take on the Future of MES

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

“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.”

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

Despite this increased focus on composable enterprise technology platforms, we fear many may still find the concept of “Composability” abstract and difficult to imagine in practice.

Tulip Named Challenger in the 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for MES

To us, Tulip’s continued recognition is a testament to the market shift toward composable, frontline-driven approaches to MES and operational problem-solving. Download the full report →

an operator assembly something referencing a Tulip app

Showing the Way for Composability

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.

What does composability look like in practice for MES? It isn’t just a software architecture thing, it also involves a change in culture, ownership, and development.

Typically, there are four main parties involved. End users are usually operators, but can also include quality team members, supervisors, or other supporting staff – anyone interacting with a system via interfaces. Local innovators are almost always engineers - manufacturing, quality, etc. Enterprise innovators are typically local leaders or an assembled group responsible for operations technology. The ecosystem usually consists of parties outside the organization that provide templates, components, etc.

Innovators (local and enterprise) leverage the ecosystem and feedback from end users to develop solutions for the end users and to support operations. Enterprise innovators curate modular solutions for local innovators to tweak to deploy solutions locally – sometimes using sanitized versions of solutions developed by other local innovators.

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

If you are interested in hearing more about how Tulip is thinking about the future of MES and leading the way with composability, please join our upcoming webinar.

Hear from Tulip Customers


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

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