Tulip Operation Calling Event Report

Thoughts and insighs from Tulip's recent customer event

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This week I attended the Tulip event called Operations Calling in Boston. Here are some quick observations from the event.

For those that might not know Tulip, they are a Boston based company focused on frontline operations in the manufacturing and industrial automation industry. They provide the software to help factory workers be more efficient at their job. Some people refer to this category as MES but Tulip avoids this term since MES can carry a lot of negative baggage from legacy MES vendors.

Some quick thoughts on the event:

  • I would estimate about 300 people attended the event. It was held at Tulip’s office, which is actually in an old Ford factory. The offices and environment were very cool.
  • There was a large emphasis on Tulip partners and the ecosystem. Tulip knows it needs to be open and play well with others. There were 27 different vendors showing in their partner pavillion. Pretty impressive given the size of Tulip.
  • Tulip has a no-code environment for setting up their software. However, they realize you also need low-code, like Node-RED, for integrating hardware and software into Tulip. I attended two sessions that discussed how Node-RED is an important part of the Tulip integration and customization strategy. Node-RED was also being used in some of their demos stations.
  • Tulip talks about ‘citizen developers’ and ‘composable apps’. This is the future of manufacturing. Organizations need to start thinking in terms of smaller applications that do a specific task that can also be rolled up into something bigger at a later time. These small applications need to be developed by the people closest to the problem, not the IT team or a system integrator.
  • During the closing panel, it was stated that ‘Today, Excel is the most popular digital automation platform used in industry.’ There are a lot of spreadsheets being used to collect and visualize data. However, the industry needs to find a better way. Node-RED is an important part of the solution. The people who can run Excel spreadsheets can easily use Node-RED. However, using Node-RED will let them do even more than what Excel allows them to do.

Operation Calling was definitely an event worth attending and I hope to return next year.

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