Engineers and business users have been bombarded with mobile apps designed to promote collaboration and increase productivity, yet manufacturing engineers have been mostly left behind, still far too reliant on paper-based, manual processes instead of digital tools to facilitate their workflows.
Tulip is trying to alter the landscape with its manufacturing app platform designed to leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and sophisticated analytics to deliver insights that do everything from helping to optimize quality processes to improving uptime with machine monitoring. The company’s newest release is the Factory Kit, a quick-start solution designed to get manufacturers up and running on apps quickly without the need to write code or get involved in lengthy and expensive IT roll outs.
The Factory Kit is designed as a self-service solution, delivering everything manufacturing engineers need to get started building apps, including access to Tulip’s cloud-based Manufacturing App Platform, sample apps and analytics that are ready to use out-of-the-box, and an IoT gateway for connecting devices to the apps. The bundle also packages up the Tulip Light Kit for driving Pick-to-Light processes and a variety of sensors, including a break beam option, environmental offerings, a barcode scanner, foot pedal, and light tower.
The Factory Kit is designed to enable manufacturing engineers to go from prototype to production in hours, without having to rely on sophisticated programming, explains Saul Lustgarten, who is in charge of product marketing at Tulip. “The point of the Factory Kit is to make it easier for IT and OT [operational technology] to work together,” Lustgarten explains. “With the kit, they can prototype and deploy manufacturing apps really quickly to showcase ROI and, once they do, they can involve different stakeholders and accelerate the process.”
While the Tulip Manufacturing App platform and Factory Kit are specifically aimed at production floor personnel, they will also have impact on design engineers, helping to create a better feedback loop between what’s traditionally been siloed groups and processes. Design engineers and manufacturing engineers typically serve on different teams and operate in their separate corners, Lustgarten explains, using different tools, which can create communication gaps and potential problems during the production process. “Tulip Apps can serve as the communication bridge for all the different teams—at the first level, between the shop floor and upper management, but also bridging communications gaps between manufacturing and design,” he explains. “By having more data on what’s going on with the production of your widgets, engineers can take that into account for future designs or to address quality issues.”
Insights garnered from Tulip Apps can also help engineering teams think outside the mass production mentality, serving up valuable information that can aid in mass customization development strategies, he explains. “If you have manufacturing apps, you can build widgets with variability without errors,” he says. “Tulip can change the way engineers view production within the production line.”
Watch this video to learn more about the Tulip Factory Kit.