The COVID19 pandemic called for action, fast. MasksOn.org was moving at rapid speed, setting up distribution centers and processes that generally would take months, maybe even a year to set up in a matter of days. The first 50 masks were manageable in spreadsheets and google forms, but the production target of 80,000 called for something more. Tulip jumped into the trenches to help bring multiple teams and systems together by introducing the totally customizable Tulip Production System. The timeline below paints the picture of how manufacturing needs reliable, flexible systems that adapt as new information becomes available. When you move fast, you need the ability to set a critical path to production and improve as you go. There were bumps in the road, but there was never a time where Tulip couldn’t adapt.
March 27th: Tulip’s Lean Practice Lead Mark Freedman & Cofounder/CTO Rony Kubat begin to get involved in Maskson.org project, meeting some of their team members to understand what they are trying to accomplish and how Tulip can help. The goal is clear – get PPE to healthcare workers ASAP. We recognize that the Maskson.org team needs a production/logistics system to cut out a ridiculous amount of administrative burden to their supply chain.
March 28th: Mark doesn’t sleep and builds a Tulip app overnight to create work centers, define products and their Bill of Materials (henceforth, BOMs), and manage supply couriers. We start work on APIs and critical integrations, and we scrape the data from their existing google sheets to get it into the Tulip system.
March 29th: The Boston Assembly location of Maskson.org moves from Seaport to Alewife (for those of you not from MA, from Boston to Cambridge). The anticipated launch of the Boston area for Maskson.org is on the morning of March 30th. Mark adds new functionality based on feedback from the production team like a shopping cart to add multiple items.
March 30th: Unfortunately, production is delayed due to a change in the design of the mask. The new design requires little-to-no assembly and is now a pack & ship application. The Tulip team needs to modify the app to adapt to the recent changes; no sweat though, easy to do. To wrap up the day’s work we add dashboards for inventory & shipping stations. We are now expected to start production on Friday and we’re awaiting parts.
March 31st: The scope expands to include a new focus beyond Boston to NYC distribution, NYC is the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, so priorities have shifted quite a bit since they need the product the most. The NYC team explains similar workflows to Boston but needs the flexibility to have material leave the distribution center by either couriers or be shipped directly to the end destination. Within a few hours we are able to connect Tulip to shipping service provider Shippo by utilizing Tulip’s built-in HTTP Connector functionality. Users on the production floor can now ship PPE with a click of a button while still capturing all of the necessary tracking info.
April 1st: We notice some hurdles with onboarding users so we do some hacking to make a shareable link that allows any user to access a Tulip app from anywhere on the web without needing to login (not a standard Tulip feature). After getting some feedback from the users, the NY team informs us of another difference in process where they need the ability to handle partial shipments. Again, no problem, the system can easily adjust. We escape the day without any major April Fool’s jokes.
April 2nd: With a few assists, we made first complete order → delivery in NY and Boston using Tulip! We added a legal document review to the ordering app. We explored the ability to integrate with DocuSign. While it was an option, we realized we have all the data captures we need in Tulip. There is an overhaul of permissions to apps to restrict users from seeing information that they shouldn’t, and to provide them info they need just in time. Roles include couriers, product manager, inventory manager, etc.
April 3rd: Add Slack integration to show when orders come in, when a courier confirms an order, and when products ship to keep everyone in the loop. We use Slack because that is what the team is using, but we could have integrated with Microsoft Teams or other messaging platforms.
April 3rd: Replace clinician order submission form (previously with Typeform) with a Tulip application, so any clinician can order parts directly from Maskson.org website. Includes a signature of a consent form. Spent some time training users on the platform.
April 4th: Just a solid view on the overall workflows and integrations.
April 4th: – And we’re live! The system is standalone; production managers, couriers, and inventory managers are able to ship the product on their own without the help of the Tulip Team. We’re tracking delivery, community and user data. Still improving though, that work is never done – connecting data to mapbox to improve data visualization.
April 5th: Connecting to lightspeed manufacturing. Production is starting to explore using Tulip as a QMS to control revision of documents and procedures.
April 6th: Tulip system is officially live.
April 7th –Things seem to be simmering down. Mark is back to a normal sleep schedule. Using this time to catch up on sleep and document the system.
April 8th – Tulip extends the platform to work with other partners who are also making and delivering PPE.
April 15th – We deploy the latest iterations of the dashboard.
April 16th – 1000th piece of PPE is delivered (and counting)! We have one issue – our dashboard didn’t accommodate 4 significant digits.
April 17th – Coordinate with partner in Miami to start to use the Tulip Production System to manage and deliver PPE.
April 21st – Add map functionality to dashboard to see the impact all over the US.
April 22nd – Our Miami partner is coming online. Great to see the model is scalable to others areas and organizations!
April 24th – The station count is growing and we couldn’t be happier to help the frontline get the protection they deserve.
If you’re coordinating efforts of manufacturers to get critical supplies to our health care workers, and you’re interested in working with us, please reach out at email@example.com.
[We will keep updating this live blog over the next few weeks as the system continues to evolve and we start working with new partners.]