Last week, at the Digital Factory, we did something we thought was crazy: we built a fully-functioning factory line in less than 24 hours. Powered by Tulip, Vention, Formlabs, RightHand Robotics, and AWS, the factory let attendees build a radio from scratch, tuned to their favorite station.

The pop up factory was a showcase of the promise of digital manufacturing–enabling manufacturers to be agile, augment their people and process, and improve faster. It was a testament to just how flexible and ready to implement these technologies are.

Now that the dust has settled, we want to share a brief recap of the event.


The Pop Up Factory

The pop up factory allowed conference attendees to manufacture a product themselves, from start to finish. They began by creating a work order, and finished by packaging their completed radio. The factory featured custom, customizable benches from Vention, 3D printed knobs from Formlabs, and an advanced automation RightPick from RightHand Robots. The entire process was coordinated by a Tulip work instruction app, and connected to the cloud through AWS.

pop up factory
The Pop Up Factory


Building the Factory

It took careful planning to build a factory in less than a day. Every detail had to be accounted for, from planning workflows to prevent bottlenecks in the main hall to optimizing the floor plan so that all stations could be powered and connected.

pop up factory floor diagram
Floor plan and space constrains for the pop up factory

In the days leading up to the event, we built an IoT connected work instruction app to guide attendees through the process. This interactive app used pick-to-lights and break beam sensors to guide each “operator” to the correct part. Videos and pictures embedded in the digital work instructions showed conference-goers exactly how to perform every step. Using no-code triggers and logic, we added rework loops and automated error notification, allowing us to resolve all problems at the source. Data on every facet of the assembly was automatically collected with Tulip analytics.

Right before the event, we mounted Tulip gateways on custom Vention benches, designed specifically for this operation.

A dedicated crew from Tulip worked late into the night to make sure that the factory was ready to go live before the first attendees arrived at the seaport conference center.

pop up factory visual
The Tulip crew burning the midnight oil


The Day Of

Throughout the day, over 500 attendees built radios. Without any prior experience, each “operator”:


1.) Created a work order

Tulip app gif - digital factory
custom work order form


2.) Followed an interactive work instruction app to assemble their radio,

Radio app gif
Tulip digital work instructions built for the event

3.) Viewed the aggregate performance on a real-time analytic dashboard.

Analytics dashboard
Analytics after lunch. Almost 400 units before 2pm!

The highlight, for us, was seeing so many “ah ha!” moments–those times when attendees experienced first-hand the power of flexible, human-centric digital technologies.

Tulip radio workstation
an attendee assembles a radio


Throughout the event, a Tulip analytics dashboard displayed pop-up factory data for everyone in the main hall to see. The results?

Analytics dashboard display
the analytics dashboard displayed in the main hall. 500 radios in 8 hours.


Conference-goers created 565 work orders, and completed 500 radios. By time of day, the most radios were assembled early in the morning and at lunch (this makes sense, as these were times without panels or keynotes). The most popular knob choice (printed on-site by Formlabs), was the Sonic Red option. On the bottom of each screen, you can see charts of completion time and step-time–information that we’ll be using to improve our app and demo for the next time!

Our favorite metric might be counterintuitive. If you look at the dashboard, you’ll see a “defect count” of 4. We like this, because it means that the app identified and recorded a defective part, and that 4 “lucky” guests got to experience an automatically triggered rework-loop. All of this amounts to better shop floor visibility, higher quality output, and more engaged operators.

Key Takeaways

  • In less than a day, Tulip, Vention, Formlabs, RightHand Robotics, and AWS created a fully functioning factory
  • Using a Tulip work instruction app, 500 executive-level attendees completed a complex, manual assembly.
  • The technologies involved were flexible enough to let us to install the factory in less than a day, without any hiccups during the event.
  • The bar has been raised for agile manufacturing, and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Thank you to everyone who came and helped make this event such a success. If you have any questions or would like more information about Tulip, please get in touch!

Interested in how Tulip can empower the people in your digital factory? Get in touch for more info, or start a free trial and start building your own apps today.