It’s Manufacturing Platform Month at Tulip. That means we’re taking a look at how platform solutions empower people to make cool things.

As the Supply Chain & Manufacturing guy at Tulip, it’s my job to make sure that Tulip Gateways, Light Kits, and more are built, tracked, and shipped to our end users.

Today, I’m going to provide an example of how platforms help me manage order lifecycle. I’ll show you how Tulip – the Salesforce of manufacturing – integrates with Salesforce to provide an end-to-end solution to manufacturing, sales, and fulfillment.

Why We Integrated Tulip Apps with Salesforce

The integration was born last year.

When we hit a period of sharp growth, we realized that we needed to adopt an integrated solution to procurement and fulfillment (a good problem to have).

At the time, we were using Tulip SQL connectors to track demand and device status in a giant SQL database. As we began to scale, however, linking all of these separate tables and devices got unwieldy.

Enter: Salesforce.

Our Sales team already used Salesforce to manage Opportunities, track customer demand, and generate Orders. So, we thought, why not integrate the existing system with Tulip?

And thus, Wheelbarrow was born.

Over a couple of weeks, a single developer on our Growth team (we love you, Steven!) was able to construct and implement a system in Salesforce we call Wheelbarrow. Wheelbarrow picks up where the old sales flow left off. It creates Orders, logs shipping information, and, most importantly, tracks the location and status of every Tulip device we’ve ever made, from cradle to grave. By creating each individual serial number as an Asset in Salesforce, we’re able to see the status of each Asset (individual device), where it is currently, and when it got there. This was all done in Salesforce Professional, without needing to purchase additional services or plugins.

This was great stuff! I can now get a perfect count of the inventory we have in production, in-house, or in the field at client sites around the world. But, we knew we could do better.

Wheelbarrow needed Tulip to make it complete.

Integrating Tulip Apps with Salesforce to Track Order Lifecycle

To illustrate how we integrated Tulip with our Salesforce service, we need to look at the three key product statuses we use: Produced, Received, and Shipped.

Each Asset (individual device) in our system can have one of these three statuses describing the current point they are at in their lifecycle. Crucially, each status change is triggered through a Tulip App.

Let’s run through a quick life of a Gateway as it lives with Tulip.

1.) From Ordered to Produced

First, when I order a Gateway, I create a list of serial numbers that will be attached to the Order. This manifests in Salesforce as Assets with the status “Ordered”.

As a step of the final quality validation and check-out, the factory uses a Tulip app. When the user scans a newly-produced Gateway barcode, the App will prompt them with simple outgoing quality check (OQC) questions like, “Are the lights turning on?” or, “Does it pass visual inspection?”
Our Gateway check-out app is used by operators at our manufacturing facility.

When all the questions are answered with a “yes,” the App uses a Salesforce API endpoint to change the status of the associated Asset from “Ordered to “Produced”. Now, I can see in real-time the end progress of our manufacturing.

2.) From Ordered to Received

Once the Gateways enjoy their all-expenses-paid cruise to Somerville, I use a similar app to first check that each serial number was actually ordered and then mark it as “Received”. Check out our upcoming Salesforce Connector support page for more info.
Through Tulip, we can receive inventory in bulk.

3.) From Received to Shipped

Finally, I need to understand and fulfill based on demand.

Our Sales team will create an Order and assign Products to that Order in Salesforce once they’ve gotten a signed quote from a client. Now, I can take that Order and fulfill it by assigning Assets to it (in Salesforce lingo, “Products” are the line items of the order, while “Assets” are the actual devices that were shipped to fulfill the ordered demand of Products).
Wheelbarrow’s Order view

Currently, we use a Flow within Salesforce to identify scanned barcodes, match them to an order, and update the Assets to “Shipped” status. This runs on the “Assign Assets” button you can see in the top right.

Conclusions: Platforms Ease Growing Pains

The beauty of platforms is that they let you create solutions for business needs as they emerge.

At the outset, we didn’t know we’d need help structuring a workflow for a growing supply chain. Ultimately, we created something robust and scalable by integrating Tulip’s manufacturing platform with Salesforce.

By connecting Tulip apps with our Salesforce platform, we’ve not only enabled direct and controlled input by users in production. We’ve also streamlined the processes I use every day in receipt and fulfillment.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

All manufacturers need a CRM. And we think that all manufacturers could benefit from the control and visibility gained by Tulip.

Now that we’ve seen what’s possible, we’re excited to see what comes next.