Why I am Building Tulip Library Sarah Ackley

 

Watch this video walkthrough of the newest out-of-the-box manufacturing apps in the Tulip Library.

Beginning from the trenches of the Falcon 9 production at SpaceX to the Model S line at Tesla, I learned first hand how even the world’s most advanced tech is still relying on paper for production tracking. At the beginning of my career as an industrial engineer, I wouldn’t have imagined my future self building a library for manufacturing apps. However, when I look back on the journey I have taken, the people I have met, and the experiences I have made, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is where I am meant to be. The need for real-time data collection systems in manufacturing is real, and there’s no doubt that the library of pre-built apps and connectors that I am building today is a game-changer for manufacturers across the globe. 

While studying at Northeastern University, I was fortunate to take advantage of their co-op program to explore the vast field of Industrial Engineering. I gained three 6-month internships applying what I’d learned in the classroom in the real world. It’s through these experiences that I lived and felt the pains of modern-day manufacturing. It’s these experiences that made joining Tulip a no-brainer. 

At an Orthopedic division of Johnson & Johnson, I started as a Clean and Pack Engineering intern where I spent most of my time with a mixture of spreadsheets and paper-generated reports. The process for officially signing off reports required bringing the report from one desk to another – a painfully slow and inefficient process. 

At SpaceX, as a Process Engineering Intern, I focused on accelerating the production of the Falcon 9 rocket. I was in the weeds of spreadsheet after spreadsheet, trying to understand the flow of every piece of avionics hardware through the test lab, and analyzing what resources we would need in order to launch 50 rockets a year when we were only launching 3 at the time. The spreadsheet worked for the time and place, but it was a static analysis. It didn’t provide us the flexibility to easily make iterations or changes. What happens when we reach recreational trips to the moon? Could the spreadsheet handle that level of capacity planning? Looking back on it, it’s kind of wild, we literally had some of the brightest rocket scientists in the world using 1980s era software technology to build spaceships, but at the time it’s all we had.  

Flashing forward six months later, as a quality engineering intern at Tesla, I tackled the in-line and filed issues associated with the Model S. The difference between catching a quality defect on a 50 cent part in the production line vs in the field could be the difference of tens of thousands of dollars per defect. But, like at SpaceX, the tools we had to solve these problems mostly relied on pen and paper. We were building the cars with the most advanced self-driving technology in the world and the simple idea of using apps to solve these problems vs paper-based checklists seemed futuristic and unattainable. 

That’s why when I discovered Tulip at my next role as a Manufacturing Engineer for a 3D printing startup, I was sold. I started using Tulip in the very early days to train employees on a first-generation 3D printer and I haven’t stopped since.

What brought me here wasn’t the cool, flashy startup. It was the problem we’re solving.  Although pharmaceutical, aerospace, and automotive are all wildly different fields, the challenges they face and the tools they need are similar. There are manufacturing principles that are built into the art of manufacturing as a whole that can be shared and carried from one to another. At the same time, this need to digitize and gain real-time insights was prevalent. 

I’ve spent the last 4 years at Tulip working to make the tools I wish I had back at SpaceX and Tesla available to every manufacturing engineer in the world. I am so excited to share with you the Tulip Library as a way to connect, help, and grow the manufacturing community.

Learn more about the Tulip Library.