For one day, hundreds of manufacturing leaders and professionals gathered at the Seaport in Boston, for the Digital Factory 2022 event to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and join conversations around manufacturing trajectory and best practices. The event's highlight was the pop-up factory where attendees produced their own qi phone charger with the assistance of technology from Autodesk, Vention, Formlabs, and the Tulip Frontline Operations Platform (we built more than 200 chargers in less than 8 hours). But this assembly line is not the only thing that made Digital Factory 2022 a huge success.
Here are all the other cool things that made Digital Factory 2022 a real showcase of manufacturing capabilities and a shared forum for all manufacturing professionals.
Keynote Sessions and Panel Discussions
The keynote sessions and panel discussions featured manufacturing leaders from start-ups like Tulip and established companies like Amazon. Covering a wide range of topics, the keynote sessions offered a balanced mix of best practices for daily operations and long-term development principles. One key theme that reverberated throughout all sessions is the importance of the human factor in any problem-solving and technology transformation initiatives.
The panel discussion moderated by our CEO Natan Linder raised an important point about digital transformation and augmentation: there is a lack of attention to the human manufacturing operators at all stages from education to employment. The panel, comprised of leaders from Vention and Realwear and experts from MIT, attributed the continued failure of Industry 4.0 to this very reason. A focus on just the technology without proper workforce education and empowerment creates a value gap: the expensive technologies are too complex and too detached from everyday operations for the average American manufacturing workers to operate and reap any real benefits.
What manufacturers need is an augmented lean philosophy for operations. In an augmented lean approach, transformation starts with realizing the pain points of your frontline operators, then bringing in solutions to help solve that specific problem and augmenting your workers’ abilities through education and utilization of technology. A human-centric culture will bring in faster adoption of technology, deeper utilization, and better employee satisfaction.
Learn more about augmented lean operations in our upcoming book.
The Pop-up Factory with Tulip, Formlabs, Vention, and Autodesk
In a short 8 hours, participants with no prior experience working on an assembly line produced more than 200 qi phone chargers.
The goal was to focus on solutions for areas where workers have the most trouble in the production line. In this case, the lack of experience on the operators’ side was solved by work order, assembly order, inventory tracking, and machine monitoring apps. These no-code applications helped guide attendees through assembly steps and test for quality at the end of the process, complete with packaging instructions.
The success of the pop-up factory with inexperienced attendees reinforces the importance of building human-centric technologies that target your operators’ pain points. Regardless of your level of technical ability, keeping human workers at the center of any digital initiatives will improve efficiency and prevent expensive, low-value IT projects.
At a time when keeping your operators has become a priority for manufacturers, upskilling them through automation and empowering their problem solving will improve engagement and retention. This, in turn, will build an agile organization that can respond well to turbulence.
The entire assembly line at the pop-up factory was built in only 24 hours, yet it was capable of supporting a large number of inexperienced workers and reflecting updates in work instructions on the flight. Even though we know no factories will need to be set up in such a short time, it’s the perfect opportunity to illustrate the level of agility that technology can bring to your operations.
Tulip’s Demo Booth
The assembly line is only one of the many capabilities of Tulip’s Frontline Operations Platform. For other use cases, the Tulip booth offered a great opportunity to connect to our team in person and ask more detailed questions. We had a great time connecting with other manufacturing professionals even for a general chat!
Like any great event, meeting peers and forming new connections is always something to look forward to. Especially after two-year hiatus, we were all excited to meet in person and catch up with manufacturing peers and share ideas. Tulip is all about knowledge sharing, and we made use of every opportunity to get connected with those who understand frontline operations the most. If you missed us at Digital Factory, worry not - we’re always available here.
Digital Factory 2022 was a blast for our team and everyone in attendance. More than a showcase, it was a space to connect, share knowledge and have discussions on not just the current state but the future of manufacturing.
If you missed Digital Factory 2022, don’t worry! We’ll be sending out an ebook soon to summarize the experience and deep dive into the philosophy behind the pop-up factory.
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