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I’ve worked in manufacturing for over 10 years.
I’m obsessed with process improvement—I love being able to help the people who make things. There are real problems on the manufacturing floor and if you can understand them then you can solve them. Not only does production performance increase, but you are actually helping real people with the jobs they do every day. It feels great when you solve a problem – it’s addicting.
One day, at an internal conference at my previous company, I was talking with a colleague about this massive gap that I saw over and over across every operating company I’d been with. It’s a conversation I have had hundreds of times over the years. The simplest way I can think of to describe it is by asking this question:
Why is it that I can swipe my finger around my cell phone and a pizza will arrive at my doorstep but I can’t tell you how many parts we made between 9 and 10am in the cell that I support?
Every process that we perform on the shop floor should be seamlessly connected and simply executed. Computers are everywhere—why aren’t we using them? During this conversation, though, I decided to use google to prove that nobody was working to close this gap. That is the actual moment when I discovered Tulip—in the middle of a conversation with someone trying to prove that it didn’t exist.
Believe it or not, I texted my dad at that moment and told him I would probably be moving to Boston and joining Tulip.
Of course, it didn’t happen that fast. I needed to make sure Tulip was the real deal. I’m naturally skeptical and I actually loved my job—I was the continuous improvement manager and we were getting things done! But if this was real then I needed to be a part of it.
I’d been piecing together solutions for years using Excel, Access, SQL, and connecting to ERPs. I’m not a professional programmer but I’m a scrappy fighter and have taught myself enough Visual Basic and SQL to create useful snippets of software throughout my career. These solutions had made big impacts but they were clunky and no one could support or improve them after I left the company.
Could Tulip be what I was looking for? At the time, we were looking for a solution to make a pick-to-light system for a configured product and decided to buy a factory kit from Tulip. If the Tulip platform could do this then what else could it do?
The factory kit arrived a week before the team was taking on a big Kaizen event. I took the box home that weekend and within an hour I had figured out how to turn the lights on and change their color. By the next day I had it reading from the actual pick list. I won’t lie and say that it went smoothly— there were definitely challenges—but at that point it didn’t matter. It worked and it worked well.
Tulip enabled me to connect my ERP to a barcode scanner and a light strip in the first two days of using it. I was sold. The team built out a full kitting cell using Tulip during the Kaizen and it has been in use every day since. They’ve actually improved the application and built a bunch of other ones since I’ve been gone.
I’ve been at Tulip for a year now. This team is filled with some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, doing things I can only pretend to understand. Remember those challenges I had when making the pick to light kit a year ago? Those are fixed. In fact, there are so many new and powerful features in the platform since I first used Tulip that it’s incredible. I keep discovering new things that I can do with it.
All of the problems I’ve encountered in manufacturing can be solved. Tulip is the first tool I’ll reach for when trying to solve them—and that is why I work here.