COVID-19 PANDEMIC

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Tulip is committed to supporting the front-line worker on the manufacturing floor and in the medical field. At this critical time, we’re happy to offer support to all manufacturers and open source manufacturing efforts contributing to the fight against COVID-19.

If this is you, email covid19@tulip.co and we’ll be in touch.

Page last updated: April 10, 2020, 2:19 PM

Open Source Ventilator Bundle

April 10, 2020

 

Months into the coronavirus crisis, there remains a critical shortage of ventilators.

Manufacturers around the world have expanded production, but it’s not enough to meet demand.

To close the gap, leading ventilator manufacturer Medtronic has released design specifications and assembly instructions to the public “to enable participants across industries to evaluate options for rapid ventilator manufacturing to help doctors and patients dealing with COVID-19.”

Using open source files, any manufacturer or network can produce the Puritan Bennett™ 560 (PB 560).

This is easier said than done. Ventilators are extremely complex devices, and operators traditionally need substantial training. WIthout experience, assembly can be a daunting task.

To simplify the process, we’ve taken Medtronic’s assembly SOPs and converted them into an application bundle including interactive digital work instructions, QA, and packing.

These digital work instructions make it easier for anyone to complete ventilator assembly correctly. The instructions are clear, visual, and include inline quality checks to prevent errors. These digital work instructions will make the assembly process significantly faster, and they’ll allow significantly more people to contribute to the cause.

Together, the apps simplify the production, testing, and distribution necessary to ramp-up our collective capacity.

We’re hoping that this leads to more ventilators, larger scale production, and helps existing businesses and distributed networks alike.

We’re making these instructions available for free, so if you’re interested get in touch at: covid19@tulip.co

You can learn more about the work we’re doing to help manufacturers fight Covid-19 at tulip.co/covid-19-response/.

 

The homescreen of the app bundle. You can navigate to each app from here.

 

An example of an assembly screen. Images show the process while text outlines what needs to be done.

 

An example of a final systems test after assembly

 

Tables for tracking each work order.

Logistics In The Time of COVID-19

April 9, 2020

If you haven’t heard, Tulip has had the honor and privilege of providing our software to MasksOn, a non-profit organization supporting physicians in the struggle against COVID-19. MasksOn, a volunteer group of makers from the Greater Boston area, is designing, manufacturing, and distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to physicians across the country. The majority of the group’s effort has focused on manufacturing ventilators made from a scuba mask, a filter, and a 3D printed adapter that connects the two.

Things change very quickly at MasksOn, as everything in the fight against COVID-19 seems to. Unfortunately, demand for PPE is high and supply is low. Throughout the development process, there have been countless revisions to ventilators to ensure safety, reliability, and longevity.

Tulip was built for this type of fast, fluid, and agile environment. And so, over the last two weeks, we’ve volunteered our product and engineers to MasksOn. The speed and flexibility offered by Tulip have made us uniquely positioned to solve this type of problem.

In this post, I’ll explain one of the ways we helped Maskon out: integrating Tulip logistics applications with shipping service Shippo.

Integrating to Make Sure PPE Gets Where It’s Needed

One of the many ways that we’ve supported MasksOn is by building into our Apps integration with Shippo. Shippo is a multi-carrier shipping service that enables you to create and pay for shipments online. Their product has an intuitive interface and great API documentation.

We used Tulip Connector Functions to build an integration to this shipping service in one afternoon’s worth of effort. The best part is that from Tulip’s perspective there’s nothing unique to Shippo. This type of integration can be built for any third-party system that has a REST API.

The Shipping Terminal App is the App where users decide how to get a batch of masks from the MasksOn headquarters in Alewife, Massachusetts, to any hospital around the country. Users can decide if the masks should be shipped via a courier (local delivery) or if they should be shipped (long distance delivery). Here’s the screen the user sees when creating shipments for orders:

You can see the Ship with GoShippo in the bottom right hand corner. This is the button where later we’ll build our Trigger, but first, let’s sign up for Shippo.

The first thing we did to integrate Shippo into this App was to sign up for a Shippo account. Once we did that, we added a credit card to our account and generated a Shippo API Key. Then, after diving into Shippo’s API documentation, we built two Connector Functions for our App. Here’s what they looked like:


Above you’ll see the two Connector Functions that we built: Create Shipment and Create Transaction.

The Create Shipment function accepts a list of inputs about the shipment such as where it’s coming from, who it’s going to, and the package’s dimensions. With those inputs the function returns a Status (a boolean telling us if the shipment was successfully created) and a Rate ID (the unique identifier for the rate that USPS quoted us for).

The Create Transaction function accepts the Rate ID (the one that we received from the Create Shipment function) and returns a Status (a boolean telling us if the transaction was successfully executed), Tracking Number, a Tracking URL, and a Label URL.

Once these Connector Functions were built we edited our Ship with GoShippo button’s Trigger so that these Actions were called when the button was clicked on:

Finally, we display the image linked to by the Label URL in our App using an Image Widget:

This screen is then printed and taped to the box to be shipped.

This integration is one-piece of a bigger puzzle that went into matching PPE with professionals in need. 

 

We’re very grateful to be able to help MasksOn deliver on their goal of providing PPE to physicians across the country. If you’d like to learn more about this Shippo integration, MasksOn, or some of the other ways that Tulip is responding to COVID-19, reach out to us at covid19@tulip.co.

Timeline/ Evolution of the Tulip Production/Supply Chain System for Maskson.org

April 7, 2020

The COVID19 pandemic called for action, fast. MasksOn.org was moving at rapid speed, setting up distribution centers and processes that generally would take months, maybe even a year to set up in a matter of days.  The first 50 masks were manageable in spreadsheets and google forms, but the production target of 80,000 called for something more. Tulip jumped into the trenches to help bring multiple teams and systems together by introducing the totally customizable Tulip Production System. The timeline below paints the picture of how manufacturing needs reliable, flexible systems that adapt as new information becomes available. When you move fast, you need the ability to set a critical path to production and improve as you go. There were bumps in the road, but there was never a time where Tulip couldn’t adapt. 

March 27th: Tulip’s Lean Practice Lead Mark Freedman & Cofounder/CTO Rony Kubat begin to get involved in Maskson.org project, meeting some of their team members to understand what they are trying to accomplish and how Tulip can help. The goal is clear – get PPE to healthcare workers ASAP. We recognize that the Maskson.org team needs a production/logistics system to cut out a ridiculous amount of administrative burden to their supply chain.

March 28th: Mark doesn’t sleep and builds a Tulip app overnight to create work centers, define products and their Bill of Materials (henceforth, BOMs), and manage supply couriers. We start work on APIs and critical integrations, and we scrape the data from their existing google sheets to get it into the Tulip system.

 

March 29th: The Boston Assembly location of Maskson.org moves from Seaport to Alewife (for those of you not from MA, from Boston to Cambridge). The anticipated launch of the Boston area for Maskson.org is on the morning of March 30th. Mark adds new functionality based on feedback from the production team like a shopping cart to add multiple items.

March 30th: Unfortunately, production is delayed due to a change in the design of the mask. The new design requires little-to-no assembly and is now a pack & ship application. The Tulip team needs to modify the app to adapt to the recent changes; no sweat though, easy to do. To wrap up the day’s work we add dashboards for inventory & shipping stations. We are now expected to start production on Friday and we’re awaiting parts. 

March 31st: The scope expands to include a new focus beyond Boston to NYC distribution, NYC is the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, so priorities have shifted quite a bit since they need the product the most. The NYC team explains similar workflows to Boston but needs the flexibility to have material leave the distribution center by either couriers or be shipped directly to the end destination. Within a few hours we are able to connect Tulip to shipping service provider Shippo by utilizing Tulip’s built-in HTTP Connector functionality. Users on the production floor can now ship PPE with a click of a button while still capturing all of the necessary tracking info.

April 1st: We notice some hurdles with onboarding users so we do some hacking to make a shareable link that allows any user to access a Tulip app from anywhere on the web without needing to login (not a standard Tulip feature). After getting some feedback from the users, the NY team informs us of another difference in process where they need the ability to handle partial shipments. Again, no problem, the system can easily adjust. We escape the day without any major April Fool’s jokes.

April 2nd: With a few assists, we made first complete order → delivery in NY and Boston using Tulip! We added a legal document review to the ordering app. We explored the ability to integrate with DocuSign. While it was an option, we realized we have all the data captures we need in Tulip. There is an overhaul of permissions to apps to restrict users from seeing information that they shouldn’t, and to provide them info they need just in time. Roles include couriers, product manager, inventory manager, etc.

April 3rd: Add Slack integration to show when orders come in, when a courier confirms an order, and when products ship to keep everyone in the loop. We use Slack because that is what the team is using, but we could have integrated with Microsoft Teams or other messaging platforms.

April 3rd: Replace clinician order submission form (previously with Typeform) with a Tulip application, so any clinician can order parts directly from Maskson.org website. Includes a signature of a consent form. Spent some time training users on the platform.

April 4th: Just a solid view on the overall workflows and integrations. 

April 4th: – And we’re live! The system is standalone; production managers, couriers, and inventory managers are able to ship the product on their own without the help of the Tulip Team. We’re tracking delivery, community and user data. Still improving though, that work is never done – connecting data to mapbox to improve data visualization.

April 5th: Connecting to lightspeed manufacturing. Production is starting to explore using Tulip as a QMS to control revision of documents and procedures.

April 6th: Exploring expanding the system to other partners – if you are coordinating efforts of manufacturers to get critical supplies to our health care workers, and you’re interested in working with us, please reach out at covid19@tulip.co

[We will keep updating this live blog over the next few weeks as the system continues to evolve and we start working with new partners.] 

3 Way To Become A Better Manufacturer When Production Is Stopped

March 27, 2020

Lean manufacturing principles are rooted in the practice of genchi gembutsu, or “go and see”.

In other words, if you want to solve manufacturing problems, you need to be closely connected to the day-to-day operations of your shop floor.

However, since COVID-19 rapidly spread around the globe in February and March 2020, the predictable conditions that allowed Lean to flourish have disappeared.

Supply chains have been thrown into disarray.

Manufacturing operations have been stripped down to mission-critical staff only.

The entire manufacturing department must find a way to work from home.

In this volatile period, there are a few things that you can do to continue to level up your skills so that you are ready to act quickly when production restarts.

1.) Learn Digital Manufacturing Principles

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified “upskilling” and “reskilling” as two major barriers to increased productivity from manufacturers.

In practical terms, this means that manufacturing engineers around the world need to train themselves (or be trained by their employers) in order to be able to use the latest wave of technology.

Fortunately, these new technologies are frequently cloud-based or cheap enough to buy at home.

Unfortunately, they also have learning curves that are significantly steeper than the traditional Microsoft toolset (Excel, Powerpoint etc.)

So, manufacturers can use this lull in production to learn digital manufacturing skills. With a little effort, they will be able to apply them immediately upon returning to work.

For example, companies like OnShape have set up online academies to teach CAD software.

Tulip has set up its own free online University to teach students how to build manufacturing apps for free.

The courses teach any manufacturer about digitizing common shop floor assets, like work instructions, quality inspections, and batch records.

That means that if you have access to any paper or Excel-based documents from your shop floor, you can build your own app that tracks data in real-time and deploy it immediately when you return to work. No code required.

Here’s an example of an app that tracks room status in the pharmaceutical production process:

This information is traditionally tracked on whiteboards in the facility.

These skills are not theoretical. They can be applied immediately across many types of manufacturing operations and can be learned from your personal computer.

2.) Get Involved In an Open-Source Project

As of March 2020, hundreds of open source projects have sprung up around the globe to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Many of these projects focus on increasing the production of medical equipment to aid overburdened hospitals.

Some examples of products that are being planned and developed by open-source groups:

  • Ventilators
  • Face shields
  • Snorkel masks converted into PPE
  • Hand-sewn face masks

Some examples of open-source communities are Endcoronavirus.org and Helpful Engineering.

These projects are built by people with varied skillsets. Some participants are experts in medical device testing, others are experts in supply chain/logistics, and others are medical practitioners that are desperate for help.

By adding your manufacturing expertise to a project, you can be exposed to a range of experts that you would not otherwise be able to meet. And, you will learn about the full range of activities that are needed to successfully build and distribute a medical device.

3.) Build A More Resilient Manufacturing Organization

Finally, you can take this opportunity to build more fallbacks and processes within your organization to avoid future disruptive events.

For example, if your supply chain is dependent on manufacturers in one specific country, this may be a good time to search for suppliers across multiple countries.

Or, you can find ways to allocate tools to different associates that allow them to continue to do their job from home. This “distributed” approach to manufacturing may not be as productive, but it will allow you to lessen the shock from future disruptive events.

Faster Time-to-Market Just Became a Matter of Global Health

March 24, 2020

It seems every blog and email these days starts with some statement about COVID-19 and the global crisis that is ensuing.

It is on everybody’s mind and the implications are dire in any way you look at it.  So rather than dwell in the crisis we at Tulip are focusing our collective creativity on places where we can maybe help.

Since Tulip is a manufacturing app platform that enables productivity, and since most of the manufacturing operations in the world are at a standstill, it might seem as if we don’t have much to do.

Not true when you look at companies that manufacture critical supplies for health care, viral test kits, medical equipment and, of course, COVID-19 therapies. These are regulated industries where time-to-market has always been a critical component of the business.

The Tulip platform is all about speed, which we feel is where we can help.

Finding Hidden Capacity

For the medical device manufacturers including viral test kits and medical equipment such as ventilators, it is about manufacturing volumes. Manufacturers’ supply chains are stretched to the limit and they need to increase production volumes 2 to 3 times.

This brings focus on OEE, an area that Tulip’s machine monitoring solution can be of critical importance. Now OEE is not new. Nor are the solutions that monitor OEE. What the Tulip solution can provide is speed of implementation and, more importantly, a human-centered view to understand how human activity and operation impacts OEE. We call it Overall Process Effectiveness, or OPE.

Increasing Productivity in GMP Environments 

When it comes to therapies for COVID-19, the main challenge in Time-to-Market has to do with the lengthy regulatory approval process and then the tech transfer and manufacturing scale-up.

These processes are slow and involve a lot of human activity. Productivity can be increased by digitizing documentation and enabling human activity with easy to use Apps. This includes digital work instructions and SOPs, digital logbooks, digital line clearance and setup, and even digital history records. The Tulip platform provides a way to digitize your paper driven processes in a matter of hours.

Yes, we know this is a paradigm shift. But it is in times of crisis where change is easiest – we can’t afford to wait.

So the question is how we at Tulip can do something to make a significant impact on this crisis?

Well, simply put, we would like to offer our services and software to these manufacturing companies free of charge. We will provide access and use of the Tulip platform at no cost to help companies increase production volumes and bring therapies faster to market. The Tulip platform is GMP ready and is validated for use in regulatory environments.

We are ready to help you help the world with COVID-19 pandemic. The Tulip manufacturing practice that has unique expertise in regulated manufacturing will personally support any such initiatives.

Monitor Your Machines From Anywhere

March 24, 2020

Tulip has always believed that manufacturing is at its best when people and machines work in concert. However, that does not mean that people and machines need to be in the same physical location.

As the industry has grown more connected and IoT 4.0 is maturing, the need to be in the same machining cell, department, or even the same building has diminished.

Decisions driven from machine data can be made from anywhere in the world, without even setting eyes on the equipment that is being monitored.

New Urgency for Remote Monitoring

Tulip has always believed that this type of remote monitoring would be crucial for the future of manufacturing.

What we didn’t expect was how much that need would be accelerated with the recent global events tied to COVID-19. Companies have moved to working remotely (including Tulip) whenever possible – but where does that leave the manufacturing industry? Manufacturing cannot exist without people producing physical products.

See what’s happening in the factory from your mobile phone

Some plants have shut down until further notice while others have implemented essential personnel only policies. Whatever decision is right for your business, Tulip may help in adapting to a status quo where people are working remotely more than ever before.

For example, a supervisor can monitor their machines in Tulip as long as they have access to the internet.

They can also use the other tools available in Tulip (e.g. SMS, Tulip Tables) to troubleshoot and communicate remotely. If a machine stops running or throws an error they can review the situation and communicate to the person running the machine directly. This enables good social distancing practices and, if done right, could also make interactions like these more efficient in the long run.

Manufacturing is the backbone of the world economy and you can see its impact on the world markets as production has slowed or halted.

At Tulip we want to help companies weather the storm in the best way we know how – by enabling people and machines to work together efficiently… and remotely.