In this article, you will learn…

  • How to combine multiple Tulip features, like apps, app completions and Tables
  • How to coordinate multiple apps to work with work orders, machines and other shop floor assets
  • How to organize production data as well as other types of shop floor data

When you roll out Tulip to multiple parts of your operation, you will likely find that you need to use multiple types of apps as well as multiple data stores to achieve your goals.

Your goals might include…

  • Tracking progress towards quality KPIs
  • Understanding and improving cycle time data
  • Tying individual parts to a final product, ie serial numbers to a work order
  • Tracking when individual tools and machines are being used. 

This article will help you understand how to combine these apps and data stores. It will help you plan your digital transformation within Tulip.

Before reading this guide, you should be familiar with planning an individual manufacturing app. You will also need to understand the basics of the Tables feature and the concept of an “app completion”.

This guide will cover the relationships between the following features within Tulip:

  • Displays
  • Apps
  • App Completions
  • Tables
  • Analytics

By the end, you will be able to create a plan for coordinating multiple apps and storing your shop floor data in the appropriate locations.

Displays

Tulip allows you to run an individual app on multiple tablets or laptops at the same time via the Tulip Player. And, data is tracked based on the device running the app.

Tulip Player menu

So, if 5 separate workstations on your shop floor are dedicated to assembling the same product, you can run the same app on 5 tablets or laptops and collect data from each one of them separately.

However, this also means that you cannot run multiple apps at the same time on the same tablet. If you would like to switch between apps, you must exit (or complete) one app and then open another, which will begin tracking data within that app.

This affects the way that you might design the app. Let’s say that you have a common set of rework instructions that are used across multiple products. You have two choices:

  1. Build an app dedicated to rework.
  2. Include a common set of rework steps in multiple apps.

If you want to include the rework timing data alongside the actual production of the product, you will likely want to include a set of rework steps within multiple apps, even if the rework steps are identical.

This also impacts the way that you deploy Tulip to your shop floor. You might choose to use stationary tablets or tablets that move alongside a product or batch, for example.

Action: Decide whether you should use stationary or mobile tablets to deploy Tulip

Apps

We covered a few options for creating apps in the section above. There are a few other popular ways to modify apps to fit your existing manufacturing process.

One strategy is called the “routing app”. This is an app with a limited number of steps that will automatically direct an operator to another app. This can be based on: 

  1. A button press
  2. A barcode scan
  3. Input into a Form Step

Example step that tells operator to scan a barcode

For example, let’s say that every barcode has a specific letter that corresponds to a set of work instructions for that particular product. For example, every barcode that contains “A” relates to product “A”.

In that case, you would want to add a Trigger that centers around a barcode scan event. Then, you can use a series of “if” statements that will send the operator to a different app based on the barcode that they scanned.

Example Trigger that waits for barcode scan

There is one limitation to this approach. You will likely want to include the barcode number in the app that the operator uses during production. So, in the scenario above, you would need to ask the operator to scan the barcode again within the app for product “A” in order to correctly track data.

For this reason, some manufacturers choose to use multiple Step Groups within the same app, rather than multiple apps. If you include multiple Step Groups, you can create a routing step at the beginning of the app, and then send operators to specific steps within the same app.

Or, if you need to use multiple apps, use this guide to pass data between apps.

Action: Think about the operator experience. Will they know which app to choose from a list? Or do you want to automatically direct them? Determine whether you should use one routing app, or a routing step within a larger app if needed.

App Completion Data

App completions are best for storing and organizing production data. These are metrics that are generated during production, such as: 

  • Cycle time
  • Name of active operator 
  • Active serial number
  • Defect type 

Unlike data in Tables, app completion data cannot be edited. As soon as an operator presses the “Complete” or “Cancel” button, data is stored and cannot be changed. 

Example list of app completions

When an app is completed, Table Records that have been loaded into the app are also stored alongside the production data (read more here). So, if you load a Table Record with an active work order and a few fields of detail, all of the fields in that work order will be saved.

App completion data can be reviewed in the Analytics tool, while Tables can only be reviewed in the Tables section of Tulip. 

As you plan out a series of apps, keep in mind that data from multiple apps can be combined in one Analysis. So, as long as you give the same name to variables in different apps, they can be analyzed in one place.

Example of combining multiple apps based on one data point

For example, let’s say you wanted to analyze the most common defects across 10 apps. As long as defects are stored with a consistent variable name, like “defect_type”, they can be analyzed together.

Tables

Tables are best suited for storing data that is not directly related to measuring the efficiency of your manufacturing process. Some common examples include:

  • Work orders that need to be accessed across multiple apps
  • Tool tracking, including operator certifications by tool
  • Inventory management
  • Machine audit status by machine
  • Serial numbers of all parts used to build a specific product

Example of a work orders table

Apps are focused around a specific manufacturing process, while Tables focus on tracking shop floor assets that go beyond an individual operation on the floor. For that reason, they can be changed manually by any Tulip administrator in the Tables tab.

Further Reading

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