Tulip Interfaces Briefing Note
By: Daniel R. Matlis, President
I recently had the opportunity to visit Tulip Interfaces, Inc., HQ in Somerville, MA to see firsthand how the company is enabling manufacturers to develop digital manufacturing applications with their no-code platform-as-a-service (PaaS) in GxP environments.
Founded in 2012 as a spin-off resulting from more than 10 years of research at the MIT Media Lab, Tulip is a leader in self-serve manufacturing apps. Tulip offers web-based, no-code off-the-shelf, plug-and-play, self-service apps that drive “Rapid Time to Value”.
“We complete the last mile of shop floor automation by giving manufacturing engineers self-service tools to turn every station into an instrumented, data collecting, guided environment— enabling continuous improvement, “said Natan Linder, Founder and CEO of Tulip.
Some of the world’s innovative Life-Science manufacturers are currently using Tulip’s no-code Manufacturing App platform to increase the productivity, quality, and efficiency of their operations, as well as to streamline compliance.
What is a No-Code PaaS IoT Self-Serve Manufacturing App Platform?
Manufacturing apps are visual and interactive, providing an intuitive user-friendly interface. All apps can easily be connected with machines, tools, and sensors, to leverage IoT. They are data-driven, collecting real-time data as people use them and are smart, guiding workflows with dynamic logic. The platform allows users to build apps that are human-centric and connected to the physical environment such as the Smart Workstation developed for a leading Medical Device manufacturer.
“Tulip takes a radically different, approach to Manufacturing IT – it is Self-Serve,” noted Rony Kubat, Founder and CTO. “This bottom up approach enables Process Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers, Quality Engineers and other end-users of the software to drive the digital transformation in their organizations for the first time,” He added.
No-code platforms like Tulip empower users to build apps that turn their manufacturing processes into digital processes without having to write any software. This approach allows frontline engineers to create apps which are quick to build, test and deploy, to address their own shop floor needs.
Using Tulip’s platform, front-line personnel can create flexible manufacturing apps that connect workers, machines and existing IT systems. These apps guide shop-floor operations, enabling real-time data collection. Tulip also offers an IIoT gateway to integrate devices, sensors and machines on the shop floor, making it easy to monitor and interact with previously siloed data streams. The platform’s self-serve analytics engine lets manufacturers turn this data into actionable insights, supporting continuous process improvement.
Tulip’s platform consists of three components:
- Manufacturing App Builder
- Adds logic to apps without writing any code
- IOT + System Integration
- Plug and play
- Easily connects all devices and systems to Tulip
- Manufacturing Analytics
- Actionable insights
- Measures and monitors actionable data through visual analytics
Tulip makes it easy to get started with its “Factory Kit”. The kit provides a “digital factory in a box” including out-of-the-box apps, a one-year subscription to Tulip Professional and all the hardware needed to start building powerful IoT-enabled apps.
Are Manufacturing App Platforms GxP Ready?
“The Tulip Platform is GxP Ready,” asserted Gilad Langer, Manufacturing Practice Lead. “Our platform is “validateable” and can be qualified for a GxP environment. It is auditable and compliant with electronic records and electronic signatures (ER/ES) regulations – CFR 21 Part 11 and Annex 11.”
In fact, Tulip applications have been validated on a commercial pharma drug product manufacturing line that is in full operation for a Class III medical device. The company has created an app to support line clearance on its continuous Oral Solid Dose manufacturing line. Through the use of the no-code platform, the manufacturer has shortened the cleaning, setup and line clearance operations from 10 days to just two while managing 2500 distinct parts and reducing $100,000’s in changeover and downtime costs according to Langer.
Another implantation of the Tulip platform is at Dentsply Sirona, the world’s largest manufacturer of professional dental solutions, including abutments, crowns, surgical guides for dental implants and devices for dental surgery.
The company developed a no-code app for the kitting operation at its implants division. Since each order is custom to the patient, kitting is very complex and operators process an average of one thousand orders a day, with no two orders alike. As a result, there are billions of combinations of what can be kitted, requiring operators to do a thousand different tasks every day.
“The system allows us to control a highly complex process with hundreds of thousands of variations while leveraging the investment we made in our existing backend systems,” commented Dan Ron Senior Process Engineer, Denstply Sirona. “We are capable of having real data with real evidence from our process that helps our operators have more visibility of issues and fixes by using Tulip.”
The Application Almost Validates Itself!
Tulip implements an “agile GAMP5” approach for GxP releases that provides functionality to support computer system assurance practices (see FDA Shares a New Approach to CSV).
The application maintains a versioned app development with audit trail of steps executed to configure the no-code app – creating a self-documentation package that supports software assurance and validation requirements.
In addition, Tulip offers assurance and validation support including traditional document based evidence and digital evidence:
- Documented evidence is generated from code for URS, FS & DDS
- Use of automatic testing tools
- Unit and Functional testing is completely automated and results are digitally captured with full audit trail and traceability.
- App testing (release testing) is performed within the platform with digital capture of test results.
- Traditional and digital IQ, OQ
- Traditional and digital templates for FAT/SAT IQ, OQ and PQ
Manufacturing apps are visual and interactive, providing an intuitive user-friendly interface. These apps can be connected with machines, tools, and sensors, to leverage IoT. As a result, they can empower end users, drive lower cost with Agile IT and faster Time-to-Value
Tulip’s self-serve approach to manufacturing IT enables Process Engineers, Manufacturing Engineers, Quality Engineers and other end-users of the software to drive the digital transformation of their organizations.
We expect that these apps will become mainstream with the availability of community-driven application libraries that enable Life-Science companies to take advantage of the flexibility of no-code Apps from GxP verified app stores.
We will continue to monitor the Tulip Manufacturing App Platform and provide periodic updates.