Gear inventory with Tulip

Hey all,

I wanted to share an interesting use case where Tulip saved me - and others - a lot of time!

In a climbing and hiking club I volunteer at, we each year need to accomplish a dreaded and tedious task: running an inventory of all our rental gear. There are about 1,800 pieces of gear of all kind (tents, sleeping bags, crampons, sleds etc.), each tagged with a unique serial number.

To proceed, we generate a long list of the items that should be in the office according to our database. Then volunteers browse the office and mark the items as “found” one by one when they spot them. In the past, we’ve used Google Sheets to handle this. But that was very slow, inconvenient and error prone.

Users had 3 major pain points:

  1. Small groups of volunteers tackle one kind of gear at a time (e.g. tents). But the inventory could not be filtered dynamically by category. So either someone had to spend a considerable amount of time beforehand splitting the list in multiple spreadsheet tabs, or the volunteers would have to look for specific items in a 1800 rows sheet!
  2. There was no good way to look up an item by serial number. Ctrl + F worked to some extend, but it was still hard to find the exact row the user was looking for. We needed a real search bar.
  3. Once the inventory progressed, the spreadsheet became cluttered with items we had already found. We needed a way to filter these out, and to quickly assess how much progress was made.

This year, we decided to build a Tulip app for this! We leveraged Tulip tables, filters and triggers to make the process as smooth as possible.

A screenshot of the app:

We generated a CSV export from our database, and imported it in a Tulip table. In the app, we embedded the table, added a dynamic filter by category, and another one to hide all gear already accounted for by default. This minimized the information overload for volunteers: they were only seeing the items they still had to find! In addition to that, a search bar enabled them to quickly lookup specific items. Marking an item as “found” was only a single click, thanks to a trigger based on row click that updated the table Record.

We could also keep better track of our progress, by marking categories as “done”, easily move between them, and get real time analytics!

A photo of one of our volunteers using this app:

Thanks to the app, with a dozen volunteers, we were able to run the inventory in about 2 hours rather than almost 4 hours last year. Volunteers loved it!