The final presentations were preceded by a poster session where the 8 teams had set up their demo models and pitched their ideas to the passersby. This was team Ideabag’s “booth”.
We used colored sand to demonstrate the gravity based mixing process that the team had designed. Apart from sand not playing well with gaps in the acrylic model, the mix that resulted at the other end was pretty uniformly mixed.
The results are promising, and with further engineering, we believe that we will be able to design and build a full scale prototype to be implemented at Vembanad Chemicals facility in Kottayam, Kerala.
Here is a summary of the final presentation we made at Caltech on Monday, December 5th 2011.
The problems as we identified them on our research trip:
From the owner’s perspective, his main concerns were
1. Tools corrode very quickly, and we have to keep replacing them - this costs money.
2. There is a market demand that I am not able to satisfy with the current process
3. How do I scale?
From the workers’ perspective, their main concerns were
1. Manually intensive process, they get tired quickly from all the carrying bags and shoveling
2. Health issues - skin allergies and respiratory problems - because of all the particles that they breathe in (their mixing process is completely exposed, and all the shoveling drives a lot of particulates into the air)
3. They are worried about losing their jobs to machines that will replace them.
Based on this information and understanding the cultural and political context of Kerala, India, Ideabag went to work on the design. These are some of our brainstorming efforts:
Systems level design:
Component Level Design:
Based on feedback from the customer (Vembanad Chemicals) and the E/ME105 class, we ended up with two final designs - The gravity mixer was chosen as the more promising with a cheaper initial cost and we created a prototype to prove the concept.
The team is really keen on taking the design further to a stage where it can be implemented at the customer’s factory and tested. Here’s what we think the next steps are: