Great news! Professor Ken Pickar announced that the team that won the $1000 prize is Ideabag! We’re thrilled by the news! The $1000 will go towards future prototyping and engineering costs when implementing the first pilot in Kottayam.
The team is continuing in its efforts in the next term.
We would like to thank all the people involved with the class - Dr. Ken Pickar, Nathan Allen, Dr. Jason Cherian, all the students of E/ME105 in Caltech, Art Center and SaintGITS. Special thanks to Mariana Amatullo and Fred Fehlau for making the trip to India possible for the Art Center students.
Sajith Sundar, Mechanical Engineering, SaintGITS
Cinny Sunny, MBA, SaintGITS
Alta Fang, Applied Physics, Caltech
Stephanie Kato, Mechanical Engineering, Caltech
Siddharth Vanchinathan, gradID, Art Center College of Design
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”.
The final presentation is coming up really soon and to demonstrate it’s design, team Ideabag created this prototype to show that a gravity mixing method can also mix to a good degree. We will be presenting on Monday the 5th of December at Caltech in a poster session followed by presentations. Join us!
Team Ideabag are trying to come up with simple ways of mixing dry particulates in a cheap and efficient manner and the prototypes shown in the video are demonstrations of the three concepts that we are considering.
Concept 1: Rotary Drum
Good mixing process
Lots of dust created
Concept 2: Funnel+Blender
Funnel design has potential – no problems except stickiness (see below) that meant that materials don’t go down at the same time
Both flour and sugar stick to itself – got stuck in the funnel so required shaking or poking at it
Smooth funnel shape better than flat bottom with a hole
Mixing box needs to be filled at least ½ or more in order for proper mixing – if less then blades will just push the material to the sides
Fin idea has potential - Fin size needs to match - not too small, needs to match size of container
Gave a pretty homogeneous mix
Possible improvement for safety: add a long chute to the funnel so particles won’t escape into air when dropping bags
Concept 3: Vibrating Pan
Vibration is good for mixing fine powders of similar particle size
Combination of tilting and vibrating action could work
Larger particle sizes mix well with each other, but not with particles of smaller size
Need further testing with actual raw materials at scale quantity
So half of the term is already over! That went really quick, seems like just a few days ago we were riding the Chakalakal travels bus all around Kerala. I wanted to write up an update on what we have been upto for the past 6-7 weeks. And tell you how our team is doing!
Firstly, we have a name! Ideabag consists of Alta Fang (Applied Physics at Caltech), Stephanie Kato (Mechanical Engineering at Caltech), Sajith Sundar (Mechanical Engineering @ SaintGITS), Cinny Sunny (MBA at SaintGITS) and Siddharth Vanchinathan (Industrial Design at Art Center College of Design). We have been working really well as a team and we are very committed to having something well designed by the end of the term for the fertilizer industry in Kerala.
Second, some background on the project - In Kerala a large percentage of people are engaged in the agriculture sector. Food crops and cash crops are cultivated relaying on fertilizer. Mixing of fertilizers is done by taking composition of urea, potash, DAP, Rock phosphate etc. depending on crops and as per the recommendation from government agricultural agencies. The mixing of fertilizer is done manually now. There are about 100 manually driven fertilizer mixing units in Kerala. All the related works are accomplished exclusively with the aid of human intervention and it’s a hectic process.
This is what the current process looks like:
Key Insights from our research:
System Architecture Possibilities:
Criteria for Selection:
The highest scoring in our criteria mapping exercise was the fragmented batch sizes idea. We believe that if this idea can be implemented correctly, productivity can be adjusted as per seasonal requirements. Also, we can create a direct relationship between output of mixed fertilizer required and the quantity of the labor force. If demand increases, more labor can be hired to increase production. Also, this would contain elements from some of the other ideas that did not make the cut, including parallel processing to reduce time. We can also encourage specialization amongst workers so that they get adept at the assigned task and over time, can reduce the time required to execute it.
First Round of Validation Research:
We took our design sketches and showed them to our customers. And this is what they had to say:
Vembanad Chemicals in Kottayam Industrial sector manufactures upto 36 tons of fertilizer everyday. They use manual labour to mix the raw materials and then bag the finished mixture. Loading and unloading onto trucks is also done by the same workers. The mixing process is a manual process using 2 shovels that erode because of the chemical content of the raw materials. Ventilation is a problem as well with all the particulates being suspended during the mixing process.
There are 5-6 basic raw materials that come in 50kg bags including Potash, Urea, Bone Dust etc. These bags are brought in by laborers carrying them on their heads.
1. Bags are emptied onto the floor in a specific order over the same pile in this pre mixing process.
2. 20 bags are emptied onto the floor. Each bag = 50kg. Therefore total output in every round is 1 ton. 36 such rounds are done daily.
3. Some of the raw material is required to be sieved. The sieve is corroded from the chemicals in the raw materials.
4. Mixing is done in two steps. The mixture is separated into two piles for the first round of mixing and then collected back together into a single pile in the second round.
5. The fertilizer is then bagged and weighed.
6. An electric sewing machine is used to seal the bags.