Products and their people

I have put this research on my blog, because this was an eyeopening experience for me.
I got the opportunity to study the work pattern of construction labour during my simple product design project. I had chosen to study the spud bar or the gadaparai ( in tamil) for this project.


The people who join a job like this are generally people who have not completed their education either because they were not interested or were not funded enough .They start working from the age of 17 to 20 years . This unlike other jobs gives money either daily or weekly depending on the contractor and the time taken to finish a job. This way they would not need to keep waiting for salaries monthly. 

The physical strain in a job like this is enormous. The laborers have to work 8 to10 hours a day with hardly an hour's break for lunch .At least in Coimbatore even with the mild sun, the open ground that they work in has no shade and they are fully exposed to the sun. The unbearable conditions of work reduce their efficiency. When asked, why they did not wear some protective clothing and work, they said that it was not comfortable and that they were not used to wearing anything like that. The body takes a lot of physical damage in the process even though the tool is perfect for its job. The body degrades over a period of time, especially if the job requirements are so rigorous.

But its not only the work load that causes the body to suffer . The cycle they follow is very rigorous. Due to the pressure of work, they suffer a lot of body pain towards the end of the day. To cope with the pain and the blisters in their hands, they resort to alcohol and other drugs. absence from work would result in no pay and this would hit them economically. Any accident could incapacitate them and permanently destroy their means of livelihood. In quest of work, these workers have no qualms to travel to any part of the country, however harsh the weather conditions.

Spud bar (Gadaparai)

Manufacturing Process :
Hot Extrusion is a process used to create objects of a fixed cross-sectional profile. A material is pushed or drawn through a die of the desired cross-section. The two main advantages of this process over other manufacturing processes are its ability to create very complex cross-sections and work materials that are brittle, because the material only encounters compressive and shear stresses.

Secondary process:
Once the bar is finished and bought from the retail shop, the spud bar is taken to a local blacksmith.
It is heated, until the metal becomes soft. The metal is then beaten and then shaped to the specific requirement.
Cooling is done over a period of time to increase its tensile properties.

Ecology :
My product runs on the cradle to cradle concept. The whole product can be re-used again and again. The product is never disposed. If the tip gets broken or bent , the tool is taken back to the black smith and he hammers and removes the part. Once removed the part is re-heated and hammered again and it attains its shape. The product is so well designed in purpose that the whole product can be used . Once the height is not enough to be used as a Spud Bar (Gadaparai) the tool is used as a garden tool, and as it becomes even more shortened , its starts working as a chisel for breaking small things in the house.

Life cycle:
The product starts at the factory where the metal gets extruded. The product is sold to the hardware shops.
The customers buy the tool and give it to the blacksmiths.
The tool is then returned to the user. The product gets used till no more can be used.
The last bits either are thrown or given back to factories so they can melt the steel again to reuse it .

Problem area

Primary problems
1. Impact on the hand and joints
2. Skin boils and skin hardening
3. Octagonal shaped bar chaffs the palm
4. Sweating

Secondary problems
1. Drinking and consumption of other drugs to numb the pain on the body
2. Cannot do any other work after shift ends
3. Importance to health is negligible .

Scope for development:
1. Ergonomic grip for the hand
2. Provision for  sweat absorption
3. Ways to absorb the returning shock that currently affects the body
4. To increase the efficiency of the tool tip .

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