The new device was designed and implemented by the Centre for Industrial Equipment Design (CDEI) (CDEI), which is a member of CIT UPC. Researchers from CDEI travelled to Ecuador, where they assessed the possibilities of applying their knowledge and the technology with which the centre works to various crops, including coffee, cacao and sweetcorn.
After studying the farmers’ work and their needs, and with the support of ESPE technicians, CDEI UPC engineers designed and constructed a leaf remover machine for use with cobs of corn. This machine was created using accessible materials, considering the technological and social environment, and with the aim of reducing energy consumption and environmental impact. This is known as an IN CONCEPT and In BLUE design, respectively.
The result is equipment that mechanises the task of removing leaves from cobs of corn. It is easy to use, low cost and has a sustainable design. The machine is made from stainless steel with a system of rollers covered with vulcanised rubber that, with the help of a small motor, separate the leaves that cover the grain so that cobs of corn are deposited clean in a container, ready for the next step in the process of management, storage and distribution.
The equipment designed by engineers facilitates the task, as handling cobs of corn often cuts farmers’ hands. The machinery increases productivity by 150%, with a rate increase from 6-8 cobs of corn stripped per minute manually to 18-20 cobs processed by the machinery in the same time.
In the opinion of Sònia Llorens, manager of CDEI UPC, “this initiative enables us to tackle projects from the bottom-up. Projects are designed for sectors with little purchasing power but great critical mass. We our interested in working in greater depth on sustainable, inclusive business projects with social and environmental commitment.”
In fact, the project, called New-Agricultura Now, has been designed in accordance with the OPEN standard, in which the machine’s plans are made available to anyone who wants to install and market it. This aspect, combined with the fact that it was conceived on the ground, guarantees its manufacture and maintenance at local level.
The New-Agricultura Now project has been funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).