Develop a new and improved machine that is easy to use for all stakeholders.
Thetford is world market leader in mobile sanitary systems, refrigerators, cooking equipment and toilet additives. For more than 40 years, Thetford has been continuously striving to innovate and design new products that will make holiday routine simple and enjoyable.
MMID´s strength lies in projects where there is human interaction with machines. By creating a lot of risk models, it was possible to develop the machine within a timeframe of only 11 months.
senior engineer at Thetford
Thetford developed a machine which automatically empties waste tanks, flushes them, and refills them with additives. After testing 10 prototypes, Thetford partnered with MMID to develop a new and improved machine. MMID focused on mechanical engineering, user interface, and design. User interaction was key in this project. How do people interact with machines and what are their expectations?
Research showed that many users prefer to empty the cassettes by hand, because ‘that works’. How do you translate ‘that works’ into a good mechanical working principle? This required designers answering increasingly detailed questions, like ‘what angle is best for emptying the tank?’ and ‘How far should the tank be turned over, and what is the ideal position for doing this?’ In MMID’s workshop, different models were built so all functions could be tested extensively.
An important factor is the use process for the machine, which has been refined to have a logical flow. Since the user has to physically interact with multiple aspects of the machine, he must be clearly guided each step of the way. MMID designers supported the user by developing a graphical user interface, providing good visual instructions, and developing light indicators displaying what step the user is currently at.
The machine has been developed in a very short lead time. The right people contributed their part at different stages of the process. The developers of Thetford partnered up with MMID, spending hours of building and testing machines in the workshop in Delft. Decisions were made by all stakeholders and designers after discussing test results. Because of this in-person collaboration, communication was easy, and positive results were achieved quickly.