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Broom Making Device

By: Saish, Rituja, Akash and Neha

May 2016

Problem Statement

People from Rajasthan migrate to Ahmedabad to make a living making brooms. They leave their native place and come here to stay in temporary structures, make brooms and sell them. However the earnings do not fulfil their basic needs.

The objective is to make a device/tool to assist the broom making process to

  • Increase the safety by making the process less injury prone

  • Reduce the manual effort in beating the leaves on an assembly of nails

  • Reduce the time required to produce brooms

Field visit

The team made a field trip to Naroda Patia. Many of the broom makers were from Rajasthan and procured their main raw material i.e. date palm leaves from parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Key Challenges: Ergonomic, Minimize contact with hands, Simplify rubber strap tying process, electrical or non- electrical

Glossary of words in Local Language

Bari: It is a unit of measuring a bunch of date palm leaves

Cheena: A wooden plank with nails hammered at an end. It is used to strike the bunched and dried leaves to thin them.

Punja: Punja is an assembly of cycle spokes or poky nails bunched together with rubber strap or attached to a cut tennis ball. It is rubbed over the leaves to thin them.

Sariya: It is a metal hooked knife tied around a bamboo or iron pole. It is used to cut the fronds from the tree.


Mind Mapping

Step 1

How did we create a Central Idea?

1. The Central Idea is the starting point of the topic that we were going to explore i.e. Broom Making.

2. Based on the observations of previous summer school attempts and our visit to the field trip, we created a central idea of solving some of the problems faced by the Broom Making Community while making brooms.

3. The important concept was empathy.

4. We tried to place ourselves in the mindset of the broom makers and asked suitable questions to the people around the Summer School Program.

5. We studied all the available material before proceeding to adding branches to our mind map.


Step 2

Adding branches to our map?

We then next moved to everything associated with broom making process. The users producers, distributors, existing tools and mechanisms being used for broom making, its cost, and dived in further in each of the respective domains we identified.

1. Material: We analyzed the process and came up with a list of raw materials required in the process.

2. Process: The processing involves collection of leaves, tearing them and tying them into bundles using rubber strips, plastic wrapper is wrapped around the handle to prevent the thorns from pricking hands.

3. Tools: As we had discussed the process with people who had previously worked on this project, we had a general idea of the tools required. Watching videos also helped to understand the function of each tool.

4. Cost: Cost analysis was another aspect that we considered. We tried to find the investment and capital costs involved in the process.

5. Stakeholders: We identified all the people who were a part of the broom making process. They were the people who were concerned directly and indirectly with the process of Broom Making.

6. Existing manufacturing process: The existing processes involve production of brooms manually and there is also a machine available to do the same. Cheena and punja are used for tearing leaves to convert them into fibres.

7. Safety and Health Impacts: The very reasons we chose this problem to work on were the safety issues and health impacts associated with it.


Step 3

Adding the keywords?

On identifying the major domains we went a step ahead and listed everything related to the domain.

1. Material: We listed out the materials required in the process. We assumed the broom makers must be ordering date palm leaves from areas where they are found. Also, they must be tying them in a bunch using rubber strands and holding it together with a stick . The date palm leaves must be dry before they are further transported to the site of broom production.

2. Process: We observed all the different processing steps involved Collection: The leaves are cut from the date trees, dried and then bought by the broom makers to Ahmedabad. Manufacturing: Brooms are manufactured from the collected leaves by the different processes of tying the leaves together with a rubber strand. The leaves are then thrashed on the nail assembly (combing).

3. Tools: We listed all the tools used in the manufacturing: Rubber band: Used to tie the leaves in a bundle, and also for making the handle. Cheena: A wooden plank with spokes hammered at equal spacing for tearing the leaves. Punja: A device like claws made of cycle spokes, used to tear leaves near the handle.

4. Cost: The tools and the equipment assemblage itself incur some cost. The procurement and transportation of raw materials and the labour cost of the production and distribution of brooms was also duly taken in consideration.

5. Stakeholders: These people include the broom makers themselves. They were said to have migrated from Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. Also, the distributors (if any) involved in the distribution of the brooms and the ones who buy them. The buyers can use the brooms for domestic purposes or they can be representatives of public institutions.

6. Existing manufacturing process: Currently, there are two main processes used: One is the usual manual one and the other is motorized one. The manual process is inefficient as it relies on muscle action. But it is a means of employment for the people. The motorized method uses a machine and is efficient. But the process is costly and difficult to maintain. It also causes pollution as it runs on electricity and is quite heavy. It is difficult to maintain and repair. Also, it is not portable.

7. Safety and Health Impacts: We identified the injuries associated with all the broom making steps. While cutting the leaves, the thorns on the tips of the leaves lead to cuts and puncture wounds on hands. The rubber band recoils and hits the chest of the maker leading to injuries. The repetitive motion of hitting the broom on the Cheena should cause pain in the shoulder and back ache. The thrashing action should also be causing twisting action around the wrist causing wrist pains.


Decision Tree

Idea to Concept and Feedback on Concept

Insights from Discussion with Mr. Sachin Panchal

1. Accepted the current prototype.

2. Suggested an alternative with a conveyer belt with fixed nails for the tearing action.

3. A cover on the conveyer for prevention of wounds.

4. Cycle mechanism can be used.

5. A foldable case in which broom is kept and closed.

6. Shutting the case will cause impact on the broom.

7. Subsequent pedalling will tear the leaves into finer strips.



Prototype 1

It consisted of two four-bar mechanism connected side by side. It was fabricated from mild steel (MS) channels. The revolute joints were made by connecting the two parallel four bar mechanism using MS rods. The input to this device was by driving a set of pedals which connected the front sprocket to a bicycle freewheel through a chain. The shaft to which the freewheel was attached was connected to the crank of the crank-rocker four bar mechanism. This mechanism had a considerable weight because of the size of MS channels that were used. Also, the rods connecting the parallel four bars weighed a lot.


Prototype 2

This mechanism was fabricated with the intention of reducing weight. Smaller size of MS channels were used in making the four bar linkage. There were vibration problems in this prototype as well. The effort required to propel was reduced considerably. Version 2 was taken for user trials. There were still problems with the chain falling off repeatedly and the revolute joints becoming loose.


Prototype 3

This version was a compact model of the previous version devoid of chain. The four bar linkages were made from hollow box channels. Brass bushings were used to improve the effectiveness of the revolute joints. Though this was just a single four bar mechanism unlike the previous versions, it had no issues with play in the lateral directions and this could be attributed to the use of box channels instead of MS plates. The prototype was tested at Naroda Patia. We received a positive feedback from the users. This time, there were no problems with any part becoming loose or chain falling off as in the case of previous versions. The users appreciated the novel way of broom making. They suggested us to increase the nail density and increase the number of arrays of nails.

Date - Palm Broom Making Device

By: Rohit

May 2015

Problem Statement

People do many things for a living. There are people who have a business of their own which generates a high income and there are also people who have their own business but still have to take many efforts to earn some bread for a living. Such are the people from Chittorgarh, Rajasthan who come to Ahmedabad for making brooms. They leave their native place and come here stay in temporary structures, make brooms and sell them but still earn only some amount which cannot fulfil the demand of 2 meals per day.

Such is the condition of these broom makers of Naroda, Ahmedabad. This project was done to increase their productivity and increase their quality of life and make it more ergonomic. This project deals with the process that was followed to come up with a solution.

The objective is to increase the efficiency of date-palm leaves broom makers.


Understanding the process of broom making

Defining the Problem

Need to Design

From Idea to Concept

Feedback on concept

Professor Anil K. Gupta: Inclining structures are not very popular especially among women (due to their outfit).Gender bias design. Can think of a solution with pedal power thresher.

Professor P V M Rao: Try to see if the quality of brooms produced from the design is reasonable. Study of existing automated design. Figure out why the raw material is from one place and production at other places .Look at any patents in this area. Innovators: Idea of descending design of nails in cheena is good. Try to move the seat up.

Katherine Johnson: The bicycle ideas look good in theory but do they work? Does the broom need to be beaten length wise or does wiping it across the Chena and Punja suffice? In concept 2 you have a lever and gear assembly, could you simply make the broom sit on a lever and then the effort required to beat it against the Chena and Punja is immediately reduced. A simple solution like this requires less material although not 100% mechanical would be cheap and efficient. I think you are right in wanting to find out why the previous solutions were not taken up with the user? What didn’t they like about it? Could the amount of material be reduced of the product is hand powered, then the seat etc. would not be required.


Proof of Concept



Feedback on Prototype

Professor M P Ranjan: He commented, “I can’t see how it will work when you insert another set of nails in the machine!” He was doubtful about his device. So he suggested that it would be better to rotate the brooms by using something like a metal holder. Also, it will be very difficult for them to carry the machine since they are immigrants. He asked him to rethink the scenario and see it from a different perspective. Giving an example of one of his students at NID and how she worked in a small village of Rajasthan and helped the workers there develop a new product, he said that may be he could have thought about alternative uses of the same palm leaves, such as making coats (as he saw in Nagaland). He suggested exploring the concept of product diversification.


Professor P V M Rao: He suggested him to not to worry about the cost at this moment but rather functionality. He also suggested him to stack up the nails for better efficiency.


User Feedback

  • Effortless

  • The cycling is very smooth which was not expected (we were expecting a jerk)

  • The rubber of the broom cuts off because of the current locking mechanism (nut and bolt).

  • Fibres are getting created only on one side of the broom. The broom needs to be turned every time the side is completed, thus increasing the time.

  • Though it is effortless, many children tried doing it. Though the seat is at a higher level, they stand on the pedals and do it, thus inducing ‘Child Labour’.

  • The positioning of the ‘cheena’ should be changed.


Modifications to be done

  • Finalize the position of the existing ‘cheena’ for better output

  • Adding the ‘Punja’ to the machine for finer brooms is required

  • Need to work on better and fast fixtures for the broom attachment

  • Increasing the machine capacity from 3 brooms to 6 brooms

  • A lot of research needs to be done on the tools (incorporating both the tools – cheena and punja), arrangement of the nails and shape of the nails

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