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Electrocomponents announces winners of People.Planet.Product student design challenge

Innovative winning solutions will enhance the design and accessibility of the Divya manual crank washing machine developed by The Washing Machine Project, helping to improve lives

LONDON, UK, 13 November 2021 – Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global omni channel provider of product and service solutions, has announced the winners of the People.Planet.Product student design challenge launched earlier this year in collaboration with the company’s first global social enterprise partner, The Washing Machine Project, a humanitarian initiative dedicated to alleviating the burden of hand washing in low-income and displaced communities, through innovative product design and distribution.

Three winning designs by Joseph Baker, Kai Goodall, and Team Scentury were selected from a shortlist of six finalists. The challenge tasked student members of the DesignSpark engineering community to apply original thinking and practical skills to the ongoing development of The Washing Machine Project’s first water-saving off-grid manual crank-handle washing machine, the Divya. Entries were invited in three different focus areas: People (empower people to use the Divya by improving the technology or implementation of the design); Planet (filtering out greywater or microplastics); Product (encourage better posture through changes in weight, portability, for example).

The winning solutions are:

Joseph Baker (UK) – Planet
Joseph’s concept uses gravity to move all the water through the whole filtration system, removing the need for mechanical advantage from components such as pumps. This keeps costs down while also reducing the need for frequent maintenance and the associated knowledge and tools. To ensure there is enough pressure head (height) for the water to travel through the whole filtration system via gravity, a base/platform is required to raise the height of the Divya washing machine’s drain. This base is also used to house the low-tech filtration system as well as some potential other items for storage.

Kai Goodall (South Africa) – Product
Kai’s ‘Pedal n Spin’ design is a foot-cranked washing machine that rotates easily using a combination of the principle of a treadle system and pedal system. It is a pedal-powered connected rod driven rotating drum washing machine system that is purely mechanical in nature. It improves the user’s posture, ease of use, and sustainability of the current Divya washing machine, allowing longer-term adoption, improved hygiene, and increased rotation efficiency with a huge mechanical advantage.

Team Scentury (Singapore) – Product
Team Scentury (Kwek Hong Wei, Benseun and Xu Wenhao) developed the concept of connecting two Divya washing machines via a bicycle pedal to increase efficiency, allowing two loads to be washed simultaneously. The design also makes it easier to rotate the barrels powered by the legs, using muscles on both sides of the body. This design can be used in a standing or seated position and not only reduces time spent on handwashing, but also improves posture for the users.

All six finalists, including Team Oro (Product), Team Neolithic (Product), and Ketki Dave (Planet), pitched their designs at a live virtual event to a panel of judges from leading industry and humanitarian organisations that share the common goal of helping to improve lives. Mike England, Chief Operating Officer at Electrocomponents, opened the finals with a speech about the company’s commitment to ‘Making Amazing Happen For a Better World’ through social impact partners and education programmes. Yewande Akinola MBE, Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure, UK, delivered a keynote at the event, emphasising the importance of ‘sustainability and innovation for our world’.

Panel judge Navjot Sawhney, Founder of The Washing Machine Project, commented: ‘With the Electrocomponents Grassroots team, The Washing Machine Project devised the People.Planet.Product student design challenge to inspire students with STEM backgrounds to get involved in our humanitarian initiative. These are the scientists, engineers, and mathematicians of tomorrow, and the amazing quality of designs we have seen through this challenge is really heart-warming and proof that the younger generation are fully engaged in playing their part in a sustainable future.”
Fellow judge Mike Bray, VP Innovation and DesignSpark at Electrocomponents, which hosted the challenge, said: “The Washing Machine Project is such a great engineering initiative to help improve people’s lives, and combining this with the inspirational ideas of student engineers through our DesignSpark community we have the ability to work together to truly make a massive difference to people around the world.”
Providing active support for the People.Planet.Product challenge, and completing the line-up of distinguished judges were: Bjoern Klaas, CEO EMEA region, Protolabs; Clare Larkspur, Head of Product Management, Elvie; Simon Wells, VP Engineering, Shark Ninja; and Eleonora Gatti, Innovation Portfolio Manager (WASH + Climate Change), Unicef.

Each of the three winners receives £1000 in RS products or a cash equivalent to support their prototype development, plus access to a business mentor and a knowledge session with The Washing Machine Project founder, Navjot Sawhney.

-Ends-

About Electrocomponents
Electrocomponents plc is a global omni-channel provider of product and service solutions for designers, builders and maintainers of industrial equipment and operations. We stock more than 650,000 industrial and electronic products, sourced from over 2,500 leading suppliers, and provide a wide range of product and service solutions to over 1.2 million industrial customers. With operations in 32 countries, we trade through multiple channels and ship c. 60,000 parcels a day.

We support customers across the product life cycle, whether via innovation and technical support at the design phase, improving time to market and productivity at the build phase, or reducing purchasing costs and optimising inventory in the maintenance phase. We offer our customers tailored product and service propositions that are essential for the successful operation of their businesses and help them save time and money.

Electrocomponents plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange and in the year ended 31 March 2021 reported revenue of £2.0 billion. Electrocomponents plc has nine operating brands: RS Components, Allied Electronics & Automation, RS PRO, OKdo, DesignSpark, IESA, Synovos, Needlers and Liscombe.

For more information on RS, please visit the website at https://uk.rs-online.com/web/.

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