Power, or rather, the lack of it, is the biggest problem in rural India. The previous post in this fortnightly column featured an illiterate farmer’s attempts to generate electricity out of a simple water wheel and a windmill. Today we have another innovation that is aimed at tackling the power-problem, though for a specific use case.
Vikas Shinde, a farmer from Pingalwada village in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, has designed a drilling machine that works entirely on manpower, without using electricity. This foot-pedal-operated manual drilling machine is made by using old gear and spare iron parts, and is suitable for drilling large pieces of materials made of metal, wood, PVC etc.
The mechanics behind the machine are simple: it is fitted with a drill bit used for drilling holes in various materials. The drill bit is gripped by a chuck at one end and rotated while cycling the device. The plate is attached with a handle for raising or lowering the position of a job. Power is transmitted from the pedal to the drill through different transmission gears. This is different from the traditional handheld mechanical drills used by carpenters in the way that those have to be operated by rotating a small wheel attached to the bit by hand, and are mostly gearless, therefore unable to achieve the same amount of torque required to drill through harder materials.
Using this machine, an average human being can produce 150 rpm of drill bit. However, if you have electric power at your disposal, It can also be operated by a motor by connecting the device pulley to the motor pulley.
Costing about 2000, this manual drilling machine is very helpful for small scale workers and fabricators. National Innovation Foundation (NIF) is supporting Shinde financially for this product, and have also filed a patent (1016/MUM/2011) in his name.
Vikas studied till class ninth and then dropped out of school to start farming. He developed an interest towards machines while commuting daily to his farm on his bicycle and repairing it occasionally. With some self-learning, he ended up opening his own welding workshop.
Besides the pedal operated drilling machine, Vikas Shinde has innovated many other effective machines that usually require electricity to run on, like a motorcycle-operated pump that utilizes power from his motorbike to lift underground water, a jhoola washing machine that uses the pendulum motion of a swing to move the wash/spin tubs, and an agricultural implement which can be used to cut grass and plough.
Vikas is also helped by wife Pramila in farming as well as innovating stuff. For example, one hot May, when water was very scarce, Pramila took nursery bags and grew cotton seedlings in those bags. These cotton seedlings were irrigated with limited water, and later transplanted to the fields at the onset of rain, when other farmers will begin sowing crop. Complementary innovations by the Shinde couple created a new hope for fighting against uncertain weather, shortage of water, and increasing production.
A remarkable aspect of Mr Shinde’s innovations is that all his machines utilize junk, scrap and waste materials, and thus are energy efficient, cost effective and can be used by many. He intends to improve on some of his current innovations, and plans to standardize a few parts. “When I made these equipments my only intention was to make them work and hence did not pay much attention to these aspects. However now I would like to standardize them and work on their appearance as well.” More, refined, useful innovations in the making.