Honeycomb Helper: A device to help workers with disabilities package bottles

(United States Military Academy)

Honeycomb helperMike Westrom, Rex Sheikh, McCrwuz Leonce Matchoumboud

Access: Supports for Living in Middletown, New York is a non-profit manufacturing company that employs workers with disabilities. One of its mainstay projects is a pharmaceutical bottle packaging process. As the bottles reach the end of the conveyor line, workers hand-package the bottles in a client-specified, alternating pattern. This process requires the workers to manually package cardboard boxes that contain four layers with 50 bottles in each layer for a total of 200 bottles. Experienced workers package one box in times ranging from 3.5 to seven minutes. Bottle placement must exactly match the specified pattern, which presents a challenge for some workers with certain cognitive disabilities. Through an iterative design process that incorporated customer feedback, the group designed and tested a beta prototype that simplifies the bottle packaging process for workers with cognitive and sensory impairments. The device guides the worker in bottle emplacement ensuring achievement of the complex pattern. Use of the Honeycomb Helper will allow workers with a wider range of disabilities to participate in a process that may otherwise exclude them, providing more economic opportunity for these workers while expanding the pool of workers for Access. The group tested the device with Jesus, a worker who was previously unable to package the boxes. While using the device, Jesus successfully packaged on the conveyor line with an average time of 10:29. The Honeycomb Helper has opened additional employment opportunities for Jesus and potentially other workers with disabilities.

Honeycomb HelperĀ – Design Brief

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