Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology Limits Pt.2

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Green Job Sector: Appropriate Technology Limits Pt.2

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February 16, 2021 - 4:50pm

Critical Commentary

This section will discuss operation of devices and the output of said device. As previously mentioned, although we do not discuss particular jobs or businesses in these sections, it is important to consider the following to do well in design or to help build, manufacture, or even sell these types of products.

 

3) Operation and Production Efficiencies

The operation of the product requires minimal effort or training. This is to ensure that local workers and people are able to operate the device with low to no supervision, increasing the efficiency of each device and using the minimal amount of labor to produce the maximum amount of profit. It should be fool proof, and keeping the safety of the operator in mind at all times. Band-Aids are one such product and, although the invention of this was developed in 1920, are still streamlined and easy to use. Most children can use a Band-Aid on their own, and are so easily accessible that most Band-Aids cost roughly 6 to 8 cents each. Cheap and efficient, these adhesive strips are one of many appropriate technologies. It allows the consumer to patch up small cuts and scrapes in no time, which is great. Although this product may not be a machine or any fancy hardware, it can be argued that the Band-Aid is a perfect appropriate technology. However this last point may make it less of the perfect technology. Read more about Band-Aids: Limn.

 

4) The Output Impact

The device itself needs to produce a benefit with almost zero waste and as little unusable byproduct as possible. The carbon footprint left by the device should be low, and should not impact the environment in any major way. It may not even be the device itself that produces the pollution, but rather a resource required for it. For example, items that use electricity are not favorable since the accessibility of electricity is scarce in a third-world setting, requiring a generator to supply enough current to power the device. It is not the device that is creating the pollution, rather it is the generator supplying the power. This needs to be considered when formulating and brainstorming device ideas. Band-Aids do not excel in this field since it is medically unfavorable to reuse any part of the invention, and is meant for quick and easy disposal. This does however leave a bigger carbon footprint than some other devices, creating more waste than others. This balance is very difficult to achieve, since a lot of low cost items usually need replacement parts to function. Thus most appropriate designs are integrated with reusable energy or high input-low output systems to lower their carbon footprint, however at a cost. Ideally, the invention can be cheap and cost effective, but this is usually not the case.  Usually items will trade their carbon footprint for a lower cost of production, such as Band-Aids. 

 

Amongst these very general requirements, there are many more intricacies that can be uncovered by simply asking yourself this question: “Does this device achieve my goal in the cheapest, most environmentally friendly, and most simple way?” The answer to this question may not result in satisfying the question completely, but it does invite consideration and openness to other avenues of thought. This is important as you take on different challenges in development and in marketing, since you will need to identify the proper selling points and the main features of why someone would want to purchase your product. Other job opportunities can come up from specializing in materials, in design and engineering, and in most cases require other specializations for not only anthropology (testing on humans and environment) but also for efficiency. These intricacies are what many engineers and manufactures have to consider when the product is made, so this is important to keep in mind moving forwards. 


Image: https://www.kilmerhouse.com/2013/04/collect-a-piece-of-johnson-johnson-history-band-aid-brand-adhesive-bandages-tins