Development & Commercialization of Cotton Stripper Machine by Mansukh Patel – a Genius of Cotton Success Story of Incubating Grassroots Innovations From Scrap…………… to Solid Business Empire
Innovator Shri Mansukhbhai Patel, studied up to 7th class, a self taught electrician, worked as a Deputy electrical engineer in textile mill by profession & also a farmer from Gujarat. He was scouted by SRISTI (Hiren Raval , student of Gram Vidyapith in the year 1997) While working in textile mills, he learned the working mechanism and operations of textile machineries which inspired him to solve problem of opening cotton balls faced by him in childhood. In 1991, he conceptualized the idea and discussed with his colleagues and relatives that he could develop a machine to solve the problem. “all the money in the world cannot give person education unless that person is willing to learn and work hard at it” – Mansukhbhai’s father (this philosophy has been central to Mansukhbhai’s life)
Genesis of innovation Conventional method of opening cotton balls Kalyan – V 797, G-13 etc. are cultivated in Gujarat and some part of the country (dry tracts) Naturally, the lint is tightly attached to the inner side of the shell which has to be stripped from the shell before ginning. This is a laborious process, manually carried out usually by women and child labour.
Innovation Mansukhbhai Patel developed a machine which mechanically strips the cotton lint from the shell in a faster & efficient manner and leave it ready for ginning. A unique solution which totally replaced the tedious and manual method and increased the output & quality of cotton. Apart from commercial application, it has huge social relevance, as it reduces drudgery of women and child labour
Prototype : 1 (1992) First Demonstration in village The first working model, required three workers for operation & processed 150 Kg of cotton/hour Innovator organized demonstration among the villagers and the design was largely appreciated by farmers. Innovator received orders for 25 machine (amounting INR 50,00,000/- which is about 100,000 USD) Shortcomings: Mixing of small pebbles along with cotton, through hopper caused system failure and shorten the life of wire mesh Quality of cotton compromised as the crushed cotton balls broke the seeds in to fine particles which stuck with the cotton
Prototype : 2 (1993) Financial support (loan) from a local cooperative and friends of about Rs 150,000/- (USD 3750) ensured development of 2nd prototype. In this model, new components introduced were Net, Aluminum conveyor, super cleaner rollers and wheels The life span of wire mesh was increased to process up to 20,000 Kg. Innovator manufactured and sold 25 machine to farmers who placed order while first demonstration. However, problems developed in the machines and they were returned back. Despite of grave financial losses, Innovator ensured all the machine buyers receive full compensation • Shortcomings: • The crushed shell particles still stuck to the cotton affecting the quality and increased wastage. • Manual labour was required to collect the shells falling under the machine, which was risky, as huge rollers were rotating at quite a high speed just above his head.
Prototype : 3 (1994) New component spiked shaft introduced The spiked shaft which opened the cotton balls to access the cotton instead of crushing it thereby increasing the quality of cotton to a great extent. This shaft also moved the material from the feeding roller to the super cleaning rollers, which were used to send the balls to the wire meshed roller, this ensured primitive cleaning of the cotton balls. Innovator was not completely convinced with this design and did further research and value additions and developed a modified version in the month of October, 1995.
Prototype : 4 (1995) In this model, two large rollers of different RPM with wire mesh were used to increase the life of these wheel up to about 30,000 kg of processing. To see the performance, Innovator provided the machine on rent basis to cotton ginning cooperatives and personally supervised and observed their working. • Prof. Munsi (1997), IDC, IIT Mumbai has been involved in the design development • Drum Alignment is not proper: The three rollers are supported by the two sheet plate on the two ends of the rollers at an angle where there are chances of misalignment of the two sheet plate from the base point from where they are supported to the structure. • Hopper designed modification: The hopper gets clog up at the bottom, he suggested to adjust spike shaft parallel to the drum. • Provision for collection of Waste: A provision was made to collect the cotton shell from the bottom and to dispose it on the other side, so that the crushed shell do not effect the quality of the cotton and also the risk associated with the manual picking of the shell is eliminated.
Prototype : 5 (1998) One more brushing wheel and small roller with fillet was used corresponding to the second large roller with the wire meshing introduced in the 4th model Around 15 machines of this model were sold and the overall performance was found to be much better than previous machines However, optimum production capacity and cost efficiency factors encouraged the innovator to make further value addition
Prototype : 6 (2000) GIAN mobilized technical support (Mr. Alexander, a German student from National Institute of Design ) and financial support from TePP (DSIR) GIAN prepared detailed market research and detailed business plan for the innovator for his anticipated shift into commercial production and implemented successfully in association with innovator who turned to be an entrepreneur. • Addition of new roller increased the efficiency as recycling of the shells was avoided. • The suction mechanism solved one major problem of recurring expense of lycryl mesh. • Introduction of worm wheels eliminated the problem of collection of shells. • Suction mechanism also eliminated labor requirements for pouring the cotton into the hopper without any additional cost (as it replaced hopper, shaft and spiked shafts).
Prototype : 7 (2001) Millennium Model - A product of decade of indigenous R&D, focus and dedication Final commercial model - launched in millennium era - In this model, innovator offered full guarantee for one season to the customers. Customers satisfied with products and placed repeat orders. Innovator sold more than 300 units in 2 years .
Prototype : 8 (2003-04) Introduction of Jumbo Model - Processing capacity of 2000kg/hr
IPR Protection and issues of infringements Indian patent awarded on Feb 6, 2006 , No: 198755 US patent awarded on April 8, 2003, No: US 6,543,091 B2 He is the first grassroots innovator who obtained US Patent Eight people in India have copied the technology & infringed the patent. We sent notice to all of them however, at time the status of the patent was “applied for” and as per the law, filing infringement suit was not possible. Innovator’s win…………. Innovator has continuously improved the technology and beat the market by winning confidence of the customers. The years of tacit knowledge developed during R&D and prototype development stage worked in favor of the innovator in protecting his technology. Also the after sales service model that innovator developed ensured that firms copying his technology have high entry barrier
Snapshot of Business Development In 2000 - Innovator turned to become entrepreneur with establishment of Chetak Agro Industries In 2001 - Initial venture fund was provided by SRISTI, later GIAN arranged working capital through commercial banks In 2001, Detailed Market research & business plan prepared and executed by GIAN with involvement of innovator 2001- 2012, About 750 machines have been sold Expansion and diversification - realized the market saturation and diversified into development of automization of ginning machineries and other ventures. Started total of six new companies in the following years and today he is a proud owner of seven group companies with the total group turnover of about USD 4 Million(INR 20 crore) Initial supporter of Innovators’ Fund “WAIGIANIC” (Western-region Association of Indian Grassroots Innovators for Augmenting, Nurturing Innovations & Creativity) Innovator has declared to offer other innovators to use his workshops free of charge. Today his company is like a regional incubator for local innovators.
Recognition & Reward: Year 2000 - 1st Award by National Innovation Foundation Award Year 2004 - Best Technology Award by National Research Development Corporation, Govt. of India Year 2006 - Honored by SRISTI including him in the Governing body Year 2008 - Honored by GIAN – serving on Governing body of GIAN Recognition by Community
Lesson for others …. Being an Electrician to an Innovator to an Entrepreneur and later on an angel investor and incubator himself supporting other grassroots innovators - the journey of Mansukhbhai Patel is truly an inspiration of how creativity coupled with hard work and dedication helps to achieve economic and social benefits in life. The never say die spirit in all lows and highs of life is a true quality of a successful innovator which is a real learning experience for all the aspiring young's The most important contribution is introduction of his innovation which not only reduced drudgery of thousands of farmers but also increased their productivity thereby generating huge income and social benefits as spillover effect – resulted into green revolution in dry land cotton farming and ginning industries