Our Team is in charge of the aspects „material storage and mobility“ in the context of our course „Management by Design“. Together we are working on improvements in storage and transportation for the materials, which are used by the students during the MxD Process. In the first phase, the empathy phase, which takes place at the beginning of our solution process, we try to gain as much profound insights of stakeholders as possible. We could gain some information through short and simple interviews. These first inputs came from our professors and through their opinions we were able to find problems and also possible solutions.

Our two questions:

  • How do we store the material so it can be easily moved to desired places?
  • How and where do we store the prototypes?

To get a better impression at the subject, we asked how much material is used by the students, how much it weights, which volume it has and which ones are the most popular. But also questions like where the materials are currently stored, how they are transported, why there isn’t any small vehicle yet and what the main problems are, where answered. The outcomes of the interviews were informative, contained much value and some possible solutions.

There are one big bag, two small bags and some cartons – these are bulky and not so easy to carry. According to our professor, the overall scope of the material in boxes and bags is 2×2 meters. Currently the bags are stored under a desk in the professors room. There is a small vehicle for the transport but nobody really knows who’s it is – very suspicious. There is also a storage room for all the materials but not everyone is allowed to enter. Playdoo is the most popular material but it’s also the most expensive. Pencils and post-it’s are quickly used up and have to be bought quite often. Same with scissors and tapes. Here it is important to differentiate between tools and consumable supplies. A big problem is the chaos after the students give the materials back, because they often don’t sort it properly. Furthermore, the materials often can’t be used again. One solution could be, that the diversity of materials is reduced. The optimum would be order or tidiness because it leads to a bigger offer and subsequently to a better result of the prototype. For the professor personally, it is not comfortable to push the small wagon because it leads to a feeling of stress and discomfort. The other professor, on the other hand, has no problem with it.

For example in D-school there is a fixed placed, like our storage room for materials, but with one difference – everyone is allowed to step in and take what he or she needs for the prototypes. Everything is organized in signed chutes. The students stick to the rules and put the used materials back in their place. A refutation here is serendipity. Because if there is only one big box where all the material is without much order, then the probability to find something you’ve never been looking for is much higher. As a result there could be very creative and never conceived solutions.

The desires from our professors in regards to the transport of the materials are that there is nothing to push and that they will magically appear in the preferred place – which is also called „magic appearance“. Specifications are, that the soon-to-be design has to fit through doors and the elevator. Wishes from our students are that there are more and different materials to selection: oasis foam, fabric, mechanical components, technology, glue, double-sided tape, metals, raspberry pi, NXT mindstorms and chalk pencils.

We also got thought-provoking impulses like for example the construction of a „suggestion-corner“, where materials can be shared. If a student doesn’t need his carton pieces anymore, he can bring it to this place and take something different from there. Afterwards another student maybe finds his carton pieces and can use them for her prototype. There could also be a rethink when you ask yourself, if we could move the room and not the material in order to have a new storage place for materials.

Now it is our challenge to select and improve the best ideas in order to fulfill the two questions.