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Technicians, So Engineers Can Have Heroes Too…

CoffeePodThat is a pretty funny saying but it is true to some extent. Being an engineer who has designed a few products I understand that it is easy to get wrapped up in your design and over look some basic problem. Recently I came across a problem with a coffee machine. The machine is a newer commercial design that brews from pods not those plastic cups. This is a nice feature because the pods are similar to a tea bag and is compostable and you are not passing boiling water into a little plastic cup then into you.

The problem that was occurring was that the machine was overflowing and spilling coffee over onto the counters of the consumers. After a lot of questions and many cups of coffee the root cause came from both the consumer and the manufacture.

The consumer was increasing the cup size to accommodate the very popular travel mugs that we all use, but the brew basket on the machine could not contain that much water in the short brew time of the machine. When speaking to the engineer who created the machine, his response was easy, “you have to increase the brew time, make it slower”. Great, that seems straight forward enough but for the consumer to do that they had to change a few setting on the machine, they didn’t know they had to do that and they didn’t know how.PodBrewer

But, some customers were having this problem and some were not, why? Enter the technicians. They came across this problem and were installing a small gasket they made to contain any overfill and thus solved the problem before it became a problem. Oddly enough this was a Catch 22 situation because they were modifying the machines before installation, the engineers didn’t get wind of the problem right away and it took some time for them to engineer a solution into the design. Of course the technicians reply was “They could have just asked for help…”.

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