An in-store carbonated drinks dispenser offering users a refillable alternative to prepacked drinks.
ZERO: USP's and products functionality
ZERO: USP's and products functionality
Primary and secondary user function
Design process: Test rig + FEA testing + DFM
Component technology overview
What it does
The product has a bottom filling system offering a unique UX, faster filling and complete mess mitigation compared to top filling soda dispensers. The refillable nature of this system reduces the production and consumption of single-use plastic packaging.
It is common knowledge that single-use plastic is damaging our holistic environment when waste is inappropriately disposed of. The recycling rate is nowhere near where it should be and even the process of recycling is highly carbon intensive. Meaning a shift is needed in the consumer setting to refillable and reusable products to help support the environment and climate change. I am passionate about sustainability and wanted to design a product that addressed a sustainability issue. I found that in the carbonated drinks sector there are no B2C refillable alternatives to single-use plastic packaging, driving the design of ZERO.
How it works
It was important the product was more desirable than pre-packed drinks beyond the environmental gain to attract those carbonated drink users who are not concerned by the environment. The core function is to offer a self-vending system that offers in-store refills. Going beyond this an extended app based service is offered to track and record plastic savings; a touch-less service was integrated for hygiene; and improved UX and bottle filling performance through a bottom filling bottle. The bottle will be loaded onto the dispenser head aided by magnets to accurately align the bottle. The user will select the drink and press fill on the UI. The ram will descend to secure the bottle in place while opening the top valve of the bottle to allow for air displacement. Once the carbonated liquid begins dispensing the base valve will open to allow the bottle to be filled. Once filled and the ram retracts, the one way valves will close sealing the carbonated contents.
Once the product type was identified. I had to identify and understand the technology and system to make carbonated drinks, as this would drive the the products form/size due to internal components required. With the desire to offer a high performing system i came up with the idea of a bottom filling bottle. A simple test rig was made to prove this hypothesis. The rig showed that filling from the bottom mitigates a foamy and lively pour compared to top filling. Meaning filling speed is increased and foam over and mess is mitigated. Offering a better user experience in terms of performance and visual interest. More sophisticated test rigs were developed to refine the functionality. This included how can a bottle be filled from the bottom with the cap on. It was important that the cap remained on as it would offer an effortless service. These rigs used the intended technology to fully represent the proposed system. Once addressed and the aesthetics resolved, the machine and bottles underwent extensive simulation testing on mouldflow, load, torque and stress to ensure the product was highly manufacturerable and fit for purpose. A RIM casting company and steel fabricators was contacted, who confirmed suitably of manufacture on the main components and offered manufacturing costs.
How it is different
ZERO breaks the current culture of our throwaway society by introducing a product that now allows users of carbonated drinks access to a refillable version of their favorite carbonated beverage in store. Offering convenience and cost reduction compared to pre-packed or home soda making products; responding to both user and environment. This is the first in-store refillable solution for carbonated drinks and the first bottom filling bottle system; making this system highly competitive due to its market differential and improved bottle filling capabilities. This product is also highly inclusive due to the multi level selectable touch-less screen. All the soda making components are self contained within the product. Comparable dispensers require external storage for BIB's, pumps and C02 tanks. Making ZERO more attractive to retailers as they do not need to plan for additional installation space and many piping looms to plumb in the vending product.
I hope to see a product such as this be used in the future to break our throwaway culture while responding to user needs and wants. Even having this product digitally shown in the public realm will hopefully interest and maybe challenge how big corporations currently operate; showing there are profitable solutions to world problems. The next planned steps for this product would be to design a dispensing tower to be installed in educational organisations. A tower would offer greater space saving improving integration into these organisation to reduce plastic and educate users to hopefully pursue a more sustainable lifestyle (via the app).