May 30, 2016

Posted by in 2016, Broom Making, Field Visit, News | 0 Comments

Field visit: Broom making device

Members: Saish Kapadi, Neha Sood, Akash Kaushal, Rituja Patil

Glossary of words in Local Language

  1. Bari: It is a unit of measuring a bunch of date palm leaves
  2. Cheena: A wooden plank with nails hammered at an end. It is used to strike the bunched and dried leaves to thin them.
  3. Punja: Punja is an assembly of cycle spokes or poky nails bunched together with rubber strap or attached to a cut tennis ball. It is rubbed over the leaves to thin them.
  4. Sariya: It is a metal hooked knife tied around a bamboo or iron pole. It is used to cut the fronds from the tree.

Problem: To make a device/tool to assist the broom making process to

  • Increase the safety by making the process less injury prone
  • Reduce the manual effort in beating the leaves on an assembly of nails
  • Reduce the time required to produce brooms

Key Challenges: Ergonomic, Minimize contact with hands, Simplify rubber strap tying process, electrical or non- electrical (?)


Mind Map:

 broom 1

Prior Art:


The field trip was to Naroda Patia. Many of the broom makers were from Rajastan and procured their main raw material i.e. date palm leaves from parts of Rajatstan and Gujarat.

We had analyzed the case study a day before and arrived at a particular set of questions to be asked to the ones involved in the business.

The questions are as follows:

  1. Where do they get the leaves from?
  2. How do they pluck those leaves?
  3. Where do you come from? What do you do for a living apart from broom making?
  4. Why do they not use wet leaves while making the broom?
  5. How do they tie the leaves into a bunch?
  6. What are the alternate ways in which you could have done this process if cheena-punja wasn’t there or other improvements you have tried doing?
  7. Why do they use punja ?
  8. How long does it take to make one broom?
  9. How about fixing the leaves and then moving nails over it?
  10. Any physical problems? Like shoulder, arms etc?
  11. Can we use blades to cut the leaves?
  12. What is the problems with cheena?
  13. Are they willing to accept another method to do the same? Or would they prefer a tool which would help them do this…
  14. Quality of the broom that is made….
  15. Cost of a broom and average brooms made in a day
  16. What do you do of the husk or the leftovers of the process?
  17. What should be the tentative cost of the equipment?
  18. Losses incurred while storing.
  19. Is the stock available in all seasons?
  20. Any ideas or opinions

Name of the Broom makers:

Ms. Mangiben, Ms. Chandaben, Mr. Dalubhai

Observations from the Field Visit:

  • The workers live in make do roadside shacks and are deprived of any kind of electrical power supply. That rules out the possibility of devising a machine that runs on electricity.
  • Application of punja is not that effective because it makes the broom fibrous only from the exteriors and not through the bulk.
  • Green leaves also cannot be used as they do not posses the stiffness as that of dry ones.
  • The ripping process of the palm leaves results in the thorny leaf ends pricking on the palms and hands of workers.
  • Sharpening of nails causes deep wounds in case of slippage of the sharpening tools or the filer.
  • The whole family manages to produce about 20-50 brooms per day.
  • The rubber straps used to tie an end of the broom may accidently recoil if the material is defective and might hit the worker’s chest.
  • The leaves are cut to bring them in a uniform length so that they can be tied at the bottom and bunched up for further ripping.
  • Workers use a hook shaped blade to pluck the fronds from the tree.
  • Blades cannot be used as such for the process.
  • Most of the workers just throw away the leftovers from the process e.g. the leaves and the fronds obtained in the process.
  • A few of them use shredded wastes into their stoves while cooking.
  • People showed a positive attitude towards using a machine for making brooms.
  • Leaves sometimes blacken (probably due to fungus) and are separated and thrown away.
  • It might not be productive to keep the broom fixed and let the nails move over because the mails are heavier and it takes more effort to move them.

Cost analysis Observations:

Raw Materials

  • Dry Date leaves: Purchased at a rate of Rs. 200 to 300 per Bari*
  • Rubber Strand: Made from used rubber tubes obtained from cycle repair shops. A rubber tube costs around Rs. 5 and five straps can be cut from it. It takes around 30 minute to cut the rubber tyre to straps.
  • Plastic foil: Purchased at a rate of Rs. 60 per kg.

Cheena: A nail assembly on a wooden shack used to shred the leaves. Costs around Rs. 1000 per piece.

Selling Profits:

The brooms are sold at a price of Rs. 10 per piece.

The wholesale price is Rs. 8 per broom.

broom 2


Description: A lady broom maker demonstrating the use of Punja*

Image Credits: Akash Kaushal

broom 3

Description: Puncture wounds on the hand of a broom maker due to the use of Cheena

Image Credits: Rituja Patil

Key insights from the Field Visit:

  1. The current broom making process involves hitting date palm leaves on cheena- the process is tedious leading to shoulder pain. Moreover, slippage of leaves from hand results in hand getting hit on cheena leading to serious wounds. —-> (one possible solution:Need to mechanise this process to reduce the input effort by using simple mechanical devices(such as springs, levers, pulleys) in the overall design).
  2. The process of tying leaves is done by stretching the rubber tube using feet and hands. Absence of any existing fixture for doing this task.—-> possible chance of improvement in this area by creating a fixture.
  3. Leaf separating process involving direct contact between fingers and sharp pointed dried leaf tips results in punctures and wounds—-> How do we deal with this? Can we include some thorn proof gloves as accessories?

Revised goals:

  1. To make a device to assist the process of broom making instead of drastically changing the process. Such a tool or device would be more socially acceptable in the context of broom makers who live on the road side and have been producing brooms through traditional method of hitting leaves on cheena.
  2. The new device should benefit the user in terms of –
    A. increased safety
    B. Less input effort – making process physically less strenuous
    C. reduce the time needed to make one broom
    D. be an affordable device which can be easily repairable devoid of any electrical components


  1. People showed readiness regarding accepting the machine to reduce manual efforts and safety hazards
  2. A non- electrical tool/device can be designed to be used by the Broom Makers to make brooms in areas devoid of electrical power supply
  3. Mechanical components can be designed such as to reduce direct involvement of human limbs with the sharp parts of the design that reduces threats of puncture wounds and cuts
  4. The hazards involved with rebounding of Rubber Straps can be avoided by including a mechanism in the device/tool itself


  1. The device/tool should not decrease the productivity/ efficiency of the original process itself
  2. Increasing the number of nails will increase the cost of the device. So, optimization plays a critical role here
  3. Increased maintenance
  4. Device should not have too complex mechanism. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the users to repair it.

Optimization Goals: Cost, Size, Portability, Ergonomics, Efficiency, Repairability

Criterion and indicator of success:

  1. The new device should be socially acceptable to broom makers. It should be able to maintain the integrity of original process and yet be able to add substantial value to the previous process.
  2. The quality of brooms produced using this device should be if not better be at least the same as that produced by beating on cheena manually.
  3. Should be able to reduce the time required to produce broom.
  4. Increase the user comfort by reducing the physical effort.
  5. Reduce the chances of injury

Things to avoid:

  1. Avoid over complicating the mechanism.
  2. Avoid usage of electricity or any other fuel to drive the device.
  3. Limit the cost of the device so that it is affordable.
  4. Avoid decreasing the existing productivity of broom making.


1. A device which reduces human effort in the broom making.

2. A safe device which reduces the risks of injuries.

3. A device which can be easily maintained by the users with no previous expertise.

4. A weather resistant device.

Analysis :

broom 4

Five why analysis



  1. Using coupler curves: Trace the trajectory of human hand in the original process by using coupler curves. The device would essentially be a four bar mechanism where the input would be rotation of a crank. The output would be extracted from an intermediate link- coupler which would be designed in such a way that it would trace the same path as that done in the case of manual beating.

broom 5


  1. Roller with nails on the periphery: To be driven by a chain pedal mechanism. The user in this case can use his feet to move the leaves bunch back and forth hitting them with impact against the rotating roller. The roller would be driven by hands whereas the broom leaves would be moved using a pedal on the feet.

broom 6

  1. Using the mechanism from cross trainer(elliptical) gym equipment.


The lady using a punja*

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