Group 1 Honda Generator-Product Evaluation

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Product Analysis

The Honeywell Generator was developed with the purpose of providing a portable, safe, and reliable way to use electrical power for the average homeowner in the form of converting chemical energy of gasoline into usable electrical power . The general use involves powering common household appliances in the event of a blackout, and transporting electrical power to remote locations, such as camping grounds, parks, or job sites requiring use of industrial power tools.

The general shape of the Honeywell Generator is in the form of a rectangular box with the dimensions 30.0 x 29.0 x 27.0 (L x W x H). This shape of the frame helps with the stability and durability of the product which leads to better performance by the generator by reducing stress on the generator as well as limiting the exposure of the main components of the product. With a steel support cage, gas tank, bolts, pull and electric starter case, and cam shaft adds a lot to the overall 210 lb weight of the generator. Other materials used in the Honeywell Generator include a lead battery, plastic gas tank cover and wire insulation, aluminum engine block, copper generator coil, brass generator bolts, rubber gaskets and fuel/oil lines, nylon pull rope, and foam used in the air filter.

The range of different materials are meant for the purpose of having the generator be a top of the line product while still being affordable and portable. The components used are for the purpose of the generator lasting several years past the 3 year warranty. Cheaper or lighter materials would compromise the performance of the generator. Global influences on the product include using gasoline as the fuel do to the fact that it is readily available in the developed world. Economically speaking now, plastic was used as covering for the wiring because it is a good insulator as well as cheap. Steel is also cheap as well as being a good conductor. Using the same sized bolts, nuts, and washers also kept production costs down with the ability of manufacturing a few of the same components. With using materials designed to make the generator be long lasting is where the environmental factor came into play. Societal factors that affected design were applying wheels to the steel cage to make the generator more portable. Also the steel cage and the steel gas tank acts as a protective covering to prevent damage on the vital parts of the generator.

The generators designers likely intended it to have a clean and plain look to it, thus the reason they elected to make most of the finishes a matte black. the tank was colored red because is is a requirement that all gasoline containers be a bright red color. The exterior parts of the products have a smooth finish in order to limit its abrasiveness during transportation. This smooth finish also adds to the clean and plain look.

The overall design of the product is not that complex. Most of the same material was used on connecting parts which the made the design rather simple with a one cylinder engine leading into the generator. The engineering decisions made on the Honeywell Generator were collectively made for the purpose of making this generator the best overall generator in terms of affordability, performance, longevity, and usability. All of these sectors were applied together during the design of the generator to find a common ground to fit all aspects that the consumer would want.

Engineering Analysis

One key component of this generator is the wiring in throughout the generator. Since the main function of this product is to generate useable electrical energy, it is critical that any losses associated with the wiring be minimized. First, the wire material is chosen. Every material has a property called resistivity (p) which is a measure of the conducting efficiency. Another property that needs to be decided is how thick to make the wire. Thicker wiring is better for preventing losses, however, too thick of a wire would be expensive and cumbersome. The resistance of a wire is given by the following equation.

Resistance = (resistivity)*(Length of wire) / (cross sectional area of wire)

The energy losses associated with the wiring are given by:

Power loss = (Current Through Wire)*(Voltage across wiring)

And ohm's law:

Voltage difference = (Current Through Wire)*(Resistance of wire)

Once the desired power output of the generator system is determined, and the power output of the crankshaft component is determined, the difference between the 2 will give an estimate of the maximum acceptable power loss. These equations can be used to calculate the losses due to the wiring, for a particular material and a wire thickness. To minimize the losses due to the wiring, The engineer can compare the losses associate with a given thickness of wire, to the cost of that particular volume of wire. At some value of wire thickness, and therefore wiring cost, will be at a minimum, while still providing the necessary power transmission. To test the wiring, the engineer can use a digital multimeter, and the equations above, to determine the losses associated with the wiring.

Reference pg 19

Design Revisions

Upon disassembling our product, we determined key design revisions we feel would be beneficial for this product from both a manufacturing standpoint and a consumer audience standpoint.

Consumer Revision #1

Replace factory recoil mechanism with a more complex dual-spring recoil system.

The factory recoil starter system operates under the assumption that the average consumer contains the strength necessary to pull the starter hard enough to start the engine. This design, however does not consider the average elderly person who may be purchasing this generator. Upon a subjective observation of the factory recoil starter, we estimate that the average elderly person would not be able to operate the manual starter.

A simple and cost effective solution to this would be replacing the factory recoil starter with a more complex, dual-spring recoil system. These recoil systems employ the use of a preloaded spring that unloads as the coil is unwound, thus aiding the user in pulling the starter rope.

This revision has a minimal effect economically, as the dual-spring recoil starter retails for approximately 5 dollars more than the standard recoil system. A 10 dollar increase in price of the generator would more than cover this cost and have a minimal effect on the overall price of the generator.

Global effects of this revision include a wider market base everywhere this product is sold because it now caters to the elderly as well as the average middle-aged person.

Consumer Revision #2

Increase the size of the fuel tank.

The engine is rated to operate for 8 hours under half load on one full gas tank, 6.5 gallons of gas. As more loads are applied, the engine consumes fuel at a faster rate in order to supply the necessary power. This leads to shorter and shorter periods of time before the operator must refuel the engine, which is cumbersome to the operator under long-term operating conditions because it forces them to halt progress on what the generator is powering, shut off the generator, refill the fuel tank and then restart the generator.

A larger fuel tank can extend the run time of the generator proportionally to the added volume of gas the tank can hold. This would provide a longer period of time between which the tank must be refueled, providing the user less interruptions and greater satisfaction overall.

Economic concerns of this design revision would be the cost of the additional materials required to make the fuel tank as well as packaging, as well as the increased shipping costs. An increased fuel tank would require additional steel and paint, thus increasing cost of the generator. Furthermore, the increased size of the fuel tank will require additional packaging materials, since it has been increased, to protect it from damage during shipping. Additionally, the shipping costs of the generator will be slightly higher since the weight will be increased.

The overall manufacturing cost of the generator will increase slightly, which would ultimately result in the consumer paying a slightly higher amount for the generator.

Manufacturer Revision #1

Remove the horizontal struts connecting the front and back of the generator frame.

The manufacturer can remove the horizontal struts connecting the front (handles side) and back (wheels side) of the generator frame, thus eliminating excess materials from the overall product. This would also free up the top of the frame, allowing the gas tank to be raised higher up on the frame, thus placing it further from the hot engine block as well as providing more room vertically for a larger fuel tank.

Economically, this would decrease overall cost in materials and assembly of the materials, allowing the manufacturer to decrease the cost of the unit making it more affordable.

Socially, the removal of materials provides for a more stream-lined, less bulky appearance, which can lead to a larger attraction from the female homeowner demographic.

Globally, any decrease in the amount of material necessary for production lends itself to ease of production in regions where resources may be limited.

Manufacturer Revision #2

Use a high performance air filter.

The air filter currently used is a relatively simple set up in which a sponge, impregnated with oil is placed within a metal housing and air must flow through the sponge before it enters the engine.

A high performance air filter can greatly reduce the amount of space taken up by the air filter. The current assembly is rather large and bulky, taking up an area of approximately 375 square centimeters, whereas high performance filters are generally more compact reducing the effective area of the air filtration system by almost half its original area. A high performance filter also lends to better filtration of unwanted particulate in the air, which leads to better engine performance by way of fuel economy and effective power produced. A cleaner sample of air will combust more completely, when mixed with fuel, in the cylinder allowing for less energy lost in the reaction which leads to a smaller amount of fuel necessary to maintain the current power output of the engine increasing possible runtime and fuel economy.

Economic considerations include the overall cost of the performance air filter, which will be greater than that of the filter currently used. However, these cost increases would be negligible yet again, when compared to the overall cost of the unit. Environmental concerns include the overall cleanliness of the engine exhaust fumes. If the high performance filter were to be used the air entering the engine would be cleaner thereby resulting in cleaner exhaust fumes exiting the engine. This can also be a societal consideration depending on the region in which the generator is being sold. For example California has stricter smog compliances than other regions of the US.