'''Product Archaeology''' -(Group 10)
Back to Group 10 Home Page-Gate 1 - Project Planning (Group 10)
Here we complete a thorough analysis of our product without doing any dissection. The goal of this stage is to familiarize our group with the product and gather the required information to successfully complete the product dissection. our analysis includes answers the questions in Gate 1 Table 1.
- Product History
The first snow blower was invented in 1925 by the Canadian inventor, Arthur Sicard. His invention consisted of a chassis from a four wheel drive truck, a truck engine, a snow scooper attached to the front and the actual snow blower in the front with its own engine. It was able to throw snow over 90 feet away, making it much faster and easier to clear roads. The snow blower we will be dissecting is a Bolens 726-01. It was made in 1973 and was a top of the line snow blower during its time.
- Economic and Global Concerns
Since this product is used to remove snow, it is to be expected that it will be constantly exposed and running in cold and wet environments. Weather conditions had to be accounted for in the design of this snow blower. The material it is made of needs to be durable and resistant to wet weather as it will likely get pounded by rough weather. The engine and start up mechanism needs to be designed so that it is able to be easily ignited in cold climate. The linear drive components including tires need to be designed to account for the icy and slippery surfaces it will likely be driving on.
This particular snow blower was marketed towards the average homeowner and is intended for snow removal in areas small to moderate in size. This is not intended for industrial use or large scale snow removal so therefore an extremely high level of quality is not necessary. That being said, this snow blower was designed to meet the demands that the average home owner consumer may have and also stay within the budget of the average intended consumer. The designers of this snow blower probably had to determine how much quality they can sacrifice for each component of the snow blower to produce the most cost effective snow blower while still maintaining the quality needed to get the job done for its intended use.
- Intended Sale Locations
The intended regions of sale are limited to areas where it actually snows, in particular places with heavy annual snowfall. Regions of the world with tropical climate for example will have no use for a snow blower. As mentioned before, this snow blower is intended to be sold to the average homeowner for light to moderate snow removal. This snow blower is probably best suited to be sold in suburban locations simply due to its relatively large size when compared to other consumer snow blowers. For the city consumers, this snow blower's size would be a problem because space is very limited in city environments and many city consumers may not have a garage or space to store this snow blower.
- Consumer Impact
The development of the snow blower made the labor intensive process of snow removal much easier and faster. It allowed people who may not be physically able enough to use a shovel, easily clean out their surrounding property. Transportation during wintry conditions has also been made safer and faster as a result of the snow blower. Today the snow blower is pretty much a necessity when covering large areas of land, but can be a considered a luxury when cleaning out smaller areas where a simple shovel may do the trick.
- Usage Profile
The intended usage for this product is to clean out snow from areas where human navigation is necessary and throw it to a more desirable location. The Bolens 726-01 is mainly intended for home use. It is not quite large enough to effectively remove snow in a larger setting than anything besides a driveway or sidewalk around a house. There are not really any other uses for this snow blower other
- The Bolens 726-01 gas powered snow blower acquires its energy chemically from the gasoline which initially powers the snow blower allowing it to function. The snow blower starts off with the user pulling the power cord, which turns the flywheel and the crankshaft causing mechanical energy, and this causes combustion to occur. Combustion occurs when the flywheel, rotating along the crankshaft sends magnetic energy to ignite the snow blower. The gasoline flows to the combustion chamber and burns forming chemical energy which then converts into mechanical energy and powers the pistons. The mechanical energy from the pistons then travels to the crankshaft allowing for rotational energy to occur which spins the blades which will force snow in and out of the chute. The mechanical energy also causes the gears to spin which cause the wheels to rotate, and allows the snow blower to self-propel itself. Energy by the user is only used to steer the snow blower in the desired direction.
The complexity of a system can be defined as a complicated arrangement of parts. In this particular kind of machinery it can be said that certain parts are more complex than others.
From close inspection it can be determined the snow mobile has around 30 main components, but totaling around 100 components when counting screws and other minor parts that keep the snow mobile together and functional. Most of the components that are simple include the various screws, bolts, washers, wires, the fuel tank, fuel line, various flamings, the handles, and the chute. Looking at the more complex components we get the engine with its many components such as the piston, the spark plug, the valves, and the crankshaft. Other complex components we see are the clutch, the augers, the impeller, the choke, the throttle, the carburetor, and the pull cord. When looking at each piece individually, they all may seem simple but when put together they become complex.
The interactions that occur can be looked at and understood to a degree. The complexity of the system starts in the engine and then extends to the other parts of the snow blower. When the user pulls the pull cords and combustion occurs, the crankshaft starts to move the pistons and the valves let in air and gas at proper times and this process powers the snow blower. Many components working together at the same time in unity is what makes this system complex. With the engine powered the user can control the throttle which controls how fast the snow blower goes, and with faster speeds, more air is required to enter the system and with the choke and carburetor the system can control the amount of air and gas mixture required to power the system at any time. The augers and the impellers are also made in way that they can successfully break up the snow and allow it to flow up and out the chute. The framing of these parts has to be right or else snow will fail to travel through the chute which is what makes these parts complex. When a system has several components that depend on each other, it can always be said that it is a complex system and the snow blower certainly has several complex components, some more complex then others.
For the Bolen 726-01 the housing seems to be comprised of mainly steel, which is great for the durability of the machine. The outside of the motor is either steel as well or aluminum with some smaller plastic pieces. The internals are most likely caste iron or aluminum. These are common materials for engines and being older caste iron is more likely.
6. User Interaction
The user interaction with the product will be more intended use than anything else. The product being a piece of heavy house hold machinery means that only responsible adult will be operating the equipment. The product is relatively easy to use is has a similar premise to that of a lawn mower. Reading the instruction manual should be sufficient information in order to correctly operate the snow blower. Maintenance is not regularly required other than filling with gas before operation. Every year the user may want to change the oil in order to keep the machine running efficiently. Also fuel stabilizer should be added to the gasoline tank during months not being used to keep it from going bad and requiring the engine to be opened and cleaned out. This maintenance is very easily done and even someone with no experience can do it since it is as simple as removing a bolt.
7. Product Alternatives
There are many alternatives to a gasoline powered snow blowers that compare well and show both the advantages and disadvantages of the product. Alternative products for snow removal range greatly from snow blowers to more industrial means such as trucks with jet engines mounted on them. We will focus more on the residential aspect of snow removal since that is more of what our product deals with. The alternatives that are offered to a gas powered snow blower include
The advantage to be had with a combustion engine powered snow blower is that there will generally be more torque and therefore they can be applied to larger, heavier jobs than an electric. It’s a preference choice between power and the environment. Although the electrics are more green they can lack the power for heavier jobs and with the power of the gas version comes the weight of a large metal frame and engine. Comparatively electrics cost much less but have their tradeoffs, often pricing around the 200 dollar range compared to Gas snow blowers which will run closer to $500 or more. So with higher pricing comes power but mass and emissions and with lesser cost comes a green footprint but less power. The snow blower is less labor intensive than shoveling, will not put strain on your vehicle which you rely on every day, and is relatively inexpensive. For the average American the snow blower is clearly the best choice.