Making of the Bottled Liquid Checker



The liquid bottled checker was successfully developed for the first time about two years ago. In the course of the development, we have to admit that our endeavor only was not thrust toward the success. We were so lucky in collaboration with Japanese airline companies as well as allied companies with their self-sacrificing contributions. We would like to show the process of the development from technical point of view in this page.




Figure1: The first prototype. Bottles are placed on the circular shaped sensor on the left. Everything has started from this prototype.

Right after the tragic disaster happing in Korean subway, an airline companyfs concern has reached Frontier research institute of Tokyo Gas. A web page introducing research activities of the institute apparently attracted the needs. The first prototype was designed, and demonstration of the system was performed at a gas station near Haneda airport only two weeks after the information was received. At this moment, the specification of the prototype did not completely satisfy the customerfs need, but it was very important that letting airline companies believe the device they thought can be realized. The demonstration was an important step in that sense. This very short development time was only possible because the research team of Tokyo Gas had already developed a rapid-prototyping sensory system, which enabled them to give solutions to variety of sensing needs in the gas industry. Figure 1 shows the prototyping system.




Figure2: The second prototype. Bottles are placed in the hole. The prototype was not popular from the customers.

At the meeting, we have received many critical comments from the customers. Of course, we understand fully that solving tough challenges from the customers should only be the way to the success. It is also important to understand that even customers do not have concrete pictures of what they want, and we think it is our responsibility to propose possible design concepts as a start point for communication between users and manufacturers. It can be seen that the second prototype in Figure 2 has a different slot design, which apparently was not employed in the product for several reasons.





Figure 3: The third prototype. The design was getting similar to the final product. Sensor for aluminum can was not included in the system.

Because the second prototype was not popular among users, we proposed another design shown in Figure 3, which employed the tilted bottle slot. In this design, we emphasized an easy-to-use equipment without having complicated monitor screens and meters. This design philosophy was almost always true in our experiences of developments in the gas industry. In addition, we have special feeling to the prototype as we brought this device to an international security show held in Athens, and we press released the development with this prototype.






Figure 4: The forth prototype. The aluminum sensor was combined in the prototype. Technical product design was fixed at this moment.

Userfs needs never stop. The customers demanded us that they wanted to check liquid in aluminum bottles in addition to PET bottles. The prototype shown in Figure 4 equipped with sensor for the aluminum cans. Detailed cosmetic design was not completed yet, but outline of the product was fixed at this moment.








Figure 5: The final product. The design employed light yellow and light green in body coloring. Some people criticized that the choice of the light colors may make the device looking cheapc.

Up until the 4th prototype, all the design was performed at the research institute. Although engineers prone to think that technical performance is the most important aspect of products, other aspects including body shapes and colors are often more important than the technical specifications. We also considered several other points including visibility of lamps from distant places and beeping sound which should attract keen attention but also should not give annoying feeling to security personnel in daily operations.

All the technical development was done only in a year and a half. The products were not produced if assistance from allied companies and the airline companies were not provided. We are also grateful people of the Japanese government for their suggestions and assistances. As of March 2006, our devices have been deployed almost all the airport in Japan, and our effort to foreign market has been enhanced. Our endless endeavor of Tokyo gas engineering in technical improvement for sustainable business with this device will continue.



© 2005 TOKYO GAS ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS CORP. all rights reserved.