Business Times

Perfecting a cheaper, automated water discharge system in male toilets

ITI innovations
By Quintus Perera

The Industrial Technology Institute commenced its activities in 1976 under the name of Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research Institute (CISIR), and though it appears to focus on industry which is its core function, its activities are also essentially directed towards benefiting society and improving the lifestyles of the people of Sri Lanka.

A.S. Pannila A model sensor with urinal

ITI works under a distinctly separate units or department and one of them is Electro Technology Laboratory (ETL) manned by A.S. Pannila as its head. Currently automated discharge of water in men’s urinals which activates on a sensor is presently available in the market but is very expensive and fitted only in places like the airport and in star class hotels.

In other places it is the push-button method to flush water. However many people are reluctant to use it for fear of germ contamination and this method is found to be impractical. ETL is now working on a low cost, sensor model.

What is available in the market at present, according to the surveys of ETL, would cost somewhere around Rs 20 to 30,000. A low cost variety of the identical system that is available in the market would cost only around Rs 7,000 to 10,000, but in mass production ETL is of the view that the production cost could be further reduced.

The team working on this initiative is Mr Pannila and R M Weerasinghe, Senior Electronic Engineer. Mr Pannila said that the sensor method saves a large quantity of water as in conventional methods as much as 4 ½ litres of water is used.

Mr Weerasinghe said that the method they are introducing would be identical to the foreign model that is available in the market using precisely the same technology but is cheaper. He said that with their method, even the ordinary people could have the same luxury of star-class hotels and use a germ-free facility. Further as most people pay for water, the water saving in this method also brings in financial benefits as it uses less than one litre of water.

He said that one of their aims is to get this introduced in all public places, like bus terminals, railway stations and most importantly, schools where it could protect children from contracting germs in urinals. ITI inventions have a major influence on the lifestyles of the people but since the whole institution is operated by scientists and technologists, their minds are not commercially oriented, and marketability appears to be not seriously looked into.

In the present case, it is the responsibility of socially responsible organizations and the government which spends an enormous amount of funds for the health of the people, to promote these initiatives and in this case the cheap sensor method in all public places and schools, also as a good preventer of disease.

(This is the continuation of the ITI innovation-into- product series).

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