A man from Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region has designed a number of efficient fruit washing machines without formal education and engineering drawings.
Tran Huynh Long has so far produced 23 washers of manilkara zapota, commonly known as sapodilla or sapoche in Vietnamese, one of the most popular fruit trees in his rural hometown in Tien Giang Province.
The area yields a large amount of sapodilla yearly, inspiring the 34-year-old to devise a piece of equipment that can quicken the cleaning of the fruits prior to sales.
Long, who dropped out of school at grade eight, began making the first machine with nothing other than the engineering experience he accumulated after five years working as a mechanic.
He had experimented with different designs before rolling out the prototype of his first sapoche washer in August last year.
“Making the machine was full of difficulties,” he shared. “My wife and I spent a huge amount of time and money having the current version of the machine.”
Each of Long’s washers, weighing around 200 kilograms, mainly includes an electric motor, a water pump and four brush rollers.
They can rinse 600-800 kilograms of the fruit every hour, about ten times faster than a person cleaning by hand, he said.
Long’s mental picture of the machine obviated the need for pencils and paper.
“I don’t know how to read technical drawings and have never used paper for designing,” he explained.
“All ideas are stored and have representations in my head.
“When customers place an order for a machine, they only need to tell its use, and I’ll think up ideas and figure out its working principles.”
Long’s machines, fetching VND30 million (US$1,320) apiece, have been used in different areas in Tien Giang and are expected to sell in other provinces in the Mekong Delta.
Nguyen Van Ta, a fruit shop owner in Tieng Giang, praised the washers for their ability to save labor, time and money, adding that the machines have reduced the cost of rinsing sapodilla by VND1-1.5 million ($44-66) from VND3 million ($132).
Long’s application for a patent has been accepted and the authorities are making it easier for him to obtain a registered trade name.