Sanergy Leverages SOLIDWORKS to Support its Mission of Building Healthy Prosperous Communities

Sanergy

The Company

One of Fast Company’s “World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies Dedicated to Social Good,” Sanergy leverages SOLIDWORKS design and simulation tools to support its mission of building healthy and prosperous communities by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible to residents of the Mukuru slum outside Nairobi, Kenya, through the development of the Fresh Life hygienic toilet.

Challenge

Address the sanitation crisis in the developing world by efficiently and cost-effectively designing, manufacturing, and installing toilets that are more hygienic.

Solution

Implement SOLIDWORKS Premium design and SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium analysis software to optimize its hygienic toilet design.

Benefits

  • Optimized design for more hygienic toilet
  • Reduced production costs
  • Minimized prototyping
  • Provided improved sanitation model for developing world

An estimated 2.5 billion people lack access to hygienic sanitation facilities, a situation that has become the second largest cause of disease in the world. Unhygienic sanitation contaminates waterways and food supplies. This problem is particularly acute in urban slums, where over a billion people live. High population densities and the lack of physical space, infrastructure, and resources combine to exacerbate this sanitation crisis.

Sanergy builds healthy, prosperous communities by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible, providing the foundation from which social advances like clean water, educated children, safe neighborhoods, and productive workforces are built. One of Fast Company’s “World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies Dedicated to Social Good,” Sanergy began its mission in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya, using a self-sustaining, systems-based approach.

“Effective solutions to social challenges in the developing world require direct engagement with the community you serve, so that they play a key role in changing the status quo,” explains Co-Founder David Auerbach. “It’s not just a question of putting in toilets but to think systemically about how to sustain and grow the effort. In addition to functional user needs, our toilet design had to consider waste removal and transport, as well as economic opportunities for the local community.

” Sanergy recruited local franchise operators to run its hygienic toilets. The entrepreneurs make a viable income by charging Mukuru residents about six cents to use their hygienic sanitation facilities. The key to attracting residents was the development of an innovative toilet design.

“Fast installation, improved user comfort, and ease of waste removal were critical requirements for the design,” stresses Product Development Manager Mike Hahn. “Designing a toilet that meets these objectives demands access to robust 3D tools.”

Sanergy selected SOLIDWORKS® Premium design and SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium analysis software to develop the Fresh Life Toilet. The company chose SOLIDWORKS because it’s easy to use and provides access to integrated surfacing and simulation tools. “SOLIDWORKS enables us to do more with less,” Hahn says. “The ability to convert surfaces to solids, simulate design performance, and quickly make design changes in SOLIDWORKS takes CAD to a whole new level.”

Designing a more hygienic toilet

Sanergy used SOLIDWORKS software to develop a toilet that is hygienic in all aspects. The design comprises locally manufactured, precast concrete wall panels; a translucent ceiling panel for sunlight; an ergonomic, easy-to-clean toilet plate; a precast tile floor; a durable supercontainer that isolates waste from the environment; a solar-powered lantern for illumination; and two integrated waste cartridges, which are seamlessly inserted and removed, providing safe, hygienic storage before and during collection.

“Using SOLIDWORKS to develop the Fresh Life Toilet was extremely beneficial,” Hahn recounts. “We needed the flexibility to change the design a lot, which was quick and easy in SOLIDWORKS, and we had to create a design that could be affordably manufactured through a scalable molding process. The toilet plate was a challenging form to model and manufacture, but SOLIDWORKS helped us produce a thermoformed product which is being handled by a Washington state kayak manufacturer.”

“SOLIDWORKS enables us to do more with less. The ability to convert surfaces to solids, simulate design performance, and quickly make design changes in SOLIDWORKS takes CAD to a whole new level.” — Mike Hahn, Product Development Manager

Simulation and surfacing help refine design

Sanergy also heavily leveraged SOLIDWORKS surface modeling and structural analysis capabilities. “We took advantage of the robust surface modeling capabilities in SOLIDWORKS to create a series of lofts for the ergonomic, easy-to-clean shape of the toilet plate, which must accommodate multiple types of users— including children, men, and women of all ages—as well as to develop the waste cartridges and supercontainer,” Hahn says.

“SOLIDWORKS Simulation Premium allowed us to make the various parts as light and as affordable as possible while still maintaining adequate structural support and safety,” Hahn adds. “Simulations allowed us to realize substantial cost savings by dramatically reducing prototyping.”

Giving fresh life to slum residents

Sanergy’s Fresh Life Toilet design supports a growing program that not only makes hygienic sanitation accessible and affordable, but also creates economic opportunities for local residents. The company has installed over 623 toilets in Mukuru; employs a staff of 230, with the vast majority being Kenyans under age 25; and has franchise agreements with more than 295 operators, who earn twice the per capita gross domestic product in income. “With the Fresh Life program we focus highly on aspirations, which start with a fresh, clean, and hygienic lifestyle,” Auerbach notes. “By combining hygienic sanitation with economic opportunity, we are supporting our community to truly live ‘fresh lives,’ and SOLIDWORKS is a vital contributor in making this program a success.”

Sanergy utilized SOLIDWORKS surface modeling and structural analysis solutions to create the ergonomic Fresh Life Toilet design and make components light and affordable to manufacture, while maintaining structural support and safety.