Retrolley: turning academic invention into innovation in the market

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Turning an academic invention into innovation in the market Lucas Marques Otsuka Sao Paulo | FAU-USP | 2017


Turning an academic invention into innovation in the market

Lucas Marques Otsuka advisor:

Prof. Dr. André Leme Fleury

Final Paper Design FAU-USP June 2017

Otsuka, Lucas M. Retrolley: Transformando a invenção acadêmica em inovação no mercado / Lucas Marques Otsuka. -- São Paulo, 2017. 170 f. : il Orientador: Prof. Dr. André Leme Fleury. TCC (Graduação - Design) -- Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo, 2017. 1. Vale da Morte. 2. Ecossistemas de Inovação. 3. Design de Produto. 4. Patente. 5. Reciclagem de Resíduos da Aviação. I. Leme Fleury, Prof. Dr. André.


I thank everyone who has contributed directly

believing in our potential and giving us all the

or indirectly to this work, since the beginning

necessary support to realize our dream, and

of the project in the university. Especially, my

3D Systems, mainly Rene Paris, Raul Ferraguz,

advisor Dr. Andre Fleury, for the trust, patience

Junior Marques, Danilo Grosso and Dovair,

and support during the development of this

for helping us making our concept tangible.

project and paper. Also, to the professors Dr. Robinson Salata and Dr. Fausto Mascia, for

I am also very grateful to my family, for

the guidance during the first phases of the

understanding and for supporting me in

project and for supporting its continuation.

my studies. To Henrique Morfeu, for the companionship and help in this phase. Also

Many thanks to my friends Denise Ikuno, Lucas

to my friends Camilla Annarumma, Felipe

Neumann, Maki Shintate, Tadeu Omae and Gabriel

Massami and all the people from the Design

Reis, who made Retrolley come alive with great

course at FAU-USP. To everyone we talked to

effort. To the people working at Airbus Group,

understand how to develop the right product.

especially Ralf Schliwa, Matthias Reiss, Nicolas Jourdan, Don De Gutz and Oliver Family, for

I feel privileged to have you by my side.



This work presents the creation process of the Retrolley project, a product for waste collecting in the aircraft. The project began with a concept creation in the academic environment and has been improved to become a commercially viable product. Retrolley proposes a solution to the problem of commercial airline waste. Currently, almost no waste volume is recycled, and procedures with this type of material generate several problems during and between flights, since it is all mixed together, taking up a lot of space and time, in a context in which both factors are essential. Retrolley allows you to collect efficiently and prepares materials for recycling, saving space and time. This project was awarded in an Airbus innovation contest, which led the company to support its continuation, financing the construction of physical models for demonstration to potential clients and protecting the idea for possible licensing. As university projects have a high mortality rate until their arrival in the market, the work documents the main challenges and the strategies proposed in the process of conducting the project from the university to the reality of the market and compares it to the theory about the Valley of Death between invention and innovation. Keywords: innovation, cart; trolley; waste; aircraft; recycling; marketplace; university;


Table of Contents
























































































“Knowledge is increasingly perceived as a central driver of economic growth and innovation (OECD, 1997)�


INTRODUCTION The Oslo Manual, developed by the Organization

competition, increasingly globalized. According

for Economic Cooperation and Development

to Verganti (2009), “radical innovations, although

(OECD), proves the strategic role of knowledge

risky, are one of the greatest sources of competitive

in increasing investments in intangible aspects,

advantage in the long run.” Thus, academic programs

such as Research & Development, Education

focused on teaching the development process of

and others, which in most countries have

innovative products and services have multiplied in

escalated faster than physical investments in

universities around the world. However, there is a

the last decades. These resources applications

great deficiency in transforming innovative projects

in innovative activities result in technological

generated by the academy into marketed products

advancement, which opens opportunities to

that bring an improvement of life for its users.

increase productive capacity, generating longterm jobs and income. Therefore, the Oslo Manual

As Perlman (2013) states in an Forbes magazine

argues that one of the government’s key tasks is

article: “Innovation is not the idea, but what you do with

to create conditions that induce organizations to

it.” When the project really reaches the end user,

undertake investments and innovative activities

one notices the beneficial impact of the invention on

necessary to promote technological change.

society. Therefore, it is important to foster academic projects until they can cross the university’s borders

The corporate world has increasingly embraced

and contribute positively to the community.

innovation as a key element to stand out from the



GOALS This Final Paper presents how a product invention

understand why, once the academic cycle is over, it is

can emerge in the academic environment and

so difficult to bring students’ ideas into the market.

overcome the "Valley of Death" to become a market innovation. In order to do so, it seeks to analyze

The study of the process reports how innovation

the case of an academic project carried out during

was possible even in an industry rigidly regulated

the undergraduate course in Design at FAU-USP:

by international rules, and investigates how

the Retrolley project. This project began in the

players in the university and market ecosystem

search for a relevant solution to a complex aviation

act and contribute to the evolution of projects.

industry problem, which is waste management.

The study also focuses on the work in tune with designers, engineers and companies after the

By investigating the events during the process, this

academic context. By explaining what steps were

paper reflects on the positive and negative points,

taken and how they occurred during the project,

and can serve as a reference for future projects.

this paper aims to become a reference for Design

Thus, it compares what the group has learned from

students who wish that their ideas generated during

each phase to the theory that has been researched

college achieve their goal to be put into practice in

in the review. Reflecting on this serves precisely to

reality, improving the quality of life of its users.


MOTIVATION Throughout my academic life, hundreds of hours

hard, complicated, costly and often too risky for

were spent to develop projects that sought to be

the university or companies to undertake.

relevant, innovative and that would really make sense to be produced in the real world. However,

In spite of receiving other awards, it was only after

a constant source of frustration was the difficulty

winning a prize in an international innovation

of taking these projects forward, so that they

contest that it seemed possible that an academic

would not remain only as concepts, but impact

project I participated could cross the university’s

the people to whom they were designed.

borders. This motivated the documentation of the process so that it could be consulted by

The definition of Industrial Design presented

students who have created a concept during their

in the World Design Organization (ICSID)

graduation, but do not know how to proceed.

official website in 2017 states: Another motivation is the relevance of the “Industrial Design is a strategic problem-solving

waste disposal theme, which has an increasing

process that drives innovation, builds business success,

importance in the design of products and services.

and leads to a better quality of life through innovative

Recycling of aviation waste is an issue that has

products, systems, services and experiences.”

not been addressed effectively and can be left behind in an extremely competitive industry. The

Because the result of Design is to improve

different management of airports, airlines and

people’s quality of life, when a project does not

catering companies in the country and the world

reach them, it is as if it had failed. In fact, most

has some difficulty in separating and sending the

academic projects end up being just a concept,

waste to their respective recycling sites, which is

and never marketed, even among awards-

a fertile field for the development of the project.

winners. The steps to achieve production are



METHODOLOGY This Final Paper began to be written in the first

In each cycle, the description of the problems

half of 2016, while the Retrolley project was in

discovered, the challenges faced and the positive

the phase of building the first physical model for

and negative points of the final solution seek to

Airbus Group. To achieve the proposed goal of this

emphasize the interaction between all the players

study, it was divided into the following main steps:

and the lessons learned. In order to obtain a more dynamic and holistic view of the phenomenon under

First, before the narrative of the project’s

investigation in the context studied, several sources

development, this paper contemplated a study

were used: interviews with participants, specialists

of design, project development and innovation

and users; books, articles and videos, as well as

literature on the generation of innovative products

publications and data provided by participating

in the Academy and how to market them. This

companies and other secondary sources.

study focused not only on innovation ecosystems, but especially on the main difficulties faced by

Finally, it confronts the theory with practice,

academic projects when they attempt to arrive in

taking the lessons learned from the practical

the market, and how the theory holds that this can

part and confronting with the theory, to

be improved. Thus, special emphasis was placed

understand what took place and what

on the Valley of Death phenomenon during the

did not become reality in practice.

sequence of innovation and solutions to overcome it. Within the field of study of this work, we Second, after the literature review, qualitative

sought to understand mainly explanations

research was used, based on the single case study

for the question: how can an academic

method by participatory observation, to analyze

invention be transformed into innovation?

with depth and proximity the evolution of the Retrolley project towards its commercialization.

From this, the whole study of the practical phase

The Retrolley project was chosen because the

was guided by the following main questions:

author has been involved since its beginning. »»

What environmental factors allowed the

For the study, the project was divided into

emergence of the Retrolley project in the context of

cycles according to the context in which

the university?

they occurred and their ultimate goal:


What are the possible steps to market academic

ideas? »»



What are the barriers that prevent an academic



product project from reaching the market?






production of the prototype of the product happens in



an efficient and consistent way with the concept?




What aspects should be reviewed so that the

What were the strategies considered by the

Retrolley project to overcome the Valley of Death?


Figure 1.  phases of the project. Source: author



Literature Review

INNOVATION ECOSYSTEMS Within the field of study of this paper, it sought to

is an independent institutional sphere, but

understand mainly what happens between invention

works in cooperation with others through

and innovation. According to Garel and Mock

knowledge flows (STAL; FUJINO, 2005).

(2012), invention is the activity of imagining and realizing new goods, services and techniques. It may

This concept is related to the transformation

originate from a research or world reinterpretation

of the Industrial Society, focused on industry-

by the inventor, and may be commercially

government partnerships in the Knowledge

successful. Innovation, however, is an invention

Society, with the growing economic importance

transformed into a product or service, and exploited

of universities and research institutions

in a market or diffused in society. The innovation

in the production of knowledge.

addressed here is centered on the creation of new products, like the Retrolley. The transformation

There are three different configurations

of an invention into innovation depends on the

of power within the Triple Helix according

players’ perception of the reward of their efforts -

to Etzkowitz et al. (2000):

financial returns that the marketing of the product can bring. According to Garel and Mock (2012):


“innovation diffuses and socializes the invention”.

a fundamental role in conducting and also limiting

static configuration, in which government plays

industrial and academic players; For Jucevicius et al. (2016), innovation is the result


of the complex interaction between several separate

players are the predominant force behind the process

elements, and the functioning of innovation

of innovation and

ecosystems is dependent on the quality of both their


elements and their relationships in the system. The

institutions - universities, research institutes - are in

Stanford University Innovation Ecosystem Network

partnership with other players of the system or even

on its website defines an innovation ecosystem as:

lead the innovation process.

laissez-faire configuration, in which industry

balanced configuration, where the knowledge

“... inter-organizational, political, economic,

The latter configuration, which predicts overlapping

environmental, and technological systems through

exchange relationships reorganizing institutional

which a milieu conducive to business growth

arrangements, is generally considered the most

is catalyzed, sustained, and supported.”

desirable. Each of the helices develops internally, but also interacts with the others exchanging goods,

Within the study of innovation ecosystems,

services and functions (ETZKOWITZ et al., 2000)

there is the concept of Triple Helix that Etzkovitz (1994) describes as a spiral model of innovation

According to Jucevicius et al. (2016), a sustainable

that takes into account the multiple reciprocal

innovation ecosystem requires a different mentality

relations between Government-University-

from the traditional institutional-regulatory

Industry at different stages of the generation

approach, generally adopted in national innovation

and dissemination of knowledge. Each helix

systems, and implies a constant search for a delicate


Figure 2.  Triple Helix development phases. Source: adapted from Dossa and Segatto (2012)

balance between several factors: public and private,


long-term and short-term interventions on demand


Underdeveloped innovation and industry

and supply, among others. To that paper, some ecosystems are dominated by the supply side factor

They often have very capable individual

and the strong public and institutional infrastructure

players, but they do not have the collective

- such as France. Others are more influenced by the

capabilities at the system level.

demand side, with more pronounced micro-level entrepreneurship factors - such as Poland. There

However, Brazil has made progress in the face

are also ecosystems that can balance supply and

of these challenges, in which Triple helix became

demand factors, public and private, macro and

a “movement” for generating incubators in the

micro-factors - such as Germany and Israel - and

university context (ALMEIDA, 2005). Even

often have a higher innovation performance.

Etzkowitz (2013) recognizes the country’s progress, particularly in the evolution of incubators at a

In the case of emerging innovation ecosystems,

more advanced level than in the US, where they

Jucevicius et al. (2016) argue that they generally

were originated: “Implications of imported concepts

depend on fragmented, high-energy microeconomic

such as the incubator were more fully realized than

initiatives that are not systematically supported

at their home of origin and new formats of hybrid

by institutions and organizations. In other

innovation were created as the firm-in-a-lab”, provided

words, they lack the supply factors. For example

in the Brazilian Innovation Act in 2004, which

in Latin America, Arocena and Sutz (2000)

consists of a group of academic research group

observe that innovation systems have:

and company producing research results, articles and products at the same time in a common unit


Loose links between the players in the ecosystem;

housed at the university. According to him, “the main


Less public and private funding;

direction of innovation in Brazil has been displaced


Literature Review

by bottom-up initiatives and lateral interactions

in Brazil because of three main constraints:

as a consequence of the political transition.” »»

the gigantic tributary cost;

In this context, the university is moving from an


the cost of interest and an anomalous exchange,

institution centered essentially on teaching, to

where it is worth investing more in applications than

an organization that Etzkowitz (2003) calls the

in research and

Entrepreneurial University. For the author, with


the immense labor cost.

redefined structures and functions, she is able to direct a strategy from the formulation of clear

He points out that in São Paulo the situation is

academic objectives as to the allocation of her

somewhat better, as companies in the region

resources and research potential to a new social

face more international competition, which in

contract between her and her environment,

a way forces them to invest in innovation.

focused on economic development Society in which it operates. According to him, it is an

These discussions of technology transfer

environment conducive to innovation, by the

often revolve around the tension between the

concentration of intellectual capital, in which

university’s traditional public role and a more

students are a source of potential entrepreneurs.

entrepreneurial one, characterized by partnerships with industry, as argued by Gulbrandsen (2009).

As universities seek a new definition of their

Such partnerships are needed not only to fund

role in society, companies want new alternatives

costly research programs but also to keep the

to guarantee their permanence in the market

academy competitive in a global economy.

(FISCHMANN; CUNHA, 2003). Perlman (2013) argues that to innovate companies must work

However, critics claim that such relationships

on the connection between: strategy, process,

undermine the freedom of academic research

structure and capacity of the company. For this,

and can take knowledge out of the public

companies can supplement their shortcomings

domain. According to Segatto (1996), this

in some of these aspects with the help of the

erroneous view that in order to guarantee the

Academy. According to Perez (1999), this is

autonomy and freedom of research, the State

beneficial to the innovation ecosystem since no

should be the sole financier of them, it creates

technological development strategy will succeed

a barrier in the relation between the helices.

without a vigorous business environment research system, as for example in the USA, where only

Frenkel and Maital (2014) note that every

5% of patents come from the Academy.

innovation ecosystem suffers from an inherent paradox: the short-run business economy must

In Brazil, companies invest little in R & D compared

be strongly linked to the long-term, but at the

to other countries and this is related to the low

same time isolated, research economy. Marcovitch

number of researchers working in companies,

(1999) states that the university needs to find

as Carlos Brito Cruz points out in an interview

the right way to relate to companies, and they

with the Fapesp Agency website in 2011. He

must also know how to request the collaboration

adds that companies also Face major challenges

of the academy. For him, the intervention of


agents that better articulate this interface and

Therefore, it is concluded that improving this

value interdisciplinarity is usually necessary.

marketing process is not only a question of resources, but of executing it efficiently with

As Gaudenzi (2015) argues, societal pressure is

inventions that are really relevant to society. This

especially strong when regions try to overcome

is in line with what Perlman (2013) advocates:

an economic recession or stimulate a particularly promising industry, such as biotechnology, so

“Execution is the innovation multiplier - which means

governments increasingly seek to direct society’s

that an organization that can perform well on some

resources to Encourage universities to generate

good innovations is more powerful than one that has

economically viable technology, heating the

several great ideas with no way to execute them.”

economy. However, Frenkel and Maital (2014) argue that government interventions undermine

As it turns out, the university must answer

the performance of the innovation ecosystem in

two major questions in this regard:

the long run and Segatto (1996) also argues that government should not influence the university-


enterprise relationship because it inhibits

university will generate inventions relevant to society

flexibility and diversity between Organizations.

through quality programs and teaching that enable

first, the problem is how to ensure that the

staff to generate innovation; As Shane (2012) argues in an article on the


Bloomberg website, just targeting resources, grants,

this innovation, so that it does not only remain in the

and prizes for universities to come up with more

academic environment but rather diffuses through

projects does not mean they will become better


later, the question is how to effectively market

at generating relevant inventions and may even encourage poor, Result itself. As he argues, in 2010, inventions at American universities resulted in 657 new products - according to the Association of University Technology Managers - and that figure is similar for the past three years as well. It runs counter to policy makers who argue that doubling financial incentives for universities could double the number of new products. For him, the success in marketing these university projects requires not only capital, but mainly the ability to produce valuable inventions. He argues that while they seem beneficial, such stimuli bring a cost, which can cause the university body to neglect teaching and research by directing its marketing efforts, which is a very expensive part. In addition, universities must bear the costs of patents and agencies to handle licensing.


Literature Review

THE INNOVATION SEQUENCE This process of transforming the idea into a

Sequence of Innovation, used by Ford et al. (2007),

commercial product is called the Sequence of

which brings together Phases 3 and 4 into one.

Innovation, based on the studies of Johnson (1966). He states that “innovation is a temporal

Within the Innovation Sequence is the Development

sequence that occurs over an extended period”

of New Products, also known as NPD (New

and divides this sequence into four stages:

Product Development), which is the set of activities necessary to transform a market opportunity into


The original idea or recognition of the need for

a product available for sale, as Krishnan states.

a product or an improved process leading to the

Karl (2001). Otto and Wood (2003) complement

research, perhaps resulting in an invention and patent

that this group includes from the initial vision of


the product to the efforts of marketing, production


An affirmative decision of technical and

planning, product validation, among others.

economic viability leads to the development work and prototypes and executions of experimental

The development of relevant products at the


Academy is essential if the idea is to have the “fuel”


With the translation to commercial production, the

needed to become an innovation. In this, Design

innovation process does not stop, but continues with

is important. As postulated by Bonsiepe (1997):

improvements and dissemination to other companies

“Design refers to a special kind of innovative

and industries (“imitation”);

action that takes care of the concerns of a


The stage of dissemination and improvement

community of users. Design without innovative

of innovation at national level has a new phase as it

component is obviously a contradiction. However,

spreads to international use.

innovative action that produces something new is not enough to characterize design to its fullest

Johnson (1966) notes that the economy as a whole

extent. Breder (2009) argues that design today

receives no benefit until Phase 3 is achieved, even

represents a greater process than just solving

though Phases 1 and 2 are essential. For this work,

problems, but rather poses as the modus facendi

it was considered a simplified version of Johnson’s

that enables companies to innovate in the market.

Figure 3.  Innovation Sequence. Source: adapted from Ford et al. (2007).


THE VALLEY OF DEATH Within the Sequence of Innovation, the passage

project to continue.

from invention to innovation is mediated by the

In the financial pitfall of Valley of Death,

Valley of Death allegory presented by Branscomb

inventors face both high capital demands to put

& Auerswald (2001). It is a metaphor to describe

the invention into practice and difficulty raising

the gap between academic innovation and its

funds (MURPHY; EDWARDS, 2003). According

commercial application in the market, as defined

to Ford et al. (2007), governments focus their

by Gulbrandsen (2009). In the literature, there are

investments on fundamental research by drawing

distinct interpretations of what exactly this phase

the left-hand curve of the chart, and the industry

of the Valley of Death consists of, and the House

is heavily invested in product development for

of Commons Science and Technology Committee

rapid commercialization, tracing the right-hand

(HCSTC, 2013) stipulates that there may already

curve. According to Jucevicius et al. (2016), in the

be a functional prototype of the idea, but not yet

intermediate phase of the Innovation Sequence,

Was developed enough to raise funds with sales.

costs may increase approximately fivefold compared to previous phases, so partnerships

The Valley of Death is related to the riskiest

or government support are needed, but ROI

stage following innovation, which involves

is very uncertain: 9 in every 10 investment

technology demonstration, customer

projects fail. Discouraged, private investors

validation, and prototyping on a larger scale

opt for safer investment alternatives and often

than laboratorial, but smaller than industrial

abandon projects related to innovation.

scale (JUCEVICIUS ET AL., 2016). According to Arrow (1962), it is expected that For Branscomb & Auerswald (2001), there are

without intervention, private industry will tend to

several gaps or issues between the two extremes of

invest little in research and development because

Valley of Death to be overcome, especially the gaps:

of the risks. So he concluded that it is necessary for the government or some other non-profit-


Financial, which includes resources to finance

oriented agency to fund research. According to

the generation of ideas, the demonstration of

Ford et al. (2007), not even a large and growing

the functioning of its principle and the necessary

venture capital industry, specializing in high-risk

resources to transform it into a ready-to-market

ventures, is sufficient to eliminate all inefficiencies

prototype, ie with specifications, production costs and

at the intermediate stage of the sequence, since

well-defined markets;

it has been proven that these firms actually

Research, which involves substantial research

concentrated more and more Their efforts in larger

required to transform the initial idea into a product

projects and more evolved over time. Thus, venture

with sufficient quality, cost and functionality to

capital funds are rarely available at a reasonable

survive in the marketplace.

cost for intermediate-stage projects. Auerswald



Information and Trust, which includes conflict of

interests, cultural differences and perceptions that

and Branscomb (2003) point out that only 4% of venture capital investments are at this stage.

reside in each of the fundamental players of the Innovation Sequence and that must be solved for the

For Ford et al. (2007) the presence of what is called


Literature Review

Figure 4.  Valley of Death in the Innovation Sequence. Source: adapted from Jucevicius et al. (2016)

“non-economic activities” in the early stages of the

Segatto (1996), fundamental research usually

R & D process is what creates a “voucher” later in

implies results only achieved in the long term, while

the intermediate stage of the innovation sequence.

companies often do not have this time availability.

These activities refer to government investments in early-stage basic research that are not made for

Murphy and Edwards (2003) add that it is difficult

only potential gains to the private sector. According

to conduct high-risk long-term research in the

to the authors, these activities are not necessarily

early stages to please the public sector, while

inappropriate, since only encouraging research

prioritizing the development of a market-driven

with an economic objective also does not generate

product for private finance. According to them,

excellent results. Government may be the largest

the strong focus on technical development often

non-economic agent, who sponsors basic research

results in a naive understanding of business and

for a number of reasons beyond the development of

markets by the creator. For them, this focus can

direct economic profit, but there are also privately

keep resources and attention away from issues

funded research institutions and even researchers

that can make a business a success. They also

looking for research only to expand the knowledge.

add that the private sector deems the project to be attractive not only for technology but also

This discussion refers again to the barriers in

for management, market, liquidity and project

the relations between the three propellers and

structure in that order of priority. But often the

also to the problems found in the Branscomb &

invention does not have a team of managers

Auerswald (2001) research gap. According to

capable of bringing the invention to market.


Table S-1. Key Characteristics & Perspectives of Public and Private Sector Investors Public Sector Investors

Private Sector Investors

!" Develop promising technology options that meet public sector needs by reducing early technology risks that private sector investors would otherwise not assume !" Private sector will subsequently exercise its option to invest !" Technology Focused development of high quality innovations o Early, high risk RD&D o Technology performance and cost reduction o Technology certification and performance verification !" Technical showstoppers

!" Profitable investments in technology based businesses that address real market needs investments that are technology neutral within the context of meeting customer needs

Other key contributing investor insights / expertise / strengths

!" Technology based perspectives on: o Capabilities, benefits and applications o Technical competition (possible) !" Macro market perspectives on energy needs and trends !" Perspective on public policy and public good needs & trends, as well as the potential to impact !" Standards development

!" Business and Financial perspectives on: o Market driven, customer benefits o Broader (beyond energy) sets of industry applications o Market competition !" Specific market perspectives and trends for energy and other applications including market beachhead, and entry strategies !" Ability to factor public policy impacts into investment and business formation decisions effectively

Key constraints on collaborations

!" Investment collaborations must abide by governmental regulations including those for fairness of opportunities, and not competing with the private sector !" Commercialization viewed as responsibility of private sector !" Collaborations that accelerate the deployment and use of the technology in which the public sector invests

!" Investment collaborations should reduce the risk and improve the profitability of investments

Key Goals

Investment Focus

Biggest Concern

Key enablers needed

Differences in funding Process

!" Competitive written proposals judged mainly by a technology focused review team; decisions sometimes appealed !" Non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) not unusual

Pay Off

!" Technology is commercialized and public good goals are met including energy diversity, security, and environmental protection !" Public sector has no direct ownership

!" Early, prudent investments in market focused businesses that emphasize: o Strong management teams o Products - not technologies o Market development and access to these markets; customer driven !"

Customer and market showstoppers

!" Access to the information, people, knowledge and data necessary for sound investments !" Entrepreneurs that are predisposed to, and/or already focused on, market /customer product and business development issues !" Final decisions based in large part on presentations by management team; supported by extensive due diligence; decisions seldom reconsidered and not subject to review by higher authority !" NDA’s very rarely used !" Profit through capital appreciation, i.e., increase in value of ownership stake. Profits are often realized at later investment stages through an exit strategy

Figure 5.  private public Source: Murphy e Edwards For their part, and DOE and sector NREL investors’perspectives. are often constrained, by public policy and (2003) legal

mandates, to treat commercialization as the responsibility of the private sector – public sector managers know they can’t be perceived as picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Rather, the public sector sees its role as funding high-risk, long-term research and occasionally funding cost-

2 27

Literature Review

OVERCOMING THE VALLEY OF DEATH These observations are in line with the article by

Jucevicius et al. (2016) argues that even the

Muth and Rosenzweig (2016), which emphasizes the

healthiest ecosystems can not eliminate

difficulty of academic professionals in recognizing

the Valley of Death, but because they have

the commercial potential of scientific discoveries

a balance between demand and supply of

due to the lack of effective training on the subject.

solutions, they can minimize its effects.

Even when this potential is recognized, it is common that the end result of scientific research is just a

For Murphy and Edwards (2003), there are 3 major

patent, which is often left untouched by the lack of

challenges to overcoming the Valley of Death:

interest of academia or companies in pursuing the development and commercialization of technology.


Reduce discrepancies and asymmetries of

information between public and private sectors; In the information and trust gap, Murphy


and Edwards (2003) point out that there are

focus to market focus;

asymmetries of values between the public and


private sectors, which have only a vague notion of

partnerships with the private sector.

Encourage an accelerated shift from technology Explore and develop new cooperative investment

what motivates each one. For example, the public sector believes that the private sector will invest

The authors acknowledge that challenges and

depending on the quality of the technology. After

solutions are often interrelated. This may be

the creation of the technology, the public sector

a reason to associate them with each of the

believes that it is not its role to continue investing

shortcomings presented by Branscomb &

in the idea so that it can be commercialized and

Auerswald (2001), for example, the information

left in the hands of private investors to evaluate

and confidence gap can be overcome through the

what is good for the market. But to invest, the

recommendations of Murphy and Edwards (2003)

private sector is actually looking for safer projects

to reduce asymmetries among the players:

with high financial returns and robust markets. The authors add that none of the sectors believe


that it is their role to support the transition to

between the public sector, industry and investors. By

commercialization. Therefore, the challenge

working on good relationships between stakeholders,

is to grow from academic production with a

this helps to leverage investors’ knowledge of market

focus on technology to focus on the market.

identification and creation and can reduce time to

Encourage early and frequent interactions

market and the size of the Valley of Death; Other asymmetries involve the requirement of


confidentiality on the part of companies, which

assistance, and information as public domain on the

prevent the sharing of academic discoveries

macro-level market and technical data;

with society. While universities maintain a


disregard for the needs of the productive

private sector investors to access public technology

sector, this in turn focuses on competitive

programs and their managers in advance, in addition

advantages and profit, mostly sought in the

to data and related insights within the constraints of

short term (Murphy and Edwards, 2003).

the public sector;


Provide investors with advice and technical

Establish appropriate procedures that enable


Include the opinion of private investors on the

Muth and Rosenzweig (2016) argue that although

valuation criteria that public investors use to select

American programs to encourage academic

their investments, improving their ability to invest.

inventions are quite successful, “there is a growing realization that the time lag between initial scientific discovery and the development and introduction

On this gap, HCSTC (2013) looked at the

of technologies or products to the market remains

entrepreneurship environment in UK universities

Very large - in many cases, about 20 years! “.

and concluded that companies need to feel

According to Brito Cruz in an interview with Globo

the government’s confidence in these policies

University in 2013, in order for the bases of future

so that support for innovation in the future is

development to be solid and the benefits of the

clear. Creating the right environment requires

medium term also happen, a country’s research

the encouragement of research, intellectual

portfolio must have a balanced content between

property and the building of effective policies.

applied research and fundamental research, In Brazil, where companies invest little in research.

For HCSTC (2013), the prolonged presence of industry people with reasonable funds within

Even so, technology transfer offices, technology

colleges would facilitate a greater understanding

parks, business incubators have been created at

of business imperatives and the most effective

the interface between universities, companies

ways of involving university resources. However,

and the market with the purpose of conducting

the study recognizes that a very aggressive

basic research, but with industrial relevance in

innovation agenda should not be imposed on the

Brazil (SBRAGIA, 2006). For Jucevicius et al.

academy because it can undermine the quality

(2016), emerging ecosystems should not be based

of teaching and research. Finally, it is important

on the institutionalist approach, for even with its

that the strategy is not fragmented but that the

advantages, the ultimate success of innovative

path to be followed to reach the market is clear.

initiatives stems from the entrepreneurial spirit, motivation and capabilities of the players in the

According to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan

system. Therefore, despite the importance of

(CURTIS, 2013), the way out of this voucher

investing in innovation support infrastructure,

would be to focus on the long-term potential of

we must continue to focus on building an

technology and the true value it can bring. Ankit

entrepreneurial culture and stronger standards of

Shukla, Director of Practice for this consultancy,

behavior. According to them, emerging ecosystems

says innovative products are different because

are able to show good practices in this area to

they do not fit into existing standards:

their more institutionalized partners, but they must refine their strategies to discover some

“Sometimes the revenue is not so obvious and

deeper patterns and a more original competitive

the return on investment (ROI) can take longer.

identity. Thus, they need to gradually complement

The important thing here is to educate end users

their entrepreneurial forces with institutions,

and society about the benefits that innovative

resources and the capacity for collective learning.

technology products can bring.”


Literature Review

Para ajudar a resolver a lacuna financeira, os To

by speeding up the marketing process and

help solve the financial gap, projects have some

increasing the return on investments. The

limited options to find needed funding (HCSTC,

four key elements of these programs are:

2013). One is to look for investors, such as angel investors and Venture Capital funds, which are often


international funds that gain much of the control of

opportunities for entrepreneurs to present their

the project, causing the original inventors to lose

business cases to a panel of experts and executives.

their autonomy, and above all, that resources leave


the country Prematurely, since the project could

committed to incubating and providing business

generate even more jobs and income for the country.

services to entrepreneurs in the sector. 3.

Forums similar to venture capital forums that offer

Alliance of the best incubators in the country

Directory containing contact and profile

The study states that alternatively, programs can

information for more than a dozen investors who are

try government programs as financial support,

currently interested in making quality investments

but must face the extremely bureaucratic steps,

in the industry and helping the business owner to

a fierce competition and that usually results in

become a success in the market.

only a timely aid to get the idea of the paper. The


study therefore recommends that the government

that are looking for financing opportunities,

re-examine its portfolio of interventions to

partnerships and growth, so investors can find

determine where gaps are located and ensure

technologies that combine their investments and

that funding is consistently spread across the

strategic interests.

An online directory of companies in the industry

spectrum of small to large business needs. Murphy and Edwards (2003) argue that new

As for the research gap, Murphy and

co-investment partnerships with the private

Edwards (2003) advocates an accelerated

sector should be explored and developed. To do

shift to focus on the market:

this, the private sector’s risk perception needs to be reduced, such as trying to demonstrate


the effectiveness of the solution before a

and technical aspects while receiving guidance from

wider application is considered. In addition,

investors, incubators and other experts as well

recommendations can be followed to overcome

as from potential technology users and product

the other two gaps - research and information and


trust. For example, providing investors with more


technical knowledge, giving investors access to

the progress of the idea toward additional goals and

early-stage public sector ventures, among others.

milestones that address its feasibility. For example,

Encourage companies to develop both business

Continue to offer public funding depending on

these milestones may be linked to receiving invitations According to the authors, in the US, business

to presentations in forums, being accepted into an

development programs act as catalysts for

incubator, obtaining a substantial licensing agreement,

promoting bonds and partnerships between

among others;

investors, entrepreneurs and other players


in the marketing process. These partnerships

opportunities in a timely manner before competition

can help reduce the risk of new investments

can overcome them, and analyze how public sector


Promote creators’ ability to respond to market

requirements for cost sharing may be limiting such

entrepreneurship opportunities, stimulating the


development of entrepreneurial ideas that can later


Encourage the development of technologies that

be allocated to programs for students and academic

are platforms for multiple applications and products


to increase the value of technologies and reduce the


risk to the private sector;

coaching sessions that support startups teams


Encourage ventures to access and use the best

Provide access to counseling, coaching and

to compose and learn the right mix of skills and

business development experience available, including

knowledge for their endeavor;

that available in incubators.


Create a collaborative network of investors,

managers and advisors to help beginners gain access to resources and build social capital; HCSTC (2013) concludes that the key stages in


bringing academic innovation further include

governing the university’s spin-off process, to improve

identifying the ideas worth investing in, finding the

the fair treatment of the parties involved, and to

means to finance it, and providing the necessary

separate the spin-off process from academic and

technological and human capacity. As resources

teaching research; and

are scarce, it is important to find the winners,


that is, the ventures and ideas that will use the

entrepreneurship through the creation of rules and

resources in the best possible way. The paper

examples that motivate entrepreneurial behavior.

To clearly define the rules and procedures

To shape university culture so that it reinforces

questions the UK government’s choice criteria, opting only for safe, well-presented investments, and ignoring the most interesting ideas. The

In the context of the Dutch institutions, these

government must take into account the sector

guidelines have configured success factors in the

of the economy that it intends to stimulate as

commercialization of projects. In analyzing this

a criterion in the selection of the “winners”.

Dutch study, Barr et al. (2009) sought to analyze the teaching process of NPD and its commercialization

To generate innovations it is important to know how

in the context of a North American university.

to produce relevant inventions in the university.

The term COT (Commercialization of Technology)

In this context, an important paper on this was

is widely used to describe this process in the

written by Van Burg et al. (2009) defending five

specialized literature. The Americans conclude

pillars for success in creating university spin-offs.

that most of the elements proposed by Van

Spin-off, in this case, is the term used to designate

Burg et al. (2009) are present in their academic

a new venture that was born from a research group

program, with the exception of the fourth point,

of a university with the purpose of exploring a

which advocates the teaching and research

new product or service. According to the study, an

division of the university’s spin-off, because they

infrastructure for the creation of spin-offs, which

think the spin-off process is useful for teaching

includes a collaborative network of investors,

students technological entrepreneurship.

managers and advisors, should be created first, and then follow the following guidelines:

Barr et al. (2009) also conclude that “the use of real technologies in a team environment, with


To raise awareness in the institution about

content and specialists who support teams, allows


Literature Review

students to be fully involved in the early stages of

all members to make evolution easier; Work for

the TOC process, than in an education based more

longer and more spaced periods of time than several

tradition In case studies or in creating business

smaller and more frequent periods; Emphasize the

plans around an existing business concept. “ These

importance of the business model at all stages;

initial phases are the most crucial for the creation

Work with diversity in the team, among others.

of value proposition, in which the ideal relationship between technology-product-market is identified. This relationship allows students to start from technology, but quickly seeks to understand the decisive role in the commercialization of product and market forces, thus effectively integrating two important concepts of business logic: “technology push” and “market pull”. In the North American context, four are the requirements to build an academic program geared toward developing innovations for the market. According to Barr et al. (2009), the program should be: »»

Real: the opportunity to create entrepreneurship

must be perceived as authentic by the students from the beginning, and students who do not have this ambition must be aware of this in enrollment; »»

Intensive: initial research efforts should be

strengthened mainly in the early stages to build consistent proposals that will stand up to the obstacles that will come in the next stages; »»

Interdisciplinary: working with people from

different areas helps to create an environment where everyone is ignorant in at least some area of knowledge and fosters openness to learn new skills; »»

Iterative: the nonlinear process forces students

to become accustomed to reviewing decisions as surprises happen, reinforcing project effectiveness and avoiding underestimation of scope;

The document also complements the list with other suggestions such as splitting the project into small steps with tasks explicitly presented to



cycle 1



THE USP CONTEXT Within the discussion of the university’s role, one

passed to the project groups during the courses. It

must study the context in which the Retrolley

is common to see people with quite different skills

project was born. In the context of the University of

and career goals composing the same project team.

São Paulo (USP), in 2006, the graduation course in Design was implemented, based on the suggestion

In spite of being a FAU course, it also has the

of creation and allocation of this course at the

collaborations of the Polytechnic School (Poli-USP),

Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU-USP),

the School of Communications and Arts (ECA-USP)

made by the Federation of Industries of the State

and the Faculty of Economics and Administration of

of São Paulo (FIESP) to the Secretariat of Science

the University of São Paulo (FEA-USP ), Which gives

and Technology and Economic Development of

the formation a very multidisciplinary character,

the State of São Paulo. As noted, the industry

characteristic of the field of Design. For example,

itself called for the university to create more

the academic project that is the object of study of

competent people to respond to the challenges

this work resulted from the scope of integrated

of market design. The FAU-USP program has a

design courses of the Design course during the

comprehensive field training, with no specific

second semester of 2011. The discipline Project

skills in Visual Design or Product Design. Because

of Product IV - Transportation (AUP-2408) was

it is a panoramic field course, this in a way gives

offered by Prof . Dr. Robinson Salata and was

students a certain heterogeneity, which can be

integrated to the discipline of Product Engineering

Figure 6.  University of Sao Paulo, Butantã campus. Source: author


Project II (PRO-2718) offered by Prof. Dr. Fausto

gradually multidisciplinary teams collaborating

Mascia of Poli-USP. The subject of the semester was

to generate innovation. Therefore, the University

work and the context of the disciplines planned to

of SĂŁo Paulo in recent years has created some

elaborate a design project to solve some problem

disciplines that encompass students from various

of the aeronautical industry. The same work for

courses for a common goal, such as the 7600001

these disciplines should also be presented in the

- Innovation and Entrepreneurship discipline,

discipline of Ergonomics I - taught by Profa. Dr. Uiara

promoted by the USP Innovation Agency (AUSPIN),

Montedo, also from Poli-USP. The integration of

with a workload divided between Online and

materials has the advantage of being able to produce

in person. In addition, the Integrated Product

more complete projects, which cover different

Development discipline offered by the Polytechnic

areas, so a more holistic Design thinking is needed.

School of USP (Poli-USP), more specifically by the Department of Production Engineering, is

Even so, it is important to note that because it is a

a good example of multidisciplinary teaching

Design course, the technical skills of other areas

to generate product development. This course,

such as Engineering and Marketing are taught only

inspired by ME310 Design Innovation at Stanford

superficially, since they are not the focus. Thus,

University, California, brings together students

although it is possible to achieve a high degree of

from diverse courses in multidisciplinary groups

development in product design, often when the

to solve a problem usually posed by a company or

proposal is innovative and requires the application

organization. The quality of the professionals that

of technology in an unconventional way, the final

the university shape increases as they come into

proposals are somewhat incomplete. This fact

contact with the process of product development

in itself does not greatly affect the training of

with real requirements. When designing for

students, but for most complex products, it does

existing business limitations, design can go out

not offer the necessary instruments for a project in

of the conceptual phase and really be doable

a discipline to result in a complete product, closer

with local conditions. However, even with the

to reality to be produced, presented to a potential

participation of companies, the projects face great

manufacturer Or at least protected by patent

obstacles in order to be implemented in reality.

more effectively. As a lawyer interview, a product that results only from a design project can hardly achieve effective protection over the idea, without a company being able to copy by altering just a few elements, as will be discussed further below. The multidisciplinarity of the FAU-USP Design course makes the students have contact with teachers from other areas, but the lack of contact with students from other careers composing a project group is detrimental in preparing students adequately for the reality of the market , With




Figure 7.  team members. Source: author

As previously mentioned, the object of study

products and services. In areas where technical

of this work is an academic project originated

constraints are extremely rigid, designing the

from two compulsory subjects of the FAUUSP

equipment is almost entirely done by technical

Design course grid in the second semester of

people - such as engineers, technologists,

2011 - Product Design IV - Transport and Product

standards experts - making radical innovations

Engineering Project II. Since the theme of the

brought not by design - because they are more

semester was work, students should form groups

difficult to implement - but by technology.

of up to 5 members to develop a design project that solved some problem of the aeronautical

Using design methods such as Human-Centered

industry, focusing on the activities of the workers.

Design and the methods cited by Baxter (1998), students were encouraged by teachers to follow

During this six-month project, students were

the basic structure of Design methods:

challenged to look to the aviation industry to find a problem with potential innovation opportunity.


Identify the problem

Aviation industry companies are heavily reliant


Analyse the data

on innovation to remain relevant in the market.


Propose alternatives

However, this is an industry that is also heavily


Troubleshoot the problem

regulated by international bodies, which can cause a number of limitations on the design of


UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM They thus developed a project that could help

During the research, in addition to the interviews,

significantly reduce a problem while bringing

several articles and information were found from

benefits to players throughout the chain.

different sources dealing with the problem of disposal in airlines and airports. In a February

After visiting the factory of Embraer, a Brazilian

2010 issue, The New York Times published a story

manufacturer of aircraft, the international airports

on the subject, in which it denounced the lack of

of Congonhas and Guarulhos, and talking to various

zeal of the air system as a whole to address the

players in the airline industry (pilots, passengers,

environmental problem. It is an industry based

commissioners, among others) what most attracted

on high consumption of fossil fuels and leaves

the attention of the group were the various

a great “environmental footprint” on the planet.

comments And complaints about waste and its

Airports and airlines should, according to the

management. With more in-depth research, both

newspaper, create programs that can reduce

with desk research and field research, the group

this impact through better management of their

concluded that collecting, managing and recycling

waste. Despite the pressure from both clients,

passenger waste was a very problematic and

employees and the media have increased in recent

unsatisfactory part of the industry, thus a fertile

years, the current numbers remain disastrous.

ground for improvement and innovation. Therefore, the group formed by the students Lucas Otsuka,

The same article cites data collected in the

Lucas Neumann, Maki Shintate, Tadeu Omae and

United States that estimate that less than 20% of

Denise Ikuno decided to look for a solution for

the waste produced at the country’s airports is

the wastes collected during the flight, especially

recycled, which is even lower than the country’s

regarding the work of the commissioners today.

31% annual recycling average. Only aluminum cans discarded annually at American airports

These same disciplines were also studied by another

would provide enough raw material for the

group of students, who chose to address the

construction of 58 Boeing 737 aircraft. In 2004,

problem of loading luggage on airplanes. This project

9,000 tons of plastic were discarded. Projections

also managed to elaborate an innovative solution

show, for example, that a recycling rate of 70%

and will be better addressed in this paper later.

of this material would be equivalent to removing 80,000 vehicles from American roads. An extensive report published by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in 2006 suggests that airlines could save more than $ 100,000 per year through recycling and waste management. This same study also states that there is not only one culprit in the issue of waste management, but rather a shared responsibility between all parties involved in the ecosystem, which in this case are airports, airlines, suppliers,



Figure 8.  meal in a TAP flight. Source: author

Figure 9.  waste generated in-flight. Source: author

Figure 10.  meal example. Source: Airline Meals

Figure 11.  meal example. Source: Airline Meals

Figure 12.  trolley at a TAM flight. Source: Retrolley

Figure 13.  meal during a flight by TAM. Source: Retrolley


municipalities, private waste companies and

Obviously, although necessary, on-board screening

agencies Of national security. Half of the waste is

can bring a host of new concerns for airlines. Most

produced by airlines, while the other half comes

of them and their crew know that the lack of space

from the airports themselves, such as toilets, shops,

on the aircraft as well as lack of time both for air

restaurants and offices. For example, it would be

and ground procedures are the main limitations

of no use, for example, the selective collection of

to the practice of recycling does not happen.

materials in flight if there is no proper collection service on the ground. And the opposite is also

The catering companies that receive this waste then

true, as the separation of the garbage in the early

end up spending a lot of resources to send the waste

stages of its disposal is what streamlines the

to an incineration company, and the recyclable

process on land and makes it viable. Otherwise,

part, which costs nothing to be withdrawn by

according to the report, the system does not work.

recycling companies, ends up being tiny.

According to the Airport Council International,

Even with the hurdles, not only airlines, but

aircraft waste management, despite traveling

corporations and communities are looking for

thousands of miles across the globe, is a

changes. Delta Airlines and Virgin America have

local problem, given the importance of land

already developed a number of procedures to

infrastructure. Each airport has its peculiarities and

improve their recycling rates. Toyota North America

spatial organization, which makes a standardized

has already achieved its goal of sending less than 5%

collection protocol very difficult to implement.

of its waste to landfills. They are working to expand

According to the airlines and their crew there is a

new recycling, composting and waste conversion

lack of information on the facilities of each airport,

opportunities to achieve their zero waste goal

which makes it impossible to know if sorting

in 2020. This type of strategy and commitment

recyclables on board is necessary or only a waste of

shows that there is a major environmental concern

time, since if the terrestrial infrastructure is non-

going on and people are moving with the cause.

existent, everything will be mixed again at the end. A very important actor in this context is the set of standards present in Animal By-products Regulations (2005) which places restrictions on how International catering waste (Cat 1 ICW) should be handled, stored and discarded in order to prevent the spread of diseases . Where there is any type or by-product of meat or fish, the entire waste bag is considered contaminated and requires incineration. Therefore, for any material used in flight to be recycled, it is imperative that the sorting of waste is carried out on board, avoiding that the recyclable materials come into contact with animal by-products.



THE USERS Waste management in civil aviation depends largely

in cases of cleaning and sanitation, and trolleys

on trolleys, which is an English term meaning

leaving the aircraft are only those carrying food,

stroller. They are used inside the aircraft both for

the responsibility of the catering company. They

food supply and for collecting waste. This work

also said that the two garbage trolleys on Embraer

is mostly performed by commissioners. Thus, the

model 190 and 195 airplanes are often not

end-users of the solution would mainly be airline

enough to collect the waste from all passengers.

flight attendants with on-board service. There are also employees of cleaning companies inside the

All respondents agreed that waste collection was

plane, airport commissioner services, employees

usually rushed due to time and space constraints.

of Catering companies, among others. For the

Some companies do not use trolleys in the hallway

discipline, the students got some interviews with

and their stewards pass just by holding plastic

stewards and employees of a catering company.

bags wearing gloves. These bags are then taken to the kitchen where they will be deposited in the

In October 2011, the group interviewed some

trash (a full-size trolley) or on an electric trash

commissioners from the company TAM (now

compactor. There is no separation of recyclable

Latam) and Azul, who passed on to the team

materials in this procedure, the only things that

information on procedures and waste on board.

are separate are cutlery, crockery and large

Among other matters discussed, they noted that

bottles that are stored in the trolleys used for

garbage trolleys do not leave the aircraft, only

meals, collected by the catering company.









Air France

A330 / A340

GRU Airport




A319 / 320

CGH Airport

São Paulo



A319 / 320

Gate Gourmet Catering




A319 / 320


S. J. Campos







Figure 14.  list of interviews. Source: author


Figure 15.  list of organizations visited. Source: author

Figure 16.  grup visiting Congonhas Airport. Source: Retrolley

Figure 17.  stewards sorting recyclables after meal. Source: G1



FIELD RESEARCH Even with the interviews, there were still several

for some time and the weight of the trolleys

new doubts, increasingly specific, ranging

also depends on the airlines. The calculation

from simple tasks of the routine of the users,

is done according to the balancing of the

which needed to be explained in more detail, to

airplane (galleys, crew, fuel, passenger, etc.).

particularities of the logistics performed for food

Galley is the term used to designate the aircraft

and garbage in the aircraft of different companies.

kitchen, where food is stored and prepared

It was then necessary to meet with people from

It is important to note that no hot food comes

different specialties of the airline industry to

out of the company except soup and other hot

expose the group’s first ideas about the product

liquids that come in thermal bottles, even foods

and identify possible problems that had not been

that are served hot to the passenger, leave the

thought out. The group contacted Gate Gourmet

catering company refrigerated and only on the

catering company - responsible for the service

aircraft is they are heated in the oven . Usually

on airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Air

it is the airlines that provide the packaging,

Lines - in October 2011. This visit made possible

both disposable and dishwasher safe. There are

the knowledge of the materials (packaging,

rarer cases where outsourcing occurs, that is,

dishes, disposables) that are normally used in

the packaging is bought from other suppliers;

the service. The process of preparing the food. Due to the limited number of vacancies, only

From the airline’s point of view, it is beneficial

two members of the group were present and

to provide your own packaging for the sake

the visit was led by the quality manager and the

of design while maintaining a standardized

company’s administrative coordinator. As is often

language consistent with your identity. Keeping

the case with corporate visits, it was not possible

its own packaging in circulation helps the

to record any photos or video of the visit.

company to increase its credibility among customers, demonstrating care and quality

It was found that the production of food takes place

in the products supplied to passengers;

according to the requirements of the customers, that is, of the airlines. Each company has its own menu

Large companies such as Gate Gourmet serve

and usually the meal cycle changes each month.

more than one airline, so the supplied packages are stored separately by airline, as well as cutlery and

There are meals that are mounted directly on trays

crockery, which are sanitized at Gate Gourmet.

- which will be stored in the food trolley - and are usually the meals of the crew. Others are assembled

For hot meals on board, dishes can be used,

on the plane by the stewards, in which case the

“hot” - a term used in the area of a ​​ luminum

plates are placed separately on the trolleys.

packaging - and packages of melanin. The latter is also not disposable, but returnable,

About the logistics, some trolleys have dry ice

and if heated alone can melt, but by containing

in an attempt to keep the temperature low

food it remains in its original form.


As it was found that the airline has the power to

The liquids that remain in the bottles have two

decide on most of the elements that influence the

destinations: either they keep in the bottle

design of the current trolleys, the group decided

or they are thrown into a sink that throws

to look for the contact of some of them. The only

the liquid out of the airplane, spraying it. The

one that was successful was Gol, who designated

company does not use beverage cans to serve

Memory Gol to summon the professionals

passengers, which is a specific decision of the

needed for a visit. A meeting was scheduled for

company, and the juices left in the box of TetraPak

November 2011, in the company’s building in

are not discarded but used in other smaller

São Paulo, where it was possible to discuss with

flights, ie do not throw the juice left out.

different professionals issues related to the waste collection process. For security reasons, it was not

To obtain a parameter for all the information

possible to authorize a visit to an actual aircraft

discussed in the interview, an example of a

cabin, or even access to trolley storage areas.

188-passenger flight from an overhead bridge was used as an example. Thus, the collection of

During the visit, the group obtained more specific

waste occurs twice: once after passing the food

data on the volume, weights, quantities of food and

cart, and another few minutes before landing.

also on the system of collection of waste. However,

These gatherings last, on average, 10 minutes.

it should be noted that they refer to the systems that

The second pickup is made only with a tote

Gol uses, with some points that are specific to the

bag without the trolley, ie two commissioners

airline, but which were useful for the group, since it

pass through the aisle holding a tote bag by the

was the first time direct contact happened, involving

hand, and after that, it is stored in the toilet.

the Group with problems and punctual situations that, in fact, appear in an air trip. There were two

On average, between 1 and 3 disposable cups per

persons responsible for cleaning the aircraft, as well

passenger are consumed, and all these numbers

as the chief of commissioners and a flight attendant.

are usually exactly the amount consumed, so as not to generate overweight on the plane.

It was discovered that there are 3 types of waste inside the aircraft:

Normally, there are two waste trolleys in the aircraft - one in the front galley and the other


aircraft waste, collected in trolleys;


cleaning companies waste and


catering company waste, such as packaging that is



Disposable cups


2 L PET bottle


are: bottles of soda, juice, glasses, napkins

Tetra Pak boxes


and packaging, the rest of the collection

1,5 L water bottles


collected by the catering companies, who return to it. At Gol, the waste that the trolleys collect

is made by the Catering company. Figure 18.  waste composition supplied by GOL.



Figure 19.  waste inside a trolley during a regular

Figure 20.  trolley with meal trays inside a galley.

flight. Source: interviewee

Source: interviewee

in the back - and two fixed dumps - one in the

Interestingly, the company even mentioned

other rear. To discharge the waste, only the bags

that it has a trash separation trolley

leave the aircraft after landing, the garbage

project, but with Infraero’s unsustainable

trolleys only leave the aircraft for sanitation.

policy, the project was stopped.


BENCHMARKING To better understand the problems faced by

of space by pushing with the own hands the trash

workers, it was crucial to know the options of

already discarded;

trolleys in the market today. Current trolleys are


Non-intuitive door locking;

produced by a few multinational companies, with


The need to change the garbage bag during the

Zodiac Corporation being the most important.

journey, which implies a second compartment to

A little smaller companies like Iacobucci also

house the first one;

have a portion of the international market. In addition, there are electric waste compactors installed in galleys that can be used in addition

It is important to note that there are basically two

to trolleys to reduce the volume of waste.

predominant types of galleys on the market, the so-called ATLAS and KSSU, and they interfere

The choice of lightweight materials is justified so as

with the trolley models that can be used in

not to compromise the flight of the aircraft, but it is

them. The difference between these types is

also necessary that the structure of the trolleys hold

in the spacing between the shelves or drawers,

the entire weight of the food trays or the amount of

the ATLAS type has a pattern of fittings every

litter. Thus, aluminum is a material commonly used to

60mm, or KSSU, every 30mm, ie, comparing

structure them, more specifically aviation aluminum,

the two types in a same height, the type KSSU

which has in copper and zinc the main elements of

has more shelves than the ATLAS type.

the alloy, being resistant as structural aluminum, but also with a layer of surface protection.

The KSSU type is the least used by airlines (including KLM, Swissair, United and Cathay

At the time, trolleys and market procedures were

Pacific), the vast majority (from 80 to 90%) use

studied through user observation and interviews.

ATLAS. Both types are compatible, that is, they can

The main problems faced by users were:

be exchanged between them, since they have an interchangeable system between the two types.


the height the garbage bag must be lifted to

remove it from the trolley;

In addition to analyzing the products on the market,


low quality pedals that lock during travel;

the study of ways to collect the residues on board


displacement of the trolley made difficult by not

has been studied. It has been found that collecting

presenting any type of retreat for the steps; »»

absence of a container to discard liquids, having

the waste generated by on-board services is a challenge that runs up against the problems of:

to throw them in the bathroom sink, which is neither operational nor practical during the collection of


limited time,

waste from the passengers;


diversity of materials to be collected,


dafety on board and


recycling capacity.


easy filling of trolley space with large volumes

of air such as cups, metal and paper food packaging, napkins and cans. This forces the commissar to change the bags during the flight or to force the opening



In a peculiar way, the airline service Azul presents

provide a comfortable seating position, so it is often

a model of non-adhesion of the food trolley to

seen that they are supporting the tray and baskets

serve its passengers, considering that their absence

in the armchair or at the waist. In addition, noting

reduces the weight of the airplane and leaves the

the orders, then transporting the required foods,

on-board service more personal. In addition, in case

generates a continuous flow in the aisles of the

of unexpected turbulence, commissioners can move

airplane, and this can generate trays and baskets,

more easily through the corridors. Customer service

and a possible drop in food or injury. Another

is as follows: as described in the Airline Trends

problem generated by this model is that the food

article: Commissioners pass through the corridors,

takes a long time to reach the passengers, as the

noting the passengers’ drink requests, which can

team gets overwhelmed with the first drink orders.

choose between four varieties of soft drinks and water, and then return with the Orders on a tray.

It has also been found that many airlines rely

Another part of the team offers some brand-name

on electric compactors, which are present

salty varieties in large baskets, also encouraging

on most A380s, and about 70% of the A330

customers to pick up as many as they wish. Airlines

/ 340, according to Airbus experts.

around the world are opting for salads rather than more complete meals to reduce the price of tickets,

The advantage is the high compression ratio, which

even in other countries not including any food, but

enables up to 1000 liters of waste (equivalent

the sale of food a la carte on board, as does Virgin

to 4 full-size carts) could be packed to 110 liters,

Airlines and their ramifications in the world.

which is a half-size trolley. However, these compressors weigh about 80 kg, have a high

This attitude of Azul is differentiated, since there

cost and use up to 1.7 kW of aircraft energy. In

are claims for the use of trolleys coming from the

addition, the airline must purchase the patented

National Union of Aeronauts (see References),

cartons in which the waste is compacted.

as well as a series of criticisms by the passengers for the consequences of the decision, reported in several blogs of critics of the service air. A disadvantage would be the fact that the trays and baskets that commissioners must carry do not

Figure 21.  half-size trolley details. Source: interviewee








Galley Space

1 half space

Galley Space

1 full space

Waste Capacity


Waste Capacity



120 L



Compaction Rate


Compaction Rate


Waste Capacity in Passengers


Waste Capacity in Passengers






Allows Recycling


Allows Recycling


Energy Consumption


Energy Consumption


Figure 23.  half-size trolley and its specifications.

Figure 22.  Monogram waste compactor and its

Source: interviewee

specifications. Sourse: Monogram Systems - Zodiac Aerospace



PROJECT REQUIREMENTS From the problem analysis, the group generated


a list of fundamental and desirable requirements

the product when not used;

to guide the product design process. Thus, the


Be devoid of sharp edges that could harm users;

product for the collection of waste should:


Keep the material discarded safe and insulated

Keep possible moving parts secure and fixed to

from passengers’ contact; »»

Enable the selection of recyclable wastes from

non-recyclables; »»

Optimize space utilization within the aircraft by

integrating into the current galley system of most


Contain surfaces that are easy to clean and that

do not accumulate dirt; »»

Cover up the garbage so it is not visible to


commercial aircraft; »»

Have a maximum height of 103 cm and a maximum

width of 31 cm, so that they are compatible with the

In addition, some other desirable


features have been listed to be possibly


To allow the separation of liquid waste in an

incorporated into the project, including:

appropriate place, as well as to provide for the disposal of leftovers from the beverages;


The possibility of independent separation of


Compacting the waste, preferably manually;

aluminum cans and PET bottles;


Allowing the waste disposal operation to occur at


equal or preferably less than current time; »»

Avoid the use of electro-electronic devices,

to reduce the cost of the product, against the competition of electronic compactors, and for the energy saving of the aircraft;


Improving the way garbage is removed from the

trolley, avoiding uncomfortable movements; »»

Approximately 200 disposable cups, preferably


IDEATION With the first round of brainstorming, the group

realized that it would be better to choose simpler

came up with different proposals with a variety of

solutions, without having to replan the entire

approaches. Brainstorming, analogies, and other

airplane to be implemented, and if possible,

methods of ideation were used and allowed the

without using electronic or electrical equipment,

group to seek to innovate in each of the proposals

which would add complexity to the product. The

to generate interesting solutions. Some of them

almost standardized way in which the service is

included individual garbage in the passenger seat,

implemented in all companies - when it refers

so that they themselves could collect and organize

to the equipment used - already gives room for

the garbage; Or a railing system that would allow

a better solution to be found within the system

the trolleys to get around the airplane better; Or

itself, since it is very deficient. Soon, the group

an improvement of the garbage reception galley.

chose to keep the project within the limits of the redesign of the garbage collector itself, and in a

As they began to select ideas, the group soon

second round, generated ideas within this concept.

Figure 24.  sketches. Source: Retrolley



Figure 25.  sketches. Source: Retrolley


10 :1

Figure 26.  test with cups. Source: Retrolley



4 :1

Figure 27.  test with cans. Source: Retrolley

The shape of the cart can be changed as long as

model. As Buxton (2007) states, “sketches are

the points in which it is docked in the galley are

social tools”. This type of rapid communication was

present, the half-size cart model, which takes up

also powerful among designers and engineers

half the space of a full-size dining cart, has been

in the post-discipline prototyping phase.

adopted as a volumetric limit, opening Space in the galley if the waste is stored efficiently.

From the problems found with the first model, made of cardboard, the group decided to build

The problem is basically logistic and volume, so

a model that offered more credibility to the

the group decided to set up a fast cardboard

compaction system. In order for the second

model, to carry out tests with garbage and think

model to be more reliable in terms of the

constructively. The first tests consisted of learning

grouping principle, a model was developed that

more about the volume of waste. An equivalent

would allow better structural and functional

amount of material - 200 plastic cups and 100 paper

analysis of the design with more resistant

napkins - was collected randomly into the carton.

materials: MDF, acrylic and aluminum profiles.

The observed result is that the trash occupies a volume much larger than expected, and even did

In this model, a garbage compaction system

not fit in the box. The next step was to perform

was built along with a rail that guided the front

the same experiment, but this time organizing

door. In it were compaction tests with waste that

the cups in a stack, and the result was plenty of

could be found in a garbage trolley (packages

room for other wastes. The same procedure was

of processed foods, plastic cups and napkins)

performed with kneaded cans to reduce the volume.

and, in fact, it was concluded that the system would function as imagined by the group. It is

Following these steps, the group conducted

important to note that debris within the main

the model studies of how their compartments

compartment does not escape above the trolley

and devices would be, positioning the stack

when the volume is compacted due to the rubbing

at the back, closest to the user, along with a

of the waste materials. Only then would such an

conceptual aluminum tinsmith; And in the

idea be possible without essentially depending

front part the compartment for the rest of the

on an upper port at the time of compaction.

common garbage, separated in dry and humid. With the advancement of the analysis of the built As far as the compaction of the waste bags

model, it was possible to add more elements to

is concerned, by means of an extendable

the trolley design, such as the remaining liquid

compartment, it would be possible to increase

accumulation in the containers, the storage

the useful area of t​​ he trolley, so that more

gallon of these liquids and the compartment

trash could be discarded, and then compacted,

of the crushed cans. Four castors were also

returning the cart to its original volume.

attached to the bottom of the model. Thus it was possible to verify its movement and stability

The group also generated several sketches

with the compaction system already installed.

as a way of communicating and generating ideas. Through them, it was possible to test the

This second scale model was essential for the

configurations to be tested in the constructed

discussion and choice of the proposed solutions.



Aspects of compaction, volume of elements, heights and comfortable dimensions for the user, and some other questions that still remained open, could only be solved after the tests with this MDF model.

Figure 28.  scheme of the waste compaction

principle. Source: Retrolley

Figure 29.  model de papelão aberto com resíduos.

Figure 30.  model de papelão compactado com

Source: Retrolley

resíduos. Source: Retrolley


Figure 31.  opened wood model. Source: Retrolley

Figure 32.  manual compaction in the wood

model. Source: Retrolley

Figure 33.  wood model with waste inside. Source: Retrolley



Figure 34.  opened and closed trolley. Source: Retrolley

Figure 35.  color variations of the trolley. Source: Retrolley


THE SOLUTION As a result of the conclusions from the stages of

safe operation, since the latches at the bottom of

ideation and prototyping, the group finally came

each compartment prevent them from detaching

up with a proposal for the trolley. It uses a half-size

from the trolley in the event of turbulence.

format already found in the current system and allows separation of the various types of waste

The upper interface consists of a small tray

into compartments. Operation is performed by the

near the user, where it can separate cups and

user through the top and rear interfaces, which

liquids, and the main compartment, further

have specific parts for stacking cups, a sink for

forward, where she separates the recyclables

receiving liquids and ice, a can crusher and the

from the organic waste into two bags.

main compartment for garbage compaction. Stacking cups in two towers is a simple solution to The rear part exposes three compartments: for

lessen the large space they occupy when they are

cups, liquids and cans. They were designed as

simply dumped in bags. Thus, the space occupied

simple injected plastic containers with handles that

by them is much smaller and already separates

facilitate their handling. This allows for quick and

them from the remaining materials. The height of

organic waste bags

recyclable waste bags

sink for liquids cups dispenser

retractable handle

Figure 36.  top view of the trolley. Source: Retrolley



cups dispenser

liquids dispenser

can crusher

can container

Figure 37.  back view of the trolley. Source: Retrolley


Figure 38.  cups & liquids containers. Source: Retrolley

Figure 39.  plastic containers. Source: Retrolley

the towers (40cm) comprises 200 glasses in total.

the other containers in the trolley design. Also, discarding the bottle itself would increase

Because liquids are currently being disposed

the number of steps before recycling.

directly in bags or aircraft sinks, the trolley design offers a smarter solution with a container to isolate

In addition to these containers, a telescopic

this waste. It should support at least the average

handlebar provides comfort, to push the trolley

volume of liquids estimated by the group, which

from sufficient distance from the body. Pushing

is approximately 1.4 liters. If it exceeds it, the

the button in the center of the handlebar releases

container could be easily dislodged from the trolley

it, like travel bags mechanisms. The handlebar

and emptied in the bathroom sink. This container

also controls the waste compaction mechanism

also has a handle to facilitate its removal from the

in the main compartment. For this, the user

trolley and thus enable the disposal of liquids.

presses the two lateral buttons. Their texture was thought to be different from the handle so

There is also a sink and a lid which isolate the

to indicate it’s location only through touch.

container from spilling liquids upwards. The lid can be operated by a slider-type button on the side of

After unlocking the side buttons, the user raises the

the sink. The button prevents the direct contact

handlebar about 10 or 15 cm and, when lowering

of the flight attendants with the cover, which

it, the front door is brought back, compressing

could get dirty easily. The lid is also important

the bags inside the compartment. To reduce the

in case of turbulence, so there is no reflux. It is

required force, the movement is done two or

wide, so that the ice, still in large pieces, can pass

three times to entirely compact the waste. The

without difficulty and melt inside the bucket.

trash of the bags then loses volume, decreasing on average one third of the original volume.

The possibility of using the PET bottles themselves as a container for liquids was considered, but

The mechanism used is known in engineering

later discarded, as it would take considerable

as “ratchet”, used analogously in the bicycle hub.

space and would make it difficult to position

It can be rotated in both directions, but in only



Figure 40.  compaction states. Source: author

Figure 41.  expanded handlebar and opened main compatment. Source: Retrolley

Figure 42.  can should be placed in horizontal

Figure 43.  pedal activates the can crusher. Source:

position. Source: Retrolley



one there is the activation of the mechanism,

be despatched. The pedals have been redesigned

compacting the compartment. It is a simple

and repositioned for their best handling. While

mechanical system, that does not require

in the original trolley there were two pedals, one

electricity, fulfilling the requirements listed.

for brake and one to release the movement of the castors, in this design it is made by only one

The main compartment is therefore configured to

pedal: when it is activated, the left pedal with the

receive two waste bags side by side. The campaign

corresponding inscription brakes the trolley. When

of the Brazilian Federal Government encourages

the user steps on it again, the cart is released.

the separation of waste only between wet and dry. In this way, recycling becomes easier, for waste

The entire trolley is surrounded by high

pickers in companies, because the garbage trucks

strength structural walls. These are honeycomb

themselves often do not have separation for each

polycarbonate walls, impact and mechanical

different type of recyclables, joining them together

shock resistant. They have four linear cavities to

anyway. It was decided to use two colors, orange

structure and improve the aesthetics of the trolley.

and green, to better identify the waste, but later the group knew that this could bring some problems,

At the top, it was necessary to have a cover that

which will be explained later. This chromatic

would hold the waste when the trolley was not

scheme was chosen because it is also widely used

in operation. A sliding door (analogous to that

by different systems to differentiate between

used in the sink) was considered by the group

organic wet garbage and recyclable dry garbage.

as an option that is not very feasible, since it demands that a large space be unused for it to

After studying possible ways to fix the trash bags

be operated. A reference was found for existing

in the compartment - like magnets, cables, or even

cleaning trolleys in use in shopping malls and

just folding the edges of the bag over the edges of

hotels. This alternative was implemented in the

the compartment - a simple clipping mechanism was

project due to its practicality and pertinence.

chosen. Since the bags are made of plastic, the inner

Thus, the cover is composed of several articulated

part of the clippers is rubberized, providing greater

elements and runs through internal rails.

adhesion between the materials, in a way that makes bags unintentional removal impossible. To attach

Finally, the designed trolley carries the garbage

the bag to the clippers it is only necessary to press

volume produced by the aircraft in general, such

the catch and position the plastic bag under it.

as juice packs, magazine and newspaper papers, and also what the group estimates each passenger

In the waste, what deserved special attention

produces. In the project, it is also taken into account

was the aluminum cans, as they are economically

the volume occupied by each type of garbage,

profitable for recycling. Separating them can avoid

as well as its destination. For example, plastic

them to pierce the garbage bags. Also compacting

cups, when notorganized, take up a lot of space,

them allows more cans to be recycled. The

most of which is filled with air. Organic waste

compaction occurs horizontally and is activated by a

produced can be treated to generate fuel for the

pedal, close to the caster locking pedal. After being

aircraft itself. Some companies already invest

crushed, the can falls through a hole and arrives

in this new fuel, which is another reason for the

in a plastic container with a plastic bag, ready to

present project to be accepted by the market.



Figura 44. exploded view Source: Retrolley

Figura 45. expanded handlebar. Source: Retrolley


Figura 46. top lid. Source: author

At the end, the project was concluded in February

enough to reach the objectives of the courses.

2012, shortly after FAU common deadline, in the

After the final presentation at university, the team

middle of a troubled semester because of the USP

understood that the product concept was innovative

students strike. Until that moment, the group had

and that there was a chance that people in the

the cardboard volumetric model and another one

industry would become interested in the idea later.

slightly more evolved, made by wood, that were

43 cm

103 cm

31 cm

Figure 47.  trolley general dimensions. Source: Retrolley



Figure 48.  use mode illustrations. Source: author


LESSONS LEARNED 1.  The broad scope and the methodology applied

2.  Frequent and intense meetings are

favored the creation of an innovative product

important, especially in the research phase

In spite of the atypical semester, the group

The process of searching for the final solution was

managed to achieve a good degree of innovation

quite complete and intense, and included data

in an academic project, mainly because the

collection, data processing, ideation, prototyping

disciplines did not only propose to solve a

and presentation. This intensity is a factor

specific problem of a company, but they allowed

mentioned in the study by Barr et al. (2009) as

the students to go further and carry out a

good practice in generating innovation, especially

broader research of the sector by then choosing

during the research phase, to identify and overcome

one of their complex challenges. As stated by

obstacles that will come in the next stages. He adds,

Nogueira (2006): “why continue to propose, as

“easier pedagogical demands seem to undermine the

theme, projects with a traditional client profile?”

mastery experience and result in students who respond less positively to the obstacles later in the course.

The proposal for waste separation in the trolley

When students experienced the first six very difficult

is not just for flight attendants and cleaners

weeks, gains in self-efficacy become robust against the

who work directly with the pickup inside the

more serious technological and business setbacks that

aircraft, but benefits the whole chain, such as

otherwise might surprise them much later in the year.”

companies and corporate recyclers who need the recyclable waste to be in certain conditions.

At this stage of the project, team members had

With this waste sorting, the cups and cans are

more time to devote to the topic and met not

ready for recycling, plastic containers will be

only during the week but also on weekends

separated and cleaned more easily and organic

when they could work for longer periods of time.

waste can properly be directed to composting.

With constant contact, the issues have been worked out thoroughly and it can be said that

Although the final proposal was not presented to the

the project has advanced at a faster pace than

companies that helped in the research phase, some

in other later phases of the project.

flight attendants saw it and gave a very positive feedback. The methodology applied proved that it

3.  Fast iteration cooperates for a

is important to ask the correct questions for making

better decision making process

the right choices, in order to obtain the best possible

With the fast pace, it was possible to quickly

result within the technical and academic limitations.

iterate the project, always testing alternatives

This resulted in a product that would meet the

and evaluating them with more data brought

needs with enough quality, enabling the separation

by complementary research. Barr et al. (2009)

and compaction of commercial airlines waste, in

argues that this type of non-linear process

a practical and efficient way, when compared to

contributes to the effectiveness of the project,

the disorganization or almost indifference with

as it forces the team to review decisions as

which it is currently treated. Therefore, it can

these new data are collected, and also become

be said that it was possible to generate a project

accustomed to overcome surprising obstacles.

with innovative potential in the Academy.



4.  Opting for the simplest solution helped

unable to get on a plane and observe how the

bring the solution closer to reality

flight attendants work. As a result, decisions in the

The decision to filter the alternatives according to

design were difficult by not fully understanding

simplicity was beneficial to develop a solution closer

the users and the players in context. .

to reality. Without the use of electronic or electrical equipment, the product was simpler to design and

7.  Limited contact with industry professionals

more feasible to be adopted by a national aviation

caused failing to fully understand the

company, for example. This thinking would bear the

technical limitations and needs of airlines

greatest fruit in the next phases of the project.

Despite the end user being flight attendants, the paying customer would be the airlines. The contact

5.  The absence of an engineer member

with players in the private sector, as Murphy and

left the product design incomplete

Edwards (2003) suggest, really happened even

Despite having professors from other USP

if in an incipient way. However, it could be better

faculties, the course at FAU-USP does not embrace

exploited not only to collect data but to better

multidisciplinary teams, due to the university’s

understand the needs of the market and mainly

own configuration. Barr et al. (2009) advocate

receive feedback on the design proposals during

working with diversity in the team to generate

the alternatives selection phase, thus increasing

innovation. The lack of an engineer member in

their chances of survival. As Muth and Rosenzweig

the group resulted in an incomplete product

(2016) argue, academic professionals find it difficult

design from the technical point of view, since

to recognize the commercial potential of ideas.

the internal mechanisms were not designed, but

In addition, the academic course did not have the

only dimensioned according the Engineering

concern of discuss the cost issue and proposing

professor’s orientation. It was not certain whether

a business model for the product. It does not

the mechanisms would really occupy the proposed

compromise the student design training, but would

space or whether it was necessary to redesign the

be important for the Valley of Death phase.

components. Thus, it was impossible to construct physical models closer to reality for more faithful

8.  Model building allows more

tests with users and real scenarios. This, in fact,

effectively proposals validation

was even more impactful in the continuation

The disciplines did not require an appearance model,

of the project, as will be discussed later.

because of the large dimensions of the product, but only a volumetric model for understanding the

6.  Difficulty in observing users in their

elements configuration. Large complex models are

context slows down decisions

not feasible for the reality of the Design course,

Innovating for civil aviation is not a small challenge

since students themselves must finance most of

as there are a lot of technical standards that apply.

them, especially when they involve materials not

In addition, responsibility for waste handling is a

available in college. Therefore, the final models

subject in which few players were willing to discuss.

hardly come close to the necessary fidelity of a

For this reason, as well as security concerns at

prototype, which can be presented and convince a

airports and aircraft, companies do not provide

possible manufacturer to invest in the idea. The lack

much information needed to make the project

of prototype makes the investment riskier in the

really implementable, for example, the team was

eyes of potential investors, since prototypes help


to discover important limitations that will reflect in the final design and production of the product. Although the courses are unable to help students passing through the Valley of Death later on, these details do not prevent the concept created from serving as a reference for the later development of a real product with reasonable price and production.


cycle 2



POST-ACADEMIC CONTEXT After handing the project to professors in

prizes at the IDEA Brazil awards, the projects

February 2012, it entered the Valley of Death. The

gain some visibility in the national design

team understood that the product concept was

community and also in certain industry sectors.

innovative, but the dream of making a product

However, no contact of possible manufacturer

for civil aviation still did not seem believable due

or airline company was conducted with the

to the industry’s numerous certifications and

student group. The members’ professional and

rules and the immense capital needed to protect

academic lives were also becoming busier and

and produce such a product. So the first strategy

the project was headed for the fateful oblivion.

adopted by the group was only to publicize and gain visibility for the project. Without much hope to produce the product, the students continued the academic course with other subjects and


the project was placed in the background. Airbus is a multinational company in the aerospace Students learned that there was an international

and defense sectors. Headquartered in Toulouse,

Airbus competition for aviation projects. Professors

France, the Airbus Group operates in more than

encouraged the groups to register, but there was

170 locations around the world. The company’s

much skepticism in the group about the viability

activities in Brazil, however, are more focused on

of the idea. It seemed very difficult to get some

helicopter manufacturing and satellite images.

relevant achievement in such a big contest with an idea about waste. All this and the team members’

The Fly Your Ideas contest is promoted by

frenetic routine ended discouraging participation

Airbus biennially and had, in the 2015 edition,

in the 2013 edition of the competition.

3,700 students enrolled in 518 groups from 104 countries. The competition unfolds for a

However, the group opted to enroll in the Idea

year from approximately May and is comprised

Brazil award, which is the Brazilian version of the

of three phases, judged by a panel of judges

famous American design award by IDSA - Industrial

composed of the company and industry experts.

Designers Society of America. It is a relatively inexpensive entry fee, which makes it much easier

As the company itself explains in a

for students to participate, and since there was no

press release on the 2015 edition:

need to have a prototype, it was not necessary to bear shipping costs. Therefore, this type of award

“Airbus launched Fly Your Ideas in 2008 to engage

is much more democratic, actually encouraging

with universities and students around the world and

new projects from different areas to appear to

from all backgrounds. FYI’s main objectives are to

the public, unlike other contests that charge

stimulate innovative ideas for a more sustainable

high fees, such as the IF Awards and Red Dot, or

aviation industry and to identify opportunities

contests that require submission of a prototype.

for Development of Research & Technology and interaction with academic research teams. The

Although the winners do not receive cash


competition, which was sponsored by UNESCO in

2012, is part of the ‘Talent’ pillar of the Future by


Airbus program - a vision of air travel in 2050.”

Encouraged by Levar group’s success, the team decided to apply for the contest in November 2014,

The previous edition of 2013 had the participation

despite the fact that most of its members were

of a group of colleagues who did the same courses

studying abroad. All groups should have an academic

at FAU-USP. The team formed by Marcos Philipson,

mentor, who in this case was Prof. Dr. Fausto Mascia.

Leonardo Akamatsu, Adriano Furtado, Caio Reis and Henrique Corazza, guided by Prof. Dr. Robinson

The group chose to enroll in the Efficiency

Salata, took the maximum prize of 30,000 euros with

category. For the inscription was also necessary

the Levar project, a design for loading and unloading

to invent a name for the team, that previously did

luggage system for aircraft compartments,

not exist, and the name Retrolley was chosen.

which reduces the workload of employees who

The suffix “Re” refers to the recycling, which is

handle baggage at airports by up to 30%.

a fundamental theme that needs to be thought for the future, while also making a connection

As part of the award, the company promoted an

with the “redesign” of an aircraft trolley.

Innovation Week at USP. As the aviation theme was proposed during the course in two consecutive

At this stage, the team needed to answer some

years, some groups were invited to present their

questions from a form about the relevance of the

concepts resulting from it. So the trolley group

product to the context of the aviation industry,

had the opportunity to present their product

as well as attach images about the project.

to an Airbus team and receive feedback from these industry experts. At the time, they judged the matter of waste quite pertinent and the


manual compaction solution was highly praised,

On December 19, 2014, the team discovered that

due to the ease of implementation, without

from the 518 teams it was one of approximately

compromising the aircraft’s electrical systems.

100 that were chosen to continue to Phase 2. At

With positive feedback, the group was encouraged

that stage, they were to elaborate the project

to sign up for the next edition of the contest.

in more detail, now also involving an Airbus mentor, who is an expert Airbus employee that

The themes of the 2015 edition were: Energy;

can help answering questions of the group. It

Efficiency; Viable Growth; Traffic Growth;

was necessary to deliver a video and a report

Passenger Experience and Community Friendliness.

on the project in English until March 30.

Although most of the teams come from programs

At this stage, the team received feedback

related to aeronautical engineering, the competition

on the points exposed in Phase 1:

is open to students from any area since they form groups of 3 to 5 people, which is why the


You described your idea clearly and accurately.

USP design students team was able to enroll.


You have shown a good knowledge of the state of

the art in your proposal area



Figure 49.  first logo developed for the competition. Source: Retrolley


You have demonstrated a good understanding of

the current developments in your proposal area

they could better develop the idea. With his help until the final deadline, the team got valuable


His idea and key elements were well described

information to plan a strategy to convince the


The idea seems interesting and innovative

jury that the idea was worthy of the final.

compared to the known current practice »»

You have clearly explained the potential benefits

of your idea »»

You were able to outline the potential economic

and financial benefits of your idea »»

You have shown a good understanding of how you

want to develop your idea »»

We do not think you have sufficiently identified

When the group had specific doubts, the mentor turned to another Airbus specialist to get an answer. Thus, it was possible to discover that although Airbus does not directly manufacture trolleys, they license these types of technologies to the cabin, and they even showed an example of an on-board trash compactor they developed for licensing.

some of the challenges and barriers to implementing your idea »»

You have not demonstrated enough how you can

According to them, for Airbus, the benefits of Retrolley could be:

quantify the benefits of your idea »»

Reducing the ecological impact of air travel

In short, there were enough positive points for


Decreasing the overall weight of the aircraft,

the idea, but it was also important to identify the

which reduces fuel burn

weaknesses to be improved in the next Phase and


Reducing times between flights at the airport

how to prove the solution with more concrete


Improving the ecological image of customers

data. For this, it was necessary to complement the research, with new interviews, data about industry

It was also possible to ask precise doubts,

standards and Airbus engineers’ feedback. With

which probably the team would not have

the collection of qualitative and quantitative data

access by interviewing flight attendants,

the project became increasingly complete and

for example: How many liters of fuel are

feasible for the current reality of the airlines.

needed to transport 1 kg of waste?

In January, the team met the Airbus mentor who

According to the mentor, all trolleys must withstand

would be responsible for helping the team at that

fire and smoke safety tests for certification. ABS

Phase and talked through video-conference how

plastic may be flammable, so it should be avoided.


soiled paper, transparent PS, food and glass among others. Clean paper (such as newspapers and magazines) makes up by far the majority of waste by weight. The study suggests that all these materials could be recycled if sorting procedures were to be adopted by airlines.

3% aluminum cans

7% others 4% film plastics

32% clean paper

4% textiles

9% food 15% soiled paper 13% transparent PS 4% rigid plastics

9% glass

Figure 50.  waste composition by Li X et al. (2003). Source: Retrolley

Total waste by flight type, in kilograms FLIGHT TYPEto use aluminumTOTAL It is recommended or composite

ECONOMY C.potential BUSINESS C. FIRST will be the customers of the C. product. As

Long Haul 0.56 2.84 sandwich panels that are treated for fire resistance. 0.38presented by 1.14 the Brazilian Association of Airline Medium Haul


0.48 0.85 1.57price of a plane Companies (ABEAR), most of the

Short Haul 0.40 1stweight class concern In addition to the conversations with the mentor, the0.21ticket is made1.20 up of fuel costs, *sono the

team also found some relevant data to complement waste per passenger, inthe kilograms the Total research. An article was found on on-board

is essential for every product that will be on board.

waste composition that could be used to prove the FLIGHTofTYPE TOTAL importance the idea. According to a study by Li

It is known that a current half-size trash trolley ECONOMY C. BUSINESS FIRSTAs C.Retrolley has weighs approximately 18C. kg empty.

Haulon waste reduction and 234recycling X et Long al. (2003)

119 additional mechanisms 64 51 and compartments, the final Medium Haul 226 150 48 28 strategies for on-board services, more than 50% of weight is estimated to be around 24 kg. Although Short Haul 134 66 68 holds much more * no 1st class all aircraft cabin waste could be recycled. On most heavier, Retrolley trash in a more


flights, the waste consists of clean paper, dirty paper,

limited space, which can be a great advantage to

RETROLLEY FYI Report 2015 transparent PS,| Airbus food, glass, among others. Clean

free up space in galleys. In addition, according to

paper from newspapers and magazines, for example,

Airbus’ mentor, almost all Airbus A380 aircraft

constitute the largest weight within it. The study

models have electric waste compactors weighing

suggests that all of these materials can be recycled

approximately 80 kg. On the A330 and A340

if sorting procedures get approved by airlines.

models they are present in approximately 70% of the aircraft and can be used about 4 times in one

With the new research, other aspects in the design

flight. They can work with a compression ratio of

of the trolley gained importance, such as weight.

up to 9: 1 and take about a minute to pack a load.

Previously, in the Design course, the weight of the trolley was not such a relevant factor in the

The mentor commented that from the document

project, but after feedback from Airbus experts,

Getting to Grips with Fuel Economy, published

it was found to be a fundamental fact. The more

by Airbus in 2004, it is possible to deduce that

weight inside the plane, the more fuel it should use,

reducing 10 kg on the plane means $ 40,000 in

and therefore the higher the cost to airlines, who

savings per year for airlines. Retrolley’s proposal




Figure 51.  one Retrolley replaces one full-size trolley. Source: Retrolley

is precisely to eliminate the need for those heavy

next takeoff, at least four teams ‘hit’ the plane at

compactors while taking up less space, so it

the same time: cleaning, fuel, food and luggage ...

can actually be worth for many companies.

This haste is not only a requirement of the airline, interested in leaving the plane stopped as short as

It was possible to simulate scenarios in which

possible: the pit-stop runs following rules established

Retrolley could be applied and compare them

by international aviation organizations and by sanitary

with what is currently happening, so that one

surveillance .... So they have five to ten minutes to

could get a better idea of the size of the benefit.

do their work, before the next shipment begins.”

In remaking the garbage compaction tests, the

This makes it clear that handling the Retrolley

group concluded from the calculations that it is

waste at the airport had to be done quickly and

possible that only one Retrolley would be able to

efficiently, so the group redesigned the cups

receive the same amount of waste as a current

containers and cans to hold bags to collect the

full-size trolley, occupying half the size in the galley.

waste. As the screening of the waste in the

This characteristic was then the main attraction for

airplane was necessary, this could increase the

the idea. With this advantage, aircraft companies

time of the collection procedure. The group then

and airlines could better plan their galleys for more

concluded that passengers could be advised

efficient trolleys while saving space and weight.

to already dispose of recyclable waste in order to reduce crew time. In fact, catering materials

In addition to the concern about weight, Airbus

could also be better engineered in this regard.

experts pointed out that there should be more study on the time needed for procedures. As

According to Mundo Estranho (2007), only

the “Mundo Estranho” magazine emphasizes:

Congonhas Airport in São Paulo supplies 17,000 meals a day, 90% of which are sandwiches. Special

“In the 20 minutes separating the landing from the


trucks bring the trolleys with up to 56 trays each.


Detailing the Outcomes

Retrolley had to be thought of in this context.

concept value. To better communicate the idea to

thementor public, finally the brand design was developed. In round two we worked together with our Airbus to understand, The teamon also investigated is classified based the feedback how fromwaste Round 1, our project’s main strengths and according to international standards. In 2010, final video also conceived after weaknesses. Our main task was to quantify moreThe precisely thewas benefits Sustainable Aviation document several videoconference of our ideas, so wepublished went ona to search listing for more reliable data, numbers sessions with the best theas collection of recyclable team members, twoand of whom were in exchange andpractices facts, asfor well more detailed information about procedures materials duringofthe according to Animal involvement allflight stakeholders. By-Product Regulations 2005 (CAT 1 ICW).

abroad, so they worked remotely. In the end, the video was recorded at FAU-USP, also using

Thus, the group tried to think of division of the same video clips found on the Internet to complement We verified that Retrolley is the able to hold amount of waste that a waste as itfull is practiced by the airline An explanatory using a 3D model current size trolley does, justindustry. by staking cups,it.crushing cans, video and slightly was also produced after a lot of effort and compressing the rest of the waste. According to Airbus experts, it was necessary to

everything was then sent to Airbus on time.

forecast scenarios explaining how the product would help customers on each type of flight. Therefore, it was necessary to study in detail the


architecture of each airplane of the company, the

On April 16, 2015, the team received an email

components and procedures in each type of flight.

that an Airbus team would like to hold an 2 :saying 1 urgent videoconference to clear some doubts about

In the academic context, there had been no thought

the project. So the entire team logged on. As the

of a way to offer modular compartments. But with

videoconference began, the Airbus team introduced

the help of the Airbus mentor it was discovered

themselves and asked if the team was available to

that it would be a key factor if the trolley design

be in Hamburg the following month. The group had

was adapted to suit different airlines with different

been one of five groups chosen to spend a week in

demands on their waste and procedures.

Hamburg, home to one of the company’s largest factories, to present the idea in the final. Until then,

Finally, the group managed to list the main benefits

a coach would give lessons by videoconference to

of the idea for the players in the aeronautical VS. NORMAL help the team prepare for the final presentation. COMPARISON CHART : RETROLLEY TROLLEY industry, which facilitated the trolley perception of the240L = 70kg = 100 passengers’ waste Considering a full-size holds

Qt per 100

Total volume


Total volume


in normal trolley


inside retrolley



60L (300ml*200)

10 : 1 (Stacked)




35L (350ml*100)

4 : 1 (Compressed)

Other waste


3 : 1 (Compressed)








Figure 52.  comparison between Retrolley e full-size trolley for 100 passengers. Source: Retrolley


RETROLLEY | Airbus FYI Report 2015



CASE 01: A320, 180 PASSENGERS & 480L OF WASTE Considering a full-size trolley holds 240L = 70kg = 100 passengers EQUIPMENT OPTIONS

Eq. weight

Galley space used

1 electronic compactor


1 full slot

2 full size trolleys


2 full slots

2 Retrolleys


1 full slot

RESULT 02 full size trolleys

2 Retrolley


-1 galley slot

01 full size compactor

2 Retrolley


same qt. of galley slots*

CASE 02 : A330-300, 300 PASSENGERS & 720 L OF WASTE Considering a full-size trolley holds 240L = 70kg = 100 passengers EQUIPMENT OPTIONS

Eq. weight

Galley space used

1 electronic compactor


1 full slot

3 full size trolleys


3 full slots

3 Retrolleys


1.5 slots

RESULT 03 full size trolleys

3 Retrolley


-1.5 galley slot

01 full size compactor

3 Retrolley


+0.5 galley slots*

CASE 03 : A380, 554 PASSENGERS & 1305L OF WASTE Considering a full-size trolley holds 240L = 70kg = 100 passengers EQUIPMENT OPTIONS

Eq. weight

Galley space used

2 electronic compactors


2 full slot

6 full size trolleys


6 full slots

6 Retrolleys


3 full spaces

RESULT 06 full size trolleys

6 Retrolley


-3 galley slots

02 electronic compactor

3 Retrolley


+1 galley slots*

* Conservative estimates do not consider waste that is stored outside compactors and use up extra space. Please keep in mind that Retrolley stores all the waste inside itself. Figure 53.  scenarios comparison. Source: Retrolley RETROLLEY | Airbus FYI Report 2015




Best practices to sorting cabin waste for recycling Upon arrival inAviation Hamburg,has thepublished students contacted to get a better of the idea. One of Sustainable in 2010 the Aircraft Cabinunderstanding Waste Airbus professionals who helped teams prepare thefor people who approached the Retrolley team Recycling Guide, in which arethe listed best practices collecting recyclables the final the presentation during flight. and get to know the company.

were two representatives of the Crystal Cabin Award, who liked the idea and would like to see it

On May 27, 2015, all finalist teams gathered at the in the next edition of the contest. The team was These procedures consider Animal By-Product Regulations 2005 (CAT Airbus building in Hamburg to finally present their very excited and was attentive for the publication 1 ICW), which puts restrictions on how the waste has to be handled in ideas to the jury and an audience of collaborators of the next tender notice for a few months. order to prevent the spread of diseases. The regulation states that every and players in the industry. After a relaxation waste bad containing products of animal origin, such as meat or honey, is session with the trainer, one by one the teams were Afterwards, the teams headed to a hotel in Hamburg considered contaminated. If the aim is for materials to be recycled after called to present in a maximum of 20 minutes. where the final celebration dinner would take landing, these items have to be separated from the recyclables during the After that, the teams and mentors were able to place announcing the awards winners. During flight. have lunch as the audience approached the groups dinner, it was possible to talk to several people

GROUP 1: RECYCLABLE MATERIALS Includes newpapers, magazines, printed paper, plastic cups, water bottles, soft drink bottles, aluminum cans, carboard boxes and packaging.

GROUP 2: ANIMAL PRODUCTS AND CONTAMINATED Includes meat and fish products and any material in contact with it. Also tetrapak packaging, used napkins, shrink wrap plastic and other composite materials

GROUP 3: CATERING MATERIAL These are materials used during serving and that go immediately back into the service trolley. Includes washable kitchenware, glass bottles and large drink containers and bottles. These are sent back to the catering company.

Figure 54.  waste classification according to Animal By-Product Regulations 2005 (CAT 1 ICW). Source: RETROLLEY | Airbus FYI Report 2015 Retrolley





ALLOWS MATERIALS TO BE SORTED AND THUS RECYCLED AFTER LANDING Sorting waste during the flight is currently the only way to make sure 1.35 billion tonnes of waste get recycled.


SORTED MATERIALS CAN BE SOLD TO RECYCLING PLANS The total market value of common recyclable materials generated from U.S. passenger aircraft flights is estimated at $18 to $26 million annually. Sorting organics may also enable production of fuel.

REDUCES UP TO 30KG IN GALLEY EQUIPMENT Reduces fuel consumption

FREES UP TO 3 FULL GALLEY SLOTS Extra space can be used to fit more seating, store duty free products or expanded food and beverage service.

IMPROVED HANDLING ERGONOMICS Flight attendants can walk the isles more comfortably, and don’t need to lift heavy and bulky bin bags.

PURCHASE PRICE LOWER THAN ELECTRIC COMPACTORS Simplicity of design and smaller size makes galley equipping cheaper.

USES ZERO ELECTRICITY There’s no need for special galley setup, and allows for fuel savings.


RETROLLEY | Airbusbenefits. FYI Report 2015 Retrolley Figure 55.  Retrolley Source:


with important positions in airlines and other

Runners-Up prize, of 15,000 euros. The big winner

companies in the sector. Everyone encouraged

was a project from the Netherlands, which used

the group to continue to progress with the idea, at

the movement of the wings of the airplane to

least to patent it. The patent is important because

generate energy for it. The finalist projects were

with it, you can stop the manufacture, sale and

very interesting for the future, but as it turns out,

even import of products equal to the protected.

difficult to implement in the short term. What attracted the jury’s attention to Retrolley was

At the end of the third phase, at the awards

that no one had proposed something of a kind

ceremony, the Brazilian project received the

to a problem that has become quite large.

Figure 56.  Airbus simulation of the Retrolley in use. Source: Airbus Group



Figure 57.  new generated images for Fly Your Ideas 2015 Source: Retrolley


LESSONS LEARNED 9.  Expert feedback empowers the solution

2001) was beginning to be overcome with

The greatest competition’s contribution to the

this stronger interaction with the market.

project was the deepening of the research, that brought new data and a new perspective

10.  Quantifying the benefits facilitates

to validate the concept ideas. The team was

the evaluation of the idea

able to clear important doubts, which they

The team mentor was an Airbus engineer who

probably would not have access to during

brought a complementary knowledge to the

interviews with flight attendants and airlines.

designers, collaborating to find the numbers that proved the viability of the product. The

As recommended by the article by van Burg et

economics calculations in the scenarios in which

al. (2009), the counseling and coaching sessions

the Retrolley could be applied facilitated the

are fundamental to the refinement of the project,

communication of the benefits to the public, which

bringing it closer to reality. The information gap in

even the design team did not understand so well.

the Valley of Death (BRANSCOMB; AUERSWALD,

Figure 58.  team Retrolley at Fly Your Ideas 2015 final ceremony. Source: Airbus



11.  Contact with the market helped the

needing to integrate it with the airplane circuit. This,

group to understand how to sell the idea

along with the fact that it is a relevant and little

The Valley of Death research gap was beginning

explored topic, attracted the attention of jurors

to diminish as the project focused on the potential

and later also of the people capable of investing

market, with the help of Airbus professionals, to

in the idea. However, it is likely that because it

understand what the industry perceived to be

was considered simple and not so ambitious, the

most relevant in the concept. The key word to

idea did not win the top prize in the contest.

sell the idea was eco-efficiency, a term widely sought by the industry. Thus, Retrolley was

13.  Lack of vision after the course

seen as a solution focused on environmental

hinders projects continuation

sustainability not only for recycling, but mainly

Although USP courses generated products with

to better organize the space and weight of waste

innovative potential, after completion, students

on board and at the airport. The product could

did not envisage any possibility of the project

then replace the heavy electric compactors and

becoming a real product. Nor was it clear to

generate savings for the electric company.

students what steps to take to continue the project, and this ultimately demotivated the team

Thanks to the exchange with the mentor,

in the Valley of Death. As the paper by Barr et

the modularity of components to meet the

al. (2009) defends, it is important to reinforce

companies’ different procedures also proved

the real and authentic aspect of development by

to be a market need not properly identified

making the “program focused on the creation of

previously. The experience of the final presentation

real companies. [...] Every year, students of the

in Hamburg opened the door for the team to

North American program start from 2 to 4 new

know how the industry and its players operate.

ventures involving about 25% of students and

The students group was also able to receive

projects enrolled ... Every year, current students are

training to present the project more effectively,

interested in learning about the startups created

which greatly aided in the final presentation.

and getting to know the students behind them. “

The members’ Design background cooperated so that the project distinguished itself for its

Only after seeing the success of the Levar group

report, presentation video and final presentation

and being encouraged to participate in the

design among so many other engineering

competition did the moods change. At first, the

students. A well-presented idea is powerful.

group’s motivation was only to gain visibility, but the competition eventually opened up new

12.  The simplicity of the solution

opportunities. Therefore, it is necessary to create

caught the jury’s attention

a university culture that leverages the projects

The Retrolley concept caught the attention of

after the disciplines are over, currently this

Airbus as a simple solution to a complex problem.

depends on a lot of effort and having contacts

The fact of not requiring electricity facilitates

from people in the specific sector of the project.

the solution adoption by the companies, without


Figure 59.  new image generated for Fly Your Ideas 2015 Source: Retrolley


cycle 3



THE CONTINUATION PROPOSAL Although it was not the Fly Your Ideas 2015 big

among its own customers to find a possible

winner, Retrolley caught the Airbus’ attention as

interested manufacturer. One possible intention

a simple solution to a complex problem. So simple

of the company was to license the technology, as it

that it could be manufactured easily, without heavy

already does with other technologies for galleys.

investments in cutting-edge technology, as it is common in concepts for the future. As result, the

Airbus also mentioned that the Aircraft Interiors

Airbus innovation team began to establish contact

Expo, held annually in Hamburg, could be a great

with the group for a possible conversation about the

opportunity for companies to showcase the news

project direction. A month after the award, Retrolley

to customers in the aviation industry. Airbus’s

team members who were still residing in Europe

interest in the project then was to have a prototype

were invited by Airbus to participate in the Paris Air

ready to be presented at this event in April 2016.

Show 2015. In Paris, there would also be a company event at Unesco headquarters, a sponsor of Fly

After the meeting at the Unesco headquarters

Your Ideas, to celebrate the success of the 2015

in Paris, the Retrolley team gathered all

edition. This event would be an especially valuable

members to discuss some key points that

opportunity for Brazilians to meet Airbus people

should be considered before the decision:

who were really interested in the project’s future. »»

The team members’ career objective was very

As arranged by email, the group met two people

diverse, so it was important to understand if everyone

from Airbus. After a brief meeting, they explained

agreed to continue with the project;

how they believed cooperation might occur and


asked the students to discuss whether they would

endeavor, if it offered some type of cooperation

really like to continue with the project and under

program in those circumstances;

what conditions. Initially, it was important to


decide if the team would like to create a startup

dedicate themselves to this project in the future and

to market the product and what kind of business

face the risks, even after graduating.

What would be the university’s role in this

The willingness and motivation of each member to

model it could have. It was important to know if there was a willingness on the part of the

From start, it became clear that the project

students to devote themselves to this project,

evolution could suffer greatly from the team’s

and whether it would be interesting to involve

short time availability, with all members employed

the university in some way to assist them.

in internships and activities with a large weekly load. Gathering the whole group was always a

From the beginning, it became clear that Airbus was

difficult task, which could greatly compromise the

not interested in putting a trolley in its assembly line

speed of the process. Under these circumstances,

to market it, since its business is focused on aircraft

a team member was chosen to be responsible for

and not exactly on equipment for them. However,

communicating with Airbus and managing the

there was a possibility that the company could

tasks during the project. Since then, the Retrolley

foster innovation in the industry, helping the group

group and the Airbus team have kept in touch

to design a prototype, which could be presented

through emails and biweekly meetings via video


Figure 60.  Airbus event at Unesco headquarters in Paris. Source: Airbus

conferencing. The goal was to find out what

According to Ipiranga et al. (2010), patent

strategies were possible to seal a partnership

registration and technology transfer needs

between the group, the company and other parties

to be better understood among the three

capable of producing a prototype or even the

helix, especially among universities that are

product itself. What not only Airbus insisted on, as

technology developers but need to establish

well as the jury of Fly Your Ideas and experts who

relationships with the productive sector so that

came to talk to the group, was that it was important

their creations produce benefits to society.

for the group to think about patenting the product as soon as possible, to protect the idea worldwide.

“Countries have very diverse intellectual property cultures, with different assessments of what can be considered patentable. Brazil is in 19th place, with 41,453 valid patents. The Brazilian position is also


related to the delay in the applications’ analysis. The process between patent filing and granting

“A patent is a legal right of ownership over

takes between eight and 14 years and in 2016 the

an invention, guaranteed by national patent

organization closed the year with a queue of 243,820

offices. A patent grants its holder exclusive rights

pending applications, only 25,481 were completed,

(for a certain period) to exploit the patented

and 31,020 new applications filed in the institute’s

invention. At the same time, it discloses the

queue in 2016. ‘Our ability to evaluate requests has

invention’s details as means of enabling their

been less than the inflow of these requests’, recons

wider social use.” (OSLO MANUAL, 2005)

Luiz Pimentel, president of INPI” (ANDRADE, 2017)



When depositing the patent to INPI, one can

It turned out that there are three basic

notify any company that is copying the product.

requirements for a product to achieve the patent:

Even so, it is only possible to appeal to Justice when the patent is already published, which takes


an average of eight years after the deposit.

public prior to the filing date), 2.

It is considered a novelty (not to be available to the Be an inventive activity (not obvious, but rather a

It is important to emphasize that “the patent has

result of a research effort) and

no purpose in itself. The patent’s final goal is its


Be applied industrially.

licensing, which allows its economic exploitation by one or more companies. The license is an authorization

In the first point the project Retrolley was already at

granted by the holder of the intellectual record

disadvantage because it was partially presented in

who wants to manufacture or commercialize the

2012 and then in Fly Your Ideas in 2015. According

product. The contract between the parties stipulates,

to Ana Maria Nunes Gimenez, researcher of the

for example, manufacturing deadlines, royalties

Department of Science and Technology Policy of the

to be paid and fines.” (ANDRADE, 2017)

State University of Campinas (DPCT-Unicamp) in an article to Fapesp Magazine (ANDRADE, 2017), it is

As advised, the first step after gaining visibility

important to “avoid disclosing unpublished information

with the contest was to get the idea protection. In

at scientific events or publications before filing the

2014, Levar project was able to deposit a national

application, which may later compromise the patent.”

patent application with the USP Innovation Agency (AUSPIN) help, but did not patent the idea in other

Students needed help with specific questions to

countries. At the time, the agency had a contractor

fill out the forms, because the Retrolley case was

to assist with the patent procedure, which instructed

atypical. However, there was no effective discussion

the responsible professor and the staff to fill out

on the possibilities for the project’s and no further

the documents correctly and manage to continue

clarification on the patent process, among other

the patent application. It was first necessary

common doubts at this stage of the project.

to talk to the colleagues in the Levar group to understand how their patenting process was.

The group felt the need for counseling and thus with the indication of Prof. Dr. Robinson Salata, a

AUSPIN aims to identify, support, promote,

patent attorney was consulted regarding costs and

stimulate and implement partnerships with the

procedures. According to him, there is not exactly

corporate, governmental and non-governmental

an international patent valid for all countries, since

sectors in the search for results for society. It can

it is a territorial right. Usually the idea is patented

help to patent ideas originating from students

in Brazil first and then patented in each country

during the university course, including funding it.

desired. Another way is to take advantage of the fact that Brazil is part of the Patent Cooperation Treaty

Upon contact, AUSPIN has sent the Retrolley

(PCT) and file an international patent application

team documents to guide the process and

under the PCT, in order to simultaneously seek

forms to fill out. These documents are also

the protection of an invention in most countries.

available on the agency’s website and helped answering many questions from the group.


The idea had already been presented publicly in

Figure 61.  PCT path. Source: World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo), adapted

the contest. This would make it unfeasible for

protected, but rather the components configuration,

protection in the United States, for example, but

the mechanisms and their functionality.

it can be considered in Brazil, which allows the patent to be requested up to 12 months after

The interesting thing is that these legal details in the

the first public presentation. For the patent in

Brazilian system not even the Airbus people, who

Brazil, there is an annuity to be paid according to

was in contact with the Retrolley group, was very

company size and the depositor has up to 3 years to

knowledgeable. So after consulting the lawyer, there

request the examination of his patent application.

was a videoconference between the Retrolley and Airbus team and a person specializing in company

In Brazil, an alternative to the patent is the

patents. In that conversation, the expert said that

Protection of Industrial Design, which covers the

Airbus still should not fund a patent, since it would

object’s ornamental or aesthetic aspect. Its validity

not market the product and would not profit from it.

is 10 years, counted from the date of deposit. This kind of aesthetic protection, although cheaper, is

Another problem was that the internal mechanisms

also easier to be circumvented, since there are many

of the trolley had not been designed, which left

cases in which other companies produce very similar

the group with only the Protection of Industrial

products and have to go to court to decide whether

Design option. Given this, for the patent to be

or not it is plagiarism. In the case of Retrolley, it

feasible, first there should be the design of the

was not the aesthetic aspect that needed to be

mechanisms inside the trolley and then this



unprecedented project could be patented.

If USP were responsible for producing the physical models, it was uncertain whether it would have

The strategy of patenting the invention

the structure to manufacture all the necessary

was then abandoned because of these

components with quality. It was not clear if the

obstacles. The group focused on developing

model could be produced at FAU-USP’s LAME

the mechanisms and the new design.

(Laboratory of Models and Tests), because there were modular components that required certain precision and special production methods, for example, the liquid reservoir should look like


plastic and the prototype’s structure would probably have to be made by some sturdy and

As the discussions on the patent progressed, the

light metal. Even if the infrastructure issue were

future possibilities for the project became clearer.

solved, it remained unknown who would produce

Since new development was needed, the team needed the physical model, since all team members to strategize how mechanisms and design could be

were employed. There had to be some form of

developed and produced in the real world. Based on

financial compensation so they could work on the

the university-industry-government cooperation

project. In addition, it was necessary to design

models from Etzkowitz’s Triple Helix, the first most

the mechanisms and to operate the machines,

appropriate option seemed a possible partnership

so only the design team would not be enough.

with USP to produce the models as a research project. In a conversation with FAU-USP professors and For this option, the team needed to understand

staff, the group found that when partnerships

how partnerships with private companies

like this are established, they often require

operate at USP and how this financial support

long-term cooperation. The resources go to the

happens. Also, it was necessary to decide the

University and it was not clear if the students

people who would work on the project.

would have enough control on how to apply them properly in what the project needs.

Partnerships at USP are usually sealed through agreements between a faculty and a company. For

As Van Burg et al. (2009), for the creation of

this, it is necessary to estipulate the defined object,

a successful spin-off in the academic context

work plan, goals, execution schedule, financial plan.

it is necessary to clearly define the rules and procedures, the responsibilities and rights of the

“The university’s innovative environment is combined

parties, as well as to publicize the opportunities of

with the company’s potential for investment and

entrepreneurship in the academic environment.

realization, generating beneficial results in a Win-Win

In the case of this project, it was not clear how

relationship. The University fulfills its social role of

the agreement would fit into the short-time

generating knowledge and technologies, and the

requirement. In addition, there was no university

company adds value, differentiates itself and increases

counseling to students about which strategy

its competitiveness nationally and internationally.”

to follow in the specific case of Retrolley.

(BAGNATO; ORTEGA; MARCOLAN, 2015) The bureaucracy to close this type of partnership


would prevent the negotiation in the time suggested

contacting you because if they do, they are

by Airbus and the uncertainty about university’s

potentially creating legal problems for themselves

infrastructure and human resources to produce

if in the future they develop something in the same

the models weighed in the decision to look for

general area. Even so, licensing or assigning rights

a company to manufacture the prototypes.

to the invention for financial gains is a simpler and less costly route than manufacturing and selling it.

So another strategy had to be planned. One

Licensing offers a way to put the product on the

option would be for students to form a startup

market, but most often a patent is required. The

to develop the concept especially with Airbus

reason for this is that companies are always working

support or even with a possible incubation at USP.

to develop and bring their own ideas to market.

Otherwise, the alternative would be to sell the idea.

Many of them will not even look at an idea unless it is already patent-pending, especially because they

According to Breder (2009), there are three

expect to get something that can be protected. If

topics to consider before starting up a company:

they bring a product to market and have to pay an

clarifying personal goals, evaluating strategies

inventor, they are at a disadvantage if one of the

for meeting those goals, and finally checking

competitors decides to market a similar product.

the ability to execute the strategy. As already mentioned, the main concern of forming a

Therefore, the situation was more on the

company was that members would need some

side of the partnership with Airbus. It was

kind of financial reward to sustain themselves

only necessary to understand thoroughly the

during the project, if they had to leave their jobs.

terms that would be given. Airbus, as a giant in the industry, could perhaps cover all the

Otherwise, to sell the idea to an interested

gaps in Valley of Death for the project.

manufacturer, the question was how to find a manufacturer. It is difficult to even make the right contacts because companies may be working on something similar, and they will avoid even



REDESIGNING THE PRODUCT Because the existing product could not be patented, the designers knew that they should go back to the drawing board and analyze the positives and negatives aspects of the first proposed design. The redesign process could have been easier if the members were not all employed. Even so, the group managed to meet at alternative hours during the weekend.

STATE OF ART In 2011, during the design project in the university, the students conducted extensive benchmark research and found various equipment related to aircraft trolleys and other waste management solutions. Most of these solutions were already

Figure 62.  sketches 1:1 redesign. Source: Retrolley

available in the market. In 2015, with the need to rethink the design and propose a better product, the Retrolley team sought references to trolley designs in the context of aviation. Interestingly, there was no concept developed by designers for waste collection. All of what was found focused on serving the food to passengers. This reinforces the idea that waste is indeed a problem that does not receive proper attention. However, it was discovered that for the collection of recyclable waste, some companies adapt the same trolleys to serve food, with bags that fit in their rails. In this way, they can put one bag for

Figure 63.  project Orbit. Source: ZDnet

recyclables next to another for non-recyclables. Some interesting concepts were thinner trolleys that does not clog the aisle and trolleys integrated into modular galleys.

DEVELOPMENT The Retrolley team needed once again to identify the requirements for this new design, so the aspects that could be improved were listed:


Figure 64.  project A.C.S.C. Source: Behance

The trolley could provide some sort of solution to

hen, faced with these new design requirements,

accommodate the trays of catering companies for long

the group moved into the ideation phase. With


these design decisions to be made in the short



The rear should be better detailed to allow

modularity, so praised during the contest; 3.

It would be desirable for the can compartment to

accommodate more cans; 4.

The number of components can be reduced or

their manufacturing simplified;

term, the group needed some kind of a real-scale model to decide the heights and the volumes of what was being designed. Since there was no time or resources for a cardboard or wood prototype, the views were first drawn on a blackboard and then the real-scale views were printed. Finally, the result of this phase was a design that proposed a system of trolleys. This was a more comprehensive solution to the waste collection problem, which also included designing the catering trolley that brings meals to the plane. The catering trolley had the same features as a current dining trolley, except that it could be attached to the waste trolley for long flights. This is because these flights provide more complete meals, usually with flatware and returnable trays. So the commissioner would pick up the tray, throw the recyclables and organics into the waste trolley, and place the tray with the cutlery and crockery in the Catering trolley. For the waste trolley, the major effort at this stage was to optimize the components’ shape in order to simplify manufacturing. The group decided to put a lever to crush the cans, since it did not seem possible to make a pedal mechanism, without redesigning the wheels locking mechanism. At this stage the designers did not have the help of any engineer to design the mechanisms, so it was not possible to have a clear idea about the forces and efforts that would be present in these mechanisms. Thus, the lever seemed the most viable solution at the time.

Figure 65.  2 connected trolleys. Source: Retrolley



Figure 66.  views with dimensions. Source: Retrolley

AIRBUS’ FIRST VISIT To kick-off the project, Airbus would like to visit the team in Brazil, so an agenda needed to be organized. The mechanisms represented a key problem that was difficult to resolve. Because of students’ inexperience in dealing with fellow engineers, it was extremely difficult to recruit someone trustful, as it was not yet known whether there would be a budget to pay for an engineer. As Van Burg (2009) argues, it is necessary to create a collaborative network that ensures that projects have access to financial and human resources to develop, and this was clearly not the case in Retrolley at the moment. Figure 67.  perspective view. Source: Retrolley


On December 14, 2015, in a co-working room in

Presenting the redesign of Retrolley for Airbus at

Sao Paulo, the first meeting between the Airbus

the first face-to-face meeting in Brazil, they became

representative and the group took place. With

very interested in the concept, but decided to follow

the first face-to-face meeting, the possibilities

only the main waste trolley for prototyping. It was

of getting the project together became clear,

stipulated that they would in fact be two physical

after almost six months of researching and

models, one meant to present the concept and make

discussing strategies for the project.

a good impression during the event in Hamburg, and the other, to be delivered later, with the aim of being

It is important to remember that Airbus does

delivered to airlines for testing. Thus, the date for

not sign project contracts with individuals.

the first delivery would be early April, the second

Another detail is that the students group had

being approximately one or two months later.

no interest in creating a startup just to market this project, since they wanted to take another course in their respective careers, although they wanted to see the project take shape.


Thus, Airbus presented three possibilities to support students in the project continuation:

After the students’ face-to-face meeting with Airbus, it was necessary to get to know prototype


The students group would startup a company,

companies to seal an agreement. There was an

which could be called Retrolley, for example, and thus

incessant research on companies that could

would sign the contract with Airbus respecting all its

prototype the product, preferably in the city of São

requirements to make two trolley prototypes, and hire

Paulo or surroundings. SQ Maquetes was a company

a manufacturer to do so;

chosen for a visit. It specializes in architecture


The students group would open a company to

mock-ups, despite having some experience with

offer Design services to Airbus and in parallel, Airbus

other types of projects. It is a relatively small studio

would hire a company to produce the two physical

with few employees, so it was not clear if they


would be able to work with the materials needed


The students group was looking for a company to

for the model, such as aluminum and plastic. The

manufacture the models and to sign the contract with

owner was able to speak English fluently, which

Airbus, so the students would work as contractors of

would greatly facilitate the conversation with

the prototype company.

Airbus, and promised a budget for the next few days. SQ Maquetes was concerned about the short

Como o processo legal para se abrir uma empresa

time to deadline, but it could execute the project

As the legal process to open a company could

so as long as the design was defined quickly.

take a lot of time, this could delay the project. The last option then was the one that looked

At the last minute, the group got the contact of

more appealing to the group of designers,

another company in the great São Paulo. 3D Systems

even if it was possibly the least lucrative.

is a multinational company specialized in rapid prototyping that bought Robtec do Brasil, located



in Diadema. In a hurried meeting, Airbus visited the

two alternatives to make a quick decision.

company’s facilities and talked to the company’s key people. The Retrolley team presented the

Producing prototypes in Brazil was something

project and a budget was also promised for the next

unheard of for the Airbus team, which was

few days. They also expressed concern about not

accustomed to European and American

having a finished design yet and a short deadline.

suppliers. In the end, the cost of production in the country was quite advantageous compared

At the end of the visit, a videoconference

to the other options, although it was riskier due

meeting was held in which the Retrolley

to the physical distance to follow the project.

group presented the project to other Airbus specialists. From then on they began to

Airbus concluded that the production of the

follow the progress of the tasks, including

models should be carried out by 3D Systems,

participating in the weekly videoconferences.

given their experience in the field of prototyping. The infrastructure seemed more robust and

Airbus’s visit in São Paulo was over so the company

adapted to the needs of the project.

had to analyze the budgets and capacity of the

Figure 68.  models by 3D Systems. Source: Retrolley

Figure 69.  model by 3D Systems. Source: Retrolley


SEARCHING AN ENGINEER After the visit, it was still unclear how much budget

in engineering issues regarding the prototype

the Retrolley group would have to hire an engineer

production, and not in designing a mechanism from

if necessary. This is because there was a possibility

scratch. So the group urgently needed to find an

that the prototype company itself could take over

engineer who would agree to work on the budget

the engineering part of the project. Both companies

revealed by Airbus. After Prof. Dr. Fausto Mascia

would have technical knowledge for such, especially

announced the position in the Poli-USP community,

3D Systems, which has a team of engineers. After a

some candidates appeared. Interviews with the

few weeks of conversation with the parties, it was

candidates were carried out and then a student

decided that 3D Systems would sign the contract

of the last year of Mechanical Engineering with

with Airbus for producing the prototypes and hire

some experience with real mechanical projects

the group of designers to carry out the project.

was chosen, although his English was not fluent.

However, 3D Systems would only provide help

marketing & support




RETROLLEY redesign & engineering

Figure 70.  relationship diagram. Source: Retrolley



LESSONS LEARNED 14.  The research of the possible

there was no effective advice on the best way

paths lead to a better decision

forward. At that moment information was important

After Fly Your Ideas, there was a demand to

but the group needed coaching and mentoring.

demonstrate the product with physical models to

“[..] in Latin America, it is a relatively common task to

get suppliers interested in producing it, exactly

create organizations to foster innovation, but these

the situation described by Murphy and Edwards

organizations rarely function as bridges between

(2003) about the Valley of Death. The group’s

players.” (AROCEMA and SUTZ, 2000). Jucevivius

research on the differences between licensing,

et al. (2016) argues that it is not enough to build

selling and entrepreneurship contributed to a

the “right” elements - institutions, resources - but

more sensible decision at that time. The students

it is necessary to develop adequate productive

concluded that they did not want to start a

links and a certain culture of coordination.

business, because of their different profiles and because they needed to take care of marketing,

16.  Seeking foreign companies to

production, administration, among other issues.

continue the project can be fruitful

Thus, the licensing or selling the idea way seemed

During Valley of Death, when the possibility of

more feasible, backed up by Airbus’ than support.

continuing the project with Airbus had not yet arisen, the search for companies that might be

15.  Lot of effort is required to understand the

interested in the product was demotivating,

possible strategies for university partnership

because the risk for them could be very high

Even with Airbus’ support, it was necessary to

and the Valley of Death confidence gap was

find a way to produce the physical models, so a

difficult to overcome. The fact that the students

partnership with USP was considered. But the

participated in Fly Your Ideas may have helped

process of deciding what strategy to follow was

reduce this gap in the first moment, but also Airbus,

complicated and confusing. As Van Burg et al.

in addition to having more capital and market

(2009), opportunities should be more explicit

data, had a vision for how the product could be

to students since the beginning of the academic

positioned in the market and become viable.

project as this also increases their motivation and commitment during development. According

Carlos de Brito Cruz, former Unicamp dean,

to him, it is necessary to clearly define the rules

says in an interview at Exame’s website in 2008

and procedures, responsibilities and rights of

that the problem in Brazil is that the culture that

the parties, as well as publicize opportunities for

innovation is the source of wealth is not yet fully

entrepreneurship in the academic environment. In

established because “companies always lived in

Retrolley’s case, this was not clear, since the policies

a very protected environment, with the economy

present disconnected and confusing information.

closed until 1990”. He also adds in an interview with Agência Fapesp in 2011, companies from

When AUSPIN was contacted about partnerships,

developed countries invest heavily in R & D,

the students were asked to talk to FAU-USP, since

financing most of the country’s patents, because

the agreements are made with the faculties. But

they “do not face the severe restrictions that Brazilian


companies need to face. The three main constraints are

the university working with the long term and

the huge tax cost, the cost of interest, an anomalous

the private sector, with the short term, since

exchange rate and a huge labor cost. It does not to

the partnership contracts anticipated a much

mean that Brazilian companies do not know or do

longer term than the project was waiting for.

not want to invest in research. What happens is that they cannot do so, because the weight of these

18.  The intense exchange with specialists allowed

restrictions is very great. The environment is hostile. In

to prioritize the functionalities of the product

São Paulo the situation is a little better because more

Specialists in the area know how to prioritize

companies in the region compete internationally”.

the development of functionalities according to the needs of the market. For example, weight

Another interesting fact to be considered when

before was not so properly considered by the

seeking companies for partnership is that, according

team, and then became a fundamental aspect

to Brito Cruz, “American companies are progressively

of the product as much as modularity.

making more R & D outside the US ... and a part of that comes to Brazil. An interesting opportunity for

19.  For the patent to be worth, it is better

the country. Even though it is a foreign company,

to develop also the product technology

it helps create an innovative environment here.” In

It was not possible to patent the idea as the group

the Retrolley case, you can say that Airbus was

would like, since much of it had already been publicly

interested in producing the models in Brazil also

presented to the public and especially because the

because the cost was lower than in other countries.

engineering part was incomplete, leaving only the aesthetic protection as an option. If the project had

Thus, it is important to understand the

the engineering part more detailed, the protection

context in which national companies are

would be facilitated. Even so, patenting in other

inserted before seeking partnerships,

countries would remain unworkable for most

and also to search for alternatives from

students, without a partnership with an investor.

companies from countries where investing in innovation projects is not so complicated.

20.  Protection is neglected by the Academy

According to Righetti on Folha’s website in 2013: 17.  The academy privileges the long

“Although Brazilian universities are better than

term, the market, the short term

companies in the innovation scenario (in the analysis

When the group sought to partner with the

of innovation by patent applications), scientists

university, it encountered once more the

still flounder to request their inventions’ protection

information and trust gap, more specifically

and prefer to publish papers. It makes sense: they

with the asymmetries of values of each actor. At

are evaluated by the government for their scientific

first, a cooperation with the university seemed

production.” Members of the academy are still

the best plan but proved to be inadequate for

unaware of the patent’s benefits and this affects the

the needs of the project. The group faced what

lack of concern about patenting before disclosing.

Frenkel and Maital (2014) pointed out about



21.  Private accelerator was an alternative

to formally support the project Airbus decided to put the Retrolley project within the company’s incubation program, Airbus BizLab, to better support it formally. Airbus BizLab is a global aerospace business accelerator where Airbus startups and intrapreneurs accelerate the transformation of innovative ideas into valuable business. Airbus BizLab has developed a “hybrid” concept to collaborate closely with startups, while allowing smaller organizations to better understand the needs and ways of working in large groups.



cycle 4


THE FIRST MODEL DESIGN With the team complete, it started detailing the

how would the pedal function, in order to not

project. The meetings within the headquarters of

disturb the user during waste collection and

3D Systems occurred from one to three times a

when the Retrolley was stored in the galley.

week, in order to decide on mechanisms’ details, components fabrication, materials, among others.

When it comes to the main mechanism, the first idea to reduce the components’ weight using a

The prototype company purchased a used trolley,

fabric tape or steel cables to pull the front door

which would then be dismantled, for analyzing

during compaction. An idea that looked promising,

its construction. The base of this trolley would be

but that floundered with maintenance problems,

reused in this first model, so the group would not

dirt accumulation and safety recommendations

have to design the casters locking mechanism.

for onboard equipment. Thus, a system of gears was partially sketched and prototyped.

But first step, the team built a volumetric model, in wood with the purpose of correctly dimensioning

As the idea of modular containers was very well

the components. During the discussion sessions,

received during the Fly Your Ideas, it was essential

although the main compaction mechanism had

that the group showed how the container modules

the most critical function of the design, the can

could be attached in a practical way. After several

crusher mechanism was the one that seemed more

attempts, the dovetail docking was the most

challenging, because it was unsure what space it

appropriate solution. The intention was not for these

would require and if it would be triggered by the

modules to be reconfigured for each flight, but for

hand or foot. Without this information it was quite

the airline to acquire the necessary modules for its

difficult to proceed with the dimensioning of the

operation and change the configuration from time to

parts. Therefore, the first engineer’s task would then

time according to demand, procedures policy, etc.

be to develop several alternatives of mechanisms, operated by hand and foot. In parallel, some rapid

At that time, the proposals were prototyped

physical models were made to be tested with cans.

rapidly for the tests, with materials such as MDF, high density polyurethane foam,

At this stage of the project, videoconferencing

stereolithography and laser sintering materials.

meetings with Airbus were already taking place every week and in one of them it was decided

The entire trolley was remodeled using 3D

that the pedal mechanism solution would be

SolidWorks software, as it offered the most

ideal for the project, since the compression

flexibility and mechanism simulation. The problem

force would be better performed by the feet.

with it was that most of the group members lacked ability with the tool, which gave a somewhat

Considering this, the group generated alternatives to cans storage in the trolley and


slow pace to the progress of the project.


Figure 71.  first can crusher model.

Figure 72.  virtual model Source:

Figure 73.  trolley and mock-up.

Source: Retrolley


Source: Retrolley

Figure 74.  tape separating the

Figure 75.  PU modules. Source:

Figure 76.  cans and cups stacked.

spaces. Source: Retrolley


Source: Retrolley

Figure 77.  main compaction mechanism. Source:

Figure 78.  main mechanism. Source: Retrolley



Figure 80.  sketches of components and mechanisms. Source: Retrolley

AIRBUS’ SECOND VISIT As commented on the company’s first visit to Brazil, there was an interest by them to return to Brazil in a more advanced stage of prototyping to check project decisions and test some crucial aspects. In February then, just before delivering the first prototype, the company brought two more employees, besides the one that had already come on the first visit. One was a waste management specialist and the other was an American engineer with extensive experience with trolleys and galleys. It is important to note that these employees do not work in the same city or country, so all work was done remotely.

Figure 79.  planning for wood model production. Source: 3D Systems



The main mechanism until then would be solved

and making it easier to clean the trolley.

with a system of gears. However, when the Airbus team saw it, they were suspicious that this would

As it turns out, with all the key stakeholders involved

generate a lot of maintenance and jamming

personally, much of the project was changed and

problems. So, by the time everyone was together,

decided in a few hours. That’s why this kind of

other alternatives had to be created quickly

intense interaction is important whenever possible.

without compromising the project deadline. With the Airbus team, everyone started dismantling the purchased trolley to understand how it was


built, in order to have more ideas. Soon it was clear it would be a much more arduous task than expected.

According to the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), Cathay Pacific has reduced

A possible alternative to gears would be bars.

food waste through improved waste management,

They were quickly prototyped with materials

directing it to local hog farms. According to APEX,

available in 3D Systems. Although they were

from 2007 to 2014, Delta Air Lines’ in-flight

more promising than the other, it was not so clear

recycling program transformed savings from 4,500

if they would sustain the compaction force.

tons of waste to $ 600,000, funding six houses of Habitat for Humanity in cities around its network.

Until the last day of the visit, the cans mechanism was still a mystery, but it was certain that it

In 2010, Qantas conducted a joint audit with the

should be triggered by the foot. The problem

Closed Loop recycling consultancy to get a better

was to understand if the small space to put

picture of the waste left after international flights

the foot in the trolley was enough to apply

and reported to Waste Management Review that:

the necessary force to crush the can. “Airlines have full knowledge and control over One idea was to put a retractable pedal, slightly

what they carry, but most do not measure what

larger than the module, that would stretch out

they unload. [..] We found that most water bottles

the trolley to be activated. This idea, although

and plastic packaging were left in the pockets

promising, was not easy to design by the engineer

of banks and almost half of the amenities kits

and also presented some safety problems as it should not obstruct the trolley locking pedals and neither offer a risk of stumbling. The Airbus team was concerned about the dirt that the waste in the trolley’s trash bags could leave in the main compartment, so bin boxes became necessary. They would be compartments with four main functions: receiving the waste bags, supporting the bags fixation, preventing dirt from falling into the main compartment

Figure 81.  retractable pedal idea Source: author


Figure 82.  models tested during the visit. Source: 3D Systems



were left unused. By weight, we determined

were contacted. The solution presented in Fly Your

that 59% of these waste could be recycled.”

Ideas was shown to them to receive feedback. In an interview, everyone agreed that the product

In addition to this information, Airbus asked the

would be relevant, it remained unsure if the airlines

group to find companies that deal with trolleys to

would like to pay to have a product like this.

try a possible interview. But to the surprise of the group, the companies’ did not feel comfortable

One noted that a major concern in his job was

doing an interview with a company as big as

to make sure the trolleys would not bump

Airbus, due to possible clients’ confidentiality

into any distracted passengers as they passed

problems that it could generate. Therefore, the

the corridor. Therefore, the group should

group started approaching the companies for an

think of rounded corners to try to soften

interview with the students only, without omitting

a hit, with perhaps a softer material.

that the project won an Airbus award. The physical models development was still under secrecy. In

He informed that for the airline he worked, on

March 2016, the author scheduled a visit to the

the A319 and A320, they shipped 9 cans of soda,

Servair facilities in Guarulhos, near the city’s

regardless of flight time and 12 cans of beer. This is

international airport. There, the director got to

a number much lower than expected, but adequate

know the project and was interested in the idea.

for sizing the can compartment in Retrolley.

It turned out that despite being an international

This company uses three aircraft models for

company both in the area of catering and

domestic flights: A319, A320 and A321. All

aircraft cleaning, the company’s operations

these aircraft have two galleys, with a bin

in Brazil were still incipient, working only

trolley in each and most of the times are full-

with catering. The company attended only

size. At the time of pickup, two trolleys are

Gol at that moment and although the group

needed to collect all the garbage, and during

needed more focused answers on the handling

the service on the A321, up to three trolleys

of garbage trolleys, information about the

are required, as there are 220 passengers.

Catering process was be very useful as well. The flight attendant revealed that the company During the visit, it was discovered that the

had an on-board waste recycling program, which

cleaning process of the trolleys is done manually

collected the trash in a tray trolley with two bags.

with a hose and cleaning products. The cutlery

The passengers were instructed to help separate

and trays are sanitized by a machine. Gol always

the waste before the stewards passed by to

uses standard trays to serve meals. This could be

collect it. This, he said, was a welcome attitude by

an obstacle to the implementation of Retrolley.

the passengers, who even praised the initiative.

The ideal would be for the company to give

This supports that the passengers themselves

up the tray, avoiding this additional cost.

would be willing to help reduce the procedure time, once the garbage will be recycled.

In addition to the visit to the catering company, once again the previously interviewed flight attendants

Different colored bags for recyclables and


non-recyclables were also used in this program,

He explained that because of personal and

but they faced problems from different airport

professional problems he could no longer devote

administrations, which sometimes did not have bags

more time to this project, but at the request

of the correct color. Thus, the idea of differentiating

of the designers, he solved the doubts so that

waste by the color of the bag often failed.

the pieces could be minimally modeled in the software and sent to production. Many other

Finally, a flight attendant expressed concern

doubts about the mechanism emerged later, but

that the can crusher would cause discomfort

they had to be treated during production.

to passengers because of the noise. This could be an obstacle to the implementation of the

Due to delays and inconvenience with the engineer,

crusher module in Retrolley. However, the Airbus

3D Systems was left with a short time to finalize

team decided to continue the idea to better

the production of the model and the finish did

understand the concerns of other companies.

not go as expected. Moreover, the detailing of the mechanisms was incomplete, and thus 3D Systems could not solve the main mechanism in the ideal way. For example, when raising the


handlebar, the front door would open, but it was impossible to lower the handlebar and keep

With less than a month left to finish the project,

the door open because the mechanism would

it was important to completely finish the virtual

not disengage itself from the handlebar.

model in a timely manner so that the components could be produced by 3D Systems. However, the

The engineer had planned that by pushing the side

group did not imagine that they would have to

buttons, the door would open automatically, so

go through some issues with the engineer. Just

the handlebar remained in horizontal position to

days before the virtual model final delivery to 3D

be pushed. What made it impossible to operate

Systems, the engineer had not yet handed the

on the physical model was the spring that would

detailing of the mechanisms so that the designers could model the parts correctly in SolidWorks, and also had not given any explanation for the delays. The group tried several times to communicate with him by various means, but rarely obtained any assertive response. With the undefined mechanism, it was impossible to predict the spaces that should be left in the main compartment to project the other pieces that were in charge of the designers. For the can module there was also no guidance that could be passed on to 3D Systems so they could get started with the production. When the deadline was already quite critical, the

Figure 83.  14 March was the deadline for sending the

group could meet in person with the engineer.

3d model to 3D Systems. Source: author



Figure 84.  rendering with colors. Source: author

be inside the button, coupling and uncoupling

demonstrated the principle but would not be able

the mechanism, due to the flexibility of the SLS

to crush real cans. The pedal would remain parallel

rapid prototyping material, was not working.

to the floor all the time and the user should put his foot inside the module to step on it. However, in the

In short, it was not possible to demonstrate with

end, despite appearing narrow and uncomfortable,

this model that the flight attendants would push the

the pedal was triggered without discomfort.

trolley with the handlebar in horizontal position and the compartment door open for waste collection.

The container modules were made with rapid prototyping methods and so were not fully

In the engineer’s absence, the mechanism can

functional. For example, the liquid container was

crusher was also too premature. Thus, a decision was

not completely hollow and neither could the cup

made to produce a schematic mechanism that only

compartment actually receive 200 glasses as


The group also realized that it had not planned well the necessary gaps between the parts in the 3D model and this reflected in a model that required a lot of rework after they leave the rapid prototyping machines. There was an axis that went through the main compartment from side to side that could annoy the user by putting some types of garbage. Unfortunately, due to structure and operation, it was not possible to eliminate it. As a model of presentation, it was also decided that one of the side walls should contain a window capable of showing the mechanism inside, as well as the waste bag. This feature is not part of the Retrolley project, so it should not be present in the next prototype. There would be no time to produce the articulated upper door as it was in the previous solution. In short, the first model was finalized at the latest to be sent to the event. Unfortunately, due to the Figure 85.  simulation of the window. Source: author

absence of an engineer in the final stages, the mechanisms were incomplete, not reflecting exactly the expected operation. However, the finish of

planned. These limitations were due to the way the

the model was enough to present the idea to key

components were produced, since rapid prototyping

stakeholders during the event and collect important

machines generally do not support large pieces.

opinions that guided the design of the next model.

Figure 86.  use mode sequence for the compaction mechanism Source: author



Figure 87.  model assembly by 3D Systems Source: author

FEEDBACK The shipment of the Retrolley to Europe also

the product and offering their conclusions.

went through customs problems, but fortunately Airbus was able to receive the prototype, even

The idea of separating the liquids in a container

if only an hour before it was presented to the

and the can crusher were praised by the event

first customer. Big global airlines said they were

visitors. Upon receiving and presenting the first

willing to test the idea only after analyzing

prototype the Airbus team delivered its opinion:



Greater concern was required with the gaps,

that prevented the modules from falling out of the trolley was not sufficient and the container of liquids

tolerances and more precision in the fabrication of the

detached, breaking into pieces with the fall. This

components, especially the mechanism, which should

is also due to the fact that it is manufactured with

work perfectly for the next prototype.

sterolithography material, that although easier to


The fear of the trolley to be instable was finally

produce, it is also quite fragile.

discarded by realizing that the base of a current trolley


During cleaning, the water should not accumulate

gave high resistance to the prototype, even with it

between the components of the mechanism nor in the

open. The ACM (Aluminium Composite Material) on

main compartment.

the walls may have contributed to this.


The stacking of cups must not become clogged

during garbage collection, since no time should be lost POINTS TO IMPROVE »»

in this procedure.

As for the main mechanism, although it worked

partially, it was critical to ensure that it closed in

All of these points were exposed to the Retrolley

any situation for the final product without binding,

team and 3D Systems to increase the chances

especially in case of turbulence.

of success in developing the functional model.


However, during the presentation, the protection

Figure 88.  photos of Airbus receiving the model Source: Airbus



LESSONS LEARNED 22.  Producing a preliminary model allows

23.  Intermediate phase also cooperates to

training for the prototype development

strengthen trust between the parties

“If you’re not ashamed of the first version of your

The cooperative work for the model helped to

product, you’ve launched too late,” says Reid Hoffman,

overcome information and trust gaps between

founder of LinkedIn, on his website. The first model

Airbus, Retrolley and 3D Systems as they were able

of Retrolley contained a number of unexpected

to get accustomed to each other’s work process and

problems, but it yielded many learning, mainly

adjust expectations. Gaio et al. (2007) commented

technicians, that better trained the team to face

that “trust and information are fundamental, since the

the development of the future prototype, such as:

investor usually knows how to take new products to the market, something the entrepreneur is not generally


The Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) for

aware of. But at the same time, the investor must trust

the walls proved to be strong enough to impart the

the entrepreneur, when it comes to technological issues.”

required robustness, even though the boards were

With the model delivered on time and the idea

only glued and not screwed;

receiving positive feedback from the industry, the


The construction of the model allowed the group

group was able to proceed with the next phase.

to finally evaluate the dimensions of the components that come into contact with the user. With the model ready, the pedal of the crusher was considered not as uncomfortable as imagined. »»

The group was confident by that time that using

aluminum for the engines seemed like a sensible decision; »»

Some details, such as the hinge, that were

purchased in this product, would in the prototype really need to be designed to keep the product language coherent and perform its function better; »»

The translucent finish of the liquid container to

show the liquid level has given too much fragility to the part; »»

Opening the door automatically with the side

buttons, as planned, may be a security risk for unsuspecting users and passengers; »»

Crushing cans can make a lot of noise, but due

to buzzing inside the cabin, this might not bother so much.

Figure 89.  broken liquids containerSource: Airbus


24.  One must not rely so much on 3D software

model of the mechanism with gears that it is

As students were not accustomed to producing

possible to decide for another solution.

functional models, they ended up making the mistake of relying too much on 3D software. For

28.  Recruitment is an important

example, they underestimated the necessary

part of project success

gaps between each component and when

Communication problems with the engineer

they went to assemble in the real world, the

revealed the need for some kind of training or

parts did not fit perfectly. This required a

guidance when recruiting new people for the

time for adaptation that could be avoided.

team. The team’s difficulty in finding right human resources is an important barrier that was

25.  It is important to plan the number of iterations

somewhat neglected by the group. With the delay

The various preliminary mechanisms and

in detailing the mechanisms, the entire production

configurations tests for the trolley reinforce that

process was impaired, resulting in a lower quality

the iterative strategy cooperates to the project

model than expected for simple tests. Fortunately,

getting closer to the reality of the market. Meeting

the future of the project was not greatly impacted,

with decision makers speeds up the decision-making

since the main purpose of the model was simply

process. However, it is necessary to make a good

to demonstrate the principle of the idea.

plan of the number and duration of these iterations, since the project almost missed the deadline and in the end the model did not go as expected, because it did not crush real cans and did not simulate exactly the operation of the main compactor. 26.  One should test well the product

final materials of before production The various tests performed were very preliminary and with materials that were easier to work with. Testing the final materials, such as SLS duraform, ACM, and others, which designers had never worked with before, would help to understand application limitations. For example, the group could find out that the spring would not work well being made of SLS and then could change the strategy before the deadline.. 27.  Physical models enrich feedback exchange

Discussions about each component were more productive when one already had something physical to be shown and tested. So, important decisions could be taken quickly. For example, it is only after a preliminary




cycle 5


PLANNING With the first model presented at the Hamburg


fair, the next step was the most critical for


the future of the project: the production of


a functional model that would enable actual


testing with potential customers. It would be

estipulated deadline

visually identical to the final product, but could be


Ability with SolidWorks

produced with different methods and materials.


Understand and speak English reasonably well to

Availability to visit the prototype on 3D Systems Ability to develop the project within the

express their ideas It was vital to demonstrate that the product was robust enough to be put into production and

Design students could not imagine how difficult

withstand the forces inside the aircraft cabins.

it would be for recruiting a project-competent professional under the given conditions. First, the

Thus, the Retrolley team had the

willingness to work on a temporary project that

following critical tasks to solve:

requires a lot of time was not compatible with most of the candidates the group interviewed. Those with


Adapt the project according to the experience of

the first model. 2.

availability for a parallel project difficult to accept.

Finalize the design of the mechanisms to work in

reality. 3.

experience were often already employed, making

Test solutions with users using real waste

In addition, the lack of financial resources to hire the professional would leave the Retrolley team unattractive to many candidates.

At the beginning of the project, the deadline for delivering this prototype was mid-May 2016.

Even so, in April’s early days, the designers decided

However, on Airbus’s first visit to Brazil this was

to start working with one of the candidates. An

renegotiated for June in order to really produce a

engineer already trained and employed by the

quality prototype. Even so, this gave the team a tight

automotive industry and suggested by friends

deadline of less than 60 days to complete the tasks.

of the team. He had experience with mechanical designs for the automotive industry and knew how to use SolidWorks well. Since he had little


time for the project, he accepted the challenge as long as he could count on the help of a technician

At the beginning of the project, the deadline for

to assist with the drawing work. This is usually

delivering this prototype was mid-May 2016.

common in the profession, since technicians

However, on Airbus’s first visit to Brazil this was

have enough knowledge to produce technical

renegotiated for June in order to really produce a

documents and have a slightly lower pay.

quality prototype. Even so, this gave the team a tight deadline of less than 60 days to complete the tasks:

The team did not have much choice because of the shortage of candidates, so it accepted the



Availability to participate in videoconferences with

conditions. However, communication problems


began to emerge as their respective jobs

The team of designers then explained to the

eventually conflicted with Retrolley’s tasks. For

engineer more deeply the purpose of the project

example, they were not very willing to attend

and the progress of the solutions. The engineer’s

weekly videoconferences with Airbus or visit the

work continued to consist of three main elements:

prototype in Diadema during business hours. 1.

The main waste compactor, including the

After telephone and videoconference meetings

mechanisms of the handlebar;

with engineers to explain the progress of the


The mechanism of the pedal

project and synchronize expectations, they stated


The structure of the trolley, so that it supports

that because it was a time-consuming project, it

customer testing.

would be necessary to charge a fair hourly rate for the job. They calculated the number of hours of work for the project and passed the planning to


the team, except that the price extrapolated the budget very much. Therefore, the group decided

The new engineer was formally introduced to the

not to continue with this team of engineers. The

rest of the project team in a videoconference.

price of not being able to choose the right people

At that point, he had outlined some alternatives

for engineering was high: these procedures delayed

to the systems and was then able to receive

the engineering project in four more weeks.

opinions and directives from Airbus and 3D Systems about his ideas. Of the three primary engineering tasks, the group decided to focus first on the can-crusher, which was the least


developed component until then, without forgetting the development of the other components.

The problem of not having an engineer was finally solved after the group asked for a professor of the Mechatronics course at Poli-USP to point


out good students and recent graduates. After

After the requirements for the engineer, he

interviews with the new candidates, finally a

suggested the first guidelines for the project: he

senior mechatronics student joined the group,

concluded that in order for the cans to fall after the

in charge of the engineering part of the project.

crush, instead of building a mechanism that opens

Although his specialty was actually mechatronics,

after the crushing action. It would be ideal if the can

he demonstrated that he had some experience

was inserted slightly tilted in the mechanism and

with mechanical systems in earlier academic

with its own gravity would fall into some opening

projects. In addition, the engineering could be

in the can compartment. Besides simplifying the

developed by someone who knew mechanical

mechanism for requiring less components, inserting

systems and dominated the software used

the cans into a tilted container also offers better

by the rest of the group: SolidWorks.

comfort for the user. Compression continued to be performed when the pedal was pressed down, as


in the model previously delivered. After evaluating the pedal of the first model, it was also concluded that the space reserved for it was satisfactory, different from the previous belief of the team, so ideas of realizing a retractable pedal were discarded. The downside of this new mechanism is that in order to perform it was necessary to invade a part of the space that had been reserved for the main waste compartment.

Figure 90.  can crusher principle sequence. Source: Retrolley

By mid-May, the engineer had already minimally detailed the scheme of the new mechanism. According to his calculations, the 30º incline would

initially considered the possibility of increasing the

be enough to make the cans fall after the action.

compaction capacity, allowing a greater opening when the waste compartment was expanded,

The pedal that was previously 84 mm wide

but ended up discarding the idea for fear of

could have a maximum of 80 mm in this new

spending too much time re-calculating the forces

prototype. This was because of the side bars of

and designing the components. It was better to

the mechanism that connected the pedal to the

focus on what had not yet been developed.

can container. Although this difference was a few millimeters, it was a limitation that compromised

On the way of use, what had been decided for the

user comfort and really needed to be tested again.

delivery of the first model was that by pressing the two side buttons, the front door of the main

At the end of the month, the virtual model

compartment would open automatically. However,

was ready and the virtual simulations of the

Airbus’ complaint is that although it may seem

mechanism worked satisfactorily well, but in the

simpler to the user, this would pose some risk, for

virtual environment there was no ergonomic

example, the door could accidentally open if the

analysis and simulations of forces with real cans.

trolley were to lean both sides in a very narrow

We still had to wait for 3D Systems to produce

aisle. Also, the way the door would open could

the parts to test everything in the real world.

be unexpected by the user and cause an accident if there was something in front of the trolley. Therefore, for the prototype the group decided


to change the operation to a mechanism in which the front door opens according to the

The crusher’s development progressed rapidly,

lifting of the handlebar, thus the user has

but the main mechanism was not forgotten. In the

greater control over the speed of the opening,

first model, the aluminum bars that were part of

avoiding accidents. With the handlebars still

this mechanism had already been specified and

on top, press the Release button to lower the

would be maintained for the prototype. The group

handlebars without the front door being closed.



It remained to detail how this mechanism

allow the user to see the volume of liquids inside. In

coupling mechanism would be, which was not

view of the impossibility of using a similar material

successfully designed in the first model.

in the first model, the container was produced with a transparent but fragile material which

The engineer along with 3D Systems decided the

eventually broke into a fall. So the group decided

materials that would be used and then a first virtual

to reconsider. For the prototype, the container

model of the components was sketched. There

would be produced with the same toughest material

would be two side buttons one on each side of the

as the other modules, but with a thin window of

handlebar connected by an axle. By pressing one

transparent material to show the level of liquids.

of the buttons, the axis of the handlebar would engage the compacting mechanism, i.e. the user

The upper and lower valves that were only

could control the opening and closing of the door

partially resolved for the first model needed

by the rotation of the handlebar. When pressing

to be detailed for the prototype. Issues such as

the other side button and the handlebar to the

insulation and flow calculation seemed to be major

top, the handlebar shaft would be disengaged,

challenges to be overcome by the designers.

i.e. the user could lower the handlebar without closing the front door for waste collection. This time the group learned the lesson from the first


model and predicted the slacks between each

The group had difficulty putting together the

component. The mechanism worked perfectly

structure of the first model, mainly due to lack of

in virtual simulations, but they did not anticipate

clearances between the components of the first

the problems the group would encounter when

model. For this prototype, they have been designed

testing the mechanism with real parts.

from the beginning. Again it was decided that 3D Systems would mount the trolley on top of the base of a current trolley, which would be purchased


to take advantage of the pedals mechanism.

The first model had a handlebar that simulated as a retractable mechanism with only demonstrative

Airbus questioned the team whether it would not

purpose. It did not lock the handlebars, let

be possible to just reuse the sidewalls of a current

alone allow the user to push the trolley with

trolley so the prototype was already robust enough.

the expanded handlebars. That is why all the

In conversation with 3D Systems it was concluded

development of this mechanism was necessary.

that this would not be possible because the

At first, the idea was to use the retractable

compaction mechanism should be hidden between

mechanism of suitcases. The problem was that

the walls so that no user would be injured and the

the internal locking mechanism needed to

bags not torn during handling and compaction.

withstand the effort of pushing the trolley. By the end of May, the group had finished a good part of the design of the structure parts. It was LIQUIDS

decided that it would be made with aluminum

In the first model, the liquid container would be

profiles machined in CNC machine and connected

produced by a translucent material, which would

by the edges by plastic parts, in this case produced


Figure 91.  main mechanism operation sequence. Source: author



by SLA. The idea of having a side panel with the


product brand was retained, as airlines could want

Systems support cabin forces if customers wanted to

their respective brands on the product as well. Thus,

test on real airplanes?

an acrylic plate with a printed adhesive would be


embedded between the profiles on the ACM panels.

enough to compete with the 18kg of current trolleys?

At one of the meetings, Airbus pointed out that

Many of these questions could only be

the latest model did not hold the liquid modules

answered in the last days of the project, when

in the back firmly enough, which caused them to

the pieces could finally be assembled.

Would the structure to be produced by 3D

Would the total structure of the trolley be light

fall and break. For this reason, the group decided to build a rear door, which minimally protected all modules in place, especially in case of turbulence.

CERTIFICATION Even with the 3D files ready, some questions still remained unanswered:

At most of the group’s video conferencing meetings with 3D Systems and Airbus, Airbus’ trolleys


Would the Trolley be unbalanced when the main

compartment was open?

engineer gave tips on certification requirements for this type of product to enter the market. He also gave the group access to some international standards documents for this type of equipment. To support the requirements of a real product, he pointed out that current trolleys need to pass a test where a force of 9000 N is applied to the top of the trolley. As the handlebar of the first prototype was plastic, it showed some concern about the fragility of the material for this type of function. Therefore, the group chose to make the structure of the aluminum handlebar for this new prototype. For the prototype, the project manager decided that some recommendations could be followed only partially, since this was only a prototype and not a product to be available in the market. However, designers should keep in mind that these specifications should be incorporated into the product in the future in production for the market.

Figure 92.  sketches of the liquids container and

valves. Source: author


date the Airbus team had available, so they could test the parts and approve. To do this, 3D System asked that all major virtual files be finalized by the first week of June, i.e. all parts of the main engine, the can crusher mechanism and the structure. Even the Retrolley team speeding up the finalization of the files within the stipulated deadline, it was only partially completed, as there were certain points of the can crusher that had not yet been validated with Airbus. In addition, 3D Systems was still overwhelmed with many parallel projects, which made it difficult for them to focus on fast pace this particular project. In mid-June, two members of the Airbus team (the project manager and vice-president cabin specialist) Figure 93.  alternatives for rear door. Source:

came to check the progress of the project closely.




By mid-May, the team was working hard to finalize

On the morning of June 14, the first meeting

the virtual model and send the files to production.

with Airbus took place. On the first day of the

At that point, Airbus commented that it might

meeting, the engineer showed the team the

be possible to schedule a briefer visit to Brazil

virtual model of the trolley, and the Airbus

to follow the closure of the project, if the group

team analyzed each part: cans crusher, main

judged it necessary. At the last visit of the Airbus

compactor, structure, among others. Through

team to Brazil, much of the scope was changed

the software it was possible to understand how

and the project made a major breakthrough: the

the components fit together and moved.

main mechanism changed from gears to bars and important decisions were made on the can

On the mechanism of cans, they liked the new part

crusher. Hence, it was decided that another visit

of the engineering developed, but they realized

would be important to approve the changes that

that there was still lacking a better design work

had already been suggested, such as the can

to improve the user’s comfort and the aesthetic

crusher invading a part of the main compartment,

aspect of the pieces. Actually the design team had

and also testing some components of this second

not had the opportunity to work on the parts until

prototype before it was sent to the event.

then, since the engineering part had not yet been resolved and could change. So in the following

The initial idea was to have more than half of the

hours the Design team worked to improve the

prototype completed by mid-June, which was the

shape of the pieces: the corners were rounded,



the lid puller became more comfortable and the

and would not be so complex. In the future,

components had made a better use of space.

they would find out some surprises on it.

This design was finalized in time to be presented on the last day of meeting, on the 16th.

On the structure, the team agreed with the proposed solution, but added that the rear

The next item in the discussion was the

door needed to lock up the modules better in

container of liquids. In the way it was being

the event of turbulence, preferably using some

proposed there was a fundamental problem:

commercially available lock for aircraft equipment.

the piece was very long and contained a large volume of liquid, which made it difficult to handle when lifting and removing the liquid.


The group intended to solve the problem with

The meetings helped the group finish deciding

valves in the lower part of the piece, but Airbus

controversial points of the project. At the end of

team had a better and bolder idea: to divide

the meetings, the 3D model in Solidworks was

the container into two smaller ones that would

finally finalized and approved for production.

have only one upper valve each and still would

The mechanisms worked satisfactorily in

facilitate the handling by having smaller volume of

the virtual environment, but there remained

liquids. A bad point of the idea would be that flight

to know how they would behave with the

attendants would have to change containers as

actual materials and waste of the airlines.

soon as one of them filled. Even so, the Retrolley group decided to model these two containers

On the afternoon of June 16, the Airbus team took

to understand how that idea would look like.

the flight back to Europe, confident that the project was on the right track, although considerably

On the compaction mechanism, the team was confident that the proposed solution was adequate. The Airbus team spent much of the time evaluating each component of the engine in the 3D model and giving tips on what to take care of when producing each part, such as the keyway and axle parts. The components responsible for coupling and decoupling the mechanism were critical to the success of the project. On the bars, there was not much doubt as they were already working well on the first model. At this stage, the Retrolley group was so overwhelmed trying to fix the main mechanisms that the retractable handlebar mechanism was left for later and had not yet been detailed. The group thought it was secondary

Figure 94.  sketch of the new components. Source: author


delayed in planning. Considering the transport time

to be more ergonomic.

to the fair in England, in order for the prototype to be ready on time, the production should start immediately and last for a maximum of two weeks.


It was a very tight deadline for 3D Systems, which


promised to make an effort to meet the deadline,

tact and user comfort

but without ensuring that it would be possible.


Plastic coating the handlebar structure for better 3D Systems would solve the retractable part of

the handlebars in the prototype. In the end, the Airbus visit helped the group to make the following decisions:


Splitting the liquid container into two smaller ones,

With these changes, the use mode of the

since it was not expected large amounts of liquids at

product has also undergone some changes.

the end of the flight;

The team then decided the steps of the


Eliminating the need for a lower valve to drain

user experience for compaction:

liquids, since the container could be easily handled to echo through the upper valve.


With the trolley in the galley, the user turns the

protection holding the trolley in the galley. 5.


The top door of the trolley should also cover the

Presses the rear button of the handlebar, making

it possible to slide it out until it locks, and thus have greater comfort to maneuver it.

modules of glasses, liquids and cans, thus occupying


the entire upper surface of the prototype.

casters 7.

Removes the galley trolley by pulling out

close to the wall of the trolley so it does not take up


The top door is opened by rotating it

too much space when open.


Presses the left side button to engage the



Should be light enough and open easily, remaining

Presses the green pedal to unlock the trolley

The rear door should be improved to actually keep

components safe, such as liquid tanks. »»

It needed to be locked preferably with special

handlebar to the mechanism 10.  11.

Raises the handlebars, opening the front door Considering that the airport staff has already

locking mechanisms already present in the market for

placed the bags inside the trolley, he is ready to be

components for aircraft equipment.

taken to the aisle and collect the waste from the


Paint the white buttons to evidence user


passengers. 12.

The waste is placed in their respective containers


The cans are placed tilted on the can crusher

and with the pedal pressed, they are crushed. They CAN CRUSHER: »»

The part that invaded the main compartment was

approved for the production »»


The design of the components has been adapted

automatically fall into the container below. When it is already full, the flight attendant must place them in the recyclable waste in the main compartment. 14.

The cups are emptied in the sink of the trolley,


which can also receive traces of ice. Then they are

the idea to the more complete and effective form.

stacked in the cup compartment.

Furthermore, it was only after Airbus became


After picking up, the user raises the handlebar and

pushes the docking button again. 16.

The handlebars must then be pushed down,

convinced of the potential of the idea through potential customers and industry players that it decided to fund this protection for future profits.

compressing the main compartment. 17.

Thus, the top door is closed and the trolley can be

stored in the galley. 18.

Closes up the telescope handlebar to lock it into


the galley space. The Retrolley team handed the digital files to 3D Systems, but there was still much confusion with the


various versions of files. Therefore, it was necessary to create a common access worksheet in which the

In June 2017, Airbus informed the group that

Retrolley group signaled to 3D Systems which pieces

it was interested in patenting the inventions in

were sent and which still needed revision. The

the Retrolley, so there would be no problems

spreadsheet also informed which material should

presenting the prototype to potential customers.

be used for each component. The 3D Systems team

Thus, the company requested that the student

then planned the production of each component

team help to review the texts for the patent

and began to order the necessary materials. Some

application, as well as the images demonstrating

orders would only arrive in the week of July 26.

the mechanisms to be used in the patent document. Initially, the innovation would be registered in

With the decisions made, production could begin

Germany and then be protected globally.

without risks of further future changes. At Airbus’ visit, the new delivery date was finally set for July

There would be two patents required, one for the

1, so that the prototype would arrive in time to

main compaction mechanism of the trolley, and

attend the Farnborough fair in England on July 7.

the other for the crushing mechanism of cans and interchangeable modules on the back of the trolley.

The parts made of acrylic sheets were the easiest to

The names of the members of the Retrolley team,

produce, so they were the first. By the end of that

including the engineer, as well as those of the Airbus

week they were ready to be assembled and the team

team, would be listed among the inventors, even

was finally able to see the binboxes ready. There

though there was no remuneration forecast for that.

were also no doubts about the components of the cup and liquid modules, which were soon ready.

With the documents signed by everyone, finally the Retrolley group reached what seemed

The Retrolley team personally accompanied the

unreachable few months before, the protection

production of the parts at least once a week to see

of the idea. It is observed that the patent was

if they were compatible with the proposed design.

only realized after a considerable development of the part of the engineering of the project: the

As soon as the first pieces were assembled, the team

detailed mechanisms allowed the protection of

asked 3D System to always make sure the trolley


structure would not exceed 1003 x 405 x 302 mm,

changing the aluminum profiles of the frame:

which is the current standard. Failure to follow

instead of U-profiles, L-profiles would be used,

this rule would compromise the entire project.

which are easier and faster to be machined.

Any adaptation to the design passed by the

This idea that seemed to be a salvation ended up

Retrolley team should be communicated.

reflecting negatively on the rest of the project: the main mechanism did not fit between the

The engineer recommended using steel 1020 or

side walls of the prototype and had to adapt

1045 for the parts of the mechanism in order to

the project, reducing some pieces and adjusting

withstand the forces. Parts such as springs, screws,

the internal space between the walls.

threads, shaft rings and bearings were all specified by the engineer so that there were no discrepancies. While the pieces were produced the Retrolley group


worked to detail some of the pieces that were left for later, such as the hinges and valves, which would

The deadline arrived and after a difficult meeting

be printed by sintering, the colors of the pieces and

on June 28, the group along with 3D Systems and

artwork, which would be installed on the side panel.

Airbus concluded that it would not be possible to deliver the prototype in time to arrive in England

Slowly the prototype parts were starting to get

for the fair. The machining process was taking much

ready. However, the critical path of the design

longer than expected and the parts that needed

was the components that needed to be machined

the machining process would be ready by July 3

in the CNC machine. Using the CNC demanded

only. Even if the group accelerated the process,

high machine time and disputed hours with

the prototype would not meet the level of quality

schedules of the parallel projects of 3D Systems.

needed to demonstrate to customers. Then Airbus agreed to give more time to 3D Systems and the group Retrolley to deliver something of quality: on July 28, the prototype should be received in Europe.

THE FIRST ISSUES 3D Systems then sent the new production 3D Systems planned to accelerate the process so

planning to end on July 20. Even with longer

that from July 16 to 26 the CNC machine could carry

term, time was short for so many pieces.

out all the processes for the aluminum parts of the structure, the mechanism and others. The assembly process would begin parallel to this, on the 22nd,


with the expected closure on June 27. However, it

Another problem was found to install the casters

was not clear if there was enough time to paint the

mechanism to the base: since there were too many

pieces before sending the prototype to Europe.

screws to keep the walls standing the casters needed to be installed further into the base,

To accommodate the machining time of all

meaning they would be closer to each other. In

parts to the long term, 3D Systems proposed

the end, the group realized that this did not imply



Figure 95.  trolley components in production. Source: 3D Systems


any problem of imbalance as contemplated.

the group decided to make vertical cuts where the rods invaded the container. In the end, the piece

The main compactor was 50% complete, with the

had an unusual shape in the back, but it worked.

retractable handlebar mechanism was undefined, and the liquid compartment was 98% complete,

To empty the container, it was only necessary to

waiting only for the paint and the final test.

turn it upside down and no can would be stuck.

Meanwhile, the group tried to finalize the redesign

Another problem identified in the mechanism

of the door with the lock imported by 3D Systems.

was that as the base pressed the can over

By the end of July, the door had been machined

the container lid, the 4mm aluminum plate

and the lock fitted with the handle. However, when

could not stand the strain and warped.

3D Systems technicians installed the door on the prototype, it was noticed that the hinge did not allow the door to fully open and lock onto the trolley wall, which made it impossible for the prototype to


pass through the narrow aisles of the aircraft. Once again 3D Systems had to disassemble the hinge,

With the engine parts still being assembled, the

redesign and print new hinges to allow full opening.

deadline that was late July would not be met. This time, in addition to the delay in production caused by the constant problems encountered in the tests,


there were also bureaucratic problems between

By mid-June, the can mechanism was already 90%

the two companies and the logistics company

complete, so on July 21, the group was testing the

that would be responsible for transporting the

mechanism for the first time. First the group tested

prototype to Europe. This gave the group a slightly

it without placing the can container under the can

longer deadline for resolving production issues

receiver. As he pressed the pedal, the base rose

as they resolved bureaucratic problems. The new

and crumpled the can as expected, but the can was

deadline was then set for the end of August.

then stuck inside the crusher. The group crushed more than a dozen cans to find out how to improve the problem and finally identified parts that could be opened to facilitate slipping and canning.


So the group decided to put the can container down

In the first week of August the prototype was

to test if they would fall right into it without getting

90% assembled. The can crusher mechanism

stuck. Positioning it below the receiver, when the

had already been improved to optimize the fall

pedal was engaged, the container was pushed

after the crushing. The team was already able to

violently forward: the lateral stems of the pedal

install bags in the main compartment, and the

as they ascended invaded the container space by

first compaction tests without waste had been a

pushing it forward. It was not possible to reduce

success. It was time to test with waste similar to the

the container, which was already at the limit to

companies. The team emptied the waste from the

accommodate the diameter of a crushed can. Thus,

3D Systems offices and tested the compaction.



On August 16, the team arrived at the 3D Systems

holes to couple the mechanism. The first problem

headquarters in the morning to test the mechanisms.

was the time that would be required, given the

When it placed waste in the main compartment

previous experience of the amount of machine

and tried to compact it, the mechanism closed the

time to machine parts. The problem with the

front door but left a gap of almost 5 cm between

second alternative was that it could be palliative

it and the body of the Trolley. This put the whole

and the problem could be repeated. As the piece

project in check. A decision had to be taken quickly

had already been devastated also the locking of

so as not to further compromise the deadline.

the handlebars would no longer be possible.

3D Systems personnel then reopened the entire

The team realized that it was not necessary to

trolley to access the mechanism and discovered

lock the handlebar in the horizontal position,

a problem with the coupling discs: the cracks to

because when pushing the handlebar, this did not

engage the mechanism had been seriously worn out

disturb. The group followed with this decision.

by the compacting force, which left it loose when it was engaged, resulting in the gap evident in the test.

After three days the result could be tested. The mechanism has returned satisfactorily.

Such a problem could jeopardize the rest of the project. A member of the 3D System team

The team realized that it would be good to

suggested building new cracks in the same part

put some instructions on top to guide the

only on the bottom to reduce the time to produce

user, since there was enough space.

the piece. After a discussion, the group realized that it had two alternatives: either the team

The ideal was to differentiate states with color, but

machined another part in another way to optimize

the mechanism itself was already very complex and

the locking of the coupling or adapted the existing

it would not be possible to adapt these indications.

one using the other part of the part to realize other

Figure 96.  rear door with lock.

Figure 97.  ACM structure with

Figure 98.  can crusher pedal.

Source: author

wheels. Source: author

Source: author


THE FINAL TEST The delivery date has arrived again. By the morning of August 31, the parts had already been machined and painted, but many of them had not been assembled and therefore had not been tested with normal debris. Any problem the group encountered that day should be resolved in a matter of hours. Everything was ready for the tests. The group decided to record videos and photos of the tests to show at the meeting with Airbus before sending the prototype. Thus, the company could also approve or not the prototype before receiving it. Figure 99.  tests with cans. Source: author


The first test was that of the crushing mechanism.

Then the retractable handlebar had to be

This mechanism should be used only with the

mounted on the mechanism. The group expanded

trolley locked in position, i.e. with the pedal of

the handlebar and discovered how difficult the

the lock engaged. With the trolley locked, the

sliding of the pieces was. 3D Systems tried several

engineer opened the can receiver and inserted

alternatives to improve: it passed grease, sanded

the first can. The cover slid automatically shutting

the side of the pieces to tune the piece. In the end

the compartment as expected. He pressed the

it got a little better, but still required some strength

foot pedal and the base came up crushing the can

and skill of the user. Then the group tried to push

that automatically fell into the container exactly

the trolley with handlebars and realized how wobbly

as designed. The first can was a success, but would

the handlebar was. It moved vertically, which

it always be? The group decided to continue the

disrupted the movement of pushing the trolley and

test with the remaining 9 cans. The second can

gave a low quality impression to the prototype.

has already presented a problem because of the screw that has been trapped in the can clip. With

The retractable mechanism of the handlebar

some effort the engineer managed to untangle the

was very unsteady. When a video was shown,

lid of the component and crumple it successfully.

Airbus did not accept the final result and asked

The test went on and the majority passed. Some

for a new solution. Because machining new parts

cans were stuck inside the compartment, but a

with other material would take much longer than

simple touch with the next can was enough to make

scheduled, the group had to decide quickly what

that stuck can fall. The group asked 3D Systems

to do. It was then decided to open the piece and

to sand the tip of the bolt that caused the first

reinforce the mechanism with a metal plate at

binding and approved the mechanism in the test.

the bottom to reduce the wobbly movement. In total seven cans were in the container. The



group then opened the back door and dumped

sink. The problem has finally been solved.

them all into the main compartment, just as the stewards would do if the compartment filled up. No cans accidentally dropped. And the container


fit perfectly back under the can receiver. The

Next challenge was to test the slip of the cups.

rear door also had to lock the modules in place.

Would the cups fall as expected? Again the answer was no. Previously the group had tested with glasses falling in the same tube used in the


prototype and was successful. But this time, the

The second test was for liquids. The valves

tube was already mounted inside the protective

did actually open when the container was

module. Precisely this caused an unexpected

attached and closed when the container

result: the glasses stood in the middle of the tube.

was removed, but did they do the job of not leaking while pouring the liquids?

It was concluded that the airflow was not suitable for them to slide to the end. Then the 3D Systems

In the first test the group found that the answer

team opened three side slits in the tube and ran

was no: when the liquid was discharged quickly

the test again. This time, everything happened as

the valve let a large quantity leak through the

expected and the glasses began to slide normally.

sides of the tank soiling all the components. The group decided to reinforce the seal


with a rubber around the mouthpiece.

Next challenge would be the main mechanism, but first of all the team had to test the new handlebars.

Junior had the idea to direct the liquid better

The handlebar would normally open by pressing the

by placing a bottle spout in the bottom of the

center knob and sliding slightly out. It was important

Figure 100.  gap when closing the trolley. Source:

Figure 101.  adjustments in the prototype. Source:




Figure 102.  tests and adjustments during the production of the prototype. Source: author



to try to keep the handlebar horizontal at this time

Pressing the side button to attach the handlebar

to avoid binding. The locking of the handlebars

to the main mechanism and being able to open the

(expanded and guarded) happened without major

door was a task that required a certain practice: if

problems, although it presented a certain game.

the handlebar was not in a completely horizontal

The game was greatly reduced with the solutions

position it was difficult to push the button. As he

proposed by 3D Systems, but it was still noticeable.

lifted the handlebars, the front door opened gently

The group judged that the unsteadiness was

as expected. However, the group realized that

acceptable for this stage of product development

the lack of a larger gap between the side of the

and demonstration to customers. So all that

handlebar and the cup module caused the top to rise

remained was to warn Airbus about the problem

together with the handlebar. It was not a serious

so there were no surprises when they got it.

problem, just something to be improved afterwards.

With the expanded handlebars and the wheel lock

With the handlebar at the top, simply press the

mechanism unlocked, pushing the trolley was quite

release button to lower it and push the trolley,

comfortable, you could not feel the difference of

simulating the flight attendants’ collection

about 6kg between a normal trolley and Retrolley.

work in the hallways. The first time, it’s a bit difficult to hit the right place to uncouple.

The next step was to lock the trolley casters again to simulate the compaction of the waste.

The group took 20 seconds to put each bag in the

This is a task that would probably be done

main compartment, perhaps because the design

exclusively in galley. The locking mechanism

of the fasteners had not been tested previously.

of the casters worked without problems.

The ideal would be a shorter time, but for this prototype this was only a minor function. The group then placed several types of waste that simulated those found in airlines. The bag holders resisted with praise. However, this test still left doubts whether they would also resist if the airline used heavier materials in the packaging, such as glass. At the end of collection, lifting the handlebar and attaching it to the mechanism with the side knob was a bit tricky, due to the problem described above. After coupling, the handlebar was lowered closing the compartment completely, without leaving any cracks. Finally, the mechanism was fulfilling its function.

Figure 103.  handlebar mechanismSource:

When closing the handlebar to save the trolley in


the galley, it was realized that the lack of a clearance


between the handlebar and the top of the modules

and the locking of the handlebar, everyone

can cause the user to press the finger if not careful.

decided that the prototype passed the test

Unfortunately, this type of problem could not be

and worked satisfactorily well to be sent to

fixed in this prototype, but in future versions.

Europe and presented to customers.

Test results were passed to Airbus during the

It was up to 3D Systems to finish packing

videoconference that occurred shortly after

the prototype and send it to the carrier.

the tests. Despite the difficulty in operating the mechanism with the buttons and the game

Figure 104.  liquids container. Source: author



Figure 105.  test with waste. Source: author


person, Airbus wrote to the group acknowledging that the prototype was a major improvement

The prototype was finally delivered to Airbus

over the first model delivered in April. According

headquarters in Toulouse in the early days

to the company, the first model was what

of September 2016. After all the setbacks

enabled this significant improvement and so

during the almost 4 months of development,

they were happy to have planned this delivery

the group breathed a sigh of relief.

in two phases (a model and a prototype).

During transport, unfortunately some parts

To the surprise of the group Retrolley, one of the

broke loose, like the material of the side buttons

first activities that Airbus carried out with the

and the ring around the cup container. None of

prototype as soon as it arrived in Europe was to

them were of fundamental importance for the

introduce it to the German deputy chancellor,

operation of the product and could be repaired

who is also the Minister of Economic Affairs. He

by Airbus without problems. After evaluating

was very interesting on the topic of recycling and

the prototype in France, he was sent to Hamburg

encouraged Airbus to bring the idea to the market.

so that the rest of the team also opined. The company would still start presenting the As everyone was able to check the result in

prototype to potential customers in the coming


weeks and decided to schedule a videoconference


Access to main compartment when in galley

with the group to formalize its opinion on the


The lid of the can crusher

prototype delivered. In it, the company commented


The difficult sliding of the handlebar

on the main points, such as the positive surprise in


Difficulty in coupling and uncoupling the main

seeing the mechanism of crushing cans work well.

mechanism through the side buttons

On December 2, 2016, the company compiled

Later, the company made it clear that it did not

the main issues to be improved in a document and

want to build another prototype, just to point

sent to the Retrolley group. Among them were:

out the points they had left in some way and ask the group to contribute ideas on how to


Difficulty in operating the telescopic principle of

the handlebar

improve them. So they could judge whether they could improve the problem by adapting the


Poor closing by the compaction engine

solution to the existing prototype, or whether it


Difficulty in operation and resistance of the side

would be something to think about in the future

button materials »»

Leaking liquids when the container is removed


Separation of the two waste bags when the

compartment is expanded

stages of the project, perhaps in marketing.



Complicated attachment of waste bags

One of the most critical negative points pointed


Cup module weight

out by Airbus was exactly the game that was

Figure 106.  tests with the prototype. Source: 3D Systems



Figure 107.  photos of the prototype. Source: 3D Systems


in the handlebar when it was expanded. The

that suffer more friction, and to improve the

Retrolley group had already tried to improve the

shape of the part to optimize the lock.

balance, except that for this they had to assemble the parts with less clearance between them. This caused the slip to require some effort from


the user. As the two parts are very frictionless,

A operação dos botões laterais requer bastante

there should be a way to use better materials for

Operation of the side buttons requires a lot of

these specific components. Also, since the two

experience to feel where exactly the button

ends of the handlebar are not synchronized, the

engages, so much so that when Airbus tested the

movement may end up jamming on one side.

prototype for the first time it failed to engage the engine in the first few attempts and thought it was

As requested by Airbus, the group proposed a

broken. It is necessary to place the handlebar in

way to improve the mechanism. A new mechanism

a specific and precise position, which is not very

with new materials was designed, following the

clear to the user who first handles the trolley.

orientation that the group learned from one of 3D Systems’ collaborators: for sliding mechanisms, one

The material printed by Stereolithography

material should be softer than the other, not both

(SLA) was used to cover the pieces of metal

the same as was happening. With new materials

and inform the action, but it is very fragile and

such as treated steel and steel. Airbus has chosen

ended up breaking during the transport.

not to produce this improvement for the time being. LIQUIDS LEAKAGE MAIN MECHANISM

The Retrolley group designed the valves so that

As requested by Airbus, the group proposed a

when the container is below the sink, the valve

way to improve the mechanism. A new mechanism

opens; And when it was withdrawn, the valve

with new materials was designed, following the

coupled to the container was closed. However, when

orientation that the group learned from one of 3D

the liquid container is removed, leaking residual

Systems’ collaborators: for sliding mechanisms, one

liquids from the sink may occur, which the group did

material should be softer than the other, not both

not anticipate. To solve this problem, the ideal would

the same as was happening. With new materials

also be to place a valve at the bottom end of the sink.

such as treated steel and steel. Airbus has chosen

This improvement also would not impact on negative

not to produce this improvement for the time being:

feedback from potential customers, so Airbus would only deploy if the project had continuity.


The sliding of the parts to engage and release are

very long, which causes inaccuracy. »»

The shape of the engaging pin causes it to escape

when a higher than average force is applied.

SEPARATION OF WASTE BAGS The Retrolley group designed the binbox containers so there was some freedom in the

After understanding the problem, the group

volume of waste placed in each bag. Thus, if a bag

suggested to produce new parts using

had more volume than the other, it would invade,

treated steel, especially in the components

without problems, a little of the space reserved



by the other. However, according to Airbus, the

In addition, when the compartment is opened,

containers are a bit fragile, because they have

the way the bags are separated did not please

thin acrylic walls and are tall. In the product for

the company much, as they are a little loose.

the market, this component would be produced

The group decided that the ideal would be to

of aluminum so that it would not happen.

improve the attachment of the bags between the containers of the bags so that they did not become so loose. Because they are not of fundamental


importance for the prototype’s operation,

Airbus has commented that the tie clips to the

Airbus did not demand a better proposal.

bags are complicated to use and may require a longer time than expected by aircraft cleaning teams. Fixing may not be strong enough to handle heavier waste, such as glass bottles, large amounts of newspapers and magazines, among others.

Figure 108.  photos of the prototype. Source: Airbus



of liquids, despite the delivery so close to the deadline. When the decision maker is present,

29.  Prototypes allow to understand future

the priorities are aligned, the team understands

production problems that the design will face

what really matters and works toward the same

The physical model helped to understand

goals. Knapp (2013) describes the importance of

the user’s first reaction to the idea, but the

the presence of decision makers closely following

prototype’s development mainly helped the team

the project: “These decision-makers generally

learn the consequences of design decisions in

understand the problem in depth, and often have strong

production. The prototype allows demonstrating

opinions and criteria to help find the right solution.”

the principle of operation of the product for potential customers and 3D Systems was able to

The Retrolley team was able to get a clearer picture

produce it with paint and finish level similar to a

of Airbus’ vision of how the project aligns with

market trolley, in use on today’s aircraft. The key

the company’s strategy. In the case, Retrolley was

technical lessons learned from this development

developing in parallel with another compaction

are best described in Airbus feedback.

project inside the cabin, present in the Airbus BizLab, incubator of innovation of the company. Both

30.  Do not underestimate the importance

with the same goal, but with completely different

of acquiring good human resources

solutions and development process. The differential

What the team has learned from problems with

of the Retrolley concept was the simplicity of

engineers is that one should not underestimate

the solution to reduce the volume of waste.

the search for the right professional profile for a job. When the professional does not master the

32.  Market experts know how to

technology that the job requires or when the

prioritize the functionalities

availability of time is not compatible, it is better

Retrolley had several issues to be resolved and

to continue seeking other professionals than to

feedback from industry professionals helped

risk. Delays such as this greatly impair the course

the team understand how to prioritize the

of the project, since a new search for a member

development of each feature. Without this, it

would be necessary. Although the values were

would be difficult to spend time researching

stipulated at the beginning of the conversation, the

what is most important to the user and

change of position of the professionals ended up

overcoming the Valley of Death research gap.

generating a certain discomfort even with Airbus. 33.  The design work with the engineering 31.  Intensity of decisions during the visit

work must be aligned for best result

greatly accelerated the project

The engineer’s work with the group of designers

In the same way that it happened on the first visit,

has helped the latter a few lessons, for example,

the second visit cooperated to accelerate product

moving parts should receive special attention

development. With decision makers in attendance

to the materials used to be compatible with the

watching the progress, the team was able to make

function. It is also necessary to better understand

bolder decisions, such as changing the container

the limitations of the materials before designing the parts to avoid future wear. At Retrolley, the design could have lined up a bit better with the engineering



design to improve the shape of the components and

difficult to carry out many pre-production tests

achieve better mechanical efficiency, minimizing

by constant pressure to deliver the prototype in

some of the wear problems that have occurred.

time. The tight deadline also made it impossible to risk a project to slightly increase the compaction

34.  Focusing on functionality may

percentage before producing the prototype.

hamper the usability development In the end, the amount of time spent adjusting

36.  Plan safety time margins for production

the mechanisms may have hampered designers

The experience of working with 3D Systems in

to focus on improving the user experience with

the production of the prototype showed the

the product. Despite the complexity of the

design and engineering team how it works in the

mechanisms, the way the user uses Retrolley could

market. At the Academy, students are a bit freer

be more clear and intuitive, as it would later be

to plan their own time to devote to modeling;

proven by interview with a commissioner. The

already on the market, 3D Systems needs to

group decided to solve the engineering part first,

manage the allocation of machines for a number

which was more critical to the success of the

of concurrent projects, so it needs the files ready

prototype, and only then try to leave the use more

in Certain time. Learning about how materials

intuitive, but the ideal would be to spend more

behave in the real world has taken a significant

time together with engineering to plan the easiest

part of the planning. Therefore, better testing

way to use the Product from the beginning.

of solutions with low fidelity mock-ups before production could have helped the group predict

35.  Adequate time must be set aside to

some failures before they occur in the final pieces.

also develop the little priority tasks Planning was left to be desired when the top

37.  Understand the efforts of materials

priority mechanisms could not be finalized in

Again, it was important to better test the efforts of

time to design smaller elements. The prototype

materials, only this time, even the strongest metals,

development process was more challenging than the

such as steel. A difference of a few millimeters could

one imagined by the Retrolley group, largely due to

have slowed down the delivery of the prototype.

the engineering design involved and the difficulty in making the concept tangible in physical parts.

38.  Idea protection is key to licensing

The frequent failures of mechanisms and setbacks

With the success of the presentation of the

in production were not properly predicted during

first model, the hypothesis that there was

the planning and there were so many pieces to be

market strengthened and contributed to

produced that the group made several concessions

Airbus accept to finance the protection of the

to complete them on time. Thus, it is necessary to

idea, especially the mechanisms and modular

have a more robust alternative plan for contingency

components. A company with global reach has

management in production and iteration.

the power to make the challenge of protecting the idea in the world more attainable when

Secondary components such as bag holders could

there is a vision of possible future profits.

have been tested more often if their design was not neglected by the designers at the beginning of the project. However, it is true that it would have been


cycle 6



The Retrolley group then went for feedback on their own. In April 2017, the group scheduled a

At this stage, the protection of the idea was already

videoconference to present the prototype through

assured by filing the patent in Germany. Since

photos to a flight attendant who had helped the

Airbus’s market is global, it was also necessary to

team from the beginning. At first, the group did

protect it in other countries, so they arranged for the

not explain the functioning and function of each

production of the documents to be patented in the

component to verify that the product was intuitive

United States, with the help of lawyers specialized

enough. Thus, it was possible to recognize some

in the subject. The student group cooperated by

usability issues that users might face when handling

providing updated project images and reviewing the

the product. For example, with the trolley closed,

explanation text of the mechanisms. The so-called

the flight attendant assumed that the handlebar

“global” patent was being made possible thanks to

button would actually open the top door. He also

the help of a large company with global reach.

thought that the handlebar would turn to either side of the Trolley to be used on both sides, because

As before, the patents presented the names of

currently two flight attendants go through collecting

all members of the Retrolley group, including the

the garbage with the same full-size trolley.

engineer, although the contract between the parties did not provide for any kind of compensation to

After opening the top door, he thought the

the group with the invention, for example royalties,

trolley would already be ready for waste

as is common in the field of Design. For USP

collection, without expanding the compartment.

students, this was already a great achievement.

Rotating the door to open can also be a problem for smaller spaces such as galley.

With this protection, Airbus could be less apprehensive in exposing the

He liked the idea of liquids container for pouring

concept to other companies, especially

coffee and milk, because today this is cause for

at international aviation events.

problems. In the airplane only eater can be poured in the sink, so any other liquid should be stored in a bottle to be discarded, however with the constant lack of time in the operation of a flight can happen to


throw hot liquids in the sink. The milk mainly should not be thrown in the sink of the plane to not clog.

After solving the main engine problems with new parts, Airbus began to meet with airline

At the end of the flight he said that the cleaning

employees to understand what they thought

teams discard the bags in large garbage containers.

about the concept and the prototype as a whole.

Cleaning staff can be from the airline itself or from

In this part, the Retrolley group did not interfere

a third party company, depending on the airport.

directly, nor did it have access to the feedbacks for reasons of secrecy. He only heard a few

The rear door lock was a plus as they are already

points raised by Airbus later by videoconference,

accustomed to this type of mechanism, in which

which suggested some measures to improve

the red means the door is open and green, closed.

component cleaning and component strength.



It was not clear from the image how the person would insert the cans. The horizontal metal bar did not convey that it could be lifted to accommodate the can. It could have graphical indications about what goes in each container and even a greater differentiation between them. After seeing the full operation, he claimed to be able to operate the trolley. In aircraft that only use full-size trolleys for the

Figure 109.  Crystal Cabin awards. Source: Airbus

waste, although the galley’s space fits 2 half-sizes trolleys one in front of the other, these spaces need to be fitted with latches for each rather than a single

of the prototype in partnership with Airbus, the

end only lock. He added that he has been through

company decided to enroll the project in the

turbulence cases where he had to leave the trolley

award. For this competition, Retrolley was an

locked where he was and run to sit down. So the

Airbus project, not academic like Fly Your Ideas

little Trolley tilted to the side inside the galley.

2015, so the names of the Retrolley team were just mentioned in the presentations. Members of the Retrolley group also did not attend the event. Even so, for the Retrolley group it was a great


reason to celebrate: the concept continued to bear fruit. On April 3, two Airbus members presented

Following the feedback, an email from the Airbus

the prototype to jurors on a 5-minute Elevator

team announced a great unexpected news

Pitch. Hours later the result was announced:

for the Retrolley group: the project had been

Retrolley was the big winner in its category.

selected as one of three finalists for the Crystal Cabin award. The award is a benchmark for the

With the award, the press was interested in writing

world aviation industry and the award coincides

about the project. The news about the prize

with the Hamburg Aviation Fair, the same one in

shook those at the fair, who took the opportunity

which the first model was presented in 2016.

to check the prototype on the shelf of Airbus. Companies were recognizing the value of the

The Retrolley group had considered participating

idea that waste is worth organizing for better use

in the prize shortly after winning the Fly Your

of space on the plane and recycling. It was the

Ideas 2015, as some organizers visited the event

perfect time to talk to more interested airlines

of the final presentations of the contest and talked

to prove the existence of the need and more

with the group. However, the requirements to

importantly, talk to potential suppliers interested

participate were impeding, such as the need to

in acquiring the license to produce the product.

present a physical prototype. With the production


The award proved above all the relevance of

The achievement of the Crystal Cabin Award 2017

the recycling theme and the market’s need for

gave more visibility to the project, especially among

a better solution. Many airlines already have

the participants of the aviation fair. Airbus said it

recycling programs, but with adapted equipment.

was in contact with potential manufacturers for

It is interesting how the idea of collecting

licensing, but details of how the lawsuit would take

the liquid separately, although simple, quite

place have not yet been disclosed by the company.

pleases the actors. Retrolley is seen as a wellrounded solution for that particular service.





39.  Industry awards help keep the idea attractive

Airbus is in the process of negotiating with

The award proves that there is a need of the

manufacturers who may wish to license the

market and that the product is relevant to be

product. In this process, all market research

developed. Crystal Cabin Award was a great

and customer feedback collected is also

gimmick for positive conversations with potential

offered to these companies, especially

prospects interested in buying the idea, reinforcing

the smaller ones that cannot do it.

the option to license the idea path way. Despite the good news after the Crystal Results of research financed by companies, often

Cabin awards, the future of the project is still

because they are understood as their right, do not

uncertain. Airbus said that should any supplier

allow publication or agreement on ownership of

sign the license agreement; it will assist with

the findings and sharing of benefits generated by

technical specifications consultants to ensure

the results of joint research (SEGATTO, 1996).

that the product conforms to the international standards governing this type of product.

Being a company that suffers global competition, Airbus invests in innovation to differentiate itself. 40.  Other product configuration may

interest some specific customers Airlines that already use the full-size trolley would probably prefer a Retrolley of this size so they do not have to spend resources to reconfigure their galleys. 41.  Despite the awards, the product

could be more intuitive The complexity and number of steps to operate the engine may confuse users at first glance. Even with the written instructions, the ideal would be to rethink the mechanism in order to diminish the actions of the user.operar o mechanism pode confudir os usuários à primeira vista. Mesmo com as instruções escritas, o ideal seria repensar o mechanism de forma a diminuir as ações do usuário.


REFLECTION As defended in the introduction of this

Already the information and confidence gap

document, the objective of this Final Paper

had to be worked during all the time in the

is to serve as a reference for Brazilian Design

interactions between group Retrolley, 3D

students to bring their academic innovations to

Systems and Airbus. The fact that the students

the market. To do so, he presented the events

won a prize in the competition of the investing

during the Retrolley project in order to verify

company itself cooperated to increase trust among

what theories took place and what could be

the players. However, this gap was the major

improved in the product development process.

obstacle in trying to partner with the university to develop the models, for example. In the case

The Valley of Death metaphor proved to be valid in

of Retrolley, this partnership was not fulfilled by

the case of Retrolley, and the team observed, among

the divergent demands of the project, such as

the main challenges, problems related to each of

term, infrastructure and human resources. Later,

the gaps presented by Branscomb & Auerswald

trust also had to be reinforced for the project

(2001) in the passage from invention to innovation.

to progress as stipulated. Aligning deadlines,

To overcome the Valley of Death, the team had to

requirements and limitations is a requirement for

build bridges to win each one, and the partnership

project survival during the most difficult times,

with Airbus, despite taking ownership of the

such as delays, failure of components, and more.

students’ project, provided support for all of them. There are still many questions about the role of The research gap implies that academic projects

university, government, and business in these

require considerable research effort to adapt

relationships within innovation ecosystems.

to the market. In the Retrolley case, it began to

There must be a greater interchange between

be overcome mainly during the participation

companies, universities and government since

in the Fly Your Ideas contest, as specialists in

the beginning of the Innovation Sequence to

the field gave their opinion and suggestions

develop a complete product that meets the real

to adapt the idea to the market real needs.

needs of the market in an innovative way. This

Actual costs and benefits could be better

contributes not only to developing students

evaluated at this stage. Subsequently, during

in the technical sphere, but in the context of

the development of the physical models, the

the market, as was the case with Retrolley.

constant monitoring of decisions and data sharing by Airbus were fundamental for the project to

The milestones generated in the evolution

survive and to win the Crystal Cabin award.

of the Retrolley project were:

The financial gap was overcome after


negotiations with Airbus, which enabled the

fundamental to talk to several actors, to immerse

hiring of an engineer to perfect the product

themselves in the context in which they are inserted;

and also a prototype company to make the


idea tangible for potential customers.

volumetric, semi-functional and appearance models

In order to develop a relevant solution, it is

Building an iterative process, with tests with

increase the chances of an effective positive evolution




Quantifying the benefits and bringing to the

context of the client’s reality has significantly helped the project gain the attention of judges, active in the industry; »»

Contests and awards helped the project gain

visibility to move the industry around the idea; »»

Protecting the idea or developing a possible idea

of being legally protected is important so there is some commercial interest in turning it into a product. Only Industrial Design protection may not be worth it, so it is important to involve other areas, such as engineering, to design a complete product. »»

Although Airbus is not a trolleys producer, it has

had sufficient powers to influence potential suppliers in the industry, especially at events. »»

The strategy of designing a preliminary physical

model allowed a great advance in the quality of the prototype later »»

The success at the Crystal Cabin Award proved

market needs and was great for positive conversations with potential suppliers. »»

License to a supplier may be an effective way to

make the product available on the market. Academically innovative ideas such as Retrolley can be a sign of existence, but it has yet to go a long way to get them noticed and convince too many players to support them during the Valley of Death phase. Within the discussion of the Triple Helix, there is still room for improvement in cooperation between university, government and company to transform knowledge into innovation, and this into a competitive advantage. Porto (2000) shows that universities, at different levels, are by their nature a reservoir of fundamental knowledge for innovation, in this way, they are waiting to put into practice the knowledge built there.



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