Great innovations are borne out of pain points and problems, such is a story of University of Zimbabwe Surveying and Geomatics Engineering student, John Muchingami who has invented a game changing engine monitoring system. John was pushed to innovate after his father was swindled money by a worker from his grinding mill business in Domboshava as there were no systems to monitor the money generated.
This forced him to defer his studies for a year in 2017 as his father’s only hustle was no longer generating enough to sent him to school and his father had to ask him to drop out of school and start running the grinding mill business to raise money for his school fees. It is at this time that he got to understand all the loopholes of the business and without any monitoring device, the business was bound to fail hence he started working on developing a monitoring device. It is unfortunate that his father, John Muchingami Snr died last year in August before he could see the final and working project of his son, otherwise he could have been a happy man seeing his son’s idea solving a heartbreaking problem.
John recently exhibited his prototype (East Primate), an electronic accounting and engine monitoring device at the just ended University of Zimbabwe Research Week 2023 which was held at the UZ Innovation Hub. I am very much excited to finally see this prototype as I am taken back some few years back then, as he shared with me his idea and I am glad it has seen the light of the day. It was something unusual for a surveying student to have so much interest in electronics and mechanical innovations that many probably even doubted his capability, but he is, a jack of all trades and still a master of all.
Muchingami’s innovation is addressing the calls of universities to implement Education 5.0. Under Education 5.0, Zimbabwe’s public universities must engage in outcome-focused national development activities aimed at making the country more competitive, modern, and industrialized. It is now all about issue solving in order to create value. It is now expected of Zimbabwe’s higher and tertiary education system to not only (1) teach, (2) research, and (3) serve the community, but also (4) innovate and (5) industrialize the country.
The device essentially does three things which are:
- Monitors the engine, looking at things like fuel, gasket and oil and can tell you things like when to do filter or oil replacement based on the hours your engine has been running.
- Monitor engine deploy, like the time the engine was running (Availability and utility time in real time) and fuel usage. It also monitors the number of trips say for commuter operators, buses and trucks and the number or quantity of loads milled say for miners.
- Accounting; calculating the costs of fuel used and the sales made per day and giving you the daily gross profits. This will be sent via text on your mobile phone.
It hasn’t been an easy ride for John to effectively develop this device, starting off in 2018 when he resumed his studies and finally in February 2023 to have the prototype see the light of day. The device has been tested since then on grinding mills and cars with satisfactory functionality. He faced challenges with money to buy component but he managed to soldier on with the support of his mother.
Speaking to Motimagz Magazine on the future of this device, he said, ‘This thing is a device for every engine, It is my wish to have every engine that runs to have this device, be it trucks, compressors etc. The idea now is to minituarize this component, 3D print and mass produce that they can be locally assembled locally.’
Also adding on the value proposition of this device, Muchingami had this to say, ‘This device is there to promote transparency and accountability in engines.’ He further added that he is more interested in getting the product up and running, get it to the people and help in mitigating if not stopping theft for business owners.
It takes a team to innovate. Brilliant ideas will not be realized until your team members are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. This innovation is surely a game changer that is set to revolutionize and improve business operations especially for those who are in the business of running any engines, be it mills, compressors, trucks, cars, etc. I hope John will get the much needed support and opportunity to take this device to the next level and eventually to the marketplace.
If you would to sponsor, collaborate or buy the device, you can get in touch with John on his number: +263 783 252 554