Friday 13 February 2015

Autodesk PLM 360 supports Loowatt while they turn sh*t into money!!

Mike: Morning Chris, I struggled with a title for this blog the schoolboy in me wanted to call it so many things !!! but I went with Virginia's one in the end ! Can tell me about Loowatt, what are the roots of the company and what products are you designing?

Chris: Ha ! yes Mike there could have been many more variations to the blog title! Loowatt was founded in 2009 as the outgrowth of CEO Virginia Gardiner’s industrial design degree project at London’s Royal College of Art. Her thesis addressed a self-assigned brief: “To create a waterless, urban toilet system that turns sh*t into money.” Her project questioned the unethical practice of flushing the toilet with drinking water and examined ways to turn human excrement into a commodity rather than a taboo substance to be flushed and forgotten. Today, we are a creative, energetic team working in both United Kingdom and Madagascar. Our vision is to build safe, sustainable and profitable toilet systems. 

Loowatt has developed a waterless and energy-generating toilet system that is clean and odourless. The Loowatt toilet seals human waste into biodegradable liner for anaerobic digestion to produce energy and fertilizer. Loowatt systems offer a range of environmental and social benefits that include water savings, carbon emissions reduction, improved human health and job creation.

Digesters can be built at any scale, and there are many established methods and configurations. In this example, the biogas drum floats up and down inside the digestate. This means that the pressure is created by gravity – the weight of the floating drum. Small-scale digesters like these are commercially available in India.
Mariona and Chris at Loowatt London Office with Tsiky Toilet
Mike: Thats sounds so cool, can you tell me more, sounds like an amazing thing you guys are doing!

Chris: Loowatt’s patented core technology can fit into toilets of any shape, size or specification. The toilet and system are suited to a broad range of situations that require off-grid toilets, including events, developing cities, construction sites and emergency relief. In Madagascar, we are implementing toilets that provide safe and clean sanitation to households. The system also produces energy and fertilizer, which benefits the local community. In the UK, we are introducing the Loowatt Event System—a mobile luxury loo system designed for events, which will bring a step change in the status quo of festival loos, as it is chemical-free, can run off-grid and offers a premium service.

A bird’s eye view gives an idea of the scale, compared to the size of a Mini Cooper.

The Loo Unit contains our unique technology in a luxury portable unit.

 Loowatt Tsiky Toilet for homes in Madagascar.

Mike: Why did you need PLM, and how did you find out about Autodesk?

Chris: We are going through the exciting transition in our operations from an R&D base to being commercially ready. As a company it is important for us to be prepared for this change, to better organise version control and get feedback on the operational lifecycle. With this in mind, we were actively looking for ways of managing these challenges when we came across Autodesk PLM 360, which provides a great solution to manage data as we scale. Luckily for us, it wasn't just PLM 360 we found; we were also eligible for the Autodesk Cleantech Program, which gives us incredible access to Autodesk products for our design development.

Mike: Which lead us to meet at our Autodesk University conference this year in Las Vegas. Can you share some of your experiences at our conference (you can leave the bad stuff in Vegas!)?

Chris: I can honestly say that I haven't experienced anything like Autodesk University before.  The scale of the event was spectacular—10,000 people converging for 3 days of learning, networking and a lot of design talk. Not only did I improve my skills with the software, including PLM 360, but I also took some great classes that addressed challenges in the design process, sustainability, overseas manufacturing and more. It was both educational and inspiring.

Mike: Can you tell me little about how you plan implement Autodesk PLM 360? 

Chris: We are planning to use the Items & Bill of Materials with Change control and the new product introduction apps. We particularly want to get a handle on version control as we roll more toilets out into the field. In time, I am hoping to bring in reporting functions to better understand the performance characteristics of different components. We will be getting a lot of data from our project in Madagascar and it is a great opportunity to feed back into our design process.

Mike: So how’s it going, how quickly are you getting up to speed with Autodesk PLM 360 and what processes are your starting with?

Chris: At first I thought PLM would be quite an intimidating process. But Autodesk PLM 360 being so flexible allowed me to get going without the need for lots of set-up. At Autodesk University, I took a great class to learn the basic workflows and how to build simple functions. Then when you visited me Mike I was amazed how easily we started importing the Bill of Material's from the most recent production designs. I imagined that it would be a laborious data entry task, but in actual fact we imported all the data directly from Excel, which saved a lot of time.

Mike: Yep thats what we like to hear ! What’s your overall impression of Autodesk and PLM 360? 

Chris: Autodesk designed their products in an intelligent way and figured out how they best integrate with the real world. For example, I really like the way Autodesk is moving to the cloud. It makes a lot of sense to be connected over a range of devices and makes Autodesk PLM 360 user friendly and convenient as well as being a powerful tool.

Thanks Chris and I'll look forward to working with you over the coming months..

GO check out these guys at

Thanks for reading.....Mike