Milk Candy
Name of village:
Location: Manufacturing and Processing of Milk Candy

Partner: Muhammadiyah University of Malang

Being able to participate in this overseas social innovation project was a great opportunity for us as the trip gave us an eye opener to the world beyond Singapore. Throughout this journey, we learnt the true value of teamwork, as well as having the opportunity to reach out to the overseas communities by addressing actual problems faced by them. On top of that, we had the chance to be able to immerse ourselves in the diversified culture that left all of us in awe.

Essentially, the learning express programme was held from the 8th- 21st March of 2015, in collaboration with Kanazawa Institute of Technology (KIT), Kanazawa Technical College (KTC), and Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang (UMM) to conduct a case study on how we could improve the efficiency of the production of milk candy. In order to identify and solve the problems faced, we had applied the design thinking process which started with the empathy studies and ended with the prototyping of solutions.

Initially, everyone was quite reserved. This was probably because we were foreign to the Indonesian and the Japanese students and did not know each other well then. Hence, we needed some time to familiarise with one another. As the days passed by, new bonds were forged and we really enjoyed our trip since everyone was very enthusiastic. Along with our lovely facilitator, Ms Huei, we felt more at ease as she helped and guided us along the journey of Design Thinking (DT).

As for our DT training, it is different from our usual lessons where we just sit and listen to lectures. Instead, we got down for real actions. This was the most effective method because it was mainly hands on work, thus it was easier and clearer in terms of being able to remember the whole process, as well as knowing how to apply it in a real life situation.

The journey of Design Thinking
To better understand the local community, we stayed at Ibu’s house for 3 days and 2 nights. At Ibu’s house, we observed the surroundings, making use of the POEMS template which encompassed factors like People, Object, Environment, Messages and Services. Through detailed observations, we found out that certain processes in the candy making are extremely arduous and tedious.

Firstly, the stirring process was indeed labour intensive since it requires Ibu to stir the mixture of milk candy continuously for almost 2 hours. As the mixture thickens, Ibu needs to increase the amount of strength and speed exerted when scraping off the sticky residue from the sides and bottom of the wok, to prevent the mixture from caramelizing and sticking to the wok.

When the mixture is cooked through, manual cutting follows. As the candy tends to harden up once it starts to cool down, manual cutting needs to be done while the mixture is still hot. This has resulted in the formation of blisters on Ibu's hand. Eventually, Ibu has to use a spatula to flatten the cooked mixture and a bench scraper to scrape the candy off the surface of the table.

As the candy mixture is sticky and insubstantial, it will stretch during the cutting process, resulting in the inconsistent sizes of the milk candy. Thus, she seeks for safer and more efficient tools to ease the stirring and cutting processes in the candy making process.

To overcome these problems, we had come up with two ideas in which were later developed into prototypes. They were the Ultimate 2 in 1 mixer cooker and Miracle Cutter.

To ease the stirring process, our team had created a machine that could constantly scrape off the sticky residues from sides and bottom of the wok with ease. To enhance the flexibility of its use, the machine could be operated manually or automatically.

It involves the use of a detachable paddle stirrer, which has angled blades, customised specifically to meet the needs of scraping the sides and bottom of the pot.

To manually operate this machine, one can turn the handle attached to the top stand of the machine, which will rotate the paddle and start the mixing of the candy mixture. With the customised design of angled blades, they (blades) imitates Ibu’s action of scraping the residues off the sides and bottom of the pot. This eventually helps Ibu to ease the labour intensive stirring process as the handle only needs to be turned in a circular and unidirectional motion.

For the automated version, the speed of rotation can be controlled by a speed box that caters to different stages of the stirring process. This prototype also consists of another detachable handle to tilt the wok for easy pouring after the mixture has finished cooking.
On the other hand, to address the problems faced in the cutting process, a machine that resembles a press printing machine had been designed.

There is a tray which the milk candy mixture is poured onto. A moulder is attached to the tray which acts as a boundary as well. That moulder is designed such that it is smaller than the tray to allow leeway for the candy mixture to stretch and not spill over the tray when the mixture is flattened by the first cutter.

As the tray is pushed into the machine, the individual cutter will start to rotate and cut the candy mixture into uniform sizes, simultaneously preventing the candy from sticking. As this happens, the teeth that is fixed to the bottom of the tray will rotate a small gear that is fixed to a rod which is connected to a small gear on the periphery of the machine. This small gear will in turn rotate two other gears, two of which is connected to the individual cutter, and the other one acts as a direction changer that changes the direction of rotation of the cutter at the furthest end from an anti-clockwise motion to a clockwise motion such that both cutter cuts in a clockwise motion. This prevents the candy from stretching.

Learning Points
Admittedly, this overseas social innovation project has offered us much insightful experiences. As we engaged the local community and overseas students, we forged genuine relationships in a short period of 14 days. We got to know one another’s cultures better and learn to respect individuals’ differences. For example, though the Indonesian and Japanese students were not well-versed in English, everyone tried their best to understand one another through body language or by learning one another’s languages. Language barriers does not deter us from communicating, instead it pulled us together. Overcoming these challenges made us more united and stronger than ever.

Being open-minded is also one of the most instrumental mindsets we have learnt for effective teamwork. For instance, as our team divided into two groups for ideation, being open to feedback during various occasions such as group presentations, co-creation and internal checking helped us to innovate new ideas or refine our designs by taking into consideration the opinions of others.