| Animal Powered Systems |
The most attractive fields of application for animal-power technology lie in subsistence agriculture and, thus, in areas that have as yet had only superficial contact with industrial technology. The only technical infrastructure that can actually reach the potential user of animal-power technology in such areas is that of the local handicrafts. The following considerations are intended to emphasize their potentially decisive role in the introduction of animal-power technology. The most important demand on technologies serving the field of "assured subsistence" is high operational reliability. Efficiency is a purely secondary requirement. Operational reliability is the very forte of traditional technologies. A traditional water-raising facility, for instance, can quickly be repaired by either the user himself or a local craftsman, but the inability to prevent or remedy the failure of a diesel pump can jeopardize weeks of work. Under certain circumstances, it could even threaten the livelihood - or very existence - of those who depend on it to work.
Just like any other technical innovation earmarked for use in the field of assured subsistence, the animal power, too, will only stand a chance of gaining wide acceptance, if a high degree of operational reliability is guaranteed. A high degree of functional reliability can be achieved by reducing the probability of a breakdown (failure probability) or by increasing the probability of successful repair. While both of those alternatives are possible, they lead in opposite directions when it comes to choosing the type of new technologies. Assuring functional reliability by reducing the chance of outage usually goes hand in hand with a drastic increase in the monetary value (= price) of the machine. In other words, built-in reliability increases the initial cost. If the desired degree of reliability is to be achieved by less capital-intensive means, the only good option is to increase the probability of successful repair. And that, in turn, can only be done by ensuring both that the time lag between breakdown 'and repair is short, and that the cost of repair is moderate.
Then, after only a few years of service, a minor breakdown that the users could not repair on their own effectively took the pump out of commission - long before the end of its theoretical service life. Norias are, by contrast, prone to frequent breakdowns and of low efficiency, but the users can build and repair them with no outside help (industrial inputs), so that - in the long run - they are more "reliable" than commercial models. (They've also been around for hundreds of years!) Thus, the main challenge in the development of new types of animal powers is to come up with designs that combine the advantages of industrial and handicraft technologies, whereby cooperation with local craftsmen is, of course' vital and indispensable. The fact that "assured subsistence" and the provision of essential needs are included in the scope of objectives of developmental cooperation necessitates close attention to the problems of intercultural communication in the project context. With regard to teamwork between development experts and local craftsmen, such problems are further complicated by basic differences in the "mentalities" of craftsmen and engineers. While craftsmen learn new techniques by progressing from outward appearances to the intrinsic relevance, engineers and scientists tend to proceed in the opposite direction. Local craftsmen do not assimilate innovation and technology transfer by studying technical drawings, but through the gradual succession of watching, working together, imitating and, finally, creatively modifying. The nature of animal power as a typical hen dicraft technology is pointed out in Uhland's "handbook for practical-minded machine builders", published in 1899: "In designing an animal power, theoretical calculations are normally dispensed with altogether, because they are of little value. and because the types that have evolved on a practical basis serve as better models for new designs than could ever be arrived at by way of inherently unreliable mathematical determinations." The described line of causality also applies to the case at hand. Assuming that a certain type of animal power is firmly embedded in the handicraft-technical culture of a region other than the one for which its introduction is envisioned, a temporary exchange of craftsmen could well be the most economical means of effecting the technology transfer. The same is true of numerous other traditional-type water-raising systems. The scope of cooperation and assistance promised in the introductory section of this booklet includes the sounding out and potential fosterage of such unconventional approaches. Handicraft work must by no means be or remain free of all industrial inputs. On the contrary, some handicraft products are only possible due to the availability of certain industrially produced components, be it a relatively complicated mass-produced article like an automobile tire for the runner of an animal-power, or a ball bearing, or any number of hardware articles and accessories such as nuts and bolts, screws, steel cables or plastic tubing., In some countries, the manufacture of animal-drawn wagons and carts has already taken on more intensive forms of specialization, e.g. in which the domestic industry supplies the wheels and axles, and the craftsmen build the bodies. In the case of an animal power, the labor breakdown could consist of: bearings, shafts and any cast-iron gear wheels from the industry, and the rest from craftsmen. While the incorporation of scrap parts would be conceivable during the initial phases of a propagation program, limited availability of the requisite parts would be a major handicap for long-term projects.