P17431: St. Joseph's House Shelter Improvements

Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation

Table of Contents


Project Photos and Videos

Imagine RIT

Team Member Roles Definition

Meeting Minutes

Phase 1: Problem Definition

Phase 2: Systems Design

Phase 3: Preliminary Detailed Design

Phase 4: Detailed Design

Phase 1: Platform Lift Design

Phase 2: Systems Re-Design

Phase 3: Detailed Re-Design

Phase 4: Integrated System Build & Test

Phase 5: Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation


St. Joseph's House of Hospitality is a homeless shelter located near downtown Rochester, New York. St. Joseph's operates upon the principles of the Catholic Worker movement: a commitment to "nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and forsaken." St. Joseph's provides two key services to homeless residents of Rochester:

St. Joseph's operates in a former warehouse on South Avenue. The building is not optimized for the services provided, and only the first floor is accessible to guests. As such, floor space is limited. The same rooms are used for both hospitality and shelter operations, so the downstairs must be transformed twice daily. At night, the chairs in the room are stacked and moved to the sides of the rooms, and mattresses are laid on the floor. In the morning, the mattresses are removed from the room and the chairs are re-distributed around the room. In the former process used by St. Joseph's, the mattresses were stored on a mezzanine in an adjoining room,

Interviews with the staff of St. Joseph's revealed that this changeover process was cumbersome, because the mattresses were carried up to 60 feet and lifted about nine feet above floor level to the storage area. The storage area was near the ceiling of the first floor, with only about three feet of vertical space--not enough room to stand up. The task required at least two people to accomplish. One person carried the mattresses to the mezzanine and lifted them to the second. The second person climbed a ladder to the storage area, then lifted and stacked all 16 mattresses while bending over at the waist. Guests were reluctant to help with the changeover process because of the uncomfortable nature of the task, and the job typically fell on the shoulders of the staff.

The discussions with the staff of St. Joseph's exposed a second problem: the closet used by the shelter to store personal belongings for the guests. In the morning, guests have the option of leaving some of their belongings in a locked closet at St. Joseph's, so that they won't have to carry all their clothes and personal items with them all day. They can retrieve their belongings by returning to the shelter at night. The belongings were stored in garbage bags and piled in the closet, which occasionally led to avalanches when the closet door was opened. More details about both the mattress changeover problem and the storage closet problem can be found in the Problem Definition section of this site.

In the Systems Design phase of the project, we explored several potential solutions to ease both the mattress changeover process and the storage closet process. The relative merits and demerits of the system concepts were evaluated using Pugh's method. One solution to the mattress storage problem emerged from the Pugh's analysis as a clear front-runner: cabinets which would be installed in the first-floor rooms used for shelter and hospitality. Pugh's analysis of the personal belongings storage concepts suggested that rolling carts with stackable storage totes was the best concept for use in the storage closet.

Discussion with the staff of St. Joseph's yielded mixed results. The storage cart concept met with wholehearted approval. However, concerns arose about the floor space usage of the cabinets. We adjusted our selection criteria and completed another iteration of Pugh's analysis (see Preliminary Detailed Design), this time determining that a ceiling-mounted lifting platform would be the best solution to the mattress storage problem. We performed preliminary evaluations of the feasibility of the platform lift (see Detailed Design) and investigating benchmark products. Our investigation showed that platform lifts were indeed feasible, and we commenced design work on a platform and lift mechanism (Platform Lift Design). One critical detail hampered the design work: lack of information about the structure of the ceiling at St. Joseph's. We consulted Dr. Abdullah Faruque, a professor of civil engineering technology with a special focus on structures, hoping he might be able to help us resolve that issue. However, he recommended abandoning the platform lift, because we could not guarantee its safety.

We then embarked on a third iteration of the system design conceptualization and evaluation process (Systems Re-Design). This process ultimately led us back to reconsider the first concept we selected: cabinets. We enumerated the high-level features that the cabinet would have to possess, and received approval from St. Joseph's to proceed with that concept. In the Detailed Re-Design phase, we created a detailed design for the cabinets and carts, including CAD models, bills of material, and conducted appropriate engineering analyses.

In the Integrated System Build & Test phase, we undertook an extensive construction project at St. Joseph's. We constructed three storage carts, removed the existing shelving from the storage closet, manufactured all components for the cabinets, and assembled the cabinets in place at St. Joseph's.

This page includes all information necessary to understand and construct the carts and cabinets, including the bill of materials, budget, design drawings, assembly manual. Effectiveness of the system with respect to the engineering requirements is demonstrated by the tests reports found below, and summarized in the Performance vs. Requirements section. Based on the experience we gained through this project, we have made several recommendations for refining the mattress and personal belongings storage processes and systems. This project has been extremely rewarding and we would like to extend a special thanks to all those who supported the project!

Drawing Package and Solid Models

Cabinet Drawings

The assembly and component drawings for the hospitality room cabinets can be found here (PDF format). The top-level assembly for the hospitality room cabinet is drawing number P17431-0036 (four sheets total). All other drawings in this directory are component drawings for the hospitality room cabinet.

The assembly and component drawings for the dining room cabinet can be found here (also PDF format). The top-level assembly for the dining room cabinet is drawing number P17431-0053 (three sheets total). All other drawings in this directory are component drawings for the dining room cabinet.

Storage Carts Drawings

The assembly and component drawings for the storage carts can be found here (PDF).

3D Solid Models

3D solid models (in .step format) can be found in the CAD Models folder.

Assembly Manual

Step-by-step illustrated instructions to assemble all of the storage systems (hospitality room cabinet, dining room cabinet, small storage cart, large storage cart) are provided in a single document: assembly manual (PDF format).

Final BOM

The final bill of materials, including suggested vendors and costs, can be found here (Microsoft Excel .xlsx format).

Performance vs. Requirements

The table below summarizes the performance of storage systems with respect to the engineering requirements, as evaluated by testing.
Summary of the cabinet and cart performance with respect to the engineering requirements.

Summary of the cabinet and cart performance with respect to the engineering requirements.

The test reports are described in detail in the Testing section of the Integrated System Build & Test page.


As we finish up the last of the documentation and customer handoff, there are a few recommendations we have moving forward, for future teams and for additional slight improvements:

Technical Paper

The technical paper describing the goals, processes, and results of this project can be found here.

Imagine RIT Poster

Our Imagine RIT poster provides a brief graphical summary of the project. A .pdf file can be found here here, or a full-size version of the poster can be obtained by clicking the thumbnail below.

public/Final Documents/P17431_poster.png

Plans for Wrap-up

Given more time and funding, we would continue this project by implementing the recommendations elucidated above.

Close Out Questions

The team members' self-assessment of their contributations to and takeaways from Phase V of this project can be found in the close-out questions document (Microsoft Word .docx format).