P19762: Agriculture Value Chain

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

Team Plans


Project Summary

An agricultural product system for Colombian farmers is needed to improve their existing agricultural value chain. This new product would offer an increased crop yield over traditional techniques as well as the ability to closely monitor vital parameters about the crops. A symbiotic system between crops and fish with built in monitoring capabilities can be used for this purpose. The system needs to be constrained to requirements based on the needs of the farmers. These requirements include size, weight, and crop parameters that need to be tracked. The values for these requirements will be determined by cooperating with Colombian students who understand the agricultural applications of the system. In addition, it is important the design can be implemented in Colombia easily, which means it needs to be inexpensive, made from locally sourced materials, easily shipped, and easy to setup and tear-down.

The goal of this project is to understand the needs of the customer in order to design a working agricultural product system. The expected end result is a functional, well-documented prototype that can be used for symbiotic fish and crop farming in Colombia, as well as associated training materials that include instructions for setup, teardown, and general usage. If successful in Colombia, the system will be considered for implementation in urban farming as well.

Use Cases

There were three use cases that we found. The first is a single family using a single unit to sustain them.


The second use case is a single family using a single unit in an urban environment. This scenario is practically identical to the first use case.

The third use case is a single family selling the crops and fish from one or more units to support a small business that has the potential to buy more units. This use case is the ultimate goal.


Project Goals and Key Deliverables

Project Goals

Develop an aquaponics system that...

Key Deliverables

Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer requirements were determined by asking various questions (Customer Interview Questions) during interviews with both Marcos Esterman (Marcos Esterman Interview Transcript) and the student design team from Universidad Autonoma de Occidente (Student Interview Transcript). The Colombian students were able to provide our group with their needs report that also aided in determining needed customer requirements (Needs Report)


Decompose the Problem Statement into functions of elements needed to satisfy the customer.

Customer Requirements Table

The customer requirements were ranked using a 1-3-9 scale, with 9 being the most important and 1 the least important.


The working document can be found here.

Discarded CRs

CR11 - Small shipping size. Removed 12/4/18. Reason for removal: parts will be sourced in Colombia, not shipped.

CR12 - Low shipping weight. Removed 12/4/18. for removal: parts will be sourced in Colombia, not shipped.

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)


Create a contract between the engineer and the customer where indisputable satisfaction of the engineering requirements equates to customer satisfaction

Engineering Requirements Table

Engineering requirements were formulated based on the CRs.


The working document can be found here.

Discarded ERs

ER03 - Ability to sense and record O2 content. Removed 12/4/18. Reason for removal: O2 sensors are expensive and it is not necessary for the farmer to know the exact oxygen content of the water.

ER15 - Shipping L+W+H. Removed 12/4/18. Reason for removal: parts will be sourced in Colombia, not shipped.

ER16 - Shipping weight. Removed 12/4/18. Reason for removal: parts will be sourced in Colombia, not shipped


House of Quality


  1. Confirm that satisfaction of the Engineering Requirements implies that all of the Customer Requirements are met.
  2. Facilitate design trade off decisions

House of Quality Table

Links were made between CRs and ERs


The working document can be found here.

Design Review Materials

The following presentation was given for the Problem Definition Review on September 13th, 2018: PDF

The notes summerizing the feedback from the presentation can be found here: PDF

Plans for next phase

This Gantt Chart can also be seen in Excel format here: Project Schedule

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