Factor[e] Field Trip: Hands-On Look at Pump Applications

Getting our hands dirty is fundamental to work at Factor[e]. We find immense benefit in, not only understanding the technical side of innovation but also in being truly informed on an area of interest in a way that would not be possible without a little elbow grease.

Recently, the Factor[e] Team took a field trip from our home office in Fort Collins to Denver, Colorado to inform our work around solar pumping for irrigation in the ag sector, rapid iteration and prototyping, and fecal sludge management using vacuum trucks. Each of these areas of study help to educate Factor[e]’s investments and potential future investments and collaborations in the agriculture and sanitation sectors. This field trip gave us the opportunity to see first-hand, innovation at work.

Pumps have the potential to boost farmer productivity around the world. To learn more about the innovations in solar pumps, we first visited Ryan Weber at his prototyping and testing workshop. Weber, an irrigation engineer, shared useful insights into the research and development of small-scale solar pumps in emerging markets and gave us a tour of his workshop. We explored prototyping applications for 3D printers, CNC machining, welding, woodworking, and circuitry.

We ate a delicious lunch at Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen and then visited Kevin Keegan at KeeVac Industries, a vacuum truck manufacturer with trucks across the world. Keegan helped us understand his business and conducted a hands-on, expert dissection of truck chassis, vacuum pumps, and a wide variety of tank materials. Vacuum trucks provide an efficient and mobile platform for fecal sludge management; we are hoping to transfer domestic expertise in this sector to those working in emerging markets.

As we maintain our commitment to hands-on, multifaceted, learning, we will continue to look for opportunities for learning, collaboration, and the chance to roll up our selves.