The Smart Bench at FME | Faculty of Management and Economics at the Gdańsk University of Technology

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Date added: 2024-06-25

The Smart Bench at FME

In 2023, as part of the XV edition of the International MBA in Strategy, Programme, and Project Management studies at the Faculty of Management and Economics of the Gdańsk University of Technology, the Benchee team, consisting of four students (Leszek Adamczyk, Daniel Bąk, Izabela Chabowska, and Wojciech Ignalewski) under the supervision of PhD Paweł Ziemiański, developed the concept for a project to build intelligent small architecture.

The project's goal was to create a system of products that are visually appealing, encourage use, are environmentally friendly, and align with modern smart city trends. The system's elements were designed with durability, functionality, and aesthetics in mind, fitting into sustainable development goals by promoting responsible production and consumption. They also serve as excellent platforms for eco-educational purposes and help companies and local governments achieve ESG goals. The first component of the Benchee ecosystem identified was a bench, which, like all designed elements, was created in line with the idea of innovative, ecological metal processing methods and the use of recycled plastic.

The design process was preceded by an analysis of product demand, distribution direction choices, and task feasibility assessments. Market research was conducted involving a panel of 400 respondents from across Poland. The survey aimed to gather opinions on environmental issues, necessary educational actions, the use of recycled materials in urban small architecture, and the inclusion of interactive functions and gamification elements.

The most frequently mentioned environmental issues by respondents were water and air pollution and plastic waste problems. Over 80% emphasized the need for ecological education for children and adults. Most respondents believe that using recycled materials is important for environmental protection, and 74% positively assessed the use of recycled plastic in small architecture. A significant majority (82%) also stated that local authorities should promote the use of ecological materials in the production of urban small architecture.

Smart and interactive features are elements that use modern technologies and solutions to increase comfort, safety, savings, and ecology in urban spaces. Small urban architecture can be equipped with such features to better meet users' needs and expectations. The introduction of such functions was positively received by respondents, with the highest ratings given to the use of monitoring and alarm systems and air quality monitoring systems.

Gamification, or the incorporation of simple game elements (e.g., tic-tac-toe or battleships, in the form of buttons or digital displays) in small architecture, also garnered interest from respondents—53% rated this idea well, even though only 20% had previously encountered such initiatives. More than half of the respondents also positively evaluated the possibility of interacting through a shared game with someone in another location (e.g., in another city).

All the insights from the conducted research were analyzed and influenced the project's development plan. Based on this, the project assumptions were defined, and the stage of producing a prototype batch of benches began. In the first half of 2024, in cooperation with ZEGGER TECH, a series of prototypes meeting the design assumptions were built, combining steel construction with recycled polymers from plastic fished out of the Baltic Sea.

The process of optimizing production assumptions towards large-scale manufacturing was also initiated. Parallel to process innovations, intensive work is being conducted on product innovations and equipping Benchee with interactive functions that will allow simple games to be played directly with accompanying persons or through a connected ecosystem with any other bench worldwide, creating a sort of social network.

Games that do not require instructions, are easy to use, and provide entertainment for everyone, regardless of age, will be introduced.

Among the various options, Benchee can be equipped with additional features such as air and environmental quality sensors, Wi-Fi access points, or portable device charging.

Each small architecture element can offer additional possibilities to users:

  • Trash cans monitoring fill levels and supporting municipal waste management systems,
  • Flower pots assisting with irrigation systems,
  • City lamps monitoring pedestrian, bicycle, and car traffic,
  • Other elements supporting the collection, processing, and delivery of data necessary for environmental protection, social activity, or infrastructure management.

Thanks to its innovative approach, the Benchee ecosystem promotes responsible production and consumption, supports sustainable development goals, and helps create modern, friendly, and functional urban spaces.

Team Member Profiles

Leszek Adamczyk - A graduate of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Gdańsk University of Technology, majoring in Civil Engineering. A qualified civil engineer with over 20 years of experience in the geotechnical industry. Responsible for tender processes, bidding, design, and execution, including health and safety, environmental, legal, and financial aspects in local and international construction projects. Holds building licenses for design and construction management without limitations in the structural engineering specialty.

Daniel Bąk - A graduate of the Maritime University in Gdynia in Electronics and Telecommunications, Management and Marketing, and the Higher School of Administration and Business in Gdynia in Project Management. Nearly 20 years of experience in research, development, and implementation of technologies for the global telecommunication sector, especially in hardware and software production, telecommunication network design, and the promotion of the information society.

Izabela Chabowska - A graduate of the Faculty of Chemistry at the Gdańsk University of Technology, majoring in Biotechnology, and the Faculty of Management and Economics in Project Management and commercialization of research results. Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences in Biotechnology. Many years of experience in conducting clinical and pre-clinical research on dermocosmetics and medical devices, managing a research laboratory, and experience in managing biotechnological R&D projects co-financed under POIG 1.4-4.1 programs and NCBR.

Wojciech Ignalewski - A graduate of the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin, Szczecin University of Technology, and the Maritime University in Szczecin. Ph.D. in Technical Sciences in the discipline of machine construction and operation. Extensive experience in implementing innovative manufacturing technologies and material processing in precision production.