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Agri-Fab Smart Sweep – Lawn Sweeper

Working closely with the Agri-Fab team, Make 26 Inc. redesigned and re-engineered the impressive new Smart Sweep lawn sweeper, so innovative that it is designed to pick up anything in its path - including several U.S. patents for everything from the hitch design to the dumping mechanism and the collapsible easy-store design.


Agri-Fab is a leading manufacturer of a complete line of lawn and garden attachments for the following vehicles:
• Compact Tractors
• Garden Tractors
• Lawn Tractors
• ATVs
• Utility Vehicles


Agri-Fab engaged in a massive project to update and reposition their entire line of products. Make 26 was chosen to redesign and re-engineer one of Agri- Fab’s flagship products, the lawn sweeper.


 

Make 26 found that Agri-Fab’s lawn sweeper line, once the dominant product in the market, was losing market share for at least two reasons: they were competing on price against domestic competitors who were all building basically the same sweeper, and Agri-Fab had several patents that had expired; the company was now faced with new competition from knock-offs from overseas manufacturers who were selling directly to U.S. retailers. Our ultimate goal for this project was to reinvent the lawn sweeper – literally from the ground up.


Make26 was charged with developing innovative, patentable features in an aesthetically differentiated package.

 
 

We ran through user scenarios that addressed sweeping, dumping, cleaning, and storage. Opportunities were discovered along the way – the assembly was complicated, emptying the hopper while fully loaded was difficult, the brush height adjustment was awkward, plus the sweeper unit was large and required ample room to store.

 
 

Our design team identified and addressed both User Interactive and Non-User Interactive features: Both are equally important to the user experience, and are addressed equally to insure the success of the project.


User interaction features- Parts of the sweeper that the user interacts with to achieve maximum performance based on usage.


Non-user interaction features - Parts of the sweeper that the user cannot adjust as a feature. These components affect performance, and must be maintained.

 
 

Working with Agri-Fab, we identified parts and materials that were high cost in order to discover ways to reduce the overall manufacturing cost.

 
 
In order to test the concepts that we had generated, we built a full sized, functional test hopper mechanism in the Make 26 shop. This device was designed to be easily modified—we were able to evaluate a variety of pull levers, fulcrum locations, hopper displacements and plenum configurations designed to limit hopper size when picking up heavier grass clippings.
 
 
Final prototypes were created and subsequently tested for 80 hrs on real grass and leaves.
 
 
The completely redesigned hopper mechanism and bag allows for larger payloads and easier dumping.
 
 
Make 26 designed a new hitch mechanism that allows the sweeper to be offset from the tractor for effective, simultaneous mowing/sweeping. This patented system allows the mechanism to fold for easy storage.
 
 
We moved the brush assembly in front of the wheel/axle so that the height adjustment would be independent of the frame/housing. This allows for an easy, one handed brush height adjustment. 
 
 
One of Agri-Fab’s primary goals for this project was to re-establish their brand in the market. Make 26 was redesigning one of Agri-Fab’s flagship products, and we worked with the Agri-Fab  team to create and establish a new aesthetic and visual brand language. This VBL was applied across an entire new line.
 
 
Agri-Fab is also an OEM supplier to other brands, so our team created color schemes that would work with each of the brands.
 
 
Virtually every part of this new sweeper was redesigned by Make 26. This ground up restructuring allowed us to arrive at a vastly superior product. The redesign included:
• reducing the overall number of parts
• simplifying the assembly
• cutting costs while adding functionality
• creating patentable new features
• improving the drive mechanism
• differentiating the aesthetics from the competition
• differentiating the functionality from the competition
• providing greater ease of use
 


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