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To fight wastage of electricity and water, 28-year-old mechanical engineer from Manipur invents intelligent controller

Hema Vaishnavi
21st Mar 2017
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Ramesh Bhutiani, a mechanical engineer, has invented a microcontroller-based, fully automatic water level controller that will reduce the need for constant monitoring of water pumps and undoubtedly save water and electricity.

Most houses today employ overhead tanks to store water, for which water is pumped up from tube wells on the ground by using motor pumps. Now, these motor pumps are manually turned on and off depending on the requirement of water and the amount of water that needs to be pumped into the overhead tank.

Often, people forget to turn these motors off, resulting in excessive wastage as water keeps running. In a country facing acute water and power shortages in some regions, such wastage seems unacceptable. In view of this, 28-year-old Ramesh Bhutiani, a mechanical engineer, sought to automate this process and came out with a prototype water level controller called Tank Buddy.

The team after a successful commissioning of the turbine in Laos.

Tank Buddy

Tank Buddy is a microcontroller-based, fully automatic water level controller. It can help you save water and electricity by preventing wastage of water through tank overflows. It also saves you the hassle of personally monitoring the overhead tank to switch on/off the pump.

“Tank Buddy uses an ultrasonic sensor to sense the water level in the tank. We can programme it to turn the pump on or off at specific water levels. The embedded code has a safety feature built into it to prevent dry running of the pump. This ensures the safety of the pump. Currently, water level controllers available in the market are plagued with problems and face reliability issues due to corrosion, since the parts are immersed in the water,” says Ramesh.

Tank Buddy, which has an ultrasonic sensor, eliminates the issues that come with the current set of water controllers since it does not come in contact with the water.

Ramesh says that the Tank Buddy can be installed on tanks of any size, and the sensor can sense water up to three metres deep. An LCD display is in place, which shows the percentage of water level.

Tank Buddy comes with a two-year warranty and is suitable for individual homes, apartments, public water supply tanks, and industrial use.

Sensor fitted inside the overhead water tank. It senses the water level in the tank.

Silverboat Technologies

Ramesh, who currently resides in Chennai, comes from a small town called Moreh, located at the Indo-Myanmar international border in the North Eastern state of Manipur.

Prototype model of Tank Buddy.

Ramesh, who has had an interest in science and engineering right from his childhood, came to Chennai to pursue mechanical engineering. “After I had completed my engineering in 2011, I went to see my grandparents and relatives in Myanmar. There, I came across a monastery in a remote location, located on a hill. The sun sets quite early since the place is hilly. The monks residing there faced hardships due to the lack of electricity. They asked me if I could do anything about it since I was an engineer. There was a small stream flowing nearby, which I used to generate electricity using a small hydroelectric turbine. I then supplied that electricity to the monastery. I built the turbine using locally available materials and some funds collected from friends and relatives,” says Ramesh.

Soon, word spread that an engineer had come from India and that he could generate electricity from streams. Ramesh began receiving requests from village panchayats and farm owners for electrification. He spent the next two years in Myanmar working in this field and gained significant experience.

He later returned to Chennai and founded Silverboat Technologies along with his friend Ashok Baral.

“We engaged in manufacturing small hydro turbines and their electronic controllers for our customers. We also exported our turbines to Laos for a village electrification programme funded by the World Bank. Although Silverboat Technologies is innovative, it does not have potential to be a million dollar company, since we are targeting a niche market,” says Ramesh.

Although a mechanical engineer by training, Ramesh picked up electronics skills while working on electronic controllers for the hydro turbines. To gain more working knowledge in electronics, he started looking for common problems that can be solved and came up with Tank Buddy.

Turbine built by the team.

Campaign for Tank Buddy

Ramesh is currently running a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for his innovation, which is at the prototype stage. Tank Buddy is expected to be launched in the market at a price of Rs 2,500. Ramesh, in addition to crowdfunding, is welcoming offers of contributing money to his initiative as an advance order, wherein the contributors will receive a Tank Buddy when the production begins.

Ramesh hopes that this fundraiser will give him a fresh breath of life, and hopes that with its success, he will have the opportunity to bring an innovative product to the market that can help save water and electricity.

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