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» » » » Portable Smokehouse and its Potential to Solve Problems in Community-Based Training in the Food Processing Program

Scholarly Technical Education Publication Series (STEPS) Vol. 3


Portable Smokehouse and its Potential to Solve Problems in Community-Based Training in the Food Processing Program


Authors:

    Rene J. Socrates
    Chief Fabricator of Portable Smokehouse
    Lead Trainer of Machining NC II
    Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades
    Palawan, Philippines

    Eleonor H. Solomon
    Lead Trainer, Food Processing NC II
    Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades
    Palawan, Philippines

    Rebecca A. EdaƱo
    Chairperson, Metals & Engineering Sector
    Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades
    Palawan, Philippines

    Lorizza Mae Posadas-Gacott
    Focal, Research and Development
    Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades
    Palawan, Philippines

    Jastine Espinas
    Data Tabulator
    Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades
    Palawan, Philippines

Abstract

The study explores the creation of a portable smokehouse that can be portable, easy to use and efficient. This is in response to the request of the surrounding community for the Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades (PPST) to constantly organize food processing courses as part of its extension activities.

Upon the development of the portable smokehouse using cheap materials that are readily available in the institution, a pilot test was carried out. It was found out that the smokehouse needed lesser charcoal and sawdust and was able to smoke fish 10 minutes faster as compared to the conventionally designed smokehouse. Furthermore, its collapsible feature ensured an easier storage and transport than the regular smokehouse.

It is seen that this smokehouse will now be able to address the training needs of the community by demonstrating a working prototype that can actually be used as a substitute to the conventional.

Realizing the need to upgrade the skill of the seminar participants in preserving food, the instructors of the Food Processing course developed an in-house smokehouse that is designed to cater to the training needs of the community.


Background of the Study

PPSAT conducts institution-based training programs or qualifications and facilitates numerous community-based trainings in different areas of the city and in northern and southern part of Palawan. One of the most requested trainings conducted in the community is the Food Processing NC II. This course is one of the program offerings in Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades (PPSAT). It is divided into basic, common, and core competencies, and has a training duration of 568 hours, with the core competencies taking 90% of the total span. The core competencies are composed of the following: 1)Process Food by Salting, Curing, and Smoking; 2) Process Food by Fermentation & Pickling; 3) Process Food by Sugar Concentration; and Package Finished/Processed Food Products.

In a regular institution-based training, Food Processing takes four to five months of training. However, majority of the partner agencies only requests for shortterm trainings in far-flung municipalities, having two to three weeks as the longest duration. Hence, to meet the needs of the community even in a short period, not all core competencies are provided. Among the most common offered trainings in distant municipalities is the first Certificate of Competency (COC) of Food Processing, the Process Food by Salting, Curing, and Smoking.

According to its lead trainer, Ms. Eleonor H. Solomon, she found smoking process to be quite challenging especially when held outside the school because the equipment used for smoking is too large and bulky. Bringing it outside was inconvenient. The design of the smoking equipment only suits the institution-based training but not the community-based. When conducting trainings in municipalities, Ms. Solomon used to recycle cans of cooking oil as smoking equipment. These cans were quite sustainable but only for a very short period. It may pose danger to the end-users, and may affect the quality of the output. Changing smoking equipment every now and then was inconvenient, too.

To solve the issues encountered in the first COC of Food Processing, Ms. Solomon came up with an idea of creating a collapsible smokehouse. She collaborated with Mr. Rene J. Socrates, the lead trainer of Machining NC II regarding the project idea. After discussing, they decided to propose a portable smokehouse that could be used in community-based trainings.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVE

This study aimed to create a functional portable and collapsible smokehouse for community-based training in Food Processing - COC 1 (Process Food by Salting, Curing, and Smoking).

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROBLEM

The research project aimed to address the issues encountered in COC 1 in Food Processing, which includes smoking. It would make the training more efficient and convenient to the trainer and trainees. It may also save more time and effort on part of the trainer, and save resources on part of the institution. The training may smoothly continue without limiting the quality of the smoked product.

RESEARCH PARADIGM

The research project followed an I-P-O paradigm. Input contains the knowledge, hardware and human requirements. Process describes how the research ran, and output states the finished and functional product. See the illustration on the next page.


Figure 1: Input-Process-Output Framework of the Smokehouse Project

Table 1: Raw materials used for the Smokehouse Prototype

Operational Framework (Methodology)

This part describes the raw materials used, how the study worked, the steps of development, the validation and testing procedures, and the evaluation.

Table 2: Equipment used for the Smokehouse Prototype

Table 3: Project Timeline and Development

Testing and Operating Procedure

After the project was created, the trainer in food processing together with a group of end-users operated the smokehouse during the COC 1 in Food Processing to test and evaluate its functionality. They processed different types of fish such as salay, lumahaw and bangus. As observed, the portable smokehouse has exceeded the performance of regular drum-type smokehouse in terms of fuel consumption, smoking duration, quality of the smoked product, portability, and ease of use.

The portable smokehouse needs a lesser amount of charcoal and sawdust than the bigger, traditional drum-type. Moreover, unlike the common drum-type that takes 45 minutes to one hour of smoking four to five kilos of salay, lumahaw or bangus, the portable smokehouse only takes 30 to 35 minutes. Both can accommodate the same load of fish though, with a maximum capacity of four to five kilos. Meanwhile, based on the quality of the smoked product, it was observed that the fish processed in the portable smokehouse is juicier, has a better texture, and has a more brilliant golden-brown color than the fish processed in drum-type. These observations may be attributed to the small size of portable smokehouse that evenly distributes the heat and smoulder inside the device.

Furthermore, the portability of the smokehouse was proven effective due to its collapsible feature. In fact, it was already brought and used in community-based trainings in the distant municipality of El Nido, and in the island municipality of Cagayancillo. In terms of ease of operation, initially, the trainers and other end-users found it hard to assemble and disband due to lack of user’s manual. But this issue was immediately solved as Mr. Socrates created the user’s manual.

Despite the identified strengths of the portable smokehouse device, further modification may be employed to improve capacity for smaller-sized fish, and ease of transport.


Trainees of Food Processing testing and operating the portable smokehouse.

Evaluation

Table 4: Functionality of the Portable Smokehouse as Perceived by the Users

Table 5: Design efficiency of the Portable Smokehouse as Perceived by the Users

After going through operational testing, a questionnaire determining the functionality and design was administered to the end-users, trainees, trainers, and experts. The results are as follows:

In terms of functionality, the evaluation reveals that the portable smokehouse receives an average of 3.86. 87% of the end-users also rated it as excellent. This indicates that the innovation is highly functional.

On the other hand, in terms of design, the smokehouse garnered an average of 3.67. This means that the project requires negligible revision. Likewise, 73% of the evaluators see it having an excellent design the Tables below show the Gantt Chart and the Budget Plan

Table 6: Gantt Chart of the Project

Table 7: Budget Plan of the Project

FINAL OUTPUT

Portable/Collapsible Smokehouse

Height: 26 inches
Width: 15 inches
Length: 30 inches
Capacity: Maximum of 4 - 5 kilos of fish (5 pcs per kilo, regular-size)


How to Use the Portable Smokehouse

  1. Remove the nylon strings that ties the grill and smokehouse.

  1. Unfold and place the smokehouse on flat area.
    Note: Follow the illustration/figure to unfold the smokehouse.

  1. Set simultaneously the right side panel, left side panel and bottom panel of the smokehouse perpendicular to the rear panel.

  1. Tighen the wing nut both on the left and right side panel.

Note: Temporarily set and tighten the lower firebox front panel and top panel to be stable in setting the smokehouse in upright position.

  1. Set the smokehouse on upright position then fold the top panel backward

  1. Attach the bottom grill and then the upper grill as shown on the figure below.

  1. Set the top panel and tighten the wing nut.

  1. Put the smokehouse on top of the base.

  1. Loosen the wing nut to fold the fire box front panel downward.

  1. Put the firebox on the smokehouse
    Precaustion: Fire box should be put on the smokehouse after the charcoal is hot and burning enough for cooking. Ensure that the charcoal does not produe flames.

Note: If the load of fish to be smoked is already placed in the smokehouse then the latter is ready to close.

  1. Close the food chamber door and tighten the wing nut.

  1. Close the upper firebox panel and lock the smokehouse with the use of barrel bolt.


Instruction on How to Fold/Transport the Smokehouse

Note: Proper care in folding the smokehouse should be taken. make sure that the surface of the plain sheet is in normal temperature.

  1. Remove the smokehouse from the base.

  1. Place on flat area.

  1. Open the top fire box front panel and lay down.

  1. Loosen the wing nut of the food chamber door and top panel and fold it fold it on backward position.

  1. Remove th eupper top grill and then the lower grill.

  1. Loosen the wing nut of the lower firebox front panel and lay down on a flat position

  1. Remove the fire box and set aside.

  1. Loosen the wing nut of the left and right side panel.

  1. Lay down the smokehouse as illustrated, and fold the left and right side panel.

  1. Set the smokehouse in upright position, to the right or left, then start folding it as illustrated.

  1. The smokehouse is ready for transport.


Recommendations for Future Researchers

The portable/collapsible smokehouse device, though found functional and costefficient, still needs to undergo further modification, testing and evaluation to ensure effective performance and better quality. Since existing data on testing were primarily based on qualitative observation of the users, it is therefore recommended that the initial findings and observations be supported by more concrete measures and statistical procedures.

This undertaking also sets opportunities to address the device’s current limitations. Other useful features could be added to enhance the capacity of its grills, so they can hold even the smaller-sized types of fish. To increase the ease of transport, the device’s stand and firebox may be made foldable. A travel case or carry-on case may also be developed so that the device’s parts remain secured and intact when not in use and during transport.

APPENDIX: PROJECT BLUEPRINT

Ms. Solomon, the lead trainer of Food Processing NC II came up with an “idea” to solve difficulties in the use of smoking equipment in community-based trainings. Together with Mr. Socrates, she proposed a portable smokehouse that can be used in CBTs.

Below are the illustrations of project plans and drawings.


Mr. Rene J. Socrates, the lead trainer of Machining NC II creating a prototype for testing.


After seeking initial feedback from users, Mr. Socrates started fabricating the portable smokehouse.


Trainers and experts testing the innovation. Mr. Socrates discussing the parts of the collapsible smokehouse.


Smokehouse in its transportable state


Trainees of Food Processing using the smokehouse.

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