As the semester has progressed, we have been able to become more familiar with the Mothers Milk Bank and our challenge, providing an efficient work flow, allowing a higher amount of distribution of milk to mothers across central Texas. With this comes many things, such as researching how many mothers currently receive donated breast milk, who the breast milk affects (preterm babies) and overall how our various solutions will affect mothers and the bank itself in the long run, allowing us to narrow down to our top best ideas.
Across the nation, thousands of new mothers are in need of donated breast milk. In Texas, thousands of parents use donated milk to nourish their infants. Austin Mothers Milk Bank serves mothers and babies in central Texas, specifically preterm babies and those suffering allergies, formula intolerance, or infectious diseases. The Milk Bank has the opportunity to move to a larger facility which will enable them to serve more babies by increasing their workflow. Team Flō of the Ann Richards School brings three years of STEM and two years of Biomedical classes to design an improved work flow plan for Mothers Milk Bank. With an improved workflow and larger space, the organization will be able to distribute greater amounts of breast milk and help more babies in need in central Texas. Right now the Mother’s Milk Bank has allowed us to help develop a workflow that will fit their new larger facility. They want the milk processing rates to increase as the size of labs increases. That will cause the distribution of milk to babies to increase.
So far, we have collected several ideas that could solve our solution. First, we thought that a better packaging and delivery system would increase the number of bottles delivered to mothers in need. When listening to the radio one night, we heard a report on KUT about breast milk processing could be cheaper and easier. The solution was to turn the breast milk into a powder form, which would prevent spilling and freezing during the process. The report went on to talk about a spray-drying technique that would make breast milk much cheaper and easier to produce. Another of our solutions would involve better packaging. Inspired by the Ozarka water delivery service, we thought that having a system with reusable and insulated breast milk bottles would be better for the environment and also remove the process of re-freezing the milk, as the milk should be able to stay cold in an insulated container until the milk reaches the home of the final recipient. Our next solution involves organizing the volunteers in a more productive manner. We could possibly create a schedule for the volunteers, as well as a more detailed training program so the volunteers would have the skills to produce more milk. Organizing the volunteers would help the milk bank to process milk at a faster rate, therefore solving our problem of increasing the milk production rates.Our third option would be to create a detailed floor plan of the labs in the new facility, arranging everything from shelves to the various machines used to process the milk. This idea is the simplest idea, and we believe that this idea will most effectively solve our problem.
We have given this much thought and we want to produce only the best for Mother’s Milk Bank. We will measure our success on some key factors:
- How much milk is available to mothers and their babies
- How much milk is being produced a day
- The amount of donors
While the first two seem similar, they have a key difference, the first measure is how much milk is going into the hands of the mothers and their babies, the second is how much milk is being produced in the facility total: including the milk going to the babies and the milk that stays at the facility. We will know our solution is effective when there is an increase in the amount of milk production. If we have an increased amount of donors then there will also be an increased amount of milk available to mothers in need. While we are improving the workflow of the milk bank in our project we feel it necessary to also include the increase amount of donors by showing the necessity of milk donation as well as the success of it in mothers and their babies, if there is an increase in donors there will also be an increase in milk at the milk bank thus providing more to the women who come for milk at the milk bank.
We are in the earliest stages of carrying out our solution, which is bound to change, so please expect more updates from us!