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Thesis project in Industrial Design develops reindeer herding industry

Published: 29 June 2021

Lisa Eliasson and Hatharat Silawiang, both students at the Bachelor Programme in Industrial Design Engineering, have developed a digitized, more efficient and more sustainable method for marking reindeer calves. – We have combined traditional methods and modern technology to achieve a sustainable solution, says Hatharat Silawiang.

During their thesis project, Lisa Eliasson and Hatharat Silawiang have worked together with Sattajärvi sameby and developed a completely new concept for marking reindeer calves, when the reindeer herders identify who owns which reindeer. Today, the work is carried out with manual counting and notebook. Hatharat Silawiang explains:

– Each calf gets a number plate hung around the neck. When the calf follows its mother, the reindeer herders note the number of the calf and the reindeer in a book. Then the calves are marked up according to the list in the book, it is a time-consuming and tiring way of working for both the reindeer and the reindeer herders.

Modern solution

The students' task was to find an alternative to today's calf marking based on modern technology. They have worked with user-centered design based on several interviews with reindeer owners and clients. The result was a solution consisting of RFID tags, ie a tag that communicates with a chip, automated connection between calf and mother and a database with information about the reindeers.

– An automated connection and a common database can include more people in the process and create greater transparency. A more efficient process can also contribute with less stress and strain for the reindeers, says Lisa Eliasson.

Hatharat Silawiang:

– We combine traditional methods and modern technology. To achieve a sustainable solution, we have had the reindeers and the users in focus. It is important that technology is adapted to human and the animals behavior and well-being, not the other way around.

Actual project

The student's thesis project is done within the framework of the research project AA3D. It has been a great experience for both of them.

– We did not know much about reindeer husbandry before we started this work. We have learned that close communication with the users and courage to think innovative can give you really good results, says Lisa Eliasson.

How has the thesis project affected your view on development and innovation?

– That it is important to dare to bring completely crazy ideas far into the development process. An idea may not be reasonable right now, but can still contribute to the final solution. And there are great advantages to divide a process into parts. If so, complicated changes can become more manageable, says Hatharat Silawiang.