Innovation blog: IV fluids for Land Cruisers - Idea generation, prototyping and testing

Our teams use Land Cruisers to get our patients, supplies and staff to where they need to be, across often challenging terrains. But Land Cruisers are cars, not ambulances, and this means finding a new fix every time a patient needs IV fluids, as these have to be hung upright to ensure the fluids can run freely. In the third instalment of their blog, Josie and Anup get to 'the fun part' of their project - designing and creating innovative solutions to a problem that can cost vital time in emergencies.

Josie Gilday and the team

Idea generation


We finally got past the information-gathering phase of the project, which seemed to last forever. Now the fun really began. Using all the information we had gathered, we started to generate ideas.

Anup, Nils and I all started drawing and designing, and then had a meeting to present and discuss all the ideas we had. Anup’s ideas were incredible, so different. He had really looked at it from a completely different angle to me, looking at ways to hold up the IV fluids bags, rather than hang them.

We discussed using materials such as the plastic that holds a six pack of beers together

We discussed using materials such as the plastic that holds a six pack of beers together and wet suit material! From Anup’s presentation we generated a lot more ideas and you could really see how the information we gathered was evident in our designs.

We realised the initial ideas we had had on Day One of the project had all been scrapped because of all the extra information we’d gathered. The reason for that previous week and a half suddenly became clear, thank god!

Our initial designs. Photo: MSF / Fearsome.

The unveiling of the Land Cruiser

During the last few days of information gathering we’d started to build a life-size model of the roof and one side of a Land Cruiser. This was important so we could create a realistic scenario of a patient referral to test our prototypes.

Testing involved looking at how each prototype would attach to the Land Cruiser, how easy they were to use and whether they could handle a simulation of being driven down very bumpy roads. So in addition to our white boards, our work space now also consisted of a Land Cruiser, complete with seats, handrails and a patient. 

Photo of the wooden model of the land cruiser, and a dummy dressed as a patient lying on the floor

Here's our 'patient' helping us to test two of the prototypes. Photo: MSF / Fearsome.

Crit: Round two

We grabbed two of the other product engineers and were split into two teams to think up as many ideas as possible. As I had spent the whole day only really coming up with three ideas I was a little sceptical.

Like in a game of Pictionary, we were equipped with large whiteboards and whiteboard pens and told we had two minutes per criteria of the IV fluid holder and that time started now!

The criteria included stopping the IV fluids moving, up, down, sideways and back and forth; capacity to hold more than one IV fluid bag, ease of cleaning and that they should make it easy for the nurse to see the rate of the fluids and that they were still flowing.

It was incredible how many ideas we came up with and how we adapted them to fit all the criteria for the IV fluid holder. We were constantly picking up the IV fluids and getting in and out of the Land Cruiser to get a real idea of the space we had.

The teams got a little competitive and we both believed we had the perfect solution! We turned this competitiveness into a positive push to come up with designs that would not be challenged.

Anup and the team

The competition begins! Photo: MSF / Fearsome.

Let loose in the workshop

Once we had all these ideas we had to start making them! This meant going into the Fearsome warehouse and finding whatever material we thought might work. Then we used the jigsaw, saws, drills and 3D printer to bring them to life.

Nils explained that at this stage our prototypes didn’t have to be perfect, they just had to be testable, so we could already start to see their pros and cons.

In one day we made five IV fluid holders that we tested! We had never thought we would make and test that many in a day. Anup even used the 3D printer, designing a specific clamp and then talking to Nils about how to print it. 20 minutes later he had the clamp in his hand and was attaching it to the rest of his prototype.

Two of the prototypes hanging in the model Land Cruiser

Our first prototypes. Photo: MSF / Fearsome.

Testing involved us lifting and shaking the Land Cruiser to mimic the bumpy roads in the field and then going through a list of criteria to see which ones the prototypes fulfilled and which they didn’t. 

When an idea didn’t fulfil a criterion, we started generating ideas of how it could. Which again came easier then I was expecting. It was great to see how one idea could lead to another and another and how everyone was involved and just from one person suggestion something, would enable you to come up with yet another idea.

Critiquing our designs. Photo: MSF / Fearsome
However, all these ideas looked at attaching IV fluid holders to the side of the Land Cruiser. So, for the next day Nils put a ban on all designs attaching to the side and we had to come up with IV fluid holders that would hang or attach to the handrail in the Land Cruiser. This I found hard.
The first few designs I drew were exactly the same as the day before, but I drew them attached to the handrail. But then you start to pull inspiration from all over the place, drinking bottle holders, how wine and milk bottle are carried together or attached to bikes. My favourite was those plastic cages you use to carry boules balls. Anup and I came up with another two designs! 

Round two of designs. Photo: MSF / Fearsome.
Suddenly is was beginning to feel like we were on an emergency mission as it was starting to feel like we were running short of time. But we were on a roll so we’ll just keep going and see what we can produce by Friday.

Have the team found a solution that works? Read Josie and Anup's next post here.


> Anup and Josie blog about the background to the project

> Anup and Josie blog about the getting the project started