Indian innovation: The pressure cooker fix that saved TKK Prestige from imminent bankruptcy

This is an excerpt from a book on history of TTK Prestige group:

While travelling the length and breadth of Uttar Pradesh, I discovered to my shock that our pressure cookers were bursting. I met with dealers and visited warehouses where I saw the defective pressure cookers, and they were all Prestige cookers. Small wonder then that our cookers were not selling.

Nobody had told me about the problem, and though what I found was disturbing, I was glad that I had gone to the market to see it for myself. And that is a learning that I have always remembered. I made it a point to frequently visit most of our dealers, and so did my senior team members. You can never get the right information, especially the bad news, from third parties.

I realised that if we didn’t stop this from happening we wouldn’t have a business to run.

My engineering knowledge came to my aid, and I figured out that the cookers were bursting because of spurious spare parts. While we sold good safety plugs along with the cooker, the life cycle of a pressure cooker is longer than that of its external parts; a cooker can last up to fifty years.

Customers were unknowingly buying spurious spare safety plugs. The safety plugs are made of tin bismuth, an expensive alloy. Cheaper plugs were an attractive alternative for ignorant customers.

That is the grim reality in India – spurious drugs, food and spare parts are sold aplenty. The dealers don’t worry about what they sell, so long as it sells. Since it wasn’t possible for me to single-handedly stop the use of such spares, I had to come up with a solution that would prevent the cookers from bursting even if inferior-quality parts were used.

Thus came that rubber valve on the lid of pressure cooker:

I worked in the lab for a whole month and came up with the Gasket release system, or GRS, my first innovation. A pressure cooker comes with a weight valve that is meant to rise up and release the steam that is built up by the pressure inside the cooker. The valve then settles back in place. The safety plug is a back-up safety mechanism and regulates the pressure built up in the cooker if the weight valve fails. Spurious safety plugs that were being sold for Prestige pressure cookers did not work effectively, and instead of regulating the pressure and releasing steam, they led to the cookers exploding.

The gasket is the rubber ring that is inserted within the outer rim of the pressure cooker, and its task is to hold the lid firmly in place even as the pressure builds up inside the cooker.

The Gasket Release system is an effective safety device. It ensures that if the weight valve or the safety plug fails to function, either because the cooker is overloaded or the vent is blocked, a portion of the gasket is pushed out through a slot in the lid, thus releasing the excess steam down and away from the person at the kitchen counter. The GRS is equally effective even if spurious spares are used.

I can confidently claim that not a single Prestige pressure cooker has burst since that day. The GRS is just a hole in the lid. But if it were not for that hole, the company would have gone bankrupt.


Should get a copy of the book asap…

One Response to “Indian innovation: The pressure cooker fix that saved TKK Prestige from imminent bankruptcy”

  1. Nem Chandra Singhal Says:

    A nice piece of intelligent observation in a product which leads to enhance its life and safety. India specific innovation should be encouraged. Thanks.

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