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volvo mack

Capstone Phase 3 & Phase 4

Carnegie Mellon University | 2022

The second 2 phases (out of 4) consisted of ideation, prototyping and generating business plans. 

My group consisted of 5 other people from backgrounds in design, engineering, and business. Our project was sponsored by Mack.

Team: Thomas Lansing, Manas Mahaddalkar,

Anne Milan, Kehan Xiao, Yifan Cui

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methods used


  • Design Thinking

  • Rapid Prototyping

  • Service Design

  • Strategy Design

  • Crazy 8s

  • Creative Matrix

  • Pricing

  • Business Model Canvas

  • Figma

  • Miro 

  • Google Forms

  • Google Sheets

Click here to refer to Phase 1+2 to understand the research behind our decisions. 

MACK identified a challenge for the innovation team to find ways to improve the work and experience of refuse truck operators in Low Cab over Extension (LCOE) vehicles. 

Our hope was to increase worker satisfaction and pride in work for the purpose of increasing talent attraction and retention across the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) collection industry. Furthermore, we intend for this exploration to increase the positive social perception of the refuse collection profession.

mack's challenge

final product opportunity gap

How might we future-proof the tools and processes of existing refuse truck drivers such that new talent is attracted and retained?


the 3 finalists

product requirements

The team narrowed down on product requirements into 'Must', 'Should' and 'Could'.

The Musts included:

  • Ease of use: The solution must not place undue physical burdens or bodily strain on operators during the course of the shift. Including and not limited to; driving the truck, stepping in and out of the cab, and performing maintenance checks.

  • Perception: The solution must maintain or improve positive perceptions of the profession, to continue to attract a healthy influx of new drivers interested in fulfilling and important work.

  • Enabling: Our solution must automate or minimize repetitive tasks in the refuse truck operator's job to reduce the chances of strain, injuries, and complacencies.

  • Ease of Adoption: The solution must allow new operators to easily learn cab operation, refuse disposal, and truck maintenance to attract new operators and make it easier for companies to find capable talent.

  • Durability: The solution must be updateable and modular to allow for the continuous modernization of equipment.

To narrow down our ideas, we test them from some perspectives. 

  • What is the idea? What can it achieve?

  • Who (stakeholder) does it benefit and how?

  • Benefit to MACK 

  • Limitations - How can it fail? 

  • Features - What is it made up of?

narrowing down

We found that the most benefit to both, our primary stakeholders (drivers) and to our sponsors (MACK) was concept 2 - MODULAR TRUCKS

The idea of a modular cab is essentially the standardization of all elements that the driver interacts with within the cab so that the cab architecture can be futureproofed (unlikely to become obsolete). By implementing this, we want to empower the driver by offering them the latest technology multiple times within the life cycle of the product. This would curb the steep degradation of the cab and improve the quality of the secondary components throughout the product’s life cycle as shown on the right.


Our proposed solution is part of a larger product-service ecosystem that we envision for MACK. The solution ecosystem comprises of three main parts: 

  1. the redesign of the cab (MIDA), 

  2. opening of a new sales channel and 

  3. creating a platform that provides access to upgrade packages

final idea

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the product

Within the confines of the cab, the assembly can be classified into structural architecture and user-interaction elements. The structural architecture acts as the backend and the user interaction element as its front end. For example, the hard mount for a seat is the structural architecture and the seat cushion itself is a user-interaction element.


These user-interaction elements are the ones that undergo high wear and tear, especially when the product’s life cycle is 15 years. The concept of modularity revolves around updating these elements at regular intervals to maintain driver satisfaction levels throughout the product’s life cycle.

The redesign of the cab interior by introducing modularity on the dashboard sets the stage for harnessing various capabilities available to Mack. MACK is an industry leader and trusted brand. We propose leveraging that brand name to open a new sales channel to sell potentially valuable bundled upgrade packages. These upgrade packages would provide consumers a way to access new tools and technology whenever they want over the lifecycle of the truck. The new dashboard also means that these replacements and upgrades are easy to install and provide customers an option to prioritize according to their needs. 


To simplify the process for customers our solution includes the platform through which the upgrade packages can be accessed. By integrating a simple feature “Truck Update” on the existing website, MACK’s customers can access replacements and upgrade packages without additional disruption to their workflow. 

the service

how it works

  1. MIDA Increases Demand for Trucks : Adding value for waste management customers and drivers increases demand for new Mack trucks, improves trust in the brand, and reduces friction for sales. Driver retention is a bottleneck for refuse management companies expanding business. When retention is up, refuse management companies are better able to utilize new Mack trucks.

  2. MIDA is Well Timed (for reduced development costs): The transition to electric powertrain is underway. This transition enables a functional redesign of the cab as the central tunnel is no longer a firm requirement. If the new generations of Mack trucks have longer lasting parts than the older models, the cabs should match. An interior cab redesign dovetails with near term efforts to redesign the electric powertrains. 

  3. MIDA Enables Line Extensions into Cab Upgrade Components:

    1. MIDA enables cab arrangement customization. Knowing that component fit has been considered, drivers and body shops will be better able to plan for upgrades and repairs. Mack can offer the parts for these cab updates. 

    2. Line extensions like this have a lot of potential. A relatively small development cost of 1-3 million USD could have high upside potential in the tens or hundreds of millions. ​

benefits to mack

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*These numbers are approximations based on date we could find on the internet. We do not have any information on MACK's revenues.
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