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Minebea Intec wins Patent of the Month

In May 2018, Hamburg Chamber of Commerce recognised a patent from Minebea Intec with its ‘Patent of the Month’ award. Patent number DE 10 2016 109 433 B4 describes a bolt sensor which allows bolt connections to be monitored remotely on bridges and at production facilities at risk of earthquakes for example. Patents like these are an important element of Minebea Intec’s research and development activities. They also play a key role in ensuring the company has a technological edge over its competitors.

Washers are normally used to distribute the force of a bolt head or a nut over a greater area. However, Minebea Intec’s patented bolt sensor can do much more than this when, for example, it is integrated in bridges and production facilities; the sensor is installed between the bolt head and the nut, thus providing a detection system for any problems relating to strength.

Security system relies on resistors and pressure

The innovative Minebea Intec bolt sensor is installed between the bolt head and the nut. Piezoresistive resistors are connected to the inside of the washer. At least one of the resistors is exposed to the pressure from the bolt head and/or nut, and at least one is not exposed to any pressure. As soon as the bolt connection becomes loose, due to an earthquake for example, the bolt sensor can immediately detect the damage thanks to the change in resistance, and a repair or shutdown can then be initiated. In this way, the bolt sensor becomes part of a security system that communicates dangerous defects in real time. Minebea Intec is now planning to develop a prototype based on the patent recognised by Hamburg Chamber of Commerce – the date for the market launch has not yet been set.

Patents secure an edge over the competition

Minebea Intec continuously invests in the research and development of new technologies and products. Through this the company continues to support its customers in optimising the safety, reliability and efficiency of their processes. The global manufacturer of weighing and inspection technologies registers between five and ten patents each year. The patents are of particular significance to the company as they ensure an edge over the competition, help maintain its brand value and guarantee the latest technology for the customer.

Proper validation in the ongoing process

A further property right from Minebea Intec, registered design number DE 20 2016 103 037 U1, describes a special device for validating metal detection systems; this is known as ‘True In-Process Validation’. Metal detection is considered a critical control point within food production. The registered design relates to the special area of ‘closed conveyor systems’. If, for example, a production process involves pumping cornflakes or hot marmalade using pressure, the True In-Process Validation enables validation to be carried out during the ongoing process. This is done by introducing the test piece using an applicator via a small opening above the search coil, directly into the centre of the product flow. As the centre of the conveyor tube represents the most difficult point to detect, this method guarantees reliable detection and documentation. Once introduced, the test media falls with the product through the search coil area. If the metal part contained within is detected, it is ejected via a separator. If it is not detected, a previously installed collection grid ensures that it is not transported onward with the ‘goods flow’. The invention has already been implemented by Minebea Intec, and has been offered as an optional extra with the freefall metal detection system Vistus since 2016. Minebea Intec has further property rights, including rotationally symmetrical diaphragms and mounting kits for load cells, for example. 

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