Endress+Hauser honors its inventors

New record in patent applications - seven awards given

A clean affair: Thomas Sulzer (left) and Johannes Ruchel have developed a polyurethane lining with drinking water approval (PresseBox) ( Weil am Rhein, )
Innovators of the Endress+Hauser Group met this year at Maulburg for their 12th inventors' meeting, celebrating a record 225 patent applications. Seven product and process innovations were honored with awards.

Curiosity, thirst for knowledge and inventive spirit have made the Endress+Hauser Group a world leader in measurement engineering and automation solutions. Now almost sixty years after the foundation of the company, the innovative drive shows no signs of abating: the record 219 patent applications in 2010 were topped last year with 225 patents. "This excellent figure shows that we are on the right track," says Michael Ziesemer, COO of the Endress+Hauser Group. "Our unbroken powers of innovation give us confidence that we will continue to offer our customers the best possible solutions in the years to come."

Patents with a sustained and positive effect on Endress+Hauser's business success are honored every year at the Endress+Hauser Innovators' Meeting, held in 2012 in Maulburg, Germany. Over 300 inventors met on 30 March in a friendly atmosphere to celebrate the intellectual achievements and to present the winning projects.

The four "Patent Rights Incentive Awards", each with a prize money of 15,000 euros, went to teams of inventors at the production sites Endress+Hauser Conducta, Endress+Hauser Flowtec, Endress+Hauser Wetzer and Endress+Hauser Maulburg (for details see below). Outstanding improvements in existing business processes were also honored this year for the second time in the history of the awards. The 10,000 euro "Process Innovation Awards" went to teams from Endress+Hauser Flowtec (optimization in logistics through ocean freight), Endress+Hauser Process Solutions (improvement in the ordering process) and from the Waldheim production site of Endress+Hauser Maulburg (optimization of the innovation processes for safety products).

The four winners of the "Patent Rights Incentive Awards"

Thomas Sulzer and Johannes Ruchel of Endress+Hauser Flowtec in Reinach, Switzerland have advanced an interior polyurethane liner for magneto-inductive flowmeters that allows them to be used for drinking water. The challenge was to find a coating material that complies with the (often very diverging) directives and specifications in as many countries as possible. To keep the tried and tested method in the production of the lining, the researchers used a catalyst which speeds up the production process and also allows the approval for drinking water.

Peter Zinth of Endress+Hauser Wetzer in Nesselwang together with Wolfgang Steidle and Tobias Stückl have made an environmental sampler suitable for use in explosion hazard zones. This is a portable unit designed for use in narrow sewer system shafts where a spark could ignite fermentation gases. The safety precautions were not taken at the expense of handling - one person will still be able to operate the sampler on their own. "Instead of sticking the whole unit into an explosion-proof jacket, we've adapted the technical components such as the drive, pump unit and control system so that each complies with the necessary directives and specifications for ignition protection," explains Peter Zinth. Apart from the color, there have been no external changes - operation and weight of the unit are virtually the same as in the standard unit.

Ralf Reimelt and Herbert Schroth of Endress+Hauser in Maulburg, Germany have improved the precision and reliability of level measurements with guided radar. This method of measurement involves sending an electromagnetic signal that is reflected by the liquid and analyzed by the sensor. The pair has now optimized the signal processing by building in "interference signals" next to the primary echo signal which act as an additional reference value. One of these reference points lies close to the process in the inactive part of the sensor, while the other optional point lies in the active measurement range. Once the data has been analyzed, a clear and reliable distinction can be made between measuring errors in the instrument (e.g. temperature drift of the sensor supply lead) and those caused by the actual process (e.g. changes in the signal propagation caused by high pressures). "This substantially enhances the measuring accuracy, especially under severe conditions," says Herbert Schroth. "At the same time, the measuring instrument can be permanently monitored."

Another award goes to Katrin Scholz, Stefan Auras, Sven Härtig and Jens Voigtländer from Endress+Hauser Conducta in Waldheim, Germany who have made a decisive improvement in the production method for single rod electrodes - glass sensors for pH measurement. In this method the inner tube of a dual glass shaft is equipped with a thin-walled glass ball, the actual sensor. Due to the evolving tolerances, this sensor previously had to be made and fused (blown on) to the dual glass shaft. The machine attachment of an auxiliary glass tube now allows the opening of the sensor to be shaped at the same time as the diaphragm is fused, with such precision that the blowing-in of the glass ball can be made by machine at the same time. "Beside savings in working time, this also resulted in a quality leap which could never have been achieved manually," explains Jens Voigtländer.
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