NORTEK has recently signed a contract with the Center for Technological and Industrial Development (CDTI, a public business agency under the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation) for the development of the most ambitious R&D program ever undertaken by the company. This pioneering project will develop over the course of three years by the name of OBI (an acronym for “Oil Behavior Intelligence“), and will imply a sizeable investment in new technology and groundbreaking experimentation, on the road to Industry 4.0.
Mechanical behavior and chemical performance of lubricant oils are, in fact, crucial aspects when it comes to solving tribological problems and designing lubrication systems. There is, however, little knowledge about oil mechanical behavior under heavy industrial conditions, especially when contaminants such as water, air or particulate enter the system and deteriorate its performance. In point of fact, one of NORTEK’s most substantial contributions to the improvement in the standard design of oil circulation systems (especially for the primary metals sector) was the development of the SmartTank®, a new and streamlined design pattern for oil tanks that enhances lubricant behavior, while reducing tank dimensions and achieving significant savings for both client and final user. This solution was jointly patented with Morgan Construction Co. (now Primetals Technologies) in 2003.
This project aims at laying strong foundations for our evolution towards Industry 4.0
The “OBI Project” will imply extensive experimentation on a brand-new test stand to be erected at our facility by the beginning of 2020. This installation will be able to replicate heavy industrial conditions, while state-of-the-art sensoring technology captures oil behavior at different operating parameters and contamination situations. Computational fluid dynamics will also be applied in order to simulate internal flows and temperature distributions, as well as to contrast empirical results. All the captured data will be used to the development of a new, more efficient, design pattern for oil tanks and circulation systems. They will also lay sounder foundations for the evolution of our lube stations towards Industry 4.0 paradigms.
This program will be carried out in cooperation with US Nortek, Inc. (our branch office in the USA), that is playing a leading role in the definition of all testing frameworks, and Circe (a multidisciplinary technology center specialized in sustainable development and Industry 4.0 solutions).
Other exciting R&D projects are also underway. NORTEK’s global investment in R&D activities will reach 6% of its turnover in 2020, which shows the company’s special focus on innovation.