Machine maintenance

Start-Up Aims to Clean Up in Factories

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany is famous for its engineering base but innovative new firms often find it difficult to find investors because returns are not as quick as at digital start-ups.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Brige has invented an automated conveyor-belt cleaning device that prevents oil drips spoiling products.
    • The system is currently being tested in a factory in Bremen.
    • The has received interest from investors and is already talking with potential customers.
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    Audio

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Chocolate Production Inside Nestle SA As Company Find Method To Cut Sugar In Chocolate by 40%
Product lines are often at the mercy of dirt and oil drops from overhanging conveyor belts. Source: Bloomberg

Some problems you first have to realize are problems. Kent Bridgewater was alerted to just such a difficulty while having dinner with an engineer friend: Overhead conveyor belts on the ceilings of industrial production facilities are every now and then dripping oil onto products below, such as freshly painted auto parts or raw sides of pork.

Conveyor chains, the friend explained, are driven by small wheels mounted on ball bearings. In order for them to work smoothly, they have to be oiled. Only then can they reliably transport industrial parts or food stuffs. But as they tick over, a fine dust or grit is created – a mixture of dust, paint particles and sometimes even a little oil.

It’s a huge problem when this oily mixture falls down on a piece of metal’s fresh paint because touching it up takes time and money. If it falls on freshly cut meat in slaughterhouses, “it quickly becomes unappetizing and unhygienic,” said Mr. Bridgewater.

Mr. Bridgewater sensed an opportunity for an easy to operate cleaning system. The idea haunted the 36-year-old German-American. Now, three years later, there is a company, called Brige, and a prototype, which consists of a combination wet cleaning system and high-pressure dryer. Talks with potential customers are proving very promising, according to Mr. Bridgewater.

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