Star Mfg.

Pro-Lift Hinge
 
  • Design won the Kitchen Innovations 2011                 Award presented by the National                             Restaurant Association.

  • The new mechanism had to last 1 million                 cycles without failure.  They stopped                       testing after 4 million.

  • Redesigned hinge counterweight mechanism is       cheaper and more efficient than the                         previous package.

  • More dynamic range of motion allows for more         uniform grilling of food regardless of thickness.

Where they were

Where we took them

Star had a quality grill but the positioning hinge was prone to failure and the range of motion was not ideal.

Our redesigned hinge holds its position reliably, lasts at least 4 times longer than the target lifetime, is significantly cheaper, and has an advanced range of motion that puts it in a class of its own.

Problem

Star's sandwich grills had an impressive market share, but impending deals with major restaurant chains were going to push their business to a whole new level.  In order to put their best foot forward in the big leagues, they wanted to address some of the weaknesses of the current design.  So they called Objex.

Opportunity

The opportunities for improvement were twofold.  The existing counterweight mechanism had problems holding the position of the lid, and the pure rotational closing motion was less appealing than a 2-stage, rotational-to-vertical motion.  Star asked Objex to figure out why the counterweight was failing, design a better solution, and--if possible--change the closing motion to include vertical travel.  

Analysis

Objex broke down the counterweight package, analyzing each component for possible failure points.  A microscopic examination revealed the problem lay with the torsion spring assembly.  Further testing proved that the torsion spring would never be robust enough, and a complete redesign was necessary.

Solution

Objex developed a number of alternative counterweight mechanisms.  They also designed a number of ways to accomplish 2-stage motion with the press.  Each combination of solutions was analyzed, and eventually an optimum combination was identified.  A compression spring working in tandem with a slotted guide gave the press the desired motion while allowing the lid to hold its position reliably.  

Success

Star's Pro-Max grills now serve proudly in Taco Bells and Chipotles everywhere, and in 2011 the design won the Kitchen Innovations Award presented by the National Restaurant Association.

Results

Star was enthusiastic about Objex's design.  They got superior motion, more consistent positioning, and they were able to ditch the expensive hinge package that was in the existing model.  Before they could declare it a success, it needed to go through 1 million open-and-close cycles without failing.  How did it go?  Star had to stop the test when our design refused to fail after 4 million cycles.  [Drops mic]

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