With 1146 registered patents, The Schaeffler Group says it now ranks fifth in the German Patent and Trademark Office's list of patent applicants, which is published annually (www.dpma.de). 747 of these patents are for new INA and FAG products from Schaeffler, with the remaining 399 patents being clutch products from LuK, which is also part of the Schaeffler Group.
Among these new patent applications from Schaeffler are some significant technological developments, including the world's first electro-hydraulic valve control system, UniAir (developed and manufactured by INA); FAG's wheel bearing concept with face spline; and LuK's dry double clutch. These important components are helping the industry move towards hybrid electric motor vehicles.
In addition, the dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum-type absorber is a further product innovation for drive train vibration damping that has been in production for 25 years. All these elements are playing a key role in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions on the latest passenger vehicles.
Dr Peter Gutzmer, President of Technical Product Development at the Schaeffler Group, states: "Energy efficiency has always been a core element of our activities, both as a provider of several products for a wide range of industrial sectors, as well as a supplier for vehicle manufacturers. Accordingly, reducing CO2 emissions also forms an important part of our product range."
When considering the automotive sector, a very wide range of products for engines, transmissions and chassis are helping to bring about significant improvements in fuel consumption and in reducing harmful emissions. These products contribute towards improving the energy-efficiency both actively (in the case of UniAir) or passively (in the case of the double-clutch transmission).
Components that make a passive contribution include the dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum-type absorber or torque converters with turbine dampers. These components reduce the idling speeds and fuel consumption of passenger vehicles without influencing driver comfort.
Dr Gutzmer comments: "Innovations form the foundations of our success. This means future trends have to be recognised and the company's strengths have to be extended into new areas."
As a result, mechatronics is becoming more important as a discipline. This is well documented by the increasing number of products and patents that relate to hybrid passenger cars and the whole issue of electric mobility.
Dr Gutzmer adds: "The focus is always on people here in a corporate culture that fosters creativity. Ultimately, each innovation begins life as an idea." In the Schaeffler Group, 4800 employees work on the development of new products and technologies at 32 locations worldwide.
For more information on The Schaeffler Group, call the UK Marketing Department on +44 (0)121 313 5870 or email .