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2018 Mousetrap Innovation Competition Displays Ingenuity

Parker's Innovation CompetitionThis year’s Mousetrap winners demonstrate that Parker’s ingenuity is not just engineering our customers’ success but also building a better world.

The Mousetrap Awards are named after the quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”

A “Better Mousetrap” has become shorthand for the power of innovation to attract new business. Each year, Parker’s leadership team evaluates the top nominees to identify the year’s best innovations across the company.

“Each year our operating groups nominate what they believe are their most promising ‘new’ products in each of three award categories,” explained Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Craig Maxwell in announcing the winners. “I am honored to announce our 2018 Mousetrap Award Winners.”

Like so much of Parker’s work, you may be surprised to discover that the winning innovations directly impact your day-to-day experience, whether you’re driving to work, enjoying your favorite beverage or setting off for a vacation.


Better Mousetrap

The Better Mousetrap award recognizes excellence in the improvement, modification or extension of an existing product in response to customer need.

This year’s Better Mousetrap award goes to the team who worked with two large OEM customers to develop the Low Drag D-Ring out of the O-Ring and Engineered Seals Division, in Woodridge, Illinois. Parker engineers adapted this seal to fit a transmission jointly developed by the auto manufacturers to fit on their 9- and 10-speed transmissions, respectively.

ParkerThe Low Drag D-Rings, which are a modification of existing O-rings, reduce drag to improve shifting smoothness and fuel efficiency. Parker’s role in this project enabled the development of a transmission that meets stringent government fuel efficiency mandates.

Each transmission assembly contains 37 Low Drag D-Rings, accounting for approximately 90% of the seals within it. This collaboration not only increases sales for Parker, but also positions the company as an industry leader.

“Not only was it the largest win in the history of the Engineered Materials Group,” said Ron Bechtel, Market Development Manager for the O-Ring and Engineered Seals Division, “but it also sets Parker apart in the transmission world as a sealing expert.”


Best Mousetrap

The Best Mousetrap Award recognizes excellence in the design, development, and commercialization of a new-to-market or new-to-world product.

If your morning commute includes a stop to your local coffee shop, you might just enjoy the fruits of Parker’s Best Mousetrap winners’ labor. The Industrial Gas Filtration and Generation Division out of Haverhill, Massachusetts, brought its expertise in filtration to a new market.

Parker Nitrogen GeneratorHot on the heels of cold brew coffee, is another trend in caffeination: nitrogen-infused coffee. While nitro coffee has been around for several years, growing demand has created challenges for retailers looking to add it to their menus. Traditional high-pressure nitrogen tanks pose potential safety hazards, continuity of supply issues, ongoing store operating expenses and inconvenient tank changeouts in a coffee shop environment. The DN-6 Nitrogen Generator removes the tank from the equation, creates a continuous supply of gas on-demand and provides a more sustainable in-store experience for retailers and their customers.

Portable and small enough to fit under a counter, the DN-6 takes compressed air and separates the non-nitrogen elements through a gas separation process called pressure swing adsorption. Once +99.5% pure nitrogen gas is created, it is then passed through a final sterile grade membrane filter so that the nitrogen can be infused into coffee. The generator and manufacturing facility meet NSF approval as well as 12 additional international safety standards. 

With more than 30,000 retail coffee shops in the United States alone, the work behind the DN-6 shows the tremendous potential of translating existing expertise for new markets.


Golden Mousetrap

The Golden Mousetrap award recognizes excellence in the commercialization of a product launched in the past five years, and this year’s winner has developed a product that is ubiquitous in commercial air travel today.

Joint VentureThis year’s Golden Mousetrap Award goes to the team at Advanced Atomization Technologies, a joint venture between Parker Aerospace’s Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division and General Electric Aviation in Clyde, New York.

“We created the joint venture to produce these world-class fuel injection nozzles for the LEAP engine,” said Maxwell.

The nozzle produces a better mixing of air and fuel in the combustion chamber of the LEAP jet engine, which results in improved fuel efficiency while continuing to meet emissions standards.

The nozzle is a key component of the combustion technology found in every GE LEAP engine, which is the replacement engine for the Boeing 737 Max, as well as the Airbus A320neo airliners.Parker Nozzle

The team behind this project earned the Golden Mousetrap award not just for its ability to innovate within the product itself, but also for its ingenuity in ramping up production to accommodate customer demand at a challenging pace.

For Parker, the impact of these efforts is significant, as a plane containing this nozzle takes off every one-and-a-half seconds around the world. For airlines and their customers, the impact is equally significant, as AAT General Manager Mike Portela explained.

“Airlines use $155 billion in fuel each year,” Portela said. "[But with these new nozzles,] it’s a 15 percent improvement -- we’re talking about $5 billion worth of savings.”


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