Memmert & Southco: Engineered Latching for Enhanced Usability

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Memmert & Southco: Engineered Latching for Enhanced Usability

Memmert & Southco: Engineered Latching for Enhanced Usability

Introduction 

Formed in 1947, Memmert is now in its third generation of family ownership, with over 65 years of experience in developing and producing professional laboratory equipment. The wide range of ovens, incubators, climate chambers, and water and oil baths are used to control temperature and atmosphere for industrial and laboratory testing across multiple industries. Memmert products are most commonly found in industrial material and component testing, biological, chemical and food research, wide-ranging quality tests in sophisticated production processes, and human and veterinary medicine.

Memmert’s primary focus for their next generation of thermostatic appliances was to enhance the end user experience within a laboratory environment. In response, the latching and handle mechanism on the oven door were identified as areas that could be improved, enhancing usability and further differentiating the design from their competitors.

The Challenge 

The previous generation of Memmert appliances incorporated a multipoint latching system into the outer main door, which sealed the door panel against leakage and contamination and helped to maintain constant temperatures.

When working with highly sensitive items, like blood samples and hazardous chemicals, the end user must have the confidence to deliver accurate results, ensuring there is
no probability of contamination. This created the need for a latching system that delivered the necessary level of compression without comprising the aesthetic design or user experience.

“We were looking to improve the functionality and design of our handle and locking mechanism,” said Christoph Oster, Project Management R&D, Memmert. “We needed a system that was innovative, easy to use and a lock that provided consistent, reliable performance. It was also important that the door had a smooth push lock system, which minimised vibration that could potentially effect the loading, when locking and unlocking.”

When handling sensitive elements in a laboratory environment, accessibility and usability of the equipment is crucial. Therefore, Memmert sought a latching solution which would allow the user to access the interior of the oven without having to use their hands to open the door. However, the latching mechanism was still required to prevent the door from opening accidentally.

“The usability of the latch was a vital element, we needed to create a system that was easy to open and close regardless of whether this is with one hand, knee, etc., which comes in handy during daily laboratory use and gives flexibility in usable height,” said Oster.

The Solution 

The concept for Memmert's new oven latch was based on Southco's R5 Draw Latch – a heavy duty mechanism chosen for its high tensile load, concealed installation and proven functionality in industrial applications. 

However, in addition to functionality, the latch also needed to fit a restricted space within the application, without compromising the aesthetic design or the end user experience. Memmert worked alongside Southco’s engineering team to develop a completely bespoke product that met all these design requirements.

The latch design incorporated over centre locking functionality, ensuring vibration resistance and an integrated secondary latching feature, which created constant compression of the door seal. The latching systems helped to improve and simplify the ergonomics of use by making it easier for the operator to open/close regardless of height or body part, a key objective identified at the start of the project.

The Implementation 

The locking and unlocking of the door works smoothly and reliably over the product lifespan. The handle mechanism offers an ergonomic and safe handling for the user.

With regard to production, Southco's solution provides reliable operation, simplified integration into the production process and a pre-assembled design for east mounting and installation, allowing for easy maintenance/service and usability for the end customer.

End users value Memmert’s new generation of appliances because of their overall quality, but also for their ease of use, with the door handle playing an important role in their perception. In sensitive medical laboratory applications, the handle provides safety for tests and allows for smooth operation. For industrial use, it is sturdy enough to ensure longevity for years of multiple repetitive stress tests. Customer reactions have all been very positive and the new latching system adds real value to Memmert by enhancing the end user experience.

The Results 

“The new latching system has been a fantastic addition. The enhanced functionality and improved design has added value to our range of products by improving the quality and efficiency of the locking mechanism and handle,” said Oster.

“Memmert prides itself on providing a premium offering to our customers and with Southco’s contribution, we have been able to push the boundaries of innovation within our markets. Southco’s products have complimented our solution and we have been extremely pleased with the feedback and usability of our next generation products.”

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