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See a Need, Fill a Need:  The Innovation Philosophy That Drives BFM®’s Product Development

BFM
8 Dec 2023  |
The BFM® fitting flexible connector system was born out of a 2am brainwave as a solution for problems commonly experienced with traditional, clamped-style industrial connectors. 

“It was a simple case of seeing a need, and filling that need” says Blair McPheat, the founder of BFM® Global (BFM®), who manufactures the patented BFM® fitting product.

“I was visiting plants selling filtration products and constantly seeing the issues manufacturers were having with dust leakage around their flexible connections.”

The middle-of-the-night inspiration was the start of the idea:  a connector that sat inside the pipe, removing the need for clamps and actually sealed tighter with pressure.

A Simple Idea That Has Become the Industry Standard

“The idea was simple, but there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears involved in the product development phase to get it right and to scale it,” said McPheat. 

That idea became the BFM® fitting – a blue-band, flexible snap-fit sleeve and spigot adaptors that are welded to either end of the pipes on the equipment being connected together.  The resulting product provides a 100% sealed connection that is fast and easy to fit, long-lasting, and complies with the strictest international health and safety standards.

“It’s one of those products that once seen operating in a manufacturing plant, always impresses!”

Now, the brand has matured and established its reputation within the global manufacturing world – with multinational customers like Nestle, Unilever, and Mondelez recommending the product throughout their plant networks.

So What Does ‘BFM’ Mean?

A common question people ask about the brand is simply – what does the name ‘BFM’ stand for?

McPheat laughs “It’s not for any innovative or clever acronym like ‘Better Flowing Manufacturing’ or anything like that I’m afraid…just a lack of marketing creativity on my part in the early days you could say.  It’s actually just my initials (Blair Forres McPheat)!” 

While marketing innovation may have been lacking in the early days, solutions-based product innovation has always been, and always will be, the fundamental driver behind the business. 

“Quality, performance and reliability are why our existing users love our products, but our dedication to solving customers’ problems is what started this business and we’ll continue to innovate and evolve new products as our customers and markets need us to,” said McPheat. 

A Year of Innovation

In the past year, that ‘see a need, fill a need’ philosophy has seen BFM® produce an additional 6 new products to their already extensive range – with more on the horizon.

It’s been an extremely busy year for the product development team, spearheaded by BFM’s Technical Lead and Engineer Matthew Bailey.

“We’ve been working on some of these products for a number of years to get them perfected,” said Matthew. “We work collaboratively with our Distributors and some key OEM’s and customers along the way to ensure we’re providing solutions that are going to provide real value and help solve their process challenges.”

The most recent additions to the BFM® fitting product range include everything from a ‘corner’ shaped connector to replace steel tun-dishes used in CIP cycles to a new way to help protect staff from accessing potentially dangerous connector locations without proper authorization.

“It’s been a busy year for sure,” said Bailey. “But we’re already working on some exciting new product innovations that will continue to help bulk processors have a cleaner, safer and more efficient production line.”

Here’s a quick summary of BFM®’s most recently released product innovations:

Quick Access Port – A screw-in port added to the wall of a Seeflex 040E or 060ES connector that gives easy access for metal detector drop-test balls or to take product samples without interrupting product flow (or losing product in the process).

Corner Connector – A uniquely shaped corner connector made of clear, ether-based thermoplastic polyurethane alloy with a 110° bend to aid the drainage of CIP fluid from your process equipment.  Replaces expensive steel swivel tun-dish type systems.

Venting Surge Hopper – A partitioned, transparent venting hopper that provides airflow to prevent bridging while allowing full product flow visibility and access. Ideal for use above rotary valves.

Lipped Spigots – A BFM® fitting spigot with a 6mm ‘lip’ that allows the fast and easy integration of a BFM® fitting system with major modular piping systems, like Jacob tubing, using quick clamp/pull-ring type fasteners.

Weighing Bellows – A durable, snap-in weighing bellows that prevents vibration transmission between equipment to ensure accurate weigh-scale readings.

TR Lock-Out Safety System – An additional layer of access control for connectors in potentially dangerous locations. A special tube is welded over the TR hole allowing a padlock to be inserted, blocking unauthorized access to remove a TR connector.

For more information on the latest product innovations to help improve your plant’s hygiene, safety and efficiency, go to: https://www.bfmfitting.com/products

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BFM® Global Ltd is the New Zealand-based manufacturer of the BFM® fitting system, a unique snap-in flexible connector and spigot that eliminates the problems associated with old-style clamped systems. A BFM® fitting generally fits between...