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Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center
- Thermal Analysis is Beneficial for the Design of Food Contaminant Scanners
- Usability was a Deciding Factor in Choosing HeatDesigner for the Analysis Tool

[Vol. 1] The Hachinohe Industrial Institute is one of the affiliated laboratories of the Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center (hereafter the Research Center). A Prefecture is an administrative district. Japan consists of 47 prefectures. The Research Center uses HeatDesigner to help solve thermal problems for electronics. The range of applications includes scanners for food contaminants, devices for measuring the quantity of sugar and moisture in agricultural products, and inspection devices for assessing moisture and heat in coal and biomass.

Picture 1: Mr. Toru Okayama (D.Eng)
Chief Researcher, Machine System Division, Administrative Manager, Hachinohe Industrial Institute, Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center

The Research Center spun off from the prefectural administration and was reorganized as an independent organization in 2009 with the intention of promoting local industries and economic development in Aomori. “Our strength is that we have cultivated a wide variety of technologies through research and development, which includes manufacturing, agricultural, marine, and food processing products,” says Mr. Toru Okayama (Picture 1). Intending to build and sustain collaboration and close relationships with local businesses, the Research Center conducts research and development for new products and technologies, investigations of natural resources, and development of agricultural and pest control technologies. They also provide technical consultation, test services, and training to the local companies.

The Research Center consists of 13 laboratories dedicated to the growth of industries and community partnerships. Some of the laboratories work on topics related to forestry, livestock, and vegetation. Other laboratories focus on developments in manufacturing. These include the General Manufacturing Institute, the Hirosaki Industrial Institute and the Hachinohe Industrial Institute. Mr. Okayama works for the latter. The General Manufacturing Institute works with environment and energy development. The Hirosaki Industrial Institute focuses on biotechnology and production design. The Hachinohe Industrial Institute works with materials machineries, and production process improvement.

Mr. Okayama is involved in collaborative research and development projects that come from inquiries and experiment requests from local enterprises. His research ranges from material science to device design. The Hachinohe Industrial Institute uses HeatDesigner, a thermal fluid analysis tool specially developed for electronics.

Thermally Sensitive Food Contaminant Inspection Devices

One of the reasons the Hachinohe Industrial Institute started using HeatDesigner was for the development of an inspection device for food contaminants. In this case the contaminant was hair. Thermal design is crucial due to the thermally sensitive characteristics of the device. It identifies hair by inspecting the near-infrared absorbance of cystine, one of the constituents of hair. The device irradiates near-infrared rays at the target, collects the reflected signature, and analyzes the spectrum using a spectroscope. Using the institute’s algorithm, the device determines whether the detected signature conforms to conditions where hair is either present or absent.

The Research Center develops the inspection device in collaboration with Caloria Japan Co.,Ltd., a local enterprise in Aomori. During development, the engineers observed that the reflected signature fluctuated depending on the time of day (Fig 1). In particular, the signature changed between the morning and afternoon. This caused the engineering team to explore the value of using thermal simulations to help them better understand system and environmental effects.

During development of the inspection device, the device was normally subject to stable laboratory conditions. However, the device developed by Mr. Okayama is designed to be used anywhere in the production line. In these conditions a number of factors can affect inspection performance. These include temperature, humidity, and fine particles in the air. “In reality, the device could be used in a situation we never expected. There is no problem if it is in a controlled environment, but it isn’t in many cases,” says Mr. Okayama.

Fig 1: Controlling the temperature inside
spectroscope (the actual temperature showsthat
​the inside temperature is kept at the same level)
Click to enlarge.

Fig 2: Spectroscope for hair inspection unit (temperature contour on lower left, distribution of inner velocity on right). Click to enlarge.

After conducting CAE analyses, the Research Center implemented a sealed chassis for blocking dust and fluids. In addition, a Peltier device was used to lower the temperature (Fig 2). In search of the ideal combination, the engineering team studied the output of Peltier device, the surrounding environment, fan flow rate, and the fan position. They decided to attach fans inside and outside the device and to locate the Peltier device between them as shown in Picture 2.

Food contamination by insects has become an interesting topic in Japan, and the food industry is paying more attention to inspection techniques. Commonly known food inspection devices such as metal inspectors and X-ray machines are not capable of identifying insects and other living creatures. Mr. Okayama hopes to be able to inspect for insects, plastics, stones and other contaminants in the future by using variants of the inspection device currently being developed.

​​*All product and service names mentioned are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective companies.
*Contents and specifications of products are as of November 31, 2014 and subject to change without notice. We shall not be held liable for any errors in figures and pictures, or any typographical errors in this brochure.

Company Details


Aomori Prefectural Industrial Technology Research Center
Founded March 18, 1967
Businesses Promoting local industries in the Aomori prefecture including;
- Cultivating new technologies and crops and vegetation research
- Investigating natural resources and the environment
- Developing, researching, and consulting for pest control technologies
- Providing training and seminars
- Arranging applications of industrial subsidies
Main area Manufacturing, agriculture, marine products, food processing
Location Kuroishi-shi, Aomori, Japan



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