On May 31, 2016 , the USPTO issued U.S. Patent Number 9,354,640 to Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc., which was successfully prosecuted by Novel IP.
The '640 patent is directed towards a system and method of monitoring and controlling the open and close states of a manifold diaphragm type valve includes using an actuator mechanism with feedback control. A pressure transducer and/or force gauge located on the contact end of the actuator mechanism monitors the pressure and/or force applied to the end of the actuator mechanism. A controller instructs the actuator mechanism to move forward or backward an appropriate distance based on the monitored pressure and/or force. Temperature and pressure changes in the system and material changes to the diaphragm are sensed immediately and positioning correction is applied to the actuator in real-time, thereby maintaining the same valve state while monitoring pressure separately. The linear actuator functions as a ‘smart’ actuator, capable of fine tune adjustments without additional outside monitoring and providing a more accurate and reliable method of closing the valve in a dynamic environment.
Independent Claim 1 describes " A valve actuator system adapted to open and close a valve, comprising an orifice closing member, positioned within a surface of a manifold and adjacent a fluid pathway through which fluid flows in a dialysis system, said valve actuator mechanism comprising: a displacement member adapted to being displaced linearly and having a contact end, wherein said contact end is positioned outside said manifold surface and proximate to said orifice closing member when said valve is in an open state and wherein said contact end pushes the orifice closing member into said manifold, resulting in both the contact end and orifice closing member being inside said manifold, when the valve is in a closed state; a motor for moving said displacement member; at least one pressure sensor positioned on said contact end and positioned between said contact end and the orifice closing member for sensing pressure generated when said contact end is in physical communication with said orifice closing member and for relaying data based on said sensed pressure; and a controller for receiving the sensed pressure from the at least one pressure sensor, wherein said controller comprises a memory having stored therein a plurality of programmatic instructions that, when executed by a processing unit, compare said sensed pressure to a pre-determined value stored in said memory and activate said motor to move said displacement member toward or away from said orifice closing member to optimally position the contact end against said orifice closing member. "