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Numéro de publicationUS3695486 A
Type de publicationOctroi
Date de publication3 oct. 1972
Date de dépôt28 mai 1970
Date de priorité28 mai 1970
Numéro de publicationUS 3695486 A, US 3695486A, US-A-3695486, US3695486 A, US3695486A
InventeursWarner Robert J
Cessionnaire d'origineSweetheart Plastics
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet
Food dispenser
US 3695486 A
Résumé
A dispensing and packaging technique for use with fluent, semi-liquid foods of the type which must be handled gently to avoid bruising or otherwise adversely effecting the quality of the food product. The technique includes storing a quantity of the food in an elevated supply trough and then pumping the food from the trough, in measured charges, to the packaging containers. The technique includes an arrangement by which the food product advances along a straight line from the trough to the container thus avoiding any tubing bends, pressure variations, etc. which might affect adversely the food product.
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Description  (Le texte OCR peut contenir des erreurs.)

- United States Patent 1151 3,695,486 Warner 14 1 Oct. 3, 1972 1541 FOOD DISPENSER 2,008,427 7/1935 Vezina ..222/380 x [72] inventor: Robert .1. Warner, Lexington, Mass. FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 1731 Assignee Sweetheart Inc-1 wilming- 623,562 5/1949 Great Britain .222/309 ton, Mass.

[22] Filed; May 28, 1970 Primary Examiner-Edward .1. Earls pp NO; 0 Attorney-Wolf, Greenfield and Sacks 57 ABSTRACT 12?} 11561133:1:31:1:311:If???liliifiifilfi A es"? Packaging technique f with [581 Fieldof Search 141/147, 181, 182, 191, 242, fluent of the type whch must be handled gently to avoid bruising or otherwise adversely effecting the quality of the food product. The technique includes storing a quantity of the food in an elevated supply trough and then pumping the food [56] References Cited from the trough, in measured charges, to the packag- UNTTED STATES PATENTS ing containers. The technique includes an arrangement by wh1ch the food product advances along a 1,697,206 1/ 1929 Roberts "222/378 X straight line from the trough to the container thus 2,443,981 6/1948 Funk et a1 ..222/379X avoiding any tubing bends pressure variations etc 3 t l which might affect adversely the food product. a ase a. 1 1,703,286 2/1929 Zerk ..222/378 X 2 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures l36\ I 1 13s 1 1 1 g 44 i 1 1 1 1 I T 6 4$148 4648MB 148 hy 1 48 46 7 s2 s4 54 54 54 I T asso so 38 J 60 5s 62 62 F l l L T 1 j 1 124 E 134;, L 2 P :1 i 126 i I22- .5 i |22- 144 f; 94 i 94 144 146 30 I I I 34 T I I46 1 i 34 .J I I 1 22 I T T 1 1 i! 1 I i l1 1 1 1 26 1 W 1 i 26 T l 12 T T PATENTEDBBI 3 I972 sum 1 0F 4 INVENTOR ROBERT J. WARNER ATTORNEYS PATENTED I973 3.695.486

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INVENTOR ROBERT J.-WARNER BY 1 21 02? {Sm ATTORNEYS PATENTEDnm a 1912 SHEET 3 BF 4 INVENTOR ROBERT J. WARNER BY W g/7W; M

ATTORNEYS PATENIEDncrs m2 sum u or 4 FIG. 8

INIVENTOR ROBERT J. WARNER BY W51, WW 5m ATTORNEYS FOOD DISPENSER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to food handling and packaging techniques and, more particularly, to a method and apparatus for packaging foods which must be handled carefully in order to avoid damaging the food product. Typical of such food products are yogurt, pudding and cottage cheese which, if subjected to rough treatment such as rapid variations in pressure, pumping through a series of relatively sharp tubing bends and the like may cause the chemical composition of the food product to change adversely. It is among the primary objects of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for handling and packaging gently such foods and in which the likelihood of the food becoming bruised is minimized.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In brief, the invention relates to a semi-liquid food dispenser as might be employed in a high-speed food packaging machine. The dispenser includes an upper supply trough and a plurality of downwardly extending cylinders which are in communication with the bottom of the trough. The lower end of each cylinder is slideably connected to the upper end of a dispensing tube which is supported in a fixed position in the machine. The trough and attached cylinders are mounted for vertical reciprocating movement. An inlet valve is associated with the upper end of each cylinder at its juncture with the bottom of the trough. An outlet valve is provided at the lower end of each of the dispensing tubes. With the trough and cylinders at the upper end of their stroke, the inlet valves are closed and the outlet valves are opened. The trough and cylinders then are advanced downwardly to pump a measured volume of food out of the open, lower ends of the dispensing tubes and into open containers supported below each of the tubes. At the bottom. of the dispensing stroke, the outlet valves are closed and the inlet valves are open so that when the trough and its associated cylinders are raised upwardly in a return stroke, the semi-liquid food in the trough will flow into and will refill the cylinders with another charge of food material. The technique is suited particularly for use with food products which must be handled gently to avoid damaged or bruised food products. Additionally, the apparatus is easily disassembled to permit relatively simple cleaning.

It is among the objects of the invention to provide a method and apparatus for dispensing fragile foods in a manner which minimizes the likelihood of the food becoming bruised or otherwise damaged.

A further object of the invention is to provide a method and apparatus for dispensing semi-liquid food in accurate and controlled quantities.

A further object of the invention is to provide a food dispenser of the type described which is suitable for use particularly in a high-speed food packaging operation.

Still another object of the invention is to provide an apparatus of the type described which may be disassembled simply to facilitate cleaning.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS These and other objects and advantages of the invention will be understood more fully from the following detailed description thereof, with reference to the accompanying drawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side elevation of the food packaging machine in which the invention may be employed;

FIG. 2 is a front elevation of the food dispenser, partly in section as seen along the line 2--2 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation of the filling unit shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged sectional front elevation of the unit as seen along the line 4--4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a rear elevation, partly in section, of one of the outlet valves as seen along the line 5--5 of FIG. 6;

FIG. 6 is a side elevation, in section, as viewed through the outlet valve along the line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the outlet valve showing the valve in an open position; and

FIG. 8 is an exploded illustration of the connection between the outlet valve member and its associated actuating rod.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT As shown in FIG. 1, the invention may be employed in a food fillihg machine having a conveyor 10 which receives and transports containers, such as the cups 12 past a plurality of operating stations at which the food product is packaged. For example, the food filling machine may include a cup loading station 14, a food filling stating 16, a capping station 18, and an ejection station 20 where the filled containers are removed from the conveyor 10. In the illustrative embodiment of the invention, the conveyor 10 includes a plurality of cup supports 22 which are flexibly connected to each other in an endless arrangement. Each of the cup supports includes a plurality of holes 24 which receive and support the cups. Thus, during operation, the cups are advanced, in a gang or flight, past each of the operating sections.

FIGS. 2,3, and 4 show the filling station 16 in greater detail. The filling station 16 is supported above the conveyor 10 by a pair of laterally spaced hollow posts 26 which are secured to the frame 28 of the machine. A

transversely extending support bar 30 is secured to the upright posts 26 and extends across and above the conveyor 10. The bar 30, in turn, supports a plurality of vertically disposed dispensing tubes 32 which are spaced transversely along the bar 30. The tubes 32 are spaced so that when a flight of cups 12 are supported below, each of the tubes will be aligned with one of the cups in readiness to dispense the food downwardly into the cups. An outlet valve arrangement, indicated generally by the reference character 34, is associated with each of the dispensing tubes at its lower end.

The semi-liquid food is directed to and through the dispensing tubes by an arrangement including an over head trough 36 which is mounted for vertical reciprocating movement by a pair of transversely spaced columns 38 which pass downwardly through the hollow posts 26. The lower ends of the columns extend downwardly beyond the posts 26 and are connected to a cross bar 40 which, in turn, is supported and driven by a crank mechanism 42, described more fully below. The crank mechanism 42 is effective to raise and lower the trough 36 in a repetitive reciprocating stroke through the columns 38.

As shown more fully in FIG. 4, the trough 36 includes downwardly tapering sidewalls 44 and a bottom wall 46. The bottom wall 46 includes a plurality of spaced openings 48 through which the food may flow. A plurality of downwardly extending cylinders 50 are connected to the bottom wall 46 of the trough and are in alignment with the openings 48 formed in the trough. The cylinders 50 are spaced slightly below the bottom wall 46 of the trough 36 to provide clearance for a transversely extending shuttle valve 52 includes a plurality of transversely spaced openings 54. The shuttle valve 52 is operated by an air cylinder 56 or other .appropriate means to move the shuttle 52 transversely to either open or close the passages between the trough and the cylinders 50 in unison.

The lower end of each of the cylinders 50 surrounds and receives the upper end of one of the dispensing tubes 32. The upper end of each of the dispensing tubes 32 is flared outwardly to define a flange 58. The flange 58 of each dispensing tube 32 is slideably sealed to the inner surface of its associated cylinder 50 by an O-ring 60 which is retained within an annular groove 62 formed about each flange 58. The inner surface of the upper end of each dispensing tube 32 preferably is rounded to define a smooth, substantially continuous flow path from the cylinder 50 into the dispensing tube 32.

When operating the food filling station, the food is delivered from a vat into the trough through an inlet manifold 64 which may be secured to a trough cover 66. The cylinders 50 and dispensing tubes 32 also are filled fully with the semi-liquid food. With the trough 36 and its associated cylinders 50 in the uppermost position, the shuttle valve 52 is closed and the outlet valve 34 at the bottom end of each dispensing cylinder 32 is open. The trough 36 and cylinders 50 then are advanced downwardly to force a predetermined volume of food from each of the dispensing tubes 32.

The volume of food discharged on each stroke is, of course, dependent on the size of the cylinders 50 and the length of their stroke. The stroke length may be adjusted by the crank mechanism 42 in a manner described below. When the cylinders 50 have reached the downward limit of their stroke, the outlet valves 34 are closed immediately and the shuttle valve 52 is operated to open the passage between the trough 36 and each cylinder 50. As the cylinders rise in relation to the upper end of the dispensing tube 32, they fill with the semi-liquid food from the trough. When the trough 36 and cylinders reach the upper limit of their stroke, the shuttle valve then is closed again and the outlet valves 34 are opened in readiness for another downward stroke. During the upward stroke of the cylinders 50, the conveyor advances to present a new flight of cups 12 to the dispensing tubes 32.

The speed of operation of the device is dependent, in part, on the consistency of the particular semi-liquid food. It is important that the operatingcycle be sufficiently short so that there is little or no tendency for the semi-liquid to flow by gravity from the tube 32. Proper selection of operating speed insures that no air will be admitted into the flow channel defined along the cylinder 50 and dispensing tubes 32. For example, when dispensing yogurt an operating cycle of approximately 50 cycles per minute has been found satisfactory. With more viscous foods, such as cottage cheese, the duration of the operating cycle could be extended, if desired.

in order to facilitate smooth operation of the device, the trough and cylinder assembly is balanced by a counterweight arrangement shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. The lift bar 40 is connected near its ends to a pair of endless cables 68 which are wrapped about pulleys 70 rotatably mounted to the frame of the machine. The cables also are secured to a counterweight 72. The counterweight assembly preferably is slightly heavier than the weight of the trough and cylinders so that they are biased in their uppermost position.

The reciprocating drive as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 and includes a main drive shaft 74 which extends along the length of the machine and which powers the other stations in the machine. The crank shaft 76 is journaled in trunions 78 and is connected to the drive shaft 74 through a conventional right angle drive. The transverse ends of the crank shaft 76 are connected to an adjustable crank 80 which, in turn, is pivotally connected to the lift bar 40 by the link 82.

The adjustable crank mechanism includes the crank 80 which is slotted along its length to receive a slide 81. The position of the slide 81 along the length of the crank 80 is adjustable by means of a screw 83 which is rotatably supported within the crank 80 and which is threaded through the slide 81. The slide is pivotally connected to the link 82 by the pin 85. By adjusting the position of the screw 83, the effective length of the crank, and therefore the stroke of the columns, can be adjusted accordingly.

The valve mechanisms 34 associated with each of the dispensing tubes 34 are of identical construction and are shown in FIGS. 5, 6, 7, and 8. Each of the valve mechanisms includes a valve housing 84 having integral lugs 86 formed at their upper ends. A stud 88 is secured to each of the lugs 86 and extends upwardly through a resilient grommet 90 which, in turn, is received in a hole 92 formed in the transverse bar 30. Each valve housing 34 is retained in place by a pair of nuts 94 which are threaded about the upper protruding end of their associated studs 88. The resilient grommet 90 is effective to retain the valve housing in place but also permit limited flexure of the housing.

The upper end of the valve housing 84 is threaded to receive the lower threaded end 96 of its associated dispensing tube 32. An appropriate hole is formed in the transverse bar 30 to receive the lower end of the dispensing tubes 32.

Each of the valve housings 84 is of generally rectangular configuration and having a central passage 98 which is defined, in part, by the opposed walls 100. A generally cylindrical valve member 102 is rotatably mounted within holes formed in the walls 100. The valve member 102 includes an opening 104 which is rotatably positioned by the valve 102 to open or close the central passage 98 in the valve housing 84.

The valve member 102 is retained within the valve housing 84 by an arrangement which permits the valve mechanism to be dis-assembled simply and quickly, as

for cleaning. As shown in FIGS. 5, 6, and 8, one of the walls 100 of the valve housing 84 includes an arcuate groove 106 which is defined by an arcuate lip 108, the lip-defined groove 106 extending circumferentially about an end of the valve member 102 which is rotatably supported within that wall 100 of the valve housing 84. That end of the valve member 102 includes an arcuate flange 110 which is dimensioned to be received within the groove 106 in the housing wall 100. The arcu'ate lip 108 and flange 110 are dimensioned and located so that during normal valve operation, between the open and closed configuration, the lip 108 and flange 110 will overlap thus retaining the valve within the valve housing. The valve may be disassembled simply by rotating the valve member 102 beyond the open or closed position to a position in which the lip 108 and flange l do not overlap, thus enabling the valve to be retracted axially from the valve housing (to the left as viewed in FIG. 6).

The valve member 102 is operated by a crank 112 which is secured to the retained end of the valve member 102 outwardly of the valve housing 84. The crank 112 includes a lug 114 and a transversely extending pin 116 is secured to the lug 114. The lug 114 and transverse pin 116 are received within a key hole 118 formed in a flange 120 which is secured to the lower end of actuating rod 122. The actuating rod is raised and lowered to rotate the valve member 102 as described below. The transverse pin 16 and the key hole 118 are arranged so that when the parts are assembled in the machine, the transverse pin 116 cannot register with the key hole 118 during normal operation. This precludes inadvertent separation of the lug 114 and actuating rod 122. FIG. 5 shows the full arc through which the valve member 102 is rotated through any operating cycle. Thus, the transverse pin 116 is maintained in a skew attitude in relation to the key hole 118 at all times during the operating cycle of the machine. They may be disassembled easily, when desired, by rotating the valve member to align the pin 116 with the key hole118.

The actuating rods 122 are moved heightwise by a valve actuating bar 124 which is raised and lowered by air cylinders 126. The air cylinders are secured to the transverse ends of the transverse bar 30. Each actuating rod 122 is connected, at its upper end, to the valve bar 124 by a spherical bearing 128. A hole 130 is formed in the transverse supporting bar 30 to receive each of the upwardly extending actuating rods 122. The valve bar 124 is guided in its vertical reciprocating movement by guides 132 which are secured to the transverse bar 30 and which receive guide rollers 134 which are rotatably mounted to the transverse ends of the valve bar 124. The air cylinders 126 are actuated in unison to open or close the dispensing valves in unison.

The various parts of the machine may be assembled and disassembled simply and quickly for cleaning. For example, the entire assembly of the trough and cylinders 50 is secured to the upper end of the columns 38 by a pair of tubular members 136 and brackets 138. The tubular members 136 slip over and about the upper, reduced ends of the columns 38 and are secured thereto by hand nuts 140 which pass downwardly through the upper end of each tubular member and are threaded into the upper ends of the columns 38. In

. valve housings 34. The valves themselves may be disassembled simply as described above and, if desired, the valve housing itself may be detached from the transverse bar 30 by loosening the nuts 94.

The transverse bar 30 which supports the outlet valve arrangement and the distribution tubes 32 may be adjusted heightwise to accomodate cups of varying size. For this purpose, the transverse bar 30 is sup: ported at its ends by a rotatably threaded bushing 144 which is threaded about a threaded portion 146 on each of the posts 26. The bushing 144 may be rotated to adjust the heightwise position of the outlet valve assemblies and their respective dispensing tubes 32.

An important aspect of the invention resides in the flow path along which the semi-liquid food passes during the dispensing operation. Because the cylinders and their associated dispensing tubes 32 are in general vertical alignment, the food is dispensed along a substantially straight path which avoids any sharp tubing bends or other narrow restrictions which might tend to bruise the food. The outlet from the dispensing tube is relatively wide which avoids any tendency for the food to be subjected to any substantial pressure which might affect adversely its chemical composition.

The internal configuration of the trough is intended to facilitate substantially straight line flow of the food and is designed to avoid any corners or crevices which might tend to retain some of the food product for extended periods of time, during which the food might spoil. Thus, the downwardly tapering trough includes a number of downwardly divergent guides 148 which extend fully across the width of the trough. The guides are interposed between the openings 48 in the bottom walls 46 of the trough and serve to guide the food downwardly to and through the holes 48. The guides 148 meet the bottom wall 46 of the trough in close proximity to their associated openings 48 to avoid any crevices or corners. The sidewalls of the trough also are tapered for the same purpose.

It should be understood that the foregoing description is intended merely to be illustrative of the invention and that other embodiments and modifications will be apparent to'those skilled in the art without departing from its spirit.

Having thus described the invention, what is claimed 1. An apparatus for dispensing a fluent food product comprising:

a hopper having sidewalls and a bottom wall and at least one opening formed in said bottom wall;

a cylinder associated with each of said at least one openings in said bottom wall of said hopper, said cylinder having an inlet end and an outlet end each of said cylinders being secured to said hopper in registry with its associated opening;

a dispensing tube having an inlet and an outlet end, the inlet end of said dispensing tube being received slideably and coaxially within the outlet end of said cylinder;

means sealing said tube and cylinder for sliding reciprocating movement therebetween;

means mounting said hopper and said at least one cylinder for reciprocating movement in a heightwise direction and in relation to said dispensing tube, said dispensing tube and cylinder being aligned to define a substantially straight flow path;

inlet valve means associated with said inlet end of each of said cylinders comprising a slide valve interposed between the bottom of said hopper and the upper end of each of said cylinders, said slide valve including a plate having openings equal in number and spacing to the openings in the bottom of said hopper and each said cylinder, the region between said openings in said plate being dimensioned to close fully the passage between the hopper and each cylinder to confine the food in each cylinder therein; an outlet valve located at the outlet end of said dispensing tube; means for opening said outlet valve when said slide is in a closed position and for closing said outlet valve when said slide valve is in an open position. 2. An apparatus for dispensing a fluent food product as defined in claim 1 wherein the edges of the openings formed in said slide valve are relatively sharp and cooperate with the edges in said trough bottom defining the openings therein to define cooperative knifelike edges adapted to sever any food particles during operation of said inlet valve.

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Classifications
Classification aux États-Unis222/162, 222/379, 141/242
Classification internationaleB65B3/30, B65B3/00
Classification coopérativeB65B3/30
Classification européenneB65B3/30
Événements juridiques
DateCodeÉvénementDescription
8 sept. 1993ASAssignment
Owner name: SWEETHEART CUP COMPANY INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:BANKERS TRUST COMPANY, AS COLLATERAL AGENT;REEL/FRAME:007029/0011
Effective date: 19930830
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:BANKERS TRUST COMPANY, AS COLLATERAL AGENT;REEL/FRAME:006687/0491
6 avr. 1990ASAssignment
Owner name: SWEETHEART CUP COMPANY INC.
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:FORT HOWARD CUP CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:005346/0001
Effective date: 19891129
13 févr. 1990ASAssignment
Owner name: BANKERS TRUST COMPANY, AS COLLATERAL AGENT
Free format text: SECURITY INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FORT HOWARD CUP CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:005287/0404
Effective date: 19891114
Owner name: FORT HOWARD CUP CORPORATION
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:LILY-TULIP, INC.;REEL/FRAME:005300/0320
Effective date: 19861231
Owner name: LILY-TULIP, INC., A DE CORP.
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:MARYLAND CUP CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:005300/0311
Effective date: 19861217
4 juin 1986ASAssignment
Owner name: MARYLAND CUP CORPORATION
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SWEETHEART PROPERTIES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:004568/0663
Owner name: SWEETHEART PROPERTIES, INC., A CORP. OF MD.
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:SWEETHEART PLASTICS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:004568/0656
Effective date: 19841231