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Publication numberUS20090090432 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/867,203
Publication dateApr 9, 2009
Filing dateOct 4, 2007
Priority dateOct 4, 2007
Also published asWO2009045801A1
Publication number11867203, 867203, US 2009/0090432 A1, US 2009/090432 A1, US 20090090432 A1, US 20090090432A1, US 2009090432 A1, US 2009090432A1, US-A1-20090090432, US-A1-2009090432, US2009/0090432A1, US2009/090432A1, US20090090432 A1, US20090090432A1, US2009090432 A1, US2009090432A1
InventorsDale K. Wells, John Allen Cremeens
Original AssigneePeerless Machinery Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Depositor system
US 20090090432 A1
Abstract
A dispensing device for supplying measured quantities of batter to baking containers, and a method of operating such device use a peristaltic pump driven by a servo-motor drive. The peristaltic pump has a flexible conduit with a first end connected to a supply container for receiving batter and a second end from which the batter is dispensed. A movable pump element precisely moves batter through the flexible conduit from the first end toward the second end. A shut-off valve adjacent the second end of the flexible conduit closes the conduit when the measured quantity of batter has been dispensed. A conveyor is positioned beneath the second end of the flexible conduit for moving baking containers into position therebeneath for deposit of batter. The movable pump element has a peristaltic driver including a plurality of rollers, a drive shaft to rotate the peristaltic driver such that the rollers apply pressure to the flexible conduit, pressing the flexible conduit against a curved pressure surface of a shoe.
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Claims(15)
1. A dispensing device for supplying measured quantities of batter to baking containers, comprising:
a supply container for holding a quantity of batter,
a peristaltic pump, including a flexible conduit having a first end connected to said supply container for receiving batter, a movable pump element for precisely moving batter through the flexible conduit from said first end toward a second end, including a servo-motor drive, and a shut-off valve adjacent the second end of the flexible conduit, and
a conveyor, beneath said second end of said flexible conduit, for moving baking containers into position therebeneath for deposit of batter.
2. The dispensing device of claim 1, in which said peristaltic pump further comprises:
a shoe defining a curved pressure surface, and
said movable pump element comprising
a peristaltic driver including a plurality of rollers,
a drive shaft to rotate said peristaltic driver such that said rollers apply pressure to said flexible conduit, pressing said flexible conduit against said curved pressure surface of said shoe, and
a servo pump motor for rotating said peristaltic driver.
3. The dispensing device of claim 2, in which said servo pump motor rotates said peristaltic drive by a precise distance so as to dispense a precise amount of batter.
4. The dispensing device of claim 3, in which said shut-off valve comprises a clamp mechanism, including a stationary clamp element and a pivotal clamp element, and a clamp actuator for moving said pivotal clamp element toward said stationary clamp element.
5. The dispensing device of claim 4, in which said clamp actuator for moving said pivotal clamp element toward said stationary clamp element comprises a pneumatic cylinder.
6. The dispensing device of claim 2, in which said peristaltic driver comprises four rollers.
7. The dispensing device of claim 2, in which said peristaltic driver comprises three rollers.
8. The dispensing device of claim 1, in which said peristaltic pump comprises:
a plurality of flexible conduits, each conduct having a first end connected to said supply container for receiving batter,
a plurality of movable pump elements, each of said movable pump elements arranged to move batter through an associated one of said plurality of flexible conduits from said first end toward a second end, and
a plurality of shut-off valves, each of said shut-off valves positioned adjacent the second end an associated one of said plurality of flexible conduits.
9. A dispensing device for supplying measured quantities of batter, comprising:
a supply container for holding a quantity of batter,
a peristaltic pump, including a plurality of flexible conduits each having a first end connected to said supply container for receiving batter, a servo pump motor, a movable pump element driven by said servo pump motor for precisely moving batter through the flexible conduits from said first end of each of said conduits toward a second end, and a plurality of shut-off valves, each adjacent the second end of a respective one of said plurality of flexible conduits.
10. The dispensing device of claim 9, in which said peristaltic pump further comprises:
a shoe defining a curved pressure surface, and
said movable pump element comprising
a peristaltic driver including a plurality of rollers, and
a drive shaft to rotate said peristaltic driver such that said rollers apply pressure to said flexible conduits, pressing said flexible conduits against said curved pressure surface of said shoe, said drive shaft being connected to, and driven by, said servo pump motor.
11. A method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers, comprising:
providing a quantity of batter in a container,
pumping said batter through a flexible conduit with a peristaltic pump, said batter being pumped from a first end of said flexible conduit connected to said container toward a second end of said conduit by applying pressure to said conduit with a plurality of rollers that press said conduit against a curved pressure surface and roll along said surface,
actuating a valve at the second end of said flexible conduit to permit a measured quantity of batter to be dispensed, and
conveying baking containers into position beneath said flexible conduit for receipt of a measured quantity of batter.
12. A method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers according to claim 11, in which the step of pumping said batter through a flexible conduit includes the step of pumping batter through a plurality of flexible conduits have respective first ends connected to said supply container.
13. A method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers according to claim 12, further comprising the step of pinching off said flexible conduits adjacent the second ends thereof to insure that the measured amount of batter is deposited by each conduit on said baking containers.
14. A method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers, comprising the steps of:
providing a quantity of batter,
pumping said batter through a flexible conduit with a peristaltic pump, said batter being pumped from a first end of said flexible conduit toward a second end of said conduit by pressing said conduit at a plurality of spaced points along the length of the conduit and moving the spaced points in a direction from said first end toward said second end, and
pinching closed said second end of said conduit after a measured quantity of batter has been dispensed from said second end of said conduit.
15. The method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers according to claim 14, further comprising the step of
conveying baking containers into position beneath said flexible conduit for receipt of measured quantities of batter.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a depositor or dispenser system and, more particularly, to depositors and dispensers of the type that are used to deposit accurately measure amounts of a food batter or similar material on a pan, tray, baking sheet, or the like. The batter is then baked to produce food products such as cakes, muffins, pastries, and the like.

In commercial bakeries, baking mixes such as cake batters, are mixed in large quantities, and then dispensed onto baking containers. The containers are then carried by a conveyor system into and through baking ovens. Known batter depositors have typically used a piston pump to pump quantities of batter from a mixing container into the baking container in which the food product will be baked. Such food products are typically sold by weight, with the purchaser being advised as to the weight of the baked product by product labeling. It is important that the weight of the product that the customer receives be at least the weight that is indicated on the product packaging. It is also important, however, that the actual product weight of the product not exceed significantly the nominal product weight, as this would add to the cost of the product.

One prior art dispenser used in the commercial baking industry is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,170,253, issued Oct. 9, 1979, to McArthur. The '253 patent dispenser has a plunger mounted within a chamber at the bottom of a mixing bowl. The plunger includes a one-way valve passing the batter mix through the plunger head when the plunger moves away from the dispensing port and urging the batter mix out of the dispensing port when the plunger moves toward the dispensing port. The plunger is driven by a piston and cylinder assembly which includes an adjustable stop that limits the travel of the plunger and hence determines the quantity of batter mix that is dispensed.

A number of other dispensing devices of this general type have been used. One difficulty in using such dispensers is the effort required to clean them. It will be appreciated that all remnants of one type of dough or batter must be removed from the dispensing system before a second type of dough or batter is used, so that cross contamination of the batters is prevented. The path through which batter is pumped with a piston pump typically requires some disassembly of the pump to clean the dispenser effectively. Another difficulty encountered is a lack of precision in the quantity of batter dispensed, especially with pneumatically driven piston pumps.

Other dispensing systems have used peristaltic pumping in which one or more flexible tubes are compressed to move viscous material or fluid material toward a dispensing nozzle. Such a system is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,191,957, issued Mar. 20, 2007, to Anderson, in which viscous fluids from a hopper are dispensed simultaneously through a number of nozzles. The Anderson system includes draw back control valves adjacent to the nozzles. While the Anderson system has advantages with respect to cleaning as compared to piston type dispensers, the amount of material that can be dispensed, and the speed and accuracy with which it is dispensed, are both limited.

It is seen that there is a need for a simple dispenser that provides flexibility in the speed and the amount of batter that is dispensed, and that is designed for easy cleaning and other service operations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This need is met by a dispensing device according to the present invention which includes a supply container, a peristaltic pump having a flexible conduit, and a conveyor. The supply container holds a quantity of batter. The flexible conduit of the peristaltic pump has a first end connected to the supply container for receiving batter. A movable pump element includes a plurality of rollers which precisely move batter through the flexible conduit from the first end toward a second end. The rollers press on the outside of the conduit, causing it to occlude at a number of points. As the rollers move, the points of occlusion move, and the batter passes along the conduit. The pump further includes a shut-off valve adjacent the second end of the flexible conduit. If desired, the shutoff valve may be constructed as an integral part of the peristaltic pump. A conveyor is positioned beneath the second end of the flexible conduit for moving baking containers into position there beneath for deposit of batter.

The peristaltic pump further includes a shoe defining a curved pressure surface, and a movable pump element. The movable pump element includes a peristaltic driver including a plurality of rollers, and a drive shaft to rotate the peristaltic driver such that the rollers apply pressure to the flexible conduit, pressing the flexible conduit against the curved pressure surface of the shoe. Finally, the pump includes a pump motor for rotating the peristaltic driver. The pump motor may comprise a servo motor for rotating the peristaltic drive by a precise distance so as to dispense a precise amount of batter. The shut-off valve comprises a clamp mechanism, including a stationary clamp element and a pivotal clamp element, and a clamp actuator for moving the pivotal clamp element toward the stationary clamp element. The clamp actuator for moving the pivotal clamp element toward the stationary clamp element comprises a pneumatic cylinder. The peristaltic driver may comprise four rollers, or it may comprise three rollers.

The peristaltic pump many comprise a plurality of flexible conduits, each conduct having a first end connected to the supply container for receiving batter, a plurality of movable pump elements, and a plurality of shut-off valves. Each of the movable pump elements is arranged to move batter through an associated one of the plurality of flexible conduits from the first end toward a second end. Each of the shut-off valves is positioned adjacent the second end an associated one of the plurality of flexible conduits.

A method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers, comprises the steps of providing a quantity of batter in a container, and pumping the batter through a flexible conduit with a peristaltic pump. The batter is pumped from a first end of the flexible conduit connected to the container toward a second end of the conduit. The method further includes the steps of actuating a valve at the second end of the flexible conduit to permit a measured quantity of batter to be dispensed, and conveying baking containers into position beneath the flexible conduit for receipt of a measured quantity of batter.

The method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers, comprises the steps of providing a quantity of batter, and pumping the batter through a flexible conduit with a peristaltic pump. The batter is pumped from a first end of the flexible conduit toward a second end of the conduit by pressing the conduit at a plurality of spaced points along the length of the conduit and moving the spaced points in a direction from the first end toward the second end. The method further includes the step of pinching closed the second end of the conduit after a measured quantity of batter has been dispensed from the second end of the conduit.

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved batter dispenser and method of operating such a dispenser, in which accurately metered, significant quantities of batter can be dispensed quickly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the dispensing device according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of a portion of the peristaltic pump of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a portion of the peristaltic pump of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a side view of a portion of the peristaltic pump of the present invention, illustrating a variation in the number of rollers;

FIG. 5 is a side sectional view of the shoe of the peristaltic pump, taken generally along line 5-5 in FIG. 6; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the shoe of the peristaltic pump.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference is made to FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 which illustrate a dispenser device 10 according to the present invention. The dispenser dispenses measured quantities of batter, such as for cakes or muffins, for example, onto baking containers 12, shown in FIG. 1 as muffin tins. The dispensing device 10 includes a supply container 14 for holding a quantity of batter. The batter will have been previously mixed or otherwise prepared elsewhere, and then poured into supply container 14 after the removal of container top 16. The device includes a peristaltic pump 18 which is illustrated in FIG. 2. The pump 18 includes a flexible conduit 20 having a first end 22 connected to the supply container 14 for receiving batter. Conduit 20 is preferably made of a relatively soft plastic material. A movable pump element 24 moves batter through the flexible conduit 20 from the first end 22 toward a second end 26. A servo-motor drive includes servo-motor 28, gear box 30 and drive shaft 32 which extends through and drivingly engages the drive element 24. A conveyor 34 is positioned beneath the second end 26 of the flexible conduit 20 for moving baking containers 12 into position there beneath for deposit of batter. Conveyor 34 may be any of a number of known conveyor mechanisms capable of conveying and positioning the containers 12 in synchronization with the operation of the pump 18. The conveyor will typically connect with other conveyors to carry the containers 12 into and through a baking oven.

The peristaltic pump 18 includes a pair of side plates 36 that are held by spacer bolts 38 and that carry bearings 40. The movable pump element 24 includes a peristaltic driver 42 having a pair of plates 44 and a plurality of occlusion rollers 46 extending there between. The peristaltic pump 18 further includes a shoe 48, best shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. The shoe 48 defines a curved pressure surface 50 against which the conduit 20, shown in dashed lines in FIG. 5, rests. The rollers 46 of the peristaltic driver 42 apply pressure to the flexible conduit 20 against the curved pressure surface 50 to deform the conduit 20 and occlude it. This essentially traps quantities of batter in the conduit 20 between the occlusions produced by the rollers 46. Servo pump motor 28 rotates the drive shaft 32 which in turn rotates the peristaltic driver 42. As a consequence, batter is pumped through the peristaltic pump in a very controlled, very precisely metered fashion. Because the rotation of the servo pump motor can be very precisely controlled, the amount of batter pumped by the servo pump is also determined with precision. When the servo pump motor rotates the peristaltic drive by a specific amount, a predetermined amount of batter is dispensed.

A shut-off valve 52, best shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, comprises a clamp mechanism 54, including a stationary clamp element 56 that extends from, and is unitary with, the shoe 48, and a pivotal clamp element 58. A clamp actuator 60 moves the pivotal clamp element 58 toward the stationary clamp element 56 to pinch the conduit 20, thereby closing it off. The clamp actuator 60 for moving the pivotal clamp element 58 toward the stationary clamp element 56 comprises a pneumatic cylinder 62. Cylinder 62 has one end attached to a stationary link 64 and the other end attached to the pivotal clamp element 58. When actuated, the pneumatic cylinder 62 contracts, pivoting element 58 in a counterclockwise direction about pivot 64. This movement, which is limited by stop 66, causes clamp post 68 to press against conduit 20, flattening it against clamp element 56.

A number of variations in the construction of the device of FIG. 2 are contemplated. For example, although the peristaltic driver of FIG. 2 has four rollers 46, a different number of rollers may be used. FIG. 4, for example, illustrates a peristaltic driver having only three rollers, 46′.

It will be appreciated that it is necessary for the depositor to dispense simultaneously a plurality of equal measured quantities of batter, as for example in each of the recesses in the row of recesses across the muffin tins 12 of FIG. 1. To accomplish this, the peristaltic pump construction of FIG. 2 may be replicated across the width of the conveyor 12. That is, a plurality of peristaltic pumps such as shown in FIG. 2 are arranged in a row across the width of the conveyor and all driven by a single drive shaft 32. The pumps in this arrangement may be supported on slide rods that permit the lateral spacing of the outlets of the conduits 20 to be adjusted and positioned to fill the container recesses of the specific containers then being used for the baking operation. Such a peristaltic pump may comprise a plurality of flexible conduits, each conduct having a first end connected to the single supply container 14 for receiving batter. In this arrangement, a plurality of movable pump elements, each of the movable pump elements arranged to move batter through an associated one of the plurality of flexible conduits from the first end toward a second end, are provided. A plurality of shut-off valves are provided, each of the shut-off valves being positioned adjacent the second end and associated one of the plurality of flexible conduits.

It will be appreciated that the present invention operates according to a unique method of dispensing measured quantities of batter to baking containers. A quantity of batter is provided in a container. The batter is pumped through a flexible conduit with a peristaltic pump. The batter is pumped from a first end of the flexible conduit connected to the container toward a second end of the conduit by applying pressure to the conduit with a plurality of rollers that press the conduit against a curved pressure surface and roll along the surface. The rollers are precisely moved using a servo motor. A valve at the second end of the flexible conduit permits a measured quantity of batter to be dispensed, and then pinches closed the second end of the conduit after this measured quantity of batter has been dispensed. During this process, baking containers are conveyed into position beneath the flexible conduit for receipt of a measured quantity of batter.

Other aspects, objects, and advantages of the present invention can be obtained from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20100147419 *Jun 23, 2009Jun 17, 2010Balnoschan Gregory ADepositor Apparatus Including Flow Meter
Classifications
U.S. Classification141/129, 222/214, 141/1, 417/477.2, 417/477.1, 426/496
International ClassificationB65B43/42, F04B43/12, B65D37/00
Cooperative ClassificationA21C5/006
European ClassificationA21C5/00C
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 11, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: ILLINOIS TOOL WORKS INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:PEERLESS MACHINERY CORP.;REEL/FRAME:020353/0022
Effective date: 20080104
Nov 28, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: PEERLESS MACHINERY CORP., OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:WELLS, DALE K;CREMEENS, JOHN ALLEN;REEL/FRAME:020203/0389
Effective date: 20071114