US 2913016 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Nov. 17, 1959 P. ELLUTHER LIQUID FILLING SYSTEM Filed June 17 INVENTOR @101; E LUTHER A NEYS United States Patent LIQUID FILLING SYSTEM Paul E. Luther, Oakland, Calif.
Application June 17, 1957, Serial No. 666,040
7 Claims. 01.141-1 This invention generally relates to the art of filling con tainers with a liquid product, and is more particularly directed towards a novel method and apparatus for performing such an operation.
There are presently available a variety of filler mechanisms, including the valves therefor, which are adapted to introduce liquid into containers as the latter are brought into operative engagement with the apparatus. However, in general, there are a number of disadvantageous features inherently present in such apparatus, most of which result from the incorporation of some 'comprising advantageous feature. By way of example, certain valve mechanisms are quite accurate but are very expensive and/or are limited in capacity, but by increasing the capacity, the accuracy decreases. Likewise, the so-called open vent valves are desirable from a number of standpoints, but the liquid level in the container being filled is undesirably controlled by the possibly uncertain I level of the liquid in the filler bowl or similar source of supply, and such valves are accordingly not as accurate as the closed vent type of valves.
It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide a liquid filling system which is extremely simple in construction and operation, which will permit a large number of containers to be filled in a minimum period of time, and which will accurately fill containers to a predetermined desired liquid level. i
Another object of the invention is to provide apparatus and a method of filling containers in which substantially all air is scavenged from the containers'prior to the filling thereof, thereby creating a greater pressure differential between the liquid supply source and the container so as to materially decrease the time required for filling.
A further object of the invention is to provide apparatus and a method of the character described in which steam is utilized to create a partial vacuum in the container, such steam further'serving as a sterilizer between each valve filling cycle.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide a novel valve mechanism which isprovided with a full 360 degree filling opening and a similar air and liquid overfiow opening adapted to open to provide an air scavenging passage prior to opening of the main filling opening, and which remains open during filling to provide a liquid overflow passage.
A still further object of the invention is to provide a valve of the character described in which the amount of liquid which has overflowed, is blown back to the supply source prior to valve opening.
An object of the invention is to provide a valve of the character described which may be readily removed from the remaining portions of the filler mechanism.
The invention possesses other objects and features of advantage, some of which, with the foregoing, will be set forth in the following description of the preferred form of the invention which is illustrated in the drawing accompanying and forming part of the specification. It is to be understood, however, .that'variations in the showing made by the said drawing and description may be adopted within the scope of the invention as set forth in the claims.
Referring to said drawing:
Figure 1 is an elevational view, primarily in cross section, of the apparatus of the instant invention, and showing the valve in a closed position.
Figure 2 is a top plan view of the apparatus shown in Figure 1.
Figure 3 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially in the plane indicated by the line 33 of Figure 1.
Figure 4 is a cross-sectional elevational view taken substantially in the plane indicated by line 4--4 of Figure 1, but illustrating the valve in its full open position.
Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially in the plane indicated by line 5-5 of Figure 3.
Figure 6 is a cross-sectional view taken substantially in the plane indicated by line 66 of Figure 3.
In broad terms, the apparatus and method of the present invention comprises a system for filling open top containers with a liquid in which the container-is first caused to engage a valve member, a flow of steam is then passed through the valve member with an air passage in the valve providing communication with the interior of the container whereby air is scavenged from the container, and then a liquid filler passage in the valve is caused to open permitting liquid to enter the container and fill the same, continuing to rise upwardly in an overflow pipe. During the next cycle of operation, the steam, which effects the .air scavenging of the container, is discharged through the same pipe thereby blowing the overflow liquid from the previous filling operation back to the bowl or other liquid supply source.
' In more detail, and referring to the drawing, the apparatus of the present invention will be seen. to include a bowl 10 having a generally cylindrical side wall 12 and .a bottom wall 13. Said bottom wall is provided with a plurality of equally circumferentially spaced apertures 14 in which a like number of filler valves 16 are operatively positioned. As will be understood, the, bowl 10 is adapted to contain a quantity of liquid, and such bowl, as is conventional practice, is adapted and caused to be rotated about a vertical axis as the containers 17 which are to be filled are brought into contact with the respective-valve members. The containers move with the valves and bowl for substantially a complete rotation of the bowl and during the time that the container is in engagement with its respective valve, the latter is caused to open, permitting liquid to flow from the bowl, through the valve, and into the interior of the container. This general type of system has been widely used for many years in connection with can filling operations.
In order to better understand the overall operation of the apparatus, the novel valve mechanism of the instant invention should first be explained in detail. As will be seen in the drawing, the valve includes a tubular body 21 whose upper end engages a groove 22 of an annular member 23. The member 23 is supported on a tubular valve housing 24 having a diameter substantially greater than member 21, and such housing extends through the bowl opening and is axially movable relative thereto. Actually, the opening is provided with a suitable fitting 26 including a seal ring 27 and such fitting 26 has a threaded bottom portion 28 for engagement with a retaining nut 29 for securing the same to the bottom wall of the bowl. In this manner, the housing 24 and the remaining portions of the valve mechanism which are connected thereto may be vertically moved relative to the bowl during rotation of the latter. With particular reference to Figures 1 and 5 of the drawing, it will be seen that the lower end of housing 24 is provided with a downwardly directed annular skirt 31,
such skirt being-provided with one or more bayonet slots 32, and the annular member 23'is provided with projecting pins 33 engageable in such slots. Thus, in order to remove the member 23'from housing 24, it is only necessary to rotate the same along the generally horizontal portion of theslot'32 and then move the same downwardly along the vertical portion of such slot. This renders the entire valve mechanism readily accessible from exteriorly of the bowl such as for removal and replacement of parts. Member 23 is provided with an Q-ring 36 which is in sealing engagement with the housing, and the member is further provided with a radial extending flange 37 which engages the lower surface of a similar horizontal flange 38 on the housing, such latter flange being connected to the skirt portion 31, with the (It-ring 36 positioned between these respective flanges. It will thus be appreciated that if the housing 24 is caused to move vertically, as will be hereinafter explained, member 23 will be correspondingly moved due to the bayonet connection therebetween. T o prevent accidental dislodgement of the bayonet connection, a lock pin 35 extends from a flange 40 disposed parallel to flange 38, through the latter, and engages an aperture 50 in flange 37. The pin 35 is spring loaded, but may be removed from its seat in aperture 50 by placing a tool between the double head thereof. Adjacent the lower end of valve body 21 is an annular, can or container engaging mt 'nher 41, the latter having a vertically extending slot .42 onv its inner peripheral surface in which an O-ring .43 is positioned in sealing engagement with the outer periphery of the body 21. The member 41 is further provided with a downwardly directed recess 44 in which a can sealing gasket 46 is positioned, such gasket having a lower tapered surface to sealably engage the upper bead 47 of the container 17 which is brought into operative engagement therewith. A plurality of shims 48 are provided between the recess and gasket, the combined thickness of theshims being adapted to vary the liquid .head space in the. container. It will also be noted that theskirt 45 defining the outerwall of the recess 44 is provided with a slot 49 extending for the full depth of the recess. This slot permits the insertion of a tool for removing gasket 46, and likewise serves as an air escapementpassage during insertion of the gasket.
Disposed concentrically within the body 21 is a pipe 51 which is threadedly engaged with the member 23, but provided with a liquid passage 52 therebetween. A lock nut 60 securely locks the pipe relative to member 23 so as to prevent axial movement of the pipe with a resulting variation in the position of the valve head as will be presently made clear. Mounted for axial sliding movement on the lower end of pipe 51 is a generally bell-shaped element 53, the latter having an upper annular sleeve portion 54 which is in slidable sealing engagement with the outer periphery of the pipe by means of an OL-ring 56 mounted in a vertically extending groove provided. in'thesleeve portion 54. It will be noted that the lower outwardly flared end portion of the element 53 .53 p d y a d n nsa m n with thclower cnd'64 of the collar 61. The can engaging member 41has an inner inclined surface 66 which is adapted to engage the inclined surface '58 of the bell-shaped member 53 with an ,O-Iing 65 positioned therebetween, and as will be clear,
the space 67 which may exist between these opposedsur- .faces 66 and 58 is utilized as a liquid filler passage since when such space exists liquid may freely pass from the bow thtqqahthe upps cp n. s d-ofhousing 2411111111311 the space 52, through the chamber 68 existing between the inner surface of valve body 21 and collar 61, and thence through the opening- 67 into the container 17. However, in normal position, the valve is maintained closed and to provide for such normal closure a compression spring 71 is utilized, the spring being interposed between the lower surface of the flange 37 and the upper surface of the ring member- 41. Thus, the normal position of the valve parts will be as illustrated in Figure l of the drawing.
However, whena container to be filled is brought against the bead. engaging gasket 46, and the can and valve are moved axially together, 'there will be initially a vertical raising of the ring 41 about the valve body 21 against the force of the spring 71. However, the liquid passage will not open at this time due to the tension forces in spring 63 which will eflfect a raising of element 53 with the ring 41 until the shoulder 64 at the bottom of collar 61 is engaged. However, as such engagement takes place, a valve head 72 secured at the lower end of the pipe 51 and being in stationary engagement therewith will create a space or passage 73 between an upper inclined surface 74 of the head and the lower surface 59 of element 53. To insure a seal between these surfaces in the normal position of the valve a gasket 76 is pro da in n of h ur ac a dap e to nga the the s rf c heni h p ts a e se l du a W i u y exp ai d, upon in a an engagement m v ment between the head member 72 and element 53 will openthe passage 73 prior to any opening of the main filler passage'67. Continued axial movement of the container and the valve towards. each other will then result in a further compression of spring 71 and subsequent opening of the main passage 67. However, during such opening the passage 73 will likewise remain in an open position.
The purpose of the passage 73 is actually two-fold. First, in connection with the normal filling of thecontainer 17, it will be appreciated that if liquid from the bowl 12 is permitted to enter through the passage 67, in order to insure a proper liquid level in the container it is necessary that the container be overfilled. Thus, as the liquid enters through the full 360 degree opening of passage 67 and liquid rises in the container, the liquid will eventually reach a level above the head 72 and flow upwardly through the passage 73 into the pipe 51 as will be presently explained in greater detail. The liquid rise in the pipe, disregarding friction losses, will result in liquid rising in pipe 51 to substantially the liquid level in the bowl 12. Thus, the passage 73 serves as an overflow passage for the liquid in the containers. However, a second and equally important function of this passage is toprovide access to the interior of the can prior to the filling thereof, with liquid whereby the air in the can may be removed so as to create a sub-atmospheric pressure therein.
In accordance with the teachings of the present invention, this scavenging or removal of air is effected in a novel manner. With reference to the drawing, it will be noted that pipe 51 adjacent its connection to the head 72 is provided with relatively large opposed openings 77 whereby communication with the passage 73 is obtained. Also, disposed within pipe 51 in concentric relationship thereto is an axial conduit 78 which is threadedly engageable with the head 72. This conduit has an open lower end which through means of ports 79 communicates with the openings 77 in the pipe. Conduit 78 is adapted to receive high pressure steam from the other end thereof in a manner presently to be explained and assuming the head 72 to be spaced from the element 53 (with the main filler passage 67 closed), by introducing a steam flow through the conduit 78, such steam will exit from the bottom of the conduit, pass with a high jet velocity through the ports 79 and opening 77 and passupwardly through, the pipe 51 around .thecentral conduit 78 therein in the direction of the arrows in Figure 4. Due to the high velocity flow through the foregoing pa'ssages, etc., air in the container 17 will be pulled through the passage 73 and be likewise discharged with the steam rising upwardly in the pipe 51, thereby materially reducing the absolute pressure within the container. This will, of course, result in -a greater pressure differential existing between the bowl and the interior of the container so that when the filling passage 67 is open, liquid will flow into the container from the bowl at a much more rapid rate than if merely gravity was relied upon to perform this function. Also, as was previously mentioned, after a container has been filled with liquid, there will be the overflow liquid in the pipe 51- elbow 81 and connected to a flexible hose 83 which in turn is connected to a suitable fitting 84 extending exteriorly of the vertical wall of bowl 112. The fitting 84 is provided with an axial passage 86 as well as a transverse passage 87 in communication therewith and during bowl rotation,.the fitting 84 is caused to come into engagement in subjacent relationship with a header 88 provided with a manifold 89 connected to a source of steam. Thus, as the bowl rotates, at a predetermined stage in bowl rotation the fitting 84 will be operatively connected to the manifold 89 and accordingly steam will be introduced through the conduit 78 so long as such operative association exists.
It will be appreciated that each of the valves 16 are provided with a similar pipe and conduit, each having a fitting 84 for sequential engagement with the manifold. Thus as the bowl is rotated each of the valves after being initially engaged by the respective containers to be filled will be brought into engagement with the manifold for the foregoing steam operation. It will be also appreciated that the steam, aside from scavenging air from the container and blowing the excess fluid from the pipe 51, will also serve to continuously sterilize the portions of the valve which are engaged by the steam or affected by the heat created thereby.
Insofar as valve actuation is concerned, it would be possible to effect the opening thereof by providing conventional lifting or elevator mechanisms for the containers. However, rather than requiring the containers to be raised and lowered, I prefer to have the containers move along a substantially horizontal path and instead move the valve towards the container to effect the seal between the gasket 46 and the head 47 of the can. This may be readily accomplished by providing a stationary cam 91 extending peripherally around the bowl and adapted to be engaged by a roller or cam follower 92 carried by the bowl. The follower is operatively con nected to a vertically moving post 93 whose lower end is provided with a yoke 94 having rollers 95 at its ends in rolling engagement between flanges 38 and an of the valve housing 24. Thus, upon raising and lowering of the post 93 in response to the actuation of the cam and the cam follower, the housing 24 and consequently the member 23 will be raised and lowered, likewise carrying with it the valve body 21.
From the foregoing description the details of construction as well as the mode of operation of the instant apparatus should be readily apparent. However, to go through a cycle of operation on a single valve, the valve is normally maintained in its closed position as indicated in Figure 1 by means of the springs 63 and 71. The bowl and the valves are rotated and during such rotation the empty containers to be filled are brought beneath the bowl and fed beneath the respective valves. When a can is positioned in axial alignment with one of the valves, the acticn of the cam and cam followers causes the valve to move downwardly towards the can thereby effecting a seal between the upper peripheral bead of the can and the gasket or can seal ring 46. Further downward movement of the valve against the spring 71 will effect an opening of passage 73 between the valve head and element 53. At this time, the conduit fitting 84 will come in engagement with the steam manifold 89 thereby directing steam through the conduit 78 and scavenging air from the interior of the container. Such scavenging preferably occurs during approximately 30 degrees of bowl rotation. As the valve continues in its downward movement against the back pressure of a container, the passage 67 will be opened and liquid will flow from the bowl into the container through such passages. As' previously explained, the liquid will continue to rise in the container and eventually rise upwardly through passage 73 into the pipe 51. As the bowl completes its rotational cycle, the cam will effect an upward raising of the valve thereby closing both passages 67 and 73 and the can is removed therefrom. At this stage, there will be liquid in the pipe 51 which will be blown out by the steam during the next operational cycle of the valve. It may also be noted that the bottom of the head 72 is convex which will facilitate air emerging from the peripheral edgesof the head into the passage 73 and eliminate any possible entrapment of air therein.
What is claimed is:
1. A method of filling open top containers with liquid which includes placing the open tops of the containers in flow communication with a first passage vented to the atmosphere, passing a jet flow of high velocity steam through said passage and adjacent said open top and in communication with the interior of said container in a manner to scavenge air from said container and create a sub-atmospheric pressure therein, halting the flow of steam while keeping said passage open, and then opening a second passage and causing liquid to flow into said container through said second passage and overflowing into said first mentioned passage.
2. A method of filling open top containers with liquid which includes venting the top of the container to the atmosphere, passing a high velocity flow of steam past and adjacent the open top of said container so as to create a sub-atmospheric pressure therein, introducing liquid from a supply source into said container until the latter fills the container and rises to a height above the container top, stopping the flow of liquid, restraining gravital flow of such overflow liquid above the container top, removing said container, and then passing a high velocity flow of steam against said overflow liquid to discharge the same back to said supply source.
3. Apparatus for filling open top containers with liquid including a source of liquid supply, a valve operatively connected to said source and having a downwardly directed container engaging member, said valve having a pair of concentric openings, one of said openings being in direct flow communication with said liquid supply source, a steam manifold operatively connected to said second opening, said second opening further communicating with the atmosphere and means for selectively opening and closing said openings.
4. A filler valve comprising a substantially stationary pipe, an irnperforate head secured to the lower end of said pipe, an annular bell-shaped member axially slidable on said pipe and having an inner surface selectively engageable with said head and spaced therefrom so as to provide a passage therebetween, said pipe having a lateral opening adjacent the bottom thereof and adjacent said head in communication with said passage, a valve body spaced from and encompassing a lower portion of said pipe, a container seal ring axially movable on said body, and means normally urging said seal ring towards saidbell-shaped member so as to-provide a liquid seal therebetween, and-"a secondip'ipe disposed within firstr 'pipe and having -a bottom opening adjacent said lateral opening.
5.- Apparatus of the character-described comprising a filler bowlya plurality of valves extending from the bottom wall of said bowl and through which liquid may pass from said bowl to a container'positioned subjacent said valve, said valve having a housing axially slid able in said-bowl and'including 21 depending tubular body, a container-engaging member axially movable on said body, spring means normally urging said engaging member downwardly, an axially extending pipe disposed within said body and having an impertorate valve head disposed at 'the lower end thereof, an annular bell-shaped member mounted for axial movement on said pipe in sealing relation thereto and having a pair of generally concentric inclined surfaces, the innermost of said surfacesbeing disposed adjacent said valve head and the other of said surfaces, being disposedadjacent said container engaging member, second spring means normally urging said bell-shaped member away from said head so asto providean air passage therebetween, said first mentioned spring means normally urging said engaging memher into sealing engagement with the other surface of said bell-shaped member, said pipe having a port adjacent the lower end thereof in communication with said air passage, means for selectivelyraising and lowering said-housing, and said springs being soarranged that upon initial lowering of said members against the resistance of a can positioned therebeneath, a passage will beopem'ed between said head and bell-shaped member prior to separation of said engaging member and bell-shaped memher.
6. Apparatus as set forth in claim 5 including a conduit extending axially within said pipe and in communication with said port, a steam manifold, and means for intermittently connecting said pipe to said manifold.
7. Apparatus as set forth in claim 6 in which said body is secured to said housing with a quick-release bayonet attachment.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,170,672 Rice et al. Feb. 8, 1916 1,438,483 Garrett Dec. 12, 1922 FOREIGN PATENTS 1,337 Great Britain July 22, 1899