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Publication numberUS3405500 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 15, 1968
Filing dateOct 24, 1966
Priority dateOct 24, 1966
Publication numberUS 3405500 A, US 3405500A, US-A-3405500, US3405500 A, US3405500A
InventorsRupert Samuel J
Original AssigneeHoover Ball & Bearing Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and apparatus for filling liquids into bottles and for capping the same
US 3405500 A
Abstract  available in
Images(6)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Oct. 15, 1968 S J RUPERT 3,405,500

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING LIQUIDS INTO BOTTLES AND FOR CAPPING THE SAME Filed Oct. 24, 1966 6 Sheets-Sheet l SAMUEL J. RUPERT WMM 4 ATTORNEYS Oct. 15, 1968 5. J. RUPERT 3,405,500 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING LIQUIDS lNTO THE SAME BOTTLES AND FOR CAPPING 6 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Oct. 24, 1966 TIG. 5

INVENTOR SAMUEL J. RUPERT ATTORNEYS Oct. 15, 1968 5.1. RUPERT 3,405,500

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING LIQUIDS INTO BOTTLES AND FOR CAPPING THE SAME Filed Doc. 24, 1966 6 Sheets-Sheet 3 INVENTOR SAMUEL u. RUPERT BYflan) MWNEYS Oct. 15, 1968 5. J. RUPERT 0 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING LIQUIDS INTO BOTTLES AND FOR CAPPING THE SAME Filed Oct. 24, 1966 6 Sheets$heet 4 is?! l A? h --J I: I 5 g I v F 2 70 7a a I 76 0 i 0\; I M r \L\ I I 52 I 0 A 'W g INVENTOR 3176.7 SAMUEL J. RUPERT BWMMWRNEYS Oct. 15, 1968 s. J. RUPERT 3,405,500 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING LIQUIDS lNTO BOTTLES AND FOR CAPPING THE SAME Filed Oct. 24, 1966 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 INVENTOR SAMUEL Y J. RUPERT ATTORNEYS Oct. 15, 1968 s. J. RUPERT 3,405,500

METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING LIQUIDS lNTO BOTTLES AND FOR CAPPING THE SAME Filed QC'L. 24, 1966 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 INVENTOR SAMUEL J. RUPERT BY $1 6.13 ATTORNEYS United States PatentO 3,405,500 METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR FILLING LIQ- UIDS INTO BOTTLES AND FOR CAPPING THE SAME Samuel J. Rupert, Ann Arbor, Mich., assignor to Hoover Ball and Bearing Company, Saline, Mich., a corporation of Michigan Filed Oct. 24, 1966, Ser. No. 588,965 13 Claims. (Cl. 53-37) The present invention relates to apparatus for and a method of filling and capping bottles, and particularly to such an apparatus and a method for filling milk into plastic bottles and for capping such bottles.

With the advent of lightweight blown plastic bottles, there has been an increased demand for use of such bottles in the milk industry, but such use has created problems in connection with filling and capping operations. It has been known in the past to provide apparatus for filling and capping liquids in glass or rigid bottles where the liquids are of a kind which lack the tendency to foam during the filling operation and where the bottle need not be completely filled in order to meet customer demands. Examples of operations of this type are the conventional soft drink bottling and capping operations and the like.

Conventional filling and capping apparatus of this general character has proved to be inadequate to meet customer demands in the milk bottling industry. From the cost standpoint it is Particularly desirable to use lightweight bottles which are more flex-ible and yielding than the glass bottles heretofore used. However, the use of flexible bottles creates handling problems durin filling operations, because filled but uncapped bottles will discharge portions of the milk if the flexible sides are squeezed or engaged with any appreciable force. If such contact or engagement occurs after the bottles have been filled but before they have been capped, spilling of the milk will occur and thereafter the capped bottles will be only partly filled, and in this condition the milk bottles are not marketable items. Also, another problem that arises is that milk has a tendency to foam when being filled into bottles, and this condition creates problems because as indicated, the bottles must be full when capped, and therefore, the milk which has been introduced into the bottles must be free from foam when at the capping station.

Still another problem that must be met is that of utilizing a minimum of floor space for the apparatus and of handling the filling and capping operations in a minimum of time to create a favorable competitive position with respect to similar operations in which glass bottles or paper cartons are employed.

With the foregoing in mind, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved method of filling and capping bottles so that such bottles can be filled completely and capped Without spilling any of the contents and in a manner to avoid foaming of the liquid filled into the bottles to assure that the contents will completely fill the bottles.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a method of the foregoing character which can be carried out in a manner to assure that the contents of the bottles will be free from contamination.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a method of the foregoing character which can be carried out automatically and at a relatively rapid rate, thereby reducing labor and other costs of filling and capping.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a method of the foregoing character which is readily adapted to be part of a larger automated system wherein bottles can be blown adjacent to the filling and capping Patented Oct. 15, 1968 stations, and after the filling and capping steps are performed the bottles can then be moved directly to automated packing stations. I

It is still another object of the present invention to provide apparatus for carrying out the foregoing methods of operation, and to provide such apparatus which'occupies a minimum of floor space.

Other objects of this invention will appear in the following description and appended claims, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part of this specification wherein like reference characters designate corresponding parts in the several views.

In the drawings:

FIGURES 1, 2, 3 and 4 are schematic illustrations of a series of steps for carrying out the method of themesent invention; 7

FIGURE 5 is a front elevational view of bottle filling and capping apparatus embodying one form of the pres ent invention;

FIGURE 6 is an end elevational view of the apparatus shown in FIGURE 5;

FIGURE 7 is an enlarged fragmentary section taken on the line 7-7 of FIGURE 6;

FIGURE 8 is a fragmentary section taken on the line 8-8 of FIGURE 7;

FIGURE 9 is an enlarged fragmentary section of one form of liquid pump apparatus that can be used in coni ection with the apparatus embodying the present invenion;

FIGURE 10 is an enlarged section taken on the line 10-10 of FIGURE 9;

FIGURE 11 is an enlarged fragmentary section illustrating details of the filling and the capping mechanisms forming parts of the present invention;

FIGURE 12 is an enlarged fragmentary bottom plan view of details of the capping mechanism taken in the direction of the lines 1212 in FIGURE 11;

FIGURE 13 is a schematic illustration of the hydraulic system that is employed in the illustrated embodiment of the present invention; and

FIGURE 14 is a schematic wiring diagram illustrating one form of the electrical circuits that may be employed in the illustrated embodiment of the invention.

Before explaining the present invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and arrangement of parts illustrated in the accompanying drawings, since the invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology or terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation.

Referring now to the drawings, the invention will be described in greater detail. Attention is directed first to FIGURES 1-4, inclusive, in connection with which the method comprising the present invention will be described. These figures of the drawings represent somewhat schematically the essential elements of the machine which will be described in connection with FIGURES 5-14. The bottle filling and capping machine 10 has a carrier 12 overlying an empty-bottle receiving station 14, a filledbottle capping station 16 and a capped-bottle discharge station 18. The receiving station 14 comprises one end of a continuous conveyor which is adapted to bring in alignment a plurality of bottles 20 from "a source of supply, such as a blow molding machine (not shown). The capping station 16 comprises a stationary platform, and the discharge station 18 comprises the end of a second conveyor which is adapted to carry the filled and capped bottles to an assembly or packaging station.

The carrier 12 is adapted to be moved from an upper position shown in FIGURES 1 and 4 to a lower position shown in FIGURES 2 and 3. The carrier 12 also supports a shuttle frame 20 which is laterally movable between the first position shown-in FIGURES 1 and 2 and the second position shown in FIGURES 3 and 4. The shuttle frame 20 has mounted on it for movement with it the fill or dive tube 22 and the capping head 24. The dive tube 22 is supported on the shuttle frame 20 in such a manner so that when the carrier 12 is in its lower position shown in FIGURES 2 and 3, and the shuttle frame is in its first position shown in FIGURES 1 and 2, the dive tube will extend into a bottle 20 located at the receiving station 14 with the discharge or lower end of the dive tube 22 adjacent to the bottom of the bottle.

The capping head 24 is mounted on the shuttle frame 20 in such a manner that when the carrier 12 is in the lower position and the shuttle frame is in the first position shown in FIGURE 2, the capping head 24 will be in position to press a cap onto the top of the filled bottle 25.

Also forming a part of the shuttle frame 20 is the bottle enclosure member 26 which encloses the bottle 20 as shown in FIGURE 2 for moving the bottle 20 laterally to the position of the bottle 25 when the shuttle frame 20 is moved to the second position shown in FIGURE 3. The enclosure member 26 also is adapted to engage the one side of the filled bottle 25 so that when the latter is capped it can be pushed laterally onto the discharge station to the position occupied by bottle 28 in FIGURE 1. It will be understood that the conveyor 18 will move the previously filled and capped bottle 28 out of the path of lateral movement of the bottle 25 prior to the time when this lateral movement occurs.

Supported on the vertical column 30 on which the carrier 12 is adapted to move between its upper and lower positions, is a capper anchor 32 which holds in a stationary position the cap storage tube 34. Also supported on the capper anchor 32 is a cap shuttle mechanism 36 which has a cap shuttle plate 38 adapted to be moved between the two positions shown respectively in FIGURES 1 and 4. This movement of plate 38 is accomplished by actuation of the bell crank lever 40 which is pivotally mounted on the capper anchor 32. It will be noted from examining FIGURES 3 and 4 that the bell crank lever 34 can be pivoted by engagement of the one end 42 by the shuttle frame 20 during upward movement of the carrier 12 from the position shown in FIGURE 3 to the position shown in FIGURE 4. When such movement of the shuttle plate 38 occurs, one cap will be removed from the bottom of the cap storage tube 34 and will be translated laterally over to the capping head 24 where it will be retained by a retaining mechanism 44 which will subsequently be described in greater detail.

The method of filling and capping bottles will now be described setting forth the various steps with reference to the brief description given of FIGURES 1-4. At the outset of the cycle of operation, the carrier 12 will be in its upper position and the shuttle frame will be in its first position illustrated in FIGURE 1. If the cycle has been in operation, a filled bottle 25 will be at the capping station 16, and a filled and capped bottle 28 will be at the discharge station 18 from which it has been or will be moved by the conveyor 18. The carrier 12 will now be lowered to the position shown in FIGURE 2 so that the fill or dive tube 22 extends to the bottom of the empty bottle 20. Simultaneously the capping head 24 will press a cap on the filled bottle 25 as a result of this movement of carrier 12. As soon as the carrier reaches the lowermost position, the liquid or milk will be introduced through the tube 22 at a slow rate into the bottle 20 until the end of the tube is immersed in the liquid. Thereafter, the filling will be carried on at an accelerated rate to use as little time as is essential to fill the bottle 20. Simultaneously with the carrier reaching its lower position and the filling of the bottle 20 being started, the shuttle frame 20 will be translated laterally from the position shown in FIGURE 2 to the position shown in FIGURE 3. This will have the effect of moving the capped bottle 25 onto the discharge station or conveyor 18 and the bottle being filled on the capping station 16.

In the preferred method of operation, the carrier 12 will remain in its lower position only long enough to allow the fill tube 22 to be immersed in the liquid and thereafter, the carrier 12 will be raised toward its upper position at a rate which will permit the tube 22 to remain immersed in the liquid during the filling operation. Thus, the rate of filling the bottle will govern the rate of raising carrier 12. By virtue of this arrangement, as soon as the bottle is completely filled, the end of the tube 22 will have been withdrawn from the bottle. Also, by virtue of the fact that the discharge end of the tube remains constantly immersed in the liquid being filled into the bottle, foaming will be prevented so that there will be no foam on the top surface of the liquid nor will there have been any spilling to result in a partially filled bottle remaining.

The carrier 12 will continue its upward movement until it has returned to its upper position, and in view of the fact that the shuttle frame 20 is in its second position shown in FIGURE 4, this movement will have the effect of actuating the bell crank lever 40 so as to slide a cap for use in the next cycle of operation to the capping head 24 for retention by the retaining mechanism 44. Movement of the carrier 12 to its upper position will then leave it in position to be returned to the position of FIGURE 1, and this occurs as soon as another bottle 20 has been moved into position at the receiving station 14. The cycle is then repeated again with the first bottle to be filled now being located at the capping station 16 filled with liquid and ready to be capped when the second bottle goes through the filling cycle.

Thus, it can be seen that the filling and capping method disclosed permits the empty bottle to be filled with liquid, and the filling of the bottle occurs during the time that the bottle is being transferred from the receiving station to the capping station. The transfer is completed prior to the time the filling is completed, thereby avoiding spilling of the liquid while the bottle is in transit. It will be understood that this favorable result is achieved because the bottle is only partially filled when it is moved onto the capping station and the filling is completed while the bottle is held in a stationary position. The capping operation then occurs on the next cycle as an incident to initiating the filling of the next bottle. It is also to be observed that the filling is initially done at a slow rate so as to create substantially no foam on the surface of the liquid, and this slow rate is continued until the lower end of the tube is immersed in the liquid. As soon as this condition has occurred, a rapid rate of fill can take place, and since the liquid will be discharged toward the bottom of the bottle into the fluid already in the bottle, foaming will be prevented.

In describing the method of filling and capping a bottle, the invention has been described in connection with bottles moving singly through the filling and capping stations. It is to be understood that a series of bottles in groups of preselected numbers can be sequentially filled and capped in the manner described above, and in normal operation the filling and capping will be carried on in connection with a series of groups of bottles rather than with bottles passed singly through the stations.

Referring now to the remaining figures of the drawings, the apparatus comprising the present invention will be described in greater detail. As previously described, the upper carrier 12 is adapted to be moved between an upper position and a lower position on the column 30. Also, the shuttle frame 20 is adapted to be moved between first and second positions on the upper carrier 12. The arrangements by which these components are moved will be considered first. As can be seen in FIGURE 5, vertical columns are disposed on opposite ends of the machine, and the details of only one column and the assembly of parts for moving the carrier 12 and the shuttle frame 20 will be described. As best shown in FIGURES 7 and 8, the column 30 is secured at its lower end to a base member 46 by means of a jam nut 48, and the upper end of the column 30 is secured to the capperanchor 32 by means of the acorn nut 50. A lower carrier 52 is journaled on the column 30 for movement to upper and lower positions corresponding to upper and lower poistions of the upper carrier 12. This movement is achieved by means of the hydraulic mechanism 54 which serves to actuate the piston and cylinder assembly 56. The assembly 56'has its upper end secured to the stationary cover 58. The latter is secured rigidly to the base member 46 by means, not shown. Vertical movement of the lower carrier 52 is transmitted to the upper carrier 12 by means of the carrier tube 60' which is adapted to slide axially on the column 30. The carrier tube 60 is locked to the upper and lower carriers by suitable lock washer means which will not be described in detail, since they are of conventional construction. Thus, when the piston and cylinder assembly 56 is extended from the position shown in FIGURE 7, the lower carrier52 will be moved to its lower position thereby moving the carrier tube 60 a corresponding distance downwardly, and this will have the effect of moving the upper carrier 12 to its lower position. Contracting the piston and cylinder assembly 56 to its position shown in FIGURE 7 will again have the effect of raising the lower carrier 52 and the upper carrier 12 to their upper positions.

The hydraulic mechanism 54 also functions to move the shuttle frame 20 to its first and second positions. This is accomplished by means of the shaft assembly or extension 62 which is adapted to be rotated a limited distance by the hydraulic mechanism 54. The shaft assembly 62 is journaled in the lower carrier 52, and carries at its outer end a miter gear 64 which is in mesh with a second miter gear 66 which is keyed to the carrier tube 60 for rotating the latter upon rotation of the shaft assembly 62. Keyed to the upper end of the carrier tube 60 for rotation therewith is a pinion gear 68 which is in mesh with a rack 70 which is an integral part of the shuttle frame 20. Thus, rotation of the shaft 62 in one direction will have the effect of moving the shuttle frame 20 to one of its positions, and rotation of the shaft assembly 62 in the opposite direction will have the effect of moving the shuttle frame 20 to its other position. A conventional vane-type actuator can be employed for carrying out the funcions of the hydraulic mechanism 54. One such actuator which is well known is manufactured by Excello Corporation under the trade name ROTAC.

When using a hydraulic mechanism of this type a stop block 71 can be used in conjunction with the arm 72 for limiting the extent of travel of the shaft assembly 62 in either direction of rotation. For the purposes of supporting the shuttle frame 20 on the carrier 12, a guide bar 74 is supported on the upper carrier 12 and the shuttle frame 20 is journaled by suitable bushings 76 for travel on the guide bar 74. In order to avoid having rotating parts in a position whereby they may endanger workers, the carrier tube 60 is enclosed in a stationary support tube 78 and a cover tube 80 which is telescoped over the upper end of-the support tube 78 to permit movement of the upper carrier 12 between its upper and lower positions.

As previously described, three stations are provided in the machine for receiving empty bottles. for filling and capping the bottles and for discharging the bottles. The receiving station 14 comprises the one end of the conveyor 82 which is adapted to be driven by the electric motor 84. This conveyor can extend in either direction relative to the machine 10, and in one of the preferred arrangements for operating the machine,.the conveyor will extend to a blow molding machine so that plastic bottles can be formed by such machine, placed on the conveyor 82 and delivered directly to the machine 10 for filling and capping purposes. The discharge station 18 comprises a second endless conveyor 86 which also may be arranged to lead in either direction from the machine 10, and this conveyor in a preferred arrangement will be directed to an auto mated machine which will place the filled and capped bottles directly into cartons for shipping purposes. .The conveyor 86 is driven by the electric motor 88. The capping station 16 is a stationary platform which is disposed midway between the two parallel arranged conveyors 82 and 86. x

Also actuated by a hydraulic mechanism 89 are a plurality of self-contained proportioning pumps 90 which are designed for dispensing pre-set volumes of liquids with a high degree of accuracy; Since all of the pumps are constructed the same, only one of the units will be described. The pump unit 90 comprises a cylinder 92 and a piston 94 adapted to receipr ocate therein through action of the piston rod 96. The upper end of the cylinder 92 has a common inlet and discharge port 98 for receiving and discharging liquid when the piston 94 'reciprocates. The port 98 is in communication with the inlet pipe 100 and the outlet pipe 102, and check valves (not shown) are provided at each of these inlet and outlet pipes to control the flow of liquid so that on the suction stroke of the piston 94 liquid will be drawn into the cylinder 92 from the source of liquid connected to the hose to tube 104, and on the discharge stroke of the piston 94, the fluid which has been in the cylinder 92 will be discharged through the check valve in the pipe 102 to the hose or tube 106 which is in communication with the fill or dive tube 92. The pump unit 90 is pivotally supported on the bracket 108 which is rigidly secured to the base of the machine 10.

The piston rod 96 is reciprocated in response to pivotal movement of the arm 110 about the axis of the shaft 112 to which arm 110 is keyed. Shaft 112 is journaled in the base structure of the machine 10. The shaft 112 is caused to pivot about its axis by the arm 114 which is also keyed to shaft 112 and which is connected by link 116 to the arm 118 on the shaft 120 of the hydraulic mechanism 89. By virtue of this arrangement, reciprocating movement of the arm 118 will have the effect of reciprocating piston rod 96 for the purpose of carrying out the pumping action for pumping pre-set volumes of milk to the empty bottles at the receiving and capping stations of the machine.

As previously indicated, it is essential that the filling operation be precise and accurate so that each empty bottle will be filled to the top but so that there will be no spilling or overflow during the filling operation. For this purpose fine adjustments in the filling operation can be effected by the joint provided between the arm 110 and the piston rod 96. As best seen in FIGURE 10, the effective stroke of the piston rod 96 can be selectively varied by rotating cam pin 122 with respect to the end of the piston rod 96 and the eccentric shown will permit axial displacement of rod 96 a distance corresponding to twice the extent of eccentricity between the axis 124 and the axis 126. For a more detailed description of the precision pump illustrated and described herein, reference is made to US. Letters Patent No. 2,907,614.

Reference is next made to FIGURES l1 and 12 for a description of the capping head 24 and the cap shuttle mechanism 36. As there shown, the bell crank lever 40 is pivotally mounted on the capper anchor 32 and spring means 128 are provided for urging bell crank lever 40 to its normal position. Carried on the capper anchor 32 for lateral sliding movement is the shuttle plate 38 which has an aperture 130 therein into which the one end of the bell crank lever 40 extends. The shuttle plate 38 fits under the end of the bottle cap storage tube 34 and has a recess 132 in its one end for receiving singly caps which fall by gravity from the tube 34 and to move such caps laterally to the position shown in FIGURE 11 beneath the capping head 24. The latter is supported on one end of the shuttle frame 20, and adjacent thereto is the cap 7 retaining mechanism 44 which can best be seen in FIG- URE 12. i

The cap retaining mechanism 44 has a pair of fingers 134 and 136 which are urged together by means of the compression spring 138. When the shuttle frame 38 is urged to the right, as seen in FIGURE 11, with a cap in the recess 132, such cap will be pressed between the free ends of the fingers 134 and 136 in a position immediately below the plug 140 of the capping head 24. By virtue of this arrangement the retaining mechanism 44 will hold the cap in place so that when the shuttle frame 20 is moved downwardly to the lower position of the carrier 12, the cap being retained by the fingers 134 and 136 can be pressed onto the top of a filled milk bottle which will be positioned immediately below the capping head 24.

Referring now to FIGURE 11, it will be apparent that the bell crank lever 40 is actuated to move the shuttle plate 38 to the position shown by the action of the memher 142 which is secured to the shuttle frame 20 and is adapted to engage the end of the short arm of the bell crank lever 40 during the upward movement of the upper carrier 12.

Forming an integral part of the shuttle frame 20 is the bottle enclosing member 26 which is adapted to enclose a bottle when the dive or fill tube 22 is inserted into the open end of the empty bottle. The plate 14 will also function to remove bottles from the capping station 16 to the discharge station 18. Since these bottles have been capped there is no danger of spilling when moving the bottles in this manner.

The fill or dive tube 22 can best be seen in FIGURE 11 where it is shown attached to the end of the hose 106. The fill or dive tube 22 has a valve 146 at its lower end and a rod 148 extends to the upper end of the tube 22 where a spring 150 is operably disposed between the end of the rod 148 and th end of the outer casing of the tube 22. The spring 150 will have spring characteristics so that it will move the valve 146 to a closed position when no pressure is being exerted on the valve 146 by the pump unit 90. Thus, the spring 150 will be able to move the valve to a closed position against the Weight of the milk that may be in the tube 22 and the hose 106, thereby preventing dripping from the end of the fill tube 22.

Shown in FIGURE 13 are the main hydraulic components for actuating the upper carrier 12, the shuttle frame 20 and the pump 90. The carrier 12 and shuttle frame 20 are actuated by the hydraulic vane actuator 54 through operation of the electric solenoid 152 which functions to move valve element 154 in the hydraulic circuit to the normal position shown in FIGURE 14 wherein the shuttle frame 20 is in its first position, or to move element 154 to a second position wherein the pressure in the hydraulic circuits to vane actuator 54 are reversed, thereby causing shuttle frame 20 to move to its second position.

The carrier 12 is moved to either its upper or its lower position by action of the piston and cylinder assembly 56 whose operation is controlled by the solenoid 156. In the normal position shown in FIGURE 13, the piston 158 will be held in its upper position thereby maintaining the carrier 12 in its upper position. When solenoid 156 is energized, the valve 160 will be moved to reverse the flow of hydraulic fluid to the assembly 56, thereby moving piston 158 to its lower position and simultaneously moving the carrier 12 to its lower position.

The pump 90 is reciprocated in response to action of the hydraulic mechanism whose operation for slow rate of filling of the milk bottles is controlled by the solenoid 162 and whose operation for fast rate of fill is controlled by solenoid 164.

The valve 166 is controlled by solenoid 162 and when valve 166 is in one operative position, hydraulic fluid will be supplied to mechanism 89 to move the piston 94 of the milk pump 90 to carry out its suction stroke and when valve 166 is moved to its other operative position, hydraulic fluid will be supplied to mechanism 89 in a reverse direction, thereby reversing the direction of movement of piston 94 so as to pump a preset volume of milk to an empty milk bottle. The rate at which the pumping of the milk to the milk bottle can occur is controlled by valve 168 which restricts the rate of flow of the hydraulic fluid.

Solenoid 164 functions to allow rapid filling of the milk bottle by providing a circuit which by-passes valve 168 when the valve 170 is in the position shown in FIGURE 13. During periods of slow rate of feed, the valve 170 will be closed thereby resulting in the rate of feed being regulated by the extent of opening of valve 168, and this extent of opening will be set so as to avoid foaming of the milk while the bottle is initially being filled and before the end of tube 22 has become immersed in the milk.

The hydraulic fluids for the system are supplied in a conventional manner by a hydraulic pump 172 pumping through a check valve 174.

Attention is next directed to FIGURE 14 for a description of the electrical circuits that are utilized in the described embodiment of the invention for automatically operating the machine. A source of electric current is shown at 176 to which the pump motor 178 and the conveyor motors 84 and 88 are connected through contacts associated with control relays MICR and M2CR. A transformer 180 is provided for supplying current at a reduced voltage to the control circuits for the machine 10. Switch 182, which is normally open, is provided for starting the pump motor 178. As is apparent, when the switch 182 is closed current will be supplied through the conductor 184 to the control relay MlCR closing the contacts to the motor 178 and when contact 186 is closed, the relay will be held in a closed position by virtue of the current passing through conductor 188. The motors 84 and 88 are started by the on-off switch 190, by which when in the on position the control relay M2CR will be energized closing its contacts to the two conveyor motors.

Assuming now that motors 178, 84 and 88 are running, the operation of the electrical control circuits will be described. The control circuits include the solenoid 156 which functions to actuate hydraulic mechanism 56 for moving the carrier 12 between its upper and lower positions; the solenoid 152 which functions to actuate the hydraulic mechanism 54 for moving the shuttle mechanism 20 between its first and second positions; the solenoid 162 which functions to supply hydraulic fluid at a low rate to hydraulic mechanism 89 for actuating pump 90; and solenoid 164 which functions to supply hydraulic fluid at a greater rate to hydraulic mechanism 89 so as to actuate pump 90 at a relatively rapid rate.

A limit switch LS-l which is associated with carrier 12 will be closed when carrier 12 is in its upper position, and a limit switch LS2 which is associated with shuttle frame 20 will be closed when the shuttle frame 20 is in its first position. Thus, LS-l and LS-2 will be closed when the carrier 12 and shuttle frame 20 are in the positions shown in FIGURE 1. The photoelectric cell 192 is responsive to the presence of the required number of empty containers on the receiving station 14, and in the illustrated embodiment eight containers or bottles must be in position before current can flow. When these various conditions are met, the cycle start switch 193 can be closed and current can flow from transformer 180 through conductors 184, 188, contacts 186, conductors 194, 196, 198, 200 and 202 to energize control relay A-CR which will close contacts 216 whereby control relay A-CR will lock itself in circuit through conductor 204.

Control relay 1-CR is now energized through LS-l, PEC 192, and LS-2 which results in solenoid 156 being energized to actuate piston and cylinder assembly 56, so as to move carrier 12 downward toward its lower position. It can be seen that this occurs as a result of solenoid 156 9.. being energized through conductors 206 and contacts'210 which will be closed. Control relay 1-CR will remain sealed in through contacts 212, conductors 214 and 202, closed contacts 216 of control relay A-CR, and conductors 204.

When the carrier 12 reaches its lower position it will actuate limit switch LS-3, closing the same which will result in control relays 2CR and 3-CR being energized, both relays sealing through control relay 1-CR. Control relay 2-CR will be sealed through contacts 220 and 230 by virtue of current flowing through conductor 214, limit switch LS-3, contacts 220, conductors 220, 222, 224, 226 and 228, contacts 230 and conductor 232. Control relay 3-CR will be sealed through contacts 220 by virtue of current flowing through conductor 214, limit switch LS3, contacts 220, conductors 222,224, 234 and 236.

,. When control relay 2-CR is energized the solenoid 152 will be energized through conductors 206, 238 and closed contacts 240, thereby initiating action of the hydraulic mechanism 154 for moving the shuttle frame 20 to its second position shown in FIGURE 3. Simultaneously with this action, when control relay 3-CR is energized, the solenoid 162 will be energized through conductors 206 and 242, and closed contacts 244, thereby initiating the slow fill of liquid by action of the hydraulic mechanism 89 on the pump 90.

Two timed intervals are initiated when limit switch LS-3 is actuated. The first to time out is time delay switch TD1 which will determine the delay time before energizing solenoid 164 and thereby the fast fill. As can be seen, control relay 4-CR is energized through conductors 234, 246 and time delay switch TD-l. The solenoid 164 is energized through conductor 206 and closed contacts 248.

The second to time out of the two timed intervals is the time delay switch TD-2, opening its contacts to con,- ductor 214, thereby deenergizing control relay 1-CR. When this occurs, control relay 1-CR drops out deenergizing solenoid 256 which has the effect of actuating the piston in assembly 56, forcing the carrier 12 to retract to its upper position shown in FIGURE 4. The rate of this movement is hydraulically controlled so that the ends of the fill or dive tubes 22 are never withdrawn from the liquid in the bottles until the fill stroke of pump 90 is completed.

When the carrier 12 reaches its upper position, the limit switch LS-l is again actuated opening its contact in conductor 250 thereby deenergizing control relays 2- CR, 3-CR and 4-CR. The solenoids 152, 162 and 164 are deenergized simultaneously and when solenoid 152 returns to normal, the hydraulic mechanism 54 will return the shuttle frame 20 to first position actuating limit switch LS-2. If the photoelectric cell 192 indicates the bottles are present at the receiving station 14, the cycle will repeat.

Other switches are shown in the circuit for manually cycling, when desired or necessary and for emergency purposes. Emergency stop switch 252 is located in conductor 184 to interrupt current flow to the machine 10. If it is desired merely to interrupt the cycle, switch 254 in conductor 204 to control relay A-CR can be opened. Switch 256 may be employed to energize control relays 3-CR and 4-CR and switch 258 may be used to energize control relay 2-CR.

From the foregoing description it will be understood that a unique method and apparatus has been provided for filling and capping milk bottles made of blown plastic material. The filling and capping is performed so that the bottles are completely filled and spilling of milk by foaming of the liquid or resulting from moving filled bottles is avoided. The machinery that requires lubrication or the like which could contaminate the milk is located below the filling and capping stations so that the operation is free from contamination problems. Furthermore, a relatively small floor space is required for carrying on filling and capping of relatively high capacity.

Having thus described my invention, I claim:

1. In a bottle filling and capping machine having an empty-bottle receiving station, a filled-bottle capping station and a capped-bottle discharge station, the improvement comprising a carrier overlying said stations and movable between an upper position and a lower position, a shuttle frame carried by said carrier for movement laterally between a first position overlying said receiving and capping stations and a second position overlying said capping and discharge stations, a dive tube connected to a source of liquid and mounted on said shuttle frame for extending into an empty bottle at said receiving station when said carrier is in its lower position, a capping head mounted on said shuttle frame for holding a cap and for pressing such cap onto a filled bottle at said capping station as an incident to said carrier being lowered to its lower position for initiating filling of a bottle at the receiving station, means responsive to a signal that an empty bottle is at said receiving station for lowering said carrier to its lower position, first means responsive to said carrier arriving at said lower position for initiating filling of said empty bottle at a slow rate, second means responsive to said carrier arriving at said lower position for effecting a rapid rate of filling of said bottle a predetermined time-delay after initiating filling of the bottle, third means responsive to said carrier arriving at said lower position for translating said shuttle frame to its second position and thereby transferring said bottle to said capping station and a capped bottle at said capping station to said discharge station, means responsive to timing out of said second means for moving said carrier upward at a rate to maintain the discharge end of said dive tube below the surface of the liquid being filled into the bottle, means for positioning another cap in said capping head as an incident to said carrier being raised toward its upper position, and means responsive to said carrier returning to its upper position to return said shuttle frame to its first position for repeating the cycle.

2. In a bottle filling and capping machine, the improvement according to claim 1, wherein there are a plurality of dive tubes and capping heads carried on said shuttle frame and arranged to fill and cap simultaneously a plurality of bottles received at said receiving station, and there are a plurality of means for positioning caps in said capping head, and said means for lowering said carrier to its lower position is responsive to a signal that a plu rality of bottles corresponding in number to the number of dive tubes is at said receiving station.

3. In a bottle filling and capping machine, the improvement according to claim 2, wherein the numbers of dive tubes, capping heads and means for positioning caps in said capping heads can be selectively varied to permit filling and capping of pluralities of bottles of different capacities.

4. In a bottle filling and capping machine, the improvement according to claim 1, wherein said first means and said second means includes a pump for dispensing a preset volume of liquid in each filling cycle.

5. In a bottle filling and capping machine, the improvement according to claim 1, wherein said means for moving said carrier upward includes means for selectively varying the rate of upward movement of said carrier.

6. In a bottle filling and capping machine, the improvement according to claim 1, wherein said shuttle frame includes a bottle enclosure member for enclosing the empty bottle at said receiving station when said carrier is in its lower position.

7. In a bottle filling and capping machine having an empty-bottle receiving station, a filled-bottle capping station and a capped-bottle discharge station, the improvement comprising a carrier overlying said stations and movable between an upper position and a lower position, a shuttle frame carried by said carrier for movement laterally between a first position overlying said receiving and capping stations and a second position overlying said capping and discharge stations, a dive tube connected to a source of liquid and mounted on said shuttle frame for extending into an empty bottle at said receiving station when said carrier is in its lower position and said shuttle frame is in its first position, means for initiating filling of said empty bottle with liquid when said tube is in said empty bottle, a capping head mounted on said shuttle frame for holding a cap and for pressing such cap onto a filled bottle at said capping station as an incident to said carrier being lowered to its lower position for initiating filling of a bottle at the receiving station, shuttle transfer means for moving said shuttle laterally during filling of said empty bottle and for laterally displacing the capped bottle to said receiving station and the bottle being filled to said capping station, means for moving said carrier to its upper position in timed relation to the filling of the bottle so that said carrier reaches its upper position after the bottle is filled, means for positioning another cap in said capping head, and means for returning said shuttle to its first position on said carrier for repeating the cycle.

8. In a bottle filling and capping machine having an empty bottle-receiving station and a filled-bottle capping station, the improvement comprising a carrier overlying said stations and movable between an upper position and a lower position, a dive tube connected at one end to a source of liquid and supported on said carrier for movement therewith and for lateral movement between a first position over said receiving station and a second position over said capping station, said tube being disposed so that when in its first position and said carrier is in its lower position the tube will extend into an empty bottle at said receiving station with the other end of the tube adjacent to the bottom of the bottle, means for initiating filling of said bottle in response to the carrier moving to said lower position, means for moving said dive tube and the bottle in which it is inserted laterally to said capping station during filling of said bottle, means raisin the carriage to its upper position for removing the tube from said bottle when filled and at a rate to maintain said other end of the tube below the surface of the liquid during the filling of the bottle, means for returning said tube to its first position with said carrier in its upper position for repeating the filling cycle, and means for capping the filled bottle at the capping station as an incident to movement of the carrier for initiating filling of the succeeding empty bottle at the capping station.

9. A method of filling and capping bottles in sequence comprising the steps of moving an empty first bottle to a receiving station, initiating filling of said bottle at said 12 receiving station and While said bottle is being filled, mov-. ing the same to a capping station where the filling is completed, moving an empty second bottle to the receiving station and repeating the filling cycle of the first bottle and as an incident to filling of the second bottle applying a cap at the capping station to the filled first bottle, and continuously repeating the filling and capping cycles with other empty bottles.

10. A method of filling and capping bottles in accordance with claim 9, including the Step of moving each capped bottle at the capping station to a discharge station as an incident to movement of each bottle from the receiving station to the capping station.

11. A method of filling and capping bottles in sequence in accordance with claim 9, wherein the step of filling of said bottle comprises inserting a fill tube into the bottle with the outlet end adjacent to the bottom of the bottle, and initially introducing at a slow rate a preset volume of liquid to immerse the end of the fill tube and thereafter completing at a more rapid rate the filling of the bottle with the preset volume of liquid.

12. A method of filling and capping in sequence a series of groups of bottles comprising the steps of moving a first group of empty bottles in alignment to a receiving station, initiating filling simultaneously the bottles at the receiving station and while such bottles are being filled moving the aligned bottles laterally to a capping station and completing the filling step, moving a second group of empty bottles in alignment to the receiving station and repeating the filling cycle of the first group of bottles and as an incident to initiating filling of the second group ap plying caps at the capping station to the first group of bottles, and continuously repeating the filling and capping cycles with other groups of empty bottles.

13. A method of filling and capping in sequence a series of groups of bottles in accordance with claim 11, including the step of moving each group of capped bottles at the capping station to a discharge station as an incident to movement of each group of bottles from the receiving station to the capping station.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,776,350 9/1930 Desobry 53283 X 3,328,937 7/1967 Newman et al. 53--282 3,342,010 9/1967 Henry 53-37 TRAVIS S. MCGEHEE, Primary Examiner.

R. L. SPRUILL, Assistant Examiner.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3483666 *Jan 3, 1967Dec 16, 1969Olinkraft IncFilling device
US3529399 *Apr 1, 1968Sep 22, 1970Corrugated Container CoApparatus for automatic filling and capping of liquid containers having semi-rigid walls
US3570555 *Nov 12, 1968Mar 16, 1971Gilson Warren EFraction collector
US3682207 *Oct 23, 1970Aug 8, 1972Brown Int CorpContainer filling apparatus
US4121630 *Oct 20, 1977Oct 24, 1978Imperial Group LimitedMethod and apparatus for handling containers
US4363204 *Aug 6, 1980Dec 14, 1982Shibuya Kogyo Co., Ltd.Apparatus for simultaneous operation of uncasing and cap removing
US4506489 *Aug 15, 1983Mar 26, 1985Liqui-Box CorporationFiller and capper for containers
US7322170 *Sep 2, 2005Jan 29, 2008Mediatech, Inc.Apparatus and method of sterile filling of containers
US20120117925 *Nov 15, 2011May 17, 2012Lapis Semiconductor Co., Ltd.Apparatus and method for packaging chip components
EP1831076A2 *Sep 2, 2005Sep 12, 2007Richard TomaleskyApparatus and method of sterile filling of containers
Classifications
U.S. Classification53/471, 141/170, 53/310, 53/283
International ClassificationB67C7/00
Cooperative ClassificationB67C3/286, B67C7/00
European ClassificationB67C7/00, B67C3/28E