US 3513024 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
May 19, 1970 L M. CULLITQN METHOD FOR CLEANING AUTOMATIC LIQUID FILLING MACHINE VALVES Filed Jan. 19, 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet l May 19, 1970 M. CULLITON 3,513,024
METHQD FOR CLEANING AUTOMATIC LIQUID FILLING MACHINE VALVES Filed Jan. 19, 1968 3 Sheets-Sheet 23 44 lNVE/V 702 3 lam/@2266 United States Patent 3,513,024 METHOD FOR CLEANING AUTOMATIC LIQUID FILLING MACHINE VALVES Lawrence M. Culliton, Modesto, Califi, assignor to The Diversey Corporation, Chicago, Ill., a corporation of Illinois Filed Jan. 19, 1968, Ser. No. 699,188 Int. Cl. B08b 9/00 US. Cl. 134-22 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A method for in-place cleaning of valve mechanisms and related equipment used on liquid filling machines in the canning industries: i.e. canning, dairy, beverage, juices, bases, concentrates of all types and flavors etc. whether the filling be in metal, glass, plastic, paper or any other type of container. Cleaning is effected by filling the machine with a cleaning liquid, placing containers essentially of the same size as are filled by the machine in filling position, filling the containers with cleaning liquid by opening the valves and, while the valves are open, supplying gas under pressure into the cleaning liquid in the containers thereby causing a turbulent scrubbing action which removes soil.
This invention relates to automatic equipment used for filling containers. More particularly, this invention is concerned with the cleaning of such equipment by a method and using equipment, which makes it unnecessary to disassemble the apparatus for routine maintenance cleaning.
The canning industry uses a wide variety of processing equipment in canning or bottling or packaging various materials including foods. Filling apparatus which automatically permits the introduction of a regulated amount of food material into a container in which the food is to be packed is widely employed. Because of the physical nature of many materials filled into containers dilferent types of machines are often employed. However, a significant part of canning operations requires the introduction of a rather free-flowing liquid, such as a juice, syrup or brine into the container.
Many liquid filling devices use a tank for holding a rather large volume of liquid material to be filled into the containers. The bottom of the tank is generally provided with a plurality of individual valve mechanisms located around the bottom peripheral area of the tank. The containers to be filled are moved by means of a gear mechanism and are indexed in relation thereto by suitable mechanical devices. As the containers move forward and are positioned beneath the valves a lifting mechanism causes the containers to rise and force open the valve mechanism by pressure exerted by the open topped edge of the container against a container sealing plate which spans the open end of the container. When the container contacts the sealing plate, a movable part of the valve is raised and opens the valve. Liquid flows from the filling tank through the valve and into the container by gravity feed. As the container fills, the air therefrom is vented through a vent tube. Filling continues until the liquid reaches a predetermined level in the container. By properly synchronizing the filling operation with movement of the container along the conveyor rack or path, filling is terminated when the liquid level in the container is near the upper part of the container at which point the valve is closed by lowering of the lift mechanism of the container, and which lift mechanism is controlled by a roller cam guide.
The canning of foods using liquid filling machines and Patented May 19, 1970 apparatus of the general type described necessitates periodic cleaning of the tank, the valve mechanism and related structural elements in order to avoid or eliminate the growth of bacteria, mold, yeast and fungi which could cause spoilage of the food and also possibly lead to spoilage of the resulting canned product. Good maintenance of such. machinery for canning operations usually necessitates that it be cleaned fully at least once a day. This generally requires a considerable shutdown period. The machinery, though not unduly complicated, has a large number of parts and to disassemble, then clean, and then reassemble the equipment is first laborious and subsequently time consuming. The large number of pieces involved also introduces the possibility of parts becoming lost, misplaced or damaged and further time lost until a substitute part can be located and put into use.
Probably the most difiicult part to clean in a liquid filling machine is the interior of the filling valve mechanism. The cleanliness of the valve mechanism, however is of paramount importance because the liquid being fed into the container passes through the interior of the valve and if unclean, a source of contamination will result.
The present invention provides improved methods of cleaning liquid filling apparatus, and particularly the valve mechanism associated therewith, without disassembling the apparatus into its components. The cleaning method of this invention provides excellent in-place cleaning of valve mechanisms associated with liquid filling apparatus and gives excellent cleaning capacity to interior parts and surfaces of the valve mechanisms. Furthermore, the cleaning method provided herewith cleans exterior surfaces and parts of the valve mechanism. The invention also provides novel devices useful in such cleaning methods.
The method of the invention broadly comprises the inplace washing of a valve mechanism on apparatus used for filling containers with a liquid, the apparatus having a filling tank and means to supply a liquid from the tank to the valve mechanism. The method comprises supplying a cleaning liquid to the tank, placing a container in liquid communication with the valve mechanism in open position thereby causing cleaning liquid to enter the container and to be retained therein and in the valve mechanism, supplying a gas under pressure into the cleaning liquid in the container and valve mechanism thereby inducing a scrubbing action to dislodge soil therefrom, venting the gas from the valve mechanism to the atmosphere, removing the container and draining the cleaning liquid from the tank and valve mechanism, and rinsing the tank and valve mechanism with a rinsing liquid thereby completing the cleaning operation. Of course, if various sanitizers or other treating liquids are to be employed, they may be used as is convenient in the overall-cleaning operation.
The invention will now be described further in conjunction with the attached drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a side elevational View of a representative liquid filling apparatus employed in canning operations;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged elevational view, partially in section, of a valve filling mechanism such as is used in the liquid filling apparatus of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a partial vertical sectional view taken along the line 3-3 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 4 is a plan view taken along the line 44 of FIG. 2.
So far as is practical, the various elements in the difierent views of the drawings will be identified by the same number.
With reference to FIG. 1, the liquid filling apparatus has a base member 10 supported by legs 11 and a rack or conveyor 12 which delivers empty containers having open tops to the liquid filling apparatus. One end of conveyor 12 is supported by pedestal 13 and the other end by suitable means associated with the liquid filling apparatus. The liquid filling apparatus has tank 14 for receiving the liquid to be dispensed into containers 16. A plurality of identical valve mechanisms 15 are positioned around the bottom periphery of tank 14. As the containers 16 are moved forward they are automatically indexed to be below one of the valve mechanisms 15 so that when a valve opens it will direct liquid into an individual container to be filled. As the row of containers 16 is advanced they are progressively raised by means of cams 17. In being raised, the containers 16 are forced upwardly against sealing plates 18 associated with the valve mechanisms. The sealing plates 18 are pressed into sealingcontact with the tops of the containers and moved upwardly. In doing so, the valve is automatically opened by upward displacement of the valve seat.
The filling valve mechanisms 15 can be more readily understood by reference to FIG. 2 it being understood that this mechanism is merely typical of the various structures used commercially for this operation. Accordingly, there is no intention to restrict the invention to cleaning this particular device since the method has broader use, it being suitable for cleaning other valve mechanisms of this general nature although of not the exact structure as illustrated.
As shown in FIG. 2, tank 14 supports a valve mecha: nism 15 at its bottom. Valve mechanism supporting collar 19 is secured, such as by welding, to the bottom of tank 14. Tubular spout 21 projects through a hole in collar 19 and a similar hole 80 in the bottom of tank 14. The upper end of spout 21 ends at the inner surface of the tank bottom to permit ready flow of material from the tank through the spout interior 70. A Weld 71 holds the spout in place. The lower end of spout 21 has an external circumferential groove 72 for retaining O-ring 20.
Sealing plate 24 is so constructed as to rest on top of a container and to move up and down during the filling operation. The sealing plate 24 has an outwardly extending horizontal flange 25 and an upwardly extending tubular portion 73. The interior wall of tubular portion 73 slidably and sealingly contacts O-ring 20. Rubber pad 26 is placed on the bottom of flange member 25 to facilitate creating a seal with the top edges of open container 40 (or 16).
Coil spring 23 has its lower end resting on shoulder 22 of sealing plate 24, and its upper end pressing against collar 19. Coil spring 23 is in compression and constantly exerts a downward force against sealing plate 24 and presses valve seat 27 into contact with the sloped surface of valve head 28 when the valve is closed. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 the valve is open with valve seat 27 displaced upwardly from valve head 28.
Valve head 28 is supported by and can be an integral part of, valve stem 29. Valve stem 29 is supported in fixed position by means of a spider-like supporting bracket 30 which rests on the inside bottom surface of tank 14 and by means of removable clip 31 which engages the upper part of valve stem 29. When clip 31 is removed, valve stem 29 drops downwardly and out and thus can be removed. This permits sealing plate 24 to be removed subsequently.
Valve stem 29 is tubular, having a bore 32 located axially thereof which runs its entire length. This bore is for venting air being displaced from a container being filled with a liquid. At the upper end of valve stem 29, tubular member 33 is positioned to provide a conduit for air being vented through opening 32 to deliver it above the liquid level in tank 14.
Coil spring 34 is positioned around valve stem 29 so that its upper end presses against the bottom surface of supporting bracket 30. The lower end of spring 34 rests against flange 35 which extends laterally out from, and
around, valve stem 29. As a result of spring 34, valve stem 29 is held in place firmly and is not readily displaced upwardly since such movement is opposed by compression of spring 34.
Positioned below sealing plate 24 is container 40. Container can be of a type and size as is normally filled using a liquid filling apparatus of the described type in food canning. However, an especially made container can be used if desired.
In practicing the process of this invention, container 40 is filled with liquid cleaning solution 42 from tank 14 by opening liquid filling valve 15. Support 44 below container 40 presses container 40 upwardly, in the conventional manner, and presses the top peripheral edge 45 of the open end of container 40 into contact with the bottom of sealing plate 24. By pushing sealing plate 24 upwardly valve seat 27 is displaced from valve head 28. Cleaning solution 42 then flows by gravity through openings 43 in bracket 30 into space 46 between the valve stem 29 and tubular member 21 and from there into container 40. Cleaning liquid 42 continues to flow into container 40 until it is completely filled and then flows up vent space 32 until it reaches a level equal to the level of cleaning liquid 42 in tank 14.
For in-place cleaning of valve mechanisms on liquid filling machines used for filling containers 40 of small size, such as used for canning baby food, a gas is fed under pressure into container 40. The flow of the gas as it is displaced upwardly in container 40 induces turbulence of the cleaning liquid and a resulting scrubbing action around valve head 28, valve seat 27, in space 46 and in vent 32. The vigorous scrubbing action which results causes dislodgement of soil and produces exceedingly clean surfaces.
With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3 there is shown a container 40 filled with cleaning liquid. An opening 50 is provided in container 40 and about it is sealed in place a supporting block 52. Nipple 51 passes through an opening in block 52 and also through opening 50 in container 40. Hose 53 connected to a source of gas is joined by coupling 54 to nipple 51 by means of pin 55 associated therewith. Obviously other connecting means can be used. No further structural elements are required for cleaning valve mechanisms on filling machines used for filling small containers. It is suflicient to feed in a gas such as air to the container through nipple 51. However, in the cleaning of valve mechanisms on liquid filling machines used for filling larger containers it is advisable to direct the gas into the area Where scrubbing is most desired. Thus, one or more tubes 57 can be used to direct the gas supplied by means of nipple 51, directed through manifold 56 and from it to tubes 57, into the area adjacent valve seat 27 and valve head 28. As the gas exits from one or more tubes 57 a bubbling turbulent action results causing the desired scrubbing action. The gas is vented through vent bore 32 and also space 46 thus providing a wide area of scrubbing action.
To simultaneously clean exterior parts of the valve mechanism, container 40 can be further equipped with one or more additional means for delivering cleaning liquid to a desired area. Thus, as shown in FIG. 2 an opening 60 can be provided in a container 40 through which nipple 61 extends and is supported by block 62 joined to the container. Tube 63 is joined at one end by coupling 64 to nipple 61. Bracket 65 supports tube 63 to container 40. As cleaning fluid flows into container 40 it passes up tube 63 and out the end 66 thereof as a liquid stream which washes soil from coil spring 23 and the exterior surfaces of tubular member 21 and sealing plate 24. The hydrostatic pressure due to cleaning fluid 42 in tank 14 provides suflicient force to thoroughly wash the exterior of such parts of the valve mechanism.
Any suitable cleaning solution can be used in the method of this invention. Since the primary use is in cleaning liquid filling machines used for canning food it is generally advisable to use an aqueous detergent solution for cleaning. However, where a non-food prodnot is being packaged as for example where a petroleum liquid is being filled into cans, or some other liquid such as ethylene glycol, it may be advisable to use other cleaning liquids. The cleaning liquid used is to a large extent a matter of choice with regard to the soil to be removed and the requirements of safety both in the cleaning operation itself as well as in making sure that no contaminating materials are introduced to the subsequently packaged product by means of the cleaning operation.
The foregoing detailed description has been given for clearness of understanding only, and no unnecessary limitations should be understood therefrom, as modifications will be obvious to those skilled in the art.
What is claimed is: 1. The method of in-place washing of a valve mechanism on apparatus used for filling containers, said apparatus having a filling tank and means to supply a liquid from the tank to the valve, which comprises:
supplying a cleaning liquid to the tank; sealingly placing a container in liquid communication with the valve in open position, thereby causing cleaning liquid to enter the container and be re tained therein and in the valve mechanism;
supplying a gas under pressure into the cleaning liquid in the container and valve mechanism, thereby inducing a scrubbing action to dislodge soil therefrom, and venting the gas from the valve mechanism to the atmosphere;
removing the container and draining the cleaning liquid from the tank and valve mechanism; and rinsing the tank and valve mechanism with a rinsing liquid.
2. The method of claim 1 in which the container has an open top and is positioned in sealing contact with a sealing ring associated with the valve mechanism for opening the valve to fill the container with cleaning liquid.
3. The method of claim 1 in which the gas is fed by conduit means into cleaning liquid in the internal structure of the valve mechanism.
4. The method of claim 1 in which hydrostatic pressure forces cleaning liquid through a tube in communication at one end with the container interior and out the other end positioned adjacent the upper exterior structure of the valve mechanism to wash the same.
5. The method of in-place washing a valve mechanism on apparatus used for filling containers, said apparatus having a filling tank and at least one valve mechanism mounted to the bottom of the tank and extending therebelow in liquid communication with the interior of the tank, the valve mechanism having a substantially stationary vertical stem with a valve head at the lower end thereof, a larger tube axially surrounding the valve stem thereby providing space between the valve stem and the tube interior for liquid to flow therethrough from the tank to the valve head, a valve seat near the end of the tube cooperating with the valve head to open the valve when raised and shut the valve when lowered, and a horizontal container-top sealing plate mounted near the bottom of the tube which presses firmly in sealing engagement against an open topped container when the valve seat is raised to open the valve to fill a container with liquid Without leaking or spilling therefrom, said sealing plate and valve seat moving substantially in unison in opening and closing the valve, the method comprising: filling the tank with an aqueous cleaning solution; placing an open topped empty container of a general sized normally filled automatically by the apparatus, in filling position with the open top below the sealing plate; I causing the container to press firmly against the sealing plate and open the valve by displacing the valve seat from the valve head thereby permitting cleaning solution to fill the container and also be retained in the valve mechanism interior;
supplying air under pressure into the cleaning solution in the container and inside the valve mechanism, thereby inducing turbulent flow of the solution and a scrubbing action to dislodge soil therefrom, and venting the air from the valve mechanism to the atmosphere;
removing the container and draining the cleaning solu tion from the tank and valve mechanism; and rinsing the tank and valve mechanism with Water.
6. The method of claim 5 in which the air is directed to the vicinity of the valve head and valve seat by means of an air tube inside the container.
7. The method of claim 5 in which cleaning solution is forced from the container by hydrostatic pressure through a tube and sprayed against the exterior surfaces of the valve mechanism to wash the same.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 833,259 10/ 1906 Strasburger 1419l XR 2,356,857 8/1944 Konrad 134--23 2,888,028 5/1959 Hill 134--22 XR 3,359,062 12/1967 Palm l3430 XR 3,430,639 3/1969 Roberts l419l XR MORRIS O. WOLK, Primary Examiner J. T. ZATARGA, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R.