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Publication numberUS3533490 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 13, 1970
Filing dateOct 18, 1968
Priority dateOct 18, 1968
Publication numberUS 3533490 A, US 3533490A, US-A-3533490, US3533490 A, US3533490A
InventorsKropf Phillip M
Original AssigneeKropf Phillip M
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Milk dispensing apparatus
US 3533490 A
Images(3)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent inventor Phillip .Vl. Kropi' Crestwood Drive, Rte. 3 Box 292-A, Lowell, Michigan 49331 768,711

2.950,605 3,282,382 11/1966 Thompson..

Primary Emminer-Harvey C. Hornsby Appl. No. Filed Oct. 18, 1968 Patented Oct. 13, 1970 Ar-rorney- Darbo. Robertson and Vandenburgh ABSTRACT: A cart has a plurality of trays thereon. which trays are loaded with cartons of milk. The cart is moved into a erating mechanism in a refrigerated housi housing has a dispensing opening closed by a door. W

ng. The hen the aser has access to the cartons of milk on a hr mm m m e U D: w n 0 .mw d n m wm fi dh n 6 8 l L m T u A m R m Ms W P m A m mm M mm W D W 0-7 m eq m ml KhC New .MI-U D 3 5 ays. When the available trays are emptied the operating mechanism indexes a tray with a new supp1y of position in front of the opening. When all of the trays are emptied, the cart is removed and a cart with loaded trays is substituted therefor.

cartons into [50] Field 186/1.1.1; 62/250. 340;198/37,158;221/11.177

MILK DISPENSING APPARATUS BACKGROUNDOF'THEINVENTION I Stores handle numerous objects. such as cartons of-milk. bottles of beer, containers of cheese, packages of meat, etc. which must be kept in a refrigerated compartment in the store until withdrawn by the purchaser. Generally speaking it is a time consuming job to replenish the stock of such objects in the refrigerated container. The objects must be carted into the store in some manner and then manually moved into suitable positions in the refrigerated compartment. Often the compartment will only hold a supply for a day or less. At intervals, the supply in the refrigerated compartment must be checked and replenished as required. This means that someone must go to a back storage room, obtain the replacement objects and properly position them in the refrigerated compartment.

The principal object of the present invention is to simplify the stocking of a compartment with objects, such as above described, and at the same time substantially reducing the amount of manual labor required in maintaining an adequate stock in the compartment-available to the purchaser. The apparatus holds a substantial stock of items which are indexed into position in front of an access door available to the purchaser, as required. When the stock is exhausted a suitable signal indicatingthat condition is effected. It is then a simple job to move a new cart of objects into position in the dispensing apparatus. The objects themselves need not be handled. In the main, the dispensing apparatus is a single fixed unit while the stock of objects is maintained on a cart. The cart can be loaded at the packing plant and no further manual manipulation of the objects is required to suitably position them for selection by a customer. The only manual operation involved is in the substituting of one loaded cart for anemp tied cart.

Further objects and advantages will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the drawings.

SUMMARYOF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a simple dispensing apparatus, particularly for objects which require refrigeration, wherein the main dispensing mechanism is a fixed installation and the supply of objects to be dispensed iscarried on a cart which is moved into position in the dispensing apparatus.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES FIG. I is a rear elevation, partially broken away, of the described embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a'perspective view,.partially broken away, of one of the holders for the objects to be dispensed;

FIG. 3 is a section as viewed at line 3-3 of 'FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a section as viewed atline 4-4 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged partial section as viewed at line 5-5 of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a schematic wiring diagram for one pair of electric motors employed in the embodiment; and

FIG.-7 is a schematic wiring diagram forthe second pair of electric motors.

DESCRIPTION OF THE SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS Although the following disclosure offered for public dissemination is detailed to ensure adequacy and aid understanding, this is not intended to prejudice that purpose of a patent which is to cover each new inventive concept therein no matter how others may later disguise it by variations in form or additions or further improvements. The claims at the end hereof are intended as thechief aid toward this purpose; as it is these that-meet the requirement of pointing out the parts, improvements, or combinations in which the inventive concepts are'fou nd.

The apparatus is intended for use in a refrigerated space 10 having suitable means, not shown, for producing the desired temperatures therein. The walls. of course. are insulated as indicated on FIG. 3 in connection with the front wall 11. Wall I] has a suitable access opening I2 closed by a hinged door 13. While the invention primarily contemplates the dispensing of objects which must be refrigerated. it-could obviously be used with nonrefrigerated objects, in which case the space 10 would be at ambient temperatures.

The illustrated embodiment comprises two primary components, one being a housing generally, 15. which includes the walls defining space 10 and a frame 16 which carries the operating mechanism. The second main component of the illustrated embodiment is a carrier. generally 17. In the illustrated embodiment the carrier 17 is in the form of an angle iron can with ground engaging wheels 18. A plurality of trays or holders. generally 19. for canons 20 of milk are positioned in the carrier 17. Each of these trays has a back wall 22. a base 23, a front lip 24, and two end walls 25. Adjacent back wall 22, the two end walls 25 have openings 26 through which an electric beam, used in the subsequently described control apparatus, can shine. Support bands 27 ofa suitable low friction material, such as polymerized tetrafluoro ethylene, e.g. Teflon. encircle end walls 25.

The angle iron sides of carrier 17 retain the trays 19 therein. Adjacent the rear top of the carrier 17 are a pair of removable plates 29 which substitute for the angle flanges and permit the removal of the trays through the opening thus provided when the plates are not in place. Easily releasable fasteners, such as indicated by cap screws 30, permit plates 29 to be removed and replaced as required.

At each end, the trays 19 have cross-shaped bars 31 and 32. Bar 31 is vertical and defines a pair of vertical abutments. Bar 32 is horizontal and defines a horizontal abutment or supporting surface. For a reason subsequently to be described, the carrier 17 includes a mounting plate 33 which carries a slideable latch 34. As best seen in FIG. 5, bars 32 project farther than bars 31 and lugs 38 are positioned to clear bars 31 while still being sufficiently long to engage bars 32.

The trays l9are positioned in two vertical rows in the carrier I7. If the total number of spaces in each of the vertical rows is x" then the total number of trays mounted in the carrier is indicated by the formula "2x 2". Thus, in the illustrated embodiment there are six spaces for trays in each of the vertical rows and the total number of trays employed is ten.

Frame 16 carries a pair of endlessroller chains 36 and 37 at each end of the frame. Chains '36 have a plurality of support lugs 38. Chains 37 have a pair of pusher lugs 39. Rotatably mounted sprockets 40 and 41 define a first vertical path for chains 36, while sprockets 42 and 43 define a second vertical path. Idler sprocket 44 is positioned between sprockets 40 and 42, while idler sprocket 45 is positioned between sprockets 41 and 43. Sprockets 43 are secured to output shafts 46 of slowspeed, gear head, electric motors 47.

Chains 37 are trained for movement along lines defined by sprockets "50 57. Sprockets 56 are secured to output shafts 58 of slow-speed, gear head motors 59.

The control apparatus includes electric eyes 62-65, which are actuated by four lights 66. Eye 62 operates single-pole, double-throw switch'62a which switch is in the position shown in'FlG. 7 when no light is shining on the electric eye-62, Electric eyes63,*64, 65 operate switches 63a, 64a and -65a respectively. These'latter switches are open when light is not shining on the respective electric eye, and are closed by the presence of light on the electric eye. A wire 67 connects switch 65a and switch89a to a source of electric power, and a wire 68 connects'switches 65a and 89a to a signal light 69 and to a switch 70. Wire 71 connects switch 70 to motor 47. As seen in FIG.

The wiring for motors 59 is illustrated in FIG. 6. A wire 77 connects the source of electric power to a manually operable switch 78, and a wire 79 connects the switch to motor 59. A wire 80 connects the source ofelectric power ,to double-throw switch 83. A wire 82 connects motor 59 to a double-throw switch 81. The two contacts of each of switches 81 and 83 are connected by wires 84 and 85. Switch 81 has an actuating arm 81a positioned to be operated by vertical bar 31 of the top tray 19 in the front row of trays. See FIGS. 3 and 4. Switch 83 has an actuating arm 83a positioned to be actuated by horizontal bar 32 of a tray in the lowermost position of the front row of trays.

OPERATION Assuming that all of the trays are loaded and the carrier 17 is properly positioned in housing I5, as illustrated in the drawings, purchasers can, by opening door 13, reach into the trays to remove the cartons of milk therefrom as desired. In the illustrated embodiment the opening of door I3 provides access to any of three of the trays positioned behind opening 12. A tall person would find the upper of the trays the easiest to reach into, while a child, for example, would probably reach into the lowermost tray.

In any event, when the back row of the lowermost tray is emptied, a light from electric light 66 will actuate photoelectric cell 65 to close switch 65a. Assuming that the tray immediately above the door opening 12. [.e. the tray immediately to the left of switch 70 in FIG. 3, was filled, switch 620 would be positioned as illustrated in FIG. 7. With the door 13 closed so as to close switch 70, as illustrated in FIG. 7, the closing of switch 65a would energize motor 47 by establishing a circuit from wire 67 through switches 65a and 70 to motor connection 71. The other side of the circuit would be from wire 72, through switch 62a to motor connection 73.

The operation of motor 47 would cause the lugs 38 along the front run (between sprockets 40 and 41) to descend and the lugs 38 along the rear run (between sprockets 42 and 43) to ascend. Since the trays in the front and the trays in the rear are supported on lugs 38 (the abutment formed by the lower face of bars 32 resting on the lugs) all of the trays in the'front row would index down one station while those in the rear row will index upwardly one station. To ensure that the lowering movement stops at the correct point a cam 88 on the shaft of motor 77 actuates switch 89 (FIG. having two switches 89a and 89b therein. This occurs after the trays 19 have moved a short distance in their full indexing movement. As will be seen in FIG. 7, switch 89a is in parallel with switch 65a so that the closing of switch 89a will keep motor 47 energized despite the opening of switch 65a. Switch 89b keeps motor 47 energized in the event that the tray at the top right of FIG. 3 is empty and permits the light beam to actuate cell 62 as that tray moves into the next lower position. When the trays 19 have reached the point at which they should be stopped in their indexing movement, cam 88 opens switches 89a and 89b to deenergize motor 47 and stop the trays. The position of the trays at this stage is such that the front row of trays commences at the bottom of the carrier 17 with the top position in the front row being empty. In the rearrow the bottom position is empty while the next five spaces are filled.

The bar 32 of the tray which descended into the bottom space in the front row contacts switch actuator 83a and throws switch 83 to its other position to complete a circuit through wire 85 and switch 81 to energize motor 59. Motor 59 then moves chain 37 in the direction indicated by the arrows in FIG. 4. The lug 39 shown at the bottom left-hand corner of FIG. 4 moves around and up the back run (between sprockets 54 and 55). It then commences moving across the top run (between sprockets 55 and 56). As the lug moves across the top run it contacts vertical bar 31 of the tray which then would be in the top left-hand corner of FIG. 3. This tray is pushed forwardly towards the front wall 11 by the lug 39 until they arrive at the position shown in solid lines in the top right-hand corner of FIG. 3. Similarly, the lug 39 appearing at the top right-hand corner of FIG. 4 moves .down the front run (between sprockets 50 and 51). It then moves across the bottom run (between sprockets 51 and 52).-As the lug moves across the bottom run. it contacts the bar 31 of the tray in the lower right-hand corner of'FIGQ3 and pushes that tray to the bottom left-hand corner of FIG. 3. The tray that moved into the top right-hand corner of FIG. 3 contacts switch operator 81a to reposition switch 81. This then changes the position of switch 81 (in FIG. 6) so that it is now in contact with wire 84. Since switch 83 is in contact with wire 85. motor 59 now is deenergized by the movement of switch 81. stopping the motor and stopping the position of the chain 37 with the lugs being in the position illustrated in FIGS. 3 and-1. The next time switch 83 is actuated, it would move back to the position illustrated in FIG. 6 so that'it was in contact with wire 84, thus energizing motor 59. The subsequent actuation of switch 81 would move it back to the position illustrated in FIG. 6, thus deenergizing motor 59.

With the wiring arrangement illustrated in FIG. 7, the emptying of the tray in the third from the top in the front row will cause a closing of switch 630. Similarly, the emptying of the tray in the fourth from the top of the front row will cause a closing of switch 64a. but with no other result so long as switch 65a is open and switch 62a is in the position illustrated. The indexing movementjust described only occurs upon the emptying of the back row of the fifth from the top tray adjacent front wall 11. Also, this indexing movement will only occur if the second from the top tray in the front row is full so that switch 62a is positioned as illustrated in FIG. 7.

When the tray arriving at the second from the top in the front row is an empty one, then the electric eye 62 repositions switch 62a so that it is in contact with wire 74. So long as switches 63a and 64a are open (the light beam associated therewith is cut off by the presence of objects) no further action will occur. However, when both of the. light beams to electric eyes 63 and 64 are established (by the objects being removed from the line of the beam) switches 63a and 64a will close. With switch 65a closed, rreaning that all of the trays are now empty, a circuit is established from wire 67 through switch 65a, wire 68 to light 69, and thence back to wire 72 through switches 64a, 63a and 62a. This turns on light 69 which serves as a signal (other forms of signals could be used) to indicate to the store operator that the dispenser is empty and needs replenishing.

To replenish the rack the operator enters the space 10 in which the dispenser is positioned and manually actuates switch (FIGS. 4 and 7) to close it. This energizes motor 47 (switch 65a being closed), to commence the movement of chain 36 for the vertical indexing of the trays previously described. When the front row of trays descends to the bottom of the carrier 17 and the rear row of trays indexes up one position (so that the top left-hand corner is filled and the bottom left-hand corner is empty), switch 90 is opened by the operator to stop motor 47. Actually, the switch 90 can be opened a little early since switches 89a and 89b will control completion of the required movement.

This movement of the trays will actuate switch 83 to energize motor 59 and lugs 39 commence the previously described movement. However, as soon as the bottom lug 39 moves to a position between sprockets 53 and 54 and the top lug 39 moves to a position approximately opposite sprocket 57, the operator manually opens switch 78 (FIGS. 4 and 6). and 6). The opening of switch 78 deenergizes motor 59. This brief movement of chain 37 and lugs 39 is made so that the lugs will be moved away from any interference with vertical bars 31 as the carrier 17 is withdrawn from its position in frame 16. Also, the operator manually moves bolts 34 forwardly (to the right in FIG. 3) so that they engage under bars 32 of the fifth from the top tray in the back row. This supports the back row of trays in the position to which they have been indexed.

The operator now grasps carrier 17 and moves it out of frame 16. As best seen in FIG. 3, the wheels 18 rest in depressions 92 and 93 in track 94. The result is that as soon as the carrier 17 commences its movement out of the frame it also moves upwardly so that bars 32 are released from lugs 38. Track 94 has sides 95 so that the movement of the carrier is directly out offrame l5.

it is the intention of the present invention that the carrier 17 and its trays 19 be filled with'objects at a suitable packing plant. By way of illustration, the cartons 20 of milk would be inserted into the trays at the dairy plant and the carrier 17 transported by refrigerated truck to the place of business at which the dispensing apparatus is located. Presumably, the operator of the business at which the dispensing apparatus was located would have a spare filled carrier conveniently located in space 10 to serve as a replacement when the carrier in use had been emptied, as just described. This replacement carrier would now be wheeled into the frame 15. The track 9-1, with its guides 95, serves to properly align the replacement carrier in the frame.

As the wheels 18 move down into depressions 92 and 93. thehorizontal bars 32 would come to rest on lugs 38 so that the lugs would now be positioned to carry the trays. The trays would be in the same position as described with respect to the emptied carrier just removed. To place the machine in opera' tion all that the operator need further do would be to close switch 78. This would allow motor 59 to continue to run, moving lugs 39 so that the tray in the top left-hand space was moved into the top right-hand space, and the tray in the lower right-hand space was moved into the lower left-hand space. At

the completion of this movement, switch 81 would be automatically actuated to deenergize motor 59. The operator also should retract latches 34 (move them to the left in FIG. 3) so that they would not interfere with subsequent operation of the apparatus. Of course, all of the trays being full, the control apparatus would continue to index the trays for some period of time as they were emptied. When all of the trays were emptied, as previously described, a new carrier with a fresh supply could be substituted for the emptied carrier.

lclaim:

l. A dispensing apparatus for articles comprising in combination: a stationary housing and a transportable carrier for said articles, said housing having a dispensing opening providing access to the inside of the housing at the rear of the opening, said carrier having an operative position in said housing and being movable away from said operative position and out of said housing for loading with articles, said carrier having a plurality of article holders with each holder being formed to receive a plurality of said articles, said housing including power means affixed thereto and operatively engaging said holders when said carrier is in said operative position for moving said holders along a path passing by the inside of said opening, said power means being readily disengageable from said holders so said carrier may be moved away from said housing, and control means on said housing and connected to said power means for sequentially stopping said holders at the rear of said opening and for indexing a subsequent holder to the position at the rear of the opening when the holder already positioned there is empty of articles.

2. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said power means moves said holder along a path having a first vertical portion immediately to the rear of said opening, a second vertical portion behind said first portion and third and fourth connecting portions at the top and bottom respectively of the first portion.

3. An apparatus as set forth in claim 2, wherein said power means includes a first endless chain to move said holders along said first and second portions of said path and a second endless chain to move said holders along said third and fourth portions, said chains having lug means thereon for operatively engaging said holders.

4. An apparatus for use with a source of electric power and as set forth in claim 3, wherein said power means includes a first electric motor connected to the first chain and a second electric motor connected to the second chain, said control means includes a first switch and sensing means, said sensing means being positioned to detect when the holder at the rear of the opening is empty and to actuate said switch in response thereto. first circuit means connecting said first motor, said switch and said source to energize said first motor to index the subsequent holder along the first portion of the path to said position at the rear of the opening and to index a holder along the second portion of the path, second sensing means including a second switch means, said second sensing means being positioned to actuate said second switch means in response to an indexing movement of said first chain, and second circuit means connecting said second switch means. said source and said second motor to index said second chain in response to an actuation of said second switch means for moving a holder along the third portion of the path and for moving a holder along the fourth portion of the path.

5. An apparatus as set forth in claim 4, wherein said housing has a manually operable access door for said opening movable between a closed position and an open position. said first cir cuit means including a third switch means positioned to be actuated when said door is away from the closed position, said third switch means being effective when actuated to disconnect said first motor from said power source when said door is away from the closed position.

6. An apparatus as set forth in claim 5, wherein said carrier has spaces to receive x number of holders in each of the first and second portions of the path and the total number of holders in the carrier is Z.\- 2. each of said holders .v conformations on each end thereof providing a generally horizontal abutment and a generally vertical abutment, said lug means on the first chain being positioned to be below and bear against said generally horizontal abutments, said lug means on the second chain being positioned to bear against the generally vertical abutments of the holders at the top and bottom of the first and second portions.

7. An apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein said carrier has wheels on the bottom thereof to support the carrier and to render it readily movable, said housing has means including tracks to receive said wheels and to align the carrier in the housing and to render the carrier readily separable from the housing.

8. An apparatus as set forth in claim 7, wherein with an approximately horizontal movement of the carrier to remove it from or insert it into the housing the last mentioned means moves the carrier in a generally vertical direction as the carrier moves away from, and moves into, the operational position in the housing.

9. An apparatus as set fourth in claim 8, including a plurality of carriers as previously described, said carriers being interchangeable and usable one at a time in said housing whereby when all the articles have been removed from a carrier, the empty carrier may be removed from the housing and a second carrier filled with articles substituted therefor in the housing. 10. An apparatus for use with articles such as containers of milk and as set forth in claim 9, said housing including a refrigerated space which space includes at least that occupied by the carrier in the housing.

11. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, including a plurality of carriers as previously described, said carriers being interchangeable and usable one at a time in said housing whereby when all the articles have been removed from a carrier, the empty carrier may be removed from the housing and a second carrier filled with articles substituted therefor in the housing.

12. An apparatus for use with articles such as containers of milk and as set forth in claim 11, said housing including a refrigerated space which space includes at least that occupied by the carrier in the housing.

13. An apparatus as set forth in claim 12, wherein said power means moves said holder along a path having a first vertical portion immediately to the rear of said opening, a second vertical portion behind said first portion and third and fourth connecting portions at the top and bottom respectively of the first portion. wherein said power means includes a first endless chain to move said holders along said first and second portions of said path and a second endless chain to move said holders along said third and fourth portions, said chains having lug I means thereon for operatively engaging said holders.

14. An apparatus for use with a source ofelectric power and as set forth in claim 13, wherein said power means includes a first electric motor connected to the one chain and a second electric motor connected to the other chain, said control means includes a'first switch and sensing means, said sensing means being positioned to detect when the holder at the rear of the opening is empty and to actuate said switch in response thereto, first circuit means connecting said first motor, said switch and said first motor to energize said first motor to index the subsequent holder along a portion of the path to said position at the rear of the opening and to index a holder along said second switch for moving the holders along other portions of the path.

15. An apparatus as set forth in claim 14, wherein said carrier has spaces to receive x number of holders in each of the first and second portions ofthe path and the total number of holders in the carrier is Zr-2, each of said holders having conformations on each end thereof providing a generally horizontal abutment and a generally vertical abutment, said lug means on the first chain being positioned to be below and bear against said generally horizontal abutments, said lug means on the second chain being positioned to bear against the generally vertical abutments of the holders at the top and bottom of the first and second portions.

16. An apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said path has two generally vertical runs, one run being immediately to the rear of said opening and the other run being to the rear of said one run. and a third run connecting the first two at the bottom and a fourth run connecting the first two at the top, said carrier having spaces to receive x number of holders in said path. the total number of holders in said carrier being 1r Z.

UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent 3, 533,490 Dated October 13, 1970 I Philip M. Kropf It is certified that error appears in the aboveidentified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below:

Inventor's first name "Phillip" should read -Philip.

Column 4, line 64, "and 6).", second occurrence, should be deleted. Column 6, line 28, "x" should read --having-.

w 'EZLED m s 1 EdwardMFletchm-Jr- Amazing Officer will wnm. a.

Ilium or Pate-t.

FORM PO-IOSO (II-69) USCOMM'DC COSTO-PID Q 0.. GOVIINIINT 'IIIYIIIG .I'ltl IOOI 0-lIl-."l

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US5564890 *Dec 21, 1994Oct 15, 1996Progressive Solutions, Inc.Product handling process
US5669748 *Jul 22, 1996Sep 23, 1997Progressive Solutions, Inc.Product handling process and system
Classifications
U.S. Classification186/54, 198/797, 221/77, 221/11
International ClassificationA47F3/00, A47F10/02, A47F10/00, A47F3/08, A47F3/04
Cooperative ClassificationA47F10/02, A47F3/08, A47F3/0486
European ClassificationA47F3/08, A47F10/02, A47F3/04D1