|Publication number||US3610161 A|
|Publication date||Oct 5, 1971|
|Filing date||Nov 7, 1969|
|Priority date||Nov 7, 1969|
|Publication number||US 3610161 A, US 3610161A, US-A-3610161, US3610161 A, US3610161A|
|Inventors||Wishart Joseph L, Wishart Randell J|
|Original Assignee||Wishart Randell J, Wishart Joseph L|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (6), Referenced by (8), Classifications (11)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent  Inventors Randell J. Wishart;
Joseph L. Wishart, both of 303 Prospect Drive, Oak View, Calif. 93022  Appl. No. 874,770
 Filed Nov. 7,1969
 Patented Oct. 5, 1971  MAGNETIC FOOD DELIVERY AND RETURN SYSTEM 4 Claims, 6 Drawing Figs.
 U.S. Cl 104/88, 198/41  Int. Cl ..B65g 17/46, 8611) 13/08, E04h 3/04  Field of Search 104/88; 198/41; 35/7 A; 46/240 [5 6] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Re. 25,723 2/1965 Bradt 104/88 2,965,043 *1 2/1960 Klamp 164726;
2,092,927 9/ 1937 Merwitz 198/41 3,464,363 9/1967 Wishart..... 104/88 3,228,133 1/1966 Baermann 35/7 A 2,902,945 9/1959 Simon 104/88 Primary Examiner-Arthur L. La Point Assistant ExaminerD. W. Keen Attorney-Pastoriza & Kelly ABSTRACT: A system is provided for delivering food from a kitchen area to an eating area and returning dishes from the eating area back to the kitchen area. The food is delivered on a tray or in some instances a dinner dish magnetically moved from the kitchen area to a particular place at a table by a powered dolly running along guide means in the form of a track or elongated slot beneath a smooth surface supporting the tray or dish. Magnetic coupling is effected through the surface by magnets on the dolly and magnets incorporated in the tray or dish. A return track or slot structure is provided extending from the table back to the kitchen area. The guides may. include branch guides so that a plurality of different tables may be served automatically by causing the dollies to switch from the main track or guide to selected ones of the various branches in accord with a given program.
Programming of the system iseffected by a person working in the kitchen area. The return of empty dishes on the tray or certain dishes themselves without a tray is under control of the customer or waitress.
PATENTEI] um SIS?! 3610.161
, INVENTOR. 2O 34 44 42 43 RANDELL J. WISHART JOSEPH L. WISHART Fl 6. 6 I 7 a/j%w 1 K16? ATTORNEYS MAGNETIC FOOD DELIVERY AND RETURN SYSTEM This invention is an improvement over my sole invention described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,464,363 relating generally to food delivery systems and more particularly to an improved automatic food delivery and return system for delivering food from a preparation area to an eating area and returning dishes from the eating area back to the preparation area.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Normally, food is delivered or served in restaurants and other commercial establishments by waiters or waitresses. These personnel add to the overall expense of restaurant operation. In addition, restaurants must be designed to accommodate the traffic of waitresses traveling from the kitchen area to the eating area.
Some of the foregoing problems have been overcome by providing cafeteria-type service. In these systems, the customer simply waits on himself and the need for large numbers of waitresses or waiters is eliminated together with an attendant savings in operating costs. However, there is still the problem of traffic in the restaurant or other place of dining by the customers themselves in moving through a cafeteria line. Moreover, many people prefer to sit at a table rather than wait in line for their food.
In the referred to U.S. Pat. No. 33,464,363, a system is provided which overcomes the foregoing problems. However, in the delivery system described, the guide means for automatically delivering trays of food and returning used trays is exposed and thus subject to possible unsanitary conditions from any food that might spill from the trays.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION With the foregoing considerations in mind, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide an improved automatic food delivery system in which all of the above-mentioned problems are overcome.
Briefly, the present invention provides a delivery guide means extending from a kitchen area to the eating area and a return guide means extending from the eating area to the kitchen area. These guide means are completely enclosed or covered by a smooth surface. A plurality of trays and/or dishes for holding food are provided and prepared at the kitchen area. These trays or dishes include permanent magnets or equivalent magnetic material. A corresponding number of dollies for moving the trays or dishes include magnets so movement of the dollies on the guide means will constrain the trays or dishes to movement along the smooth surface above the guide means. The guide means include various junctions to branch guide means extending to various places at respective tables in the eating area. The dollies are programmed in the kitchen area by the chef or other person preparing the food to cause respective trays or dishes to be delivered to respective tables and places at the tables. The dollics themselves include control means operable by the customer to return the same to the kitchen area. Thus when a person has finished eating, the tray or dishes may be returned to the kitchen area along the return guide means by the same dollies utilized for delivering the food initially.
In the remaining description of the invention, the term tray is meant to also define a dinner plate or dish for carrying foodv BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS A better understanding of the invention will be had by now referring to one embodiment thereof as schematically illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary plan view of a food preparation area and an eating area illustrating delivery and return enclosed guide means in accord with the invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary cross section taken in the direction of the arrows 22 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a further cross section in plan of a portion of the guide means of FIG. -1;
FIG. 4 is a cross section taken in the direction of the arrows 4-4 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view taken in the direction of the arrows 55 of FIG. 4; and,
FIG. 6 is a top plan view taken in the direction of the arrows 66 of FIG. 4.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Referring first to the upper portion of FIG. I, there is designated by the letter A a food preparation area or kitchen. This area may include a typical console or counter incorporating grills, ovens, and the like all designated generally by the block 10 and a cleanup area including a dishwasher ll. 7
Spaced from the kitchen area A is an eating area designated generally by the letter B and this area may include a plurality of tables in the form of booths such as indicated at I2, 13, 14, and 15. Seats forming the booths for the table 12 are indicated at 16 and 17.
The various tables such as indicated at 12 and 13 may be positioned on either side of a wall or dividing partition 18 incorporating a food delivery guide means. OverIying the guide means within the wall and on the tables is a smooth solid top surface 19. In the drawing, this surface is broken away to expose portions of the guide means to facilitate an understanding of the invention. In the particular embodiment chosen for illustrative purposes, the guide means takes the form of an elongated structure having a central slot 20. This slot, as shown, extends from the kitchen area A to the eating area and includes delivery branch guide means such as indicated at 200 extending laterally from the partition or wall to the various tables beneath the surface 19. The branch guide means in turn include further branches such as indicated at 20b terminating at various places at the tables at which customers would sit.
Also provided is a return guide means in the fonn of a return slot 21 disposed vertically beneath the delivery guide slot 20, the slot 21 being visible in the kitchen area A and shown passing into the dishwasher 11.
The main delivery guide means in the form of the slot 20 within the wall structure beneath the surface 19 incorporates junctions 22 for enabling delivery of a tray to a branch guide means 201: at the respective tables. These branch guide means in turn incorporate junctions 23 for enabling delivery to the individual branches 20b. Turn means as indicated at 24 and 25 adjacent to the junctions 22 and similar turn means at the junction 23 are positioned to be engaged by pins on dollies preset at the kitchen to effect delivery of the dolly and thus the tray to a selected table and place at the table as will become clearer as the description proceeds.
Once the tray has been delivered by the dolly to a selected place at a table and the customer has finished eating, he, or the waitress may operate an individual control such as indicated at 26 on each table. This control operates to guide the dolly and tray back along the branch line in a reverse direction to an elevator structure associated with the table preparatory to returning to the kitchen area. 7
Each of the tables includes such an elevator structure as shown at 27 for the table 12. This structure includes an initial portion of the branch guide means 200 in the table. Lowering of this elevator structure 27 positions the dolly and associated tray for return along the return guide slot 21 beneath the delivery guide means in the partition structure.
Thus, with particular reference to the fragmentary cross section of FIG. 2, the elevator 27 is illustrated in its up position in solid lines and its down position by the dotted lines and it will be noted that access is thus provided when in the dotted line position to the return guide slot 21 by a return branch 210. A simple lever 27a, with pinion connections to a motor as at 27b may be provided to operate the elevator. V
In FIG. 2 there is also illustrated a dolly 28 in the process of delivering food on a tray or dish 29 riding along the cover surface 19.
FIG. 3 illustrates in greater detail the turn means 23 and 24 described in FIG. I.
The turn means 24 may take the form of curved rails or guides for engaging a prepositioned pin on the dolly as set by the chef or other person in the kitchen in accord with a delivery program for the tray. Thus, if a pin is positioned to engage the rail 24 in FIG. 3, the dolly is diverted to the branch line and will magnetically pull the tray in this direction. If the pin is not in such position, the dolly continues straight along the slot 20 to the next table and if another pin is properly positioned to engage the next rail such as 25 in FIG. 1, which rail is a different distance from the junction, the dolly and thus tray are diverted to that table. The turn means 23 functions similarly to guide the tray to a particular place at the table.
The dolly includes two main guide projections 30 extending from its lower end and receivable in the principal guide slot in tandem. The front guide projection 30 is shown in FIG. 2 within the delivery guide slot 20.
Referring to FIGS. 4, 5, and 6 there are shown side, bottom and top views of a typical dolly such as the dolly 28 of FIG. 2. As shown, this dolly includes a generally rectangularly shaped frame member having various controls such as a power on and off switch 31 and a forward and reverse switch structure 32. These controls may be so positioned as to be operated automatically when the tray is delivered to its final destination there being provided a suitable stop structure at the end of the guide slot which will engage the switches 31 and 32 to deenergize the dolly and automatically connect it for reverse operation when the start button is actuated. Towards this latter end, the controls are shown projecting from the front of the dolly in position to properly engage a suitable stop.
In FIG. 4, the guide projections 30 are clearly shown as extending below the level of the dolly for reception in the slot. Also illustrated is a main drive wheel 33 and stabilizing casters 34 adjacent to the comers of the tray for engaging the underside of the surface 19.
In the bottom view of FIG. 5, the foregoing elements and their arrangement with each other will be evident. Thus, the drive wheel 33 is shown connected directly to a motor 35 secured within the rectangular member. The drive wheel 33 is positioned to engage the guide surface adjacent to the guide slot. The casters 34, as shown, are disposed respectively adjacent to the corners of the rectangularly shaped member and are resiliently urged against the underside of cover 19 to properly stabilize the dolly. The various controls 31 and 32 are indicated schematically by the dashed lines as connected to the motor 35 for controlling the same. In the embodiment described, the motor is powered by suitable resilient contacts 36 and 37 carried by the dolly structure for sliding engagement with conducting strips 38 and 39 adjacent to the slot and on the undersurface of cover 19, as shown. Electrical power supplied to these strips will thus power the motor 35.
Also shown in FIGS. 4, and 6 are a series of pins 40, 41, 42, and 43 mounted for vertical movement in the front of the dolly frame. The number of these pins corresponds to the number of tables and places at the tables in the dining area. Only four are shown to simplify the description. These pins are normally held in anup position. By depressing one pin such as pin 41 as shown in FIG. 4, to cause its lower end to protrude as at 41', the dolly will be guided to the particular table corresponding to that pin. For example, if table 12 of FIG. 1 corresponds to pin 41, the lower end 41 of this pin is so positioned that it will engage the guide rail 24 and thus turn the dolly from the junction 22 on to the branch guide 20a. On the other hand, if pin 40 is the only pin depressed, the dolly would be guided to table 14 of FIG. 1, the position of the pin 40 being such as to engage the guide rail 25 of FIG. 1 which is spaced further from the junction than the guide rail 24. Similarly, the pins 42 and 43 will function to guide the dolly to the tables on the other side of the partition 18, should they be depressed.
As best shown in FIGS. 4 and 6, the dolly includes magnetic means in the form of a flat array of permanent magnets 44 in close proximity to the undersurface of the cover or supporting surface 19. Similarly, the tray 29 includes magnets 45 disposed in a pattern such that poles opposite to those on the dolly are juxtaposed the dolly magnets with the cover surface 19 therebetween. With this arrangement, the tray will be magnetically held and moved by the dolly. Should the position of the tray shift forward, backward, or laterally relative to the dolly, like poles would approach each other and thus repel in a manner to return the tray to a center position over the dolly.
OPERATION With the foregoing description of the various components making up the food delivery system in mind, its entire operation will now be described. Initially, the chef or other supervisor in the kitchen will prepare food on various trays in accordance with initial orders which may be received by one or more waitresses from patrons sitting at the various tables. With each such order there is provided an identification code designating the particular table from which the order was received. As the food is prepared in accordance with the order, it is placed on the tray and the chef or other person in the kitchen will depress the appropriate pins on the associated dolly to direct that particular dolly and tray to the desired table and place at the table at which the customer is seated. The dolly itself is properly guided by the downwardly extending guide projections 30 received within the guide slot 20.
When the tray reaches the selected table and place at the table, the motor for driving the dolly is deenergized automatically upon engagement of the on-off switch button 31 with a suitable projection at the terminus of the branch guide slot. Also, and as mentioned heretofore, the reversing switch button structure 32 is engaged to place the motor in condition for driving the dolly and thus tray in a reverse direction when the same is started.
The customer will eat his food and when he has finished, he may simply operate the return control 26 whereupon the tray will return to the elevator 27 and be lowered automatically for return along the return guide slot as described in conjunction with FIG. 2. In this respect, it should be noted that one or more of the waitresses can return the dishes to the central kitchen area in this manner and the customer himself need not be troubled with returning the tray.
Referring to FIG. 1, the returning trays with dishes thereon or dishes themselves which incorporate magnetic means will pass to the dishwasher 11 for cleaning. The trays and associated dollies may be then repositioned on the delivery-supporting surface and guide means 20 preparatory to being loaded with further food for delivery.
As a consequence of the foregoing system, it will be evident that the delivery of food and the return of dishes between the kitchen area and the eating area is greatly facilitated and requires only a minimum of personnel. Moreover, there is reduced considerably the traffic of personnel traveling between the kitchen area and the eating area and the customer himself may at all times remain seated. Finally, the provision of the magnetic drive means permit use of the coversupporting surface 19 so that sanitary conditions are maintained at all times.
It is to be understood that the specific embodiment set forth has merely been for illustrative purposes. Clearly, there are many equivalent means for carrying out the various functions described. For example, electronic means such as photocells could be used to effect turning of the dolly and tray on to branch guides rather than mechanical pins.
Other changes may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The delivery system accordingly is not to be thought of as limited to the specific structure set forth merely for illustrative purposes.
What is claimed is:
1. A magnetic food delivery system for delivering food from a preparation area to an eating area comprising, in combination: a delivery guide means extending from said preparation area to said eating area and including a plurality of branch guide means extending to specific places in said eating area; a
cover defining a smooth supporting surface overlying said guide means; means in the form of a tray or dish incorporating magnetic material adapted to slide on said cover; a dolly incorporating magnets movable along said guide means whereby said means is magnetically propelled by said dolly in the direction of said guide means, said guide means including an elongated supporting structure along which said dolly rides, said structure including an elongated slot; guide projections extending downwardly from the bottom of said dolly and received in said slot, said dolly including a generally rectangularly shaped frame; a driving motor; a single drive wheel connected to said motor adjacent to one side of said guide projections for frictionally engaging said structure adjacent to said slot; and four casters adjacent to the four corners of said rectangularly shaped frame engaging the underside of said cover for stabilizing said dolly; turning means in said guide means at the junctions of said branch guide means; and means on said dolly adapted to be programmed at said preparation area for cooperation with said turning means for guiding said dolly and thus said tray ro dish to a selected one of said places.
2. A system according to claim 1, in which said guide means includes strip contacts engaged by resilient brush contacts on said dolly for supplying electrical power to said motor.
3. A magnetic food delivery and return system comprising, in combination: a kitchen area; a plurality of tables at an eating area; a main delivery guide means extending from said kitchen area to said eating area adjacent to said tables; branch delivery guide means partially formed in said tables to define guide means to places on said table for serving persons; junction means connecting said main delivery guide means to said branch delivery guide means; turning means adjacent said junction means; branch junction means in said branch delivery guide means connecting said branch delivery guide means to various ones of said places on said table; turning means adjacent to said branch junction means; a return guide means extending from said eating area to said kitchen area; a cover defining a smooth surface overlying said delivery and return guide means; means in the form of a tray or dish for holding food adapted to slide on said cover, said means including a plurality of magnets with alternate north and south poles adjacent to said cover; a dolly disposed beneath said cover and including magnets with alternate south and north poles juxtaposed the underside of said cover to magnetically hold said means, said guide means including an elongated supporting structure along which said dolly rides, said structure including an elongated slot; guide projections extending downwardly from the bottom of said dolly and received in said slot for constraining the dolly to movement along said guide means, said dolly including a generally rectangularly shaped frame; a driving motor; a single drive wheel connected to said motor adjacent to one side of said guide projections for frictionally engaging said structure adjacent to said slot; and four casters adjacent to the four comers of said rectangularly shaped frame engaging the underside of said cover for stabilizing said dolly; means in said dolly adapted to be selectively adjusted in said kitchen area to cooperate with selected ones of said turning means whereby a person in said kitchen may program a tray or dish of food to be delivered to a desired table and place.
4. A system according to claim 3, in which said return guide means includes a main return guide means disposed vertically beneath said main delivery guide means; and elevator means associated with each of said tables for lowering the dolly and associated tray or dish for return on said return guide means.
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|U.S. Classification||104/88.3, 198/619, 198/352|
|International Classification||B65G54/00, B65G35/00, B65G54/02, B65G35/06|
|Cooperative Classification||B65G54/02, B65G35/06|
|European Classification||B65G35/06, B65G54/02|