US 3628698 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  inventors [21 Appl. No. [22} Filed  Patented  Assignee  LIQUID FILLING MACHINE WITH AUTOMATIC FILLER VOLUME ADJUSTMENT CONTROL 3 Claims, 12 Drawing Figs.
 11.8. C1 222/168, 222/267, 141/86, 141/147, 141/367,222/305  Int. Cl 1165b 3/30  Field ofSearch 141/86,
[5 6] References Cited UNlTED STATES PATENTS 3.334.668 8/1967 Allen 141/292 Primary Examiner-Edward J. Earls An0rneyJames l-l. Bower ABSTRACT: A filler volume adjustment control apparatus for a continuous motion liquid container filling machine which can be operated while the machine is in operation. The filling machine has a plurality of product filler stations and. each of the stations has a calibration sleeve which can be selectively moved by a power operated control means for increasing and decreasing the volume of each of the tiller stations simultaneously, and by small volume increments. The filling machine is provided with a fixed drain trough so that the filling stations can be cleaned simultaneously in place with the use of the automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus. The volume adjustment control apparatus is push-buttoned controlled. Each filler station is provided with a dual orifice spray diffuser which can be set in one position for light viscosity products and in another position for heavy viscosity products.
PATENTEnnEcmm 3.628.698 .SHEET CEUF 1O INVENTORS 2054 2511 A445 PH/z/P c. MART/N WI XEW ATTOR N EY PATENTED m1 m1 3.628.698
SHEET [18 0F 10 ATTORNEY TED 1533] my 3528398 SHEET [NW 10 MA 0am ATTORNEY PATENTED B5021 l9?! SHEET 08 0F 10 FIG. '7
ATTORNEY PATENTED D5021 IS'II 3.628.698 SHEET lOUF 10 MAX. F'l 6.1.1
ATTORNEY I P/V/Z/P c. MART/N I may; z/maoA/As LIQUID FILLING MACHINE WITH AUTOMATIC FILLER VOLUME ADJUSTMENT CONTROL SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to continuous motion liquid container filling machines, and more particularly, to an automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus for liquid filling machines used for filling containers with predetermined amounts of liquid.
Continuous motion packaging machines which are capable of erecting containers, filling containers with a liquid, and closing the containers are well known in the art. However, the prior art liquid container filling machines have many disadvantages. For example, these liquid filling machines include a plurality of individual product filler stations and a disadvantage of such prior art machines is that each of the product filler stations have to be adjusted manually with the machine shut down when it is desired to adjust the volume that each of the product filler stations is to discharge into a container during a filling operation. The shutting down of a continuous motion machine of this type is disadvantageous because production is lost which is costly, and added labor time is expended. The prior art'machines must be shut down for individual adjustments on each product filler station when it is desired to make a product change and this is a disadvantage and results in lost production. A further disadvantage of the prior art continuous motion liquid container filling machines is that it is not possible to maintain simultaneous precision control over the volume calibration of each of the product filler stations because volume adjustments have to be made manually and individually to each product filler station. The lack of a capacity to controlthe calibration of the product filler stations precisely when the filling machine is operating can result in overfilling of the containers with resultant product loss. Another disadvantage of the prior art liquid container filling machines is that they cannot be cleaned in place while the machine is in operation or running, and much time is used for cleaning such machines with a resultant loss of production and increased labor costs.
In view of the foregoing, it is an important object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus for use with a continuous motion liquid container filling machine which is adapted to overcome the aforementioned disadvantages inherent in the prior art continuous motion liquid container filling machines.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus for a continuous motion liquid container filling machine which can be controlled from a suitable operator's control station by simply depressing a fill increase" or fill decrease" button, whereby all of the product filler stations are adjusted simultaneously in a quick and efficient manner. The filler volume adjustment apparatus of the present invention can be used while the machine is in operation or when the machine is not operating. The adjustment of the filler volume for each product filler station is carried out by the adjustment of a calibration sleeve, and the relative position of the calibration sleeve is indicated to the operator by a numerical readout apparatus which allows the operator to start a production run with the product filler stations calibrated for the particular product to be run. The automatic filler volume adjustment apparatus of the present invention permits accurate and efficient control over the filling machine which results in a reduction to a minimum of overfilling of containers. The automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus provides a means for accurately controlling the filling operations with a minimum of machine downtime. The automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus is adapted to be used on a continuous motion liquid container machine which is provided with a drain trough that permits the cleaning in place of the filling machine while the machine is running to provide a more efficient cleaning action of the machine.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus for a liquid container filling machine which can be used with an automatic scale check weigher whereby filler calibration changes may be signalled to the filling machine automatically when necessary.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved automatic filler volume adjustment control for a liquid container filling machine which is adapted to make precise calibration adjustments in small increments, as for example, one-sixteenth of an ounce.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved filler volume adjustment control apparatus for use with a filler station that includes a dual orifice spray diffuser which provides a thin orifice for milk and light viscosity products, like water, juices and so forth, and which also is adapted to provide a larger orifice for heavy viscosity products like buttermilk, dairy mixes and so forth.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved automatic volume adjustment control apparatus for a continuous motion liquid container filling machine which includes a plurality of product filler stations which are each provided with a calibration sleeve, and which sleeve is adapted to be moved to increase or decrease the filler volume by a plurality of power actuated lead screws which are adapted to move a volume control ring upwardly or downwardly, as desired and lever means connecting the ring and each calibration sleeve for simultaneously adjusting said sleeves in accordance with the movement of the ring. The adjustment apparatus further includes control means for moving the ring upwardly and downwardly in precise small increments for correspondingly moving in a simultaneous manner all of the calibration sleeves.
Other objects, features and advantages of this invention will be apparent from the following detailed description, appended claims, and the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a schematic and elevational view of a continuous motion packaging machine for erecting, filling and closing containers, and which is illustrative of the type of packaging machine in which the present invention may be incorporated.
FIG. 2 is a horizontal plan view of the drain trough structure illustrated in FIG. I, taken along the line 2-2 thereof, and looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 3 is an elevational section view of the filling machine, illustrated in FIG. 1, taken along the line 3-3 thereof.
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, broken, horizontal section view of the continuous container filling machine structure illustrated in FIG. 3, taken along the line 44 thereof, and looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIGS. 5A and 5B are fragmentary, enlarged, elevational section views of the structure illustrated in FIG. 4, taken along the line 5-5 thereof, and looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary, enlarged, horizontal section view of the structure illustrated in FIG. 5B, taken along the lines 66 thereof, and looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary, elevational section view of the structure illustrated in FIG. 6, taken along the line 7-7 thereof, and looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary, enlarged, elevational section view of the structure illustrated in FIG. 3, taken along the line 88 thereof.
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary, elevational section view of the structure illustrated in FIG. 8, taken along the line 9-9 thereof, and looking in the direction of the arrows.
FIG. 10 is an exploded view of the filler valve, spray diffuser, and lower end of the filler vent tube structure illustrated in assembled condition in the lower ends of FIGS. 8 and 9.
FIG. II is an illustrative schematic electrical control circuit for use with the filler volume adjustment control apparatus of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The automatic filler volume adjustment control apparatus of the present invention is particularly adapted for use on liquid container filling machines for filling containers of the type shown in US Pat. Nos. 3,120,333, 3,185,375, and 3,l85,376. For a complete description of the type container which may be filled by a filling machine provided with the filler volume adjustment means of the present invention, reference may be had to the aforementioned patents.
Referring now to the drawings, and in particular to FIG. I, the numeral 10 generally designates the common base of a packaging machine which includes a container bottom forming machine 11, a container filling machine 12, and a container closing machine 13. The last mentioned machines are all mounted on the common base 10 in a sideby-side cooperative relationship. Packaging machines of the type generally illustrated in FIG. 1, are well known and readily available on the market. A liquid container filling machine I2 of the type with which the tiller volume adjustment means of the present invention may be used is disclosed and described in detail in US Pat. No. 3,599,391 which issued Aug. 17, 1971 and is assigned to the assignee of the subject application, and the disclosure thereof is incorporated herein by reference. Numeral 14 in FIG. I generally designates a cleaning solution tank for cleaning the filling machine 12 in place, while it is operated, as more fully described hereinafter,
As shown in FIG. 3, the filling machine 12 includes a stationary filler machine base l5 which is operatively mounted on the packaging machine common base and a filler machine support frame column 16 mounted on the base 15. The filling machine 12 is provided with a rotary housing generally indicated by the numeral 19 which is rotatably mounted on the base 15 and the support column 16 by any suitable means, as by the bearings 20 and 21. The housing I9 is adapted to be rotated by any suitable means, as for example, by the ring gear 22 which is secured to the housing 19 and driven by a drive gear 23 which is in turn driven by a suitable drive motor 24.
The rotary filling machine housing 19 carries on the upper end thereof a filler bowl or tank 25 for holding a supply of liquid to be processed by the filling machine. The bowl 25 is covered by a suitable removable cover 26. A float indicator 29 is operatively mounted in the bowl 25 for operative relationship with a conventional liquid level control meter generally indicated by the numeral 30. The numeral 33 indicates the liquid level normally maintained in the bowl 25. The liquid is supplied to the bowl 25 through the usual inlet tube 32 which is operatively connected to a liquid level flow control valve 31. The numeral 34 indicates a post which contains liquid conduits. A support arm 35 is operatively mounted on the upper end of the post 34 and operatively supports the inlet tube 32. The numeral 36 indicates a removable cap which covers an access opening in the bowl cover 26. The last mentioned filling machine structure is described in detail in the aforementioned copending application and the details of the same may be found in that application.
. As illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, the filling machine rotary housing I9 carries a plurality of filler stations generally indicated by the numeral 39. The number of filler stations 39 varies with different machines and some machines have at least twenty such filler stations. As shown in FIG. 8, each of the filler stations 39 include a fixed filler cylinder 40 which includes a chamber 41 in the upper end thereof. The lower end of the filler cylinder 40 is reduced in diameter and is cylindrical in shape and has slidably mounted therein a filler volume calibration sleeve 42 which is provided with an O-ring seal 38 on the upper end thereof. The upper end of the filler cylinder chamber 41 is open, and it is mounted in a circular opening 43 formed in the bottom wall of the bowl 25. A suitable seal 44 is operatively mounted between the upper end of the filler cylinder 40 and the wall of the opening 43. A filler unit calibration tube generally indicated by the numeral 45 is slidably mounted through the calibration sleeve 42 and the upper end thereof extends into the bowl 25, and the lower end thereof extends outwardly of the lower end of the fixed filler cylinder 40.
As shown in'FIG. 8, the open upper end of the fixed filler cylinder 40 is adapted to be enclosed by a movable displacement filler cylinder generally indicated by the numeral 49. The displacement filler cylinder 49 is enlarged and open at the lower end thereof to provide a mating chamber to the chamber 41 in the fixed cylinder 40. A reduced cylindrical portion or neck 46 is integrally formed on the upper end thereof. The calibration tube 45 extends slidably upwardly through the displacement filler cylinder reduced cylindrical portion 46 and into the bowl 25. A suitable O-ring 50 is operatively mounted around the lower end of the displacement filler cylinder 49 and sealingly engages the inner surface of the chamber 41. The calibration tube 45 is provided with a plurality of axially extended slots 51 for communicating the cylinder chamber 4i with the interior of the calibration tube 45.
As shown in FIG. 8, the spring retainer 52 has a cylindrical body with a flange or cap on the upper outer end thereof which is slidably mounted inside of the upper end of the calibration tube 45. A coil spring 53 is mounted around the upper end of the calibration tube 45 and has its lower end abutting the upper end of the neclr portion 46 of the displacement filler cylinder 49 and its upper end abutting the flange on the spring retainer 52. The lower end of the spring retainer 52 is reduced in outer diameter and is indicated by the numeral 54. A plurality of openings 55 are formed through the spring retainer lower end portion 54. The openings 55 communicate with the interior of the tube 45. The interior of the tube 45 also communicates through the opening 56 with the interior of the bowl 25. A valve seat vent tube, generally indicated by the numeral 59, is slidably mounted through an axial bore 60 formed through the spring retainer 52. A retainer clip 61 is attached to the upper end of the vent tube 59 and rests on thetop end of the spring retainer 52. The vent tube 59 is provided with a plurality of openings 62 which communicate with the openings 55 in the spring retainer 52.
As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, a lifter filler valve 63 s slidably mounted around the lower end of the filler unit calibration tube 45. A filler valve spring 64 has its lower end operatively mounted around the filler valve 63 and its upper end is in engagement with the lifter plate 66. The numeral 65 in FIG. 8 generally indicates a liquid container which is to be filled by the filler station 39. The upper end of the container 65 seats against the abutment shoulder 96 formed on the filler spring nozzle 95. A lifter plate 66 is attached to a lifter clamp 67 by a pin 70. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the lifter clamp 67 is operatively attached to a filler cam roller shaft 68. As shown in FIG. 5A, the shaft 68 carries a roller which is operatively mounted in a filler cam 69.. The last described filler lifting structure is not part of the present invention, and its operation and structural details are described in detail in the aforementioned copending application.
As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, each of the filler stations 39 includes a filler valve seat generally indicated by the numeral 711. The filler valve seat 71 is provided with a conically shaped body which includes a conical seat surface 34. The valve seat 71 is provided with a suitable O-ring seal 72 around the lower end periphery thereof for sealing engagement with the lower end of the valve 63. As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, the valve 63 is displaced upwardly to permit liquid to flow from the tube 45 through the orifice formed between the outwardly diverging inner end surface of the tube 45 and the conical seat surface 84 into a container 65. The valve seat 71 is provided on the upper end thereof with an integral upwardly extended stem 73. As shown in FIGS. 3, 9 and I0, the valve seat 71 is adapted to be releasably secured to the lower end of the vent tube 59 by a spring pin member generally indicated by the numeral 74. The spring pin 74 includes a lower leg portion 75 which is adapted to be passed through suitable openings in the lower end of the vent tube 59 and through the transverse hole 76 in the stem 73. The upper leg 77 of the spring pin 74 is adapted to be mounted in one of the elongated slots 79 (FIG. 8) formed in the lower end of the vent tube 59.
As shown in FIG. 11), in an exploded view, the filler station 39 is provided with a dual orifice spray diffuser or separator generally indicated by the numeral 81) which may be disposed in one of two selected positions forprocessing either lowviscosity liquids or high-viscosity liquids. The spray diffuser 811 includes a ring-shaped body 81 from which downwardly extends a plurality of legs 82. integrally formed on the lower end of each of the legs 82 is a foot or lug 83 which is provided with an upper downwardly and outwardly tapered surface for seating on the calibration tube outlet tapered surface 85, and a lower downwardly and outwardly tapered surface for seating on the conical tapered surface 84 of the valve seat 71. The spray diffuser 80 is adapted to be held in an operative relationship with the valve seat 71 by a retainer pin 86 which is loosely mounted through suitable holes 91) in the ring 81 and the transverse hole 89 formed through the valve seat 71.
As best seen in FIG. 10, the spray diffuser 811 is provided with a pair of stop or locator fingers 91 which are formed integrally on the upper end of the ring-shaped body 81 and which extends axially of the legs 82 in the opposite direction and for a short distance above the ring-shaped body 81. As shown in FIG. 8, the stop fingers 91 are adapted to be slidably mounted into a pair of oppositely disposed grooves or notches 92. The grooves 92 extend inwardly from the lower end of the calibration tube 45. When the stop fingers 91 abut the inner ends of the grooves 92, the tapered feed 83 are disposed at a position axially of the lower end of the calibration tube 45 so as to form a thin orifice between the seat surface 84 and the tube lower end tapered outlet surface 85 for the passage therethrough of light viscosity liquids. A suitable adjustment tool may be mounted through an adjustment hole 93 which is formed in the lower end of the valve seat 71 to pull the valve seat 71 downwardly against the pressure of the spring 53 and to rotate the seat 71 and the diffuser 81) a rotary distance of 90 so as to permit the stop fingers 91 to be slidably mounted in a second pair of grooves or notches 94 (FIG. 8) formed in the inner wall surface of the tube 45. The last mentioned grooves 94 do not extend axially inward as far as the grooves 92 whereby the diffuser 80 is held in an axially adjusted position at a point spaced outwardly from said first position so as to provide a large orifice or opening between the tapered seat surface 84 and the discharge tube surface 85 for heavy viscosity liquids, such as buttermilk, and the like.
The fixed cylinder 40 is provided with an integral lug 99 which is secured by a suitable bolt as 1011 to a fixed cylinder bracket 101. The bracket 101 is secured by suitable bolts 1112 to a portion of the rotary housing 19. The filler calibration sleeve 42 is adapted to be adjusted upwardly and downwardly in the filler cylinder 40 for volume control adjustment by a volume control rocker arm 103.
As shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, each of the rocker arms 1113 is pivotally mounted at a central point by a suitable pin 1114 on a clevis 105. The clevis 105 is threadably connected to a stud 109 which is secured in place by a lock nut 11115 (FIG. 8). The stud 109 is operatively mounted in the bracket 101. As shown in FIG. 4, the outer end of each of the rocker arms 103 is bifurcated to provide a yoke member 111) which has the two arms thereof disposed on opposite sides of the filler station 39. The arms of the yoke member 110 are operatively connected by a pair of suitable pins 111 to the calibration sleeve 42. The pins 111 pass through suitable elongated vertical slots 112 (FIG. 8) formed through the wall of the cylinder 411 to permit the inner ends of the pins 111 to be operatively mounted in suitable holes in the calibration sleeve 42. It will be seen that when the yoke member 1111 on the lever 1113 is moved up wardly and downwardly, the pins 111 will be able to move upwardly and downwardly in the slots 112 to permit sliding movement of the calibration sleeve 42 upwardly and downwardly, as desired, in the lower end of the cylinder 4111. The numeral 113 in FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate generally the conventional container carrier which supports a container 65 in an operative position below each of the filler stations 39.
As shown in FIG. 3, the inner end of each of the rocker arms 1113 is pivotahy connected by a suitable pivot pin 114 to one end of a clevis member 115. The pivot pin 114 is adapted to be operatively mounted through a longitudinally extended slot 116 formed on the inner end of the rocker arm 103. A lifter rod 119 has its upper end threadably connected to the lower end of the clevis 115. The lifter rod 119 extends downwardly into the rotary housing 19 as shown in FIG. 5A. The lower end of the lifter rod 119 is slidably mounted in a suitable bushing 120 carried in the housing 19. The lifter rod 119 is provided with a reduced threaded lower end 122 which extends through an annular or ring flange 121 formed on a volume control ring generally indicated by the numeral 124. A suitable retainer nut 123 is threadably mounted on the threaded end shaft 122 to secure the shaft 119 to the ring flange 121. It will be understood that each of the filler stations 39 is provided with an individual lifter rod 119 and rocker arm 1113. It will also be seen that when the ring 124 is moved upwardly and downwardly that all of the lifter rods 119 will be adjusted simultaneously. a
As shown in FIG. 4, the filling machine is provided with three lifting lead screws or vertical drive shafts 135, 135a and 1351;. The drive shafts or lead screws 135a and 135k are idler drive shafts, and lifting power is provided through the driveshaft 135 as shown in detail in FIGS. 5A, 5B and 6.
As shown in FIG. 5A, the volume control ring 124 is provided on the inner side thereof with an annular roller track or path 125. The roller track 125 is not a cam, but has a straight dwell path. As shown in FIG. 5A, a roller 126 is rollably mounted in the track 125 and it is operatively carried at the outer end of a horizontal roller shaft 129. The roller shaft 129 is rotatably mounted by any suitable means in a lifter block 130. A guide key 131 is mounted on the inner end of the shaft 129 and is secured in place against the block 1311 by a suitable locknut 132. The key 131 is slidably mounted in a vertical slot 133 formed in the vertical wall 134 of a support member.
The upper end of the vertical support drive shaft 135 is threadably mounted through the block 1311 and has its upper end mounted in a suitable bearing 136 which is operatively mounted in a horizontal flange 139 that is integrally attached to the upper end of the support member wall 134. The vertical support member includes a horizontal support plate 141 which is integrally attached to the lower end of the support wall 134 and which operatively supports a bearing means 140 which rotatably supports the lower end of the drive-shaft 135. The plate 141 is suitably secured to the stationary machine base 15 by any suitable means as by bolts 142. As shown in FIG. 5A, a sprocket hub 143 is suitably fixed to the lower end of the drive-shaft135 and it carries a drive sprocket 144 which drives a chain 145. As shown in FIG. 4, the drive chain 145 is operatively mounted around a pair of similar sprockets 144a and lMb which are fixed to the two aforementioned idler drive-shafts 135a and 135b. It will be understood that the idler drive-shafts 135a and 135b are supported on the machine base 15 by a support structure identical to that previously described for the drive-shaft 135 and that each of the driveshafts 135a and 135b have operatively connected thereto a roller as 126 which is rollably mounted in the track 125 to provide a three point lift on the ring 124. The numerals 147 and 14b in F16. 4 indicate two chain takeup sprockets for taking up the slack on the chain 115.
As shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B, the lower end 146 of the upper drive-shaft 135 is connected by a suitable coupling 149 to a lower intermediate drive-shaft 1511 (FIG. 5B). As shown in FIG. 5B, the drive-shaft 1511 is suitably journaled in a bushing 151 which is carried in the packaging machine base 111. The lower drive-shaft 150 is connected to a suitable power drive means situated in the machine housing 111, as more fully described hereinafter.
As shown in FIGS. 58, 6 and 7, the lower end of the driveshaft 1511 is fixedly connected by suitable key means to a three lobe earn 152 which is provided with three cam lobes 153 (FIG. 6).
As shown in FIGS. 58 and 6, a suitable filler volume electric control motor 160 is operatively mounted on a suitable motor mounting bracket (FIG. 6) which is attached by suitable means to the machine base 10. Operatively connected to one output shaft of the motor 160, is a suitable worm gear speed reducer .159. As best seen in FIGS. 53 and 7, the speed reducer 159 is operatively connected by a spring biased detent connection means as described hereinafter. A detent carrier plate 154 is connected by a suitable key means to the gear reducer output shaft 156. As shown in FIG. 7, the detent carrier plate 154 is adapted to carry a plurality of detents 155 (only one is shown) which each have one end operatively engaged in driving relationship in a mating hole formed in the cam 152. Each of the detents 155 is adapted to have the other end thereof abutted against a spring biased detent pressure ring plate 190 which is spring biased against the detents, to hold them in a driving relationship with the cam 152, by a plurality of detent springs 167 which are carried in suitable holes fonned in a pressure spring carrier plate 157. The pressure spring carrier plate 157 is fixedly secured to the gear reducer output shaft 156 by any suitable means. It will be seen that the detent drive means functions as a safety means so that if there is a mechanical bind in the filling mechanism, the detents will open and prevent the filler volume adjustment means from being further actuated and to prevent mechanically damaging the mechanism. As shown in FIG. 7, if a mechanical bind is incurred in the filler mechanism, the pressure plate 190 will be moved downwardly so as to pivot the bell crank 193 in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 7 and to actuate the safety limit switch LS and break the electrical power circuit to the drive motor 160, as shown by the control circuit of FIG. 1 1.
As shown in FIG. 6, the bellcrank 193 is rotatably mounted on a suitable mounting plate 192 which carries the limit switch 20 LS and which is attached to the motor mounting bracket 158.
The filler volume adjustment control apparatus may be manually adjusted by a manual control means as illustrated in FIG. 6. The drive motor 160 is provided with a second output shaft 161 to which is fixedly connected a crank pinion 162 which meshes with a crank drive gear 163. The gear 163 is fixed on the inner end of a crankshaft 164 that is rotatably supported by a pair of flanges 165 which extend from the motor mounting bracket 158. A hand crank 166 is attached to the outer end of the crankshaft 164 which extends through a suitable opening in the machine base 10 to permit an operator to turn the motor 160, which will in turn actuate the aforedemribed filler adjustment mechanism. A spring 169 (FIG. 6) is operatively mounted between a stop collar 170 fixed on the shaft 164 and one of the flanges 165 so as to normally bias the gear 163 away from the pinion 162 into an inactive and released position. A safety switch indicated in FIG. 6 by the numeral 19 LS is provided to indicate that the hand crank is being used. The limit switch 19 LS is mounted on a mounting plate 173 which is attached by the bolts 174 to one flange 165. A limit switch operating arm and roller 172 is operatively connected to the limit switch 19 LS so as to be engaged by the gear 163 when it is in a retracted position and to close the switch and permit the motor 160 to be operated. When the gear 163 is moved inwardly to the engaged position shown in FIG. 6, the safety switch 19 LS will open and disable the power circuit to the motor 160 so that it is not possible for another person to operate the automatic controls and energize the filler adjusting mechanism when a person is using the hand crank for manually adjusting the filler mechanism.
As shown in FIG. 6, a motor control limit switch 21 LS in operatively mounted adjacent the cam 152 on a mounting bracket 179 which is fixedly secured by any suitable means to the motor mounting bracket 158. The limit switch 21 LS is provided with a suitable limit switch operating am and roller 176 which is successively engaged by the lobes 153 as the cam 152 is rotated. The limit switch 21 LS functions in the control circuit of FIG. 11 to provide a separate increment of adjustment for each one-third revolution of the cam 152, and the lead screw 135, whereby the lead screw rotates through 60 steps or movements in an upward or downward direction for adjusting the calibration sleeve 42. Each of said increments of adjustment are equal to about one-sixteenth of an ounce of liquid.
As shown in FIG. 6, a safety control means is provided for limiting the upward and downward movement of the filler mechanism to prevent binding of the same in either direction. A limit switch 22 LS is shown in FIG. 6 as being carried on a mounting plate 181 which is secured to the machine housing 10!. The switch 22 LS is provided with a limit switch operating arm and roller 182 that is disposed between a pair of vertically spaced apart limit switch operating snap bars 183 and 184 (FIG. 5B). The snap bars 183 and 184 are fixedly mounted on the lower end of an operating rod 185 which extends upwardly and has its upper end fixedly connected to a horizontal leg 186 of an attachment bracket, as shown in FIG. 5A. As shown in FIG. 6, a vertical leg 189 of an attachment bracket is attached to the horizontal leg 186. The vertical bracket leg 189 is secured by any suitable means to the side of the lifting block 130. The lifting block 130 and the bracket arms 186 and 189 have been schematically illustrated in FIG. 6 to show the relationship of these parts with the rod 185. When the rod 185 is actuated in one direction, one set of contacts in the limit switch 22 L8 is opened by one of the bars 183 or 184, leaving a second set of contacts closed. When the second set of con tacts in limit switch 22 LS is left closed, the direction of rotation of the filler drive shaft can be reversed, and the rod 185 will move downwardly until the other snap bar engages the roller 182 to reverse the positions of the contacts and prevent movement any further in that direction.
As illustrated in FIG. 2, a clean-in-place pair of drain troughs 194 and 195 are fixedly mounted on the lower end of the rotary housing 19 to permit cleaning-in'place of the bowl 25 and the tiller stations 39 while the machine is rotating. The drain trough 194 is a shallow trough and extends for 180 around one side of the machine housing 19. The drain trough 195 is also 180 in length and it extends around the opposite side of the rotary housing 19. Drain troughs 194 and 195 are attached by suitable support brackets 201 and 202, respectively. The trough 195 is a deep trough and it takes the bulk of the cleaning solution which is passed downwardly from the bowl 25 and through the filler stations 39. The drain trough 194 functionsmostly as a drip trough. As shown in FIG. 2, any drainage from the trough 194 is conveyed through the connec tor drain trough 196 into the trough 195. The trough 195 is provided with a pair of outlet holes 199 at the bottom end thereof which are connected to a pair of drain outlet pipes 2110. As shown in FIG. 1, the outlet pipes 200 are adapted to be each provided with a separate drain pipe 203 for conveying cleaning solution baclr. into the tank 14. The cleaning solution tank 14 is pumped through the supply pipe 205 by suitable pump 2114 and through a suitable filter 214 into the bowl 25 through the access opening normally enclosed by the cover 36. As shown in FIG. 1, each of the filler stations 39 is provided with a funnel member 206 which is mounted in a carrier 213 at each of the filling stations during the cleaning operation.
It will be understood that the calibration sleeve 42 may be moved upwardly and downwardly while the machine is being run and the cleaning solution is being passed through the filler system so as to provide the filler system with an efficient and fast cleaning action. The calibration sleeve 42 may be moved upwardly so as to bring the O-ring seal 50 into the bowl 25 and provide an efficient and clean flushing of this O-ring seal and its seat. The prior art filling machines were not provided with a clean-in place apparatus as described hereinbefore. The prior art machines employed manually attachable troughs and other means for manually cleaning the machine when it was shut down. The aforedescribed structure permits the filling machine to be cleaned without the need for removing the filler stations each night for cleaning the same whereby much machine downtime is saved and additional production time is provided, and a much cleaner machine is provided than is possible to achieve with the prior art machines.
An advantage of the drain troughs 194 and R95 is that they can be used not only for collecting and recirculating cleaning solution, but they can also be used for collecting drippage of a product during a filling operation to prevent drainage of the same onto the floor and to provide for reuse of the product.
FIG. 11 illustrates an illustrative schematic electrical control circuit which may be used for controlling the filler adjustment mechanism of the present invention. Numerals 209 and 210 indicate the lead lines to be connected to a suitable source of electrical power. The numeral 211 designates a low-voltage transformer for connecting the power source to a stepping relay. The stepping relay includes a plurality of inner contacts generally designated by the numeral 212 and a plurality of outer contacts generally designated by the numeral 213.
OPERATION In use, the individual filler stations 39 are positioned separately to provide the proper amount of volume for each filler station for the product which is to be filled. After the filler sleeve 42 is adjusted to the proper position for the particular product being run through the filler machine, such as homogenized milk, skim milk, 2 percent milk, chocolate milk, and so forth, the quantity may be altered because of viscosity, air in the milk or some other factor. As the filling machine is operated, the need for a slight alteration on the calibration sleeve may be required and this can be easily and quickly carried out by depressing the fill increase" or fill decrease" switches shown in control circuit of FIG. 11. A single depression of these switches will activate the filler adjustment mechanism to raise or lower the calibration sleeve 42 one step of a possible 60 even step increments. For example, each step or increment may be equivalent to one-sixteenth of an ounce of liquid. The filler adjustment of the present invention is a more precise control mechanism than any of prior art devices which could only control filler adjustments to approximately five thirty-seconds of an ounce for the smallest increment of control. As shown in FIG. 11, the control circuit includes a readout" indicator which may be mounted with the control switches on an operators control station so that the operator can clearly see what position the calibration sleeve 42 is in. The readout indicator is interconnected with the stepping relay through the add and subtract solenoids l3 SOL, and 14 SOL. The operator at the start of a morning run can set the calibration sleeve 42 in a predetermined step number for the particular product which is to be run that day.
While it will be apparent that the preferred embodiment of the invention herein disclosed is well calculated to fulfill the objects above stated, it will be appreciated that the invention is susceptible to modification, variation and change.
What is claimed is:
i. in combination with a continuous motion liquid container filling machine having a stationary base, a rotatable housing on said base which carries a plurality of product filler stations disposed in an annular arrangement, a liquid supply bowl carried on said rotary housing, each of said filler stations including a filler cylinder having a filler calibration tube, means for admitting a predetermined volume of liquid from said supply bowl to each filler cylinder, a vent tube in each filler cylinder communicating the cylinder with the supply bowl, valve means on the lower end of said filler calibration tube for controlling the discharge of a predetermined volume of liquid from said filler cylinder, the combination comprising:
a. a volume adjustment means mounted in each filler cylinder;
b. means for adjusting simultaneously the volume adjustment means in all of the filler cylinders while said rotary housing is rotating;
c. said volume adjustment means comprises a calibration sleeve movably mounted in said filler cylinder;
. said means for adjusting said sleeve includes,
1. a power-operated mechanical means, and 2. an electrical control means for controlling the operation of said power-operated mechanical means; and
e. said electrical control means includes,
1. a multilobe cam operated by said power-operated mechanical means, and
2. electrical control means for initiating the operation of said mechanical means for a predetermined increment of adjustment of said sleeve for each contact of a lobe by a control limit switch.
2. The structure as defined in claim 2, wherein:
a. said electrical control means includes a stepping relay means and a readout" means operatively connected to said relay means for indicating the increments of adjustment made by said mechanical means.
The structure as defined in claim 1 wherein:
a. said electrical control means includes a safety circuit for controlling the operation of said power-operated mechanical means within a predetermined movement of said sleeve.