US 3766709 A
Various parts of an automatic container filling and capping machine are improved with respect to the feeding and denesting of the containers, the provision of a sterilizing tunnel having a removable cover, modified forms of sterilizing medium inlets and transport of the containers as well as other details of construction which render the machine more efficient.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 Zausner 1 Oct. 23, 1973  STERILIZING DEVICE FOR CONTAINER 3,050,914 8/1962 Morgan 53/37 X FILLNG MACHINES 3,478,489 l1/1969 Meis nerm' 3,694,997 10/1972 Christine et a]. 53/l67 X  Inventor: Sol Zausner, Mountainside, NJ.  Assignee: Zausner Foods Corp., Mountainside, Primary Examiner Travlis McGehee Attorney-David S. Kane et al.  Filed: Jan. 28, 1972 [211 App]. N0.: 221,521
,  ABSTRACT  U.S. Cl 53/167, 21/80, 53/94, various parts of an automatic Container filling-and 53/112 R capping machine are improved with respect to the  Int. Cl 8651) 55/10 feeding and denesting f the Containers h provision  Field 01 Search 53/86, 89, 90, 91, of a sterilizing tunnel having a removable cov'er di 53/94, 97, 101, 167, 112 R; 2 fied forms of sterilizing medium inlets and transport of the containers as well as other details of construction  References cued which render the machine more efficient.
UNITED STATES PATENTS 8/1954 Martin 53/25 X 7 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures PAIENIEMms ma 3.766 709 SHEET 10F 2 Y The present invention comprises a number of improvements upon the machine of my co-pending application for Sterilizing Device for Filling Machines Ser. No. 205,15] filed Dec. 6, l97l and is in part a continuation of that application, the contents of which are hereby made a part hereof.
In my aforesaid co-pending application an automatic filling, capping and sealing machine for containers, particularly aluminum or plastic containers for edible food products, has been described and claimed and according to the present invention certain components of that machine are modified to improve the effectiveness of its sterilization action and also to provide a novel construction which has production, operational and maintenance advantages. The present machine is otherwise basically the same as the machine of that application.
The invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein: i
FIG. '1 is a fragmentary elevational view, partly in section, of an intermediate portion of the machine showing transport of the sterilized containers and the cooling and capping and sealing thereof;
' FIG. 2 is a fragmentary elevational view showing a modified type of tunnel having a removable cover and novel form of sterilizing medium inlet;
FIG. 3 is a transverse sectional view, partly in elevation, taken on line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3-but taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 1; a
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary elevational .view, partly in section, of the entrance end of the tunnel and the container feed; and Q FIG. 6 is an elevational portion of the sterilizing tunnel. 7
The general nature and organization of parts of the machine of the present invention is essentially the same as in my said co-p'endingapplication and hence'the following detailed description will relate primarily to the present improvements andmodifications constituting the advances over, the said co-p'ending application.
Referring first to, FIG; '5'whic h shows the construction at the entrance'end to the tunnel 1t the coverportion 11 of which is made in several parts which areunattached to the bottom and side tunnel walls and therefore removable merely by lifting off the same, there is a modified formlof inlet pipe l 2,for hot air or other heated sterilizing'mediurn whichmay be any. of those referred to in my-co-pending application such, as superheated dry steam .or hot dry air or the like, but instead toconical shape with a headed upper edge as illustrated,'are fed downwardly, as by a mechanical screw (not shown), through vertical feedtubes 18 of which there are a plurality as will be understood and in a machine of the present type and of the nature of my said co-pending application there are eight such feed tubes 18 arranged transversely of the machine'from which containers 17 are successively discharged from the bottom and into the top of which they are introduced in nested condition in any known or suitable manner.
In this connection it has been found that there are advantages in having a downward gravity feed of containof having a V-shaped entrance portion where the inlet pipe 12 is connected into the cover 11 of the tunnel, there is a simple tubular formationjofi increased crosssectional area with diverging lowerarms 12'- (see FIGS.
3 and 4) so as to permit more sterilizing medium to be introduced at a faster rate 'and without muchfrictio'nal resistance resulting from too sharp alteration of flow direction of the sterilizing medium. The vertical end plate 13 of the tunnel is attached to the bottom plate 14 and side walls 11' of the tunnel within which the endless conveyor belt 15 operates in-a manner per se known on driven rollers 16, it being understood that the upper flight of the conveyor belt moves fromright to left in FIG. 5 as indicated by the arrow and that the individual containers 17, which are preferably of frusers 17 as contrasted with the upward feed of my said co-pending application. It will be seen from F IG. 5 that containers 17 are individually de-nested and fed to or dropped upon the container support bar 19 which is stationary, but along which the individual containers are propelled by means of the cross rods or bars 20 spaced along the upper and lower edges of the endless conveyor belt 15. In this way the containers are denested at the very beginning of their travel as they enter and'pass through the machine rather than being denested by the helical rod construction'shown in my. said co-pending application'and ithas been found to be simpler and of much more advantage to accomplish denesting of the containers as they are fed into the sterilizing tunnel via an opening in end plat 13 rather than at some later stage in the cycle of operation. Furthermore, this arrangement permits the conveyor belt 15 when it travels around rollers 16 to be protected by an end shield or bracket 21 while still leaving adequate space between the forwardmost edge of member 21 and the end plate ,13 of the tunnel. It is understood that the machine is provided with the same sort of framework as in the machine of my co-pending application and hence it is'u'nnecessary to describe the same in detail here. I
As will be seen from FIG. 2 which represents a portion of the machine disposed forwardly of that portion of the machine shown in FIG. 5,the individual containers 17 continue to be moved along on the support 19 and the cover 11 of the tunnel is. removable by lifting it off as already stated since it-merely rests on the remaining'portions of the tunnel or on supports provided forthat'purpose such as shown'at'22"; andtliespace through which the containers travel is .keptheated to a sterilizing temperature by one or more additional inlet pipes or tubular members 12, it being understood that all'the, sterilizing medium inlets 12 are connected to any suitable source of sterilizing medium, the nature of I which is per Se known and which hasnot been illustrat'ed in the drawings,'i. e. themembers 12 are connected to a sourceof superheated steam or hot dry air or other sterilizinginedium of a fluid or gaseous nature.
The portion of the machine shown in FIG. 1 illus trates how the containers 17-come' to'the end of the support member 19 in tunnel 10 and pass individually onto and down inclined plate 23 from' which they are taken by the transfer mechanism 24 and depos'itedindividually and successively on the cup inserts 251 of conveyor belt 26 which independent of the conveyor belt 15, but which has its movement synchronized with conveyor belt 15 via the bevel gearing 27 and interconnecting linkage 28 in the same general manner as in my aforesaid co-pending application, although it will be noted that the extension of the tunnel at this area is configured in that there'is a long downwardly and forfying and rendering more practicable the construction of the extension of the tunnel. Conveyor belt 26 has its upper flight moving from right to left as shown by the arrow and the path of this conveyor belt is essentially rectangular within the housing shown, as will be clear from its return passage over the rolls 31 and 32 which are mounted on suitably driven transverse shafts 33 in known manner. It will also be seen that the bevel gearing 27 is actuated by a vertical shaft 34 having at its lower end additional bevel gearing 35 driven in any suitable or known manner by horizontal shaft 36 which is only fragmentarily shown.
It will be understood that the containers passing through the tunnel up to the point of the transport member 23 and the transfer mechanism 24 are heated by the sterilizing medium, i.e. have been propelled through a heated and closed area to a sufficiently high temperature to effect rapid sterilization, i.e. a temperature of about 150C or in the range of 90C to 150C while moving the individual containers at the rate of about 30/minute for a tunnel length of 7 meters and the traverse time of each container within the tunnel is approximately 25 minutes. As the containers 17 pass from the sterilizing tunnel proper they are exposed to infrared light designated at 37 which has a supplemental heating and sterilizing effect particularly into the interior of the individual containers as they pass thereunder (see the upper right hand portion of FIG. 1) and then as the transferred containers move along conveyor belt 26 their underside or bottom is subjected to the action of cooling means, either cooled air emitted at 38 or chilled water (not shown) which of course can be recirculated. The conveyor belt 26 is understood to be of essentially the same nature as the corresponding conveyor belt in my aforesaid co-pending application and hence need not be further described in detail here.
It is noted, moreover, that stacks of lids 39 (equal in number to tubes 18 and similarly spaced) are provided for the same purpose as in my said co-pending application and likewise are secured to indicating or recording devices (not shown) so that a visual record is obtained for control purposes.
Referring next to FIG. 3, it will be observed that each sterilizing medium inlet 12 diverges into two legs 12' at its lower end and is provided with terminal caps 47.
inholder(s) 40 protected by a casing 41 and that the said lids are individually removed and applied to containers in the same manner as'in my aforesaid copending application exceptthat it has been found to be desirable to provide a second outer housing 42 to ensure absence of access of germs to the lids 39 and also to provide an additional insulating space 43 which aids in maintaining the lids at the desired temperature conditions. In this case also a second means for irradiation of the underside of the lids is positioned as shown at 44 where it has been found to effectively and rapidly effect I complete sterilization of the lids, which are of course fed at a relatively rapid rate commensurate with the movement of the individual containers. Just beyond this portion of the machine there is a further inlet 12 for sterilizing medium of the type described above and also there is a further like inlet 12 just forwardly of the transfer mechanism 24. The assembly 45 represents the same lid pressing and sealing device as in my said copending application. The same is true regarding pistontype filling mechanism 45'. V a v It will also be observed thatat various points along the machine probes 46 are provided which indicate temperature of that particular area or space within the tunnel or machine enclosure. These are the same and This arrangement assists in maintaining constant desired temperature in a given area of the tunnel or machine and enables the effect of the sterilizing medium to be dispersed or distributed substantially evenly or in a predetermined manner over the interior tunnel space. Similarly in FIG. 4 the legs 12 of the sterilizing medium inlet 12 may extend the full width of the tunnel with the caps 47 integral with and partially within the tunnel cover 11 and the tunnel side walls 11' to provide air connections located in the tunnel corners.
As will be appreciated from FIG. 6, the tunnel construction is made up of a plurality of sections or parts, one of which is shown'in FIG. 6, wherein the cover member 11 is removable as explained above, because it is not fastened down or secured to any other part of the tunnel. Each such section is also provided with a glass window or other transparent member 10 by means of which the interior of the tunnel can be inspected. Member 10' is preferably made of heatresistant glass.
The filling device designated at 45' is of per se known construction and is known as Paal filler which is a roller membrane-type of filler with a distribution tube having one side provided with a connection to a supply of the product to be filled into the containers and the other side provided with'an upstanding pipe, level probe and sterile. ventilation'filter. As to members 39 and 40' of FIG. 1 this is a station where caps and lids are applied to the filled containers which has a measured or predetermined quantity of product therein upon reaching the capping station. This is the same essentially as in my 'copending applicant and comprisesa series of 8 magazines which hold caps or lids during a pre-sterilization period and thereafter for loading the stationary lid magazines single panelson top of the magazines are opened and filled additional magazines are'pu-t into as on the stationary magazines so that the feed'of the lids from the additional r'n'agazines onto'the existing stack of lids'in the stationary magazine takes place by a plastic slide The lid removing and applying device is shown below the stack of lids 39 and has the same construction and operation as in my aforesaid co-pending application. This is known as a 4 partite lid suction station wherein each lid as it is removed from the stack of lids by suction must turn through an angle of and is exposed for 1.8 seconds to infrared light or radiation such as that designated at 44. After exposure to the infrared light the lids are immediately applied to the succession of containers. The infrared light installation is the known conventional type, such as manufactured by Ellstein and others.
It; will further be appreciated that the tunnel proper terminates at the right hand portion of FIG. 1 where the sterilized containers move from support 19 to inclined plate 23 and thence to transfer mechanism 24, the latter part of the machine forwardly of the end of support 19 is known as a Hamba machine. The penumatic sealing station designate as 45 can be turned through an angle of 90 for. cleaning purposes and the heat sealing of the applied lids takes place under 6 atmosphere pressure equal to 36 kg/cm sealing area. This unit is the same as in my co-pending application.
The present machine is also provided with a liquid filled pan 49, the liquid 50 of which canbe heated and sprayed on the underside of the conveyor belt 26 for cleaning purposes as by the spray pipes 51 and subsequently in the return travel fo the conveyor belt 26 the thus cleaned belt is subjected to hot air drying by means of the device shown at 52, these being essentially the same as in my co-pending application. The machine is provided in the usual way with adjustable supporting legs or feet 53 supported by surface 54 which may be a cement flooring in a suitable building or other form of support and whereby the machine can be kept level irrespective of any irregularities that may exist in the supporting surface.
What is claimed is:
1. In a machine for automatically feeding, capping and sealing a succession of containers, an enclosed tunnel containing therin means for sterilizing each container by passing it through a zone of elevated temperature for a sufficient period of time to render the containers sterile, means for cooling the underside of each such container, means for filling the containers, means for capping them and means for aseptically discharging the filled, capped and sealed containers from the machine wherein a forward extension for said tunnel is provided comprising an inclined plate for receiving sterilized containers propelled through said tunnel on a support therefor and means for transferring said sterilized containers to a conveyor belt synchronously connected with the conveyor belt operating in said tunnel.
2. The machine according to claim 1, said tunnel is constructed in a plurality of sections each of which has a removable cover portion and an inspection glass of heat resistant material.
3. The machine according to claim 1, wherein means are provided for feeding empty unsterilized containers into the entrance end of the tunnel, said means comprisinga transverse row of vertical tubes continuously supplied with nested. containers and means for denesting said containers as they leave the bottom of the tubes and for propelling the individual containers into the tunnel.
4. The machine according to claim 3, wherein means are provided in advance of the entrance end of said tunnel in the form of a shield having a horizontal portion extending toward thetunnel entrance and protecting the propelling conveyor mechanism therebelow and defining a space for the introduction of the containers from the supply tubes therefor into the tunnel.
5. The machine according to claim 1, wherein said cooling means is disposed within said forward extension of the tunnel for cooling the underside of each such sterilized container as the same passes thereover on said synchronously connected conveyor belt.
6. The machine according to claim 1, wherein the tunnel has a plurality of sterilizing medium inlets located in spaced relationship along the tunnel cover, each such inlet comprising a tubular portion disposed in an opening in the tunnel cover and having diverging leg portions for distributing the fluid or gaseous sterilizing medium within the adjacent space in the tunnel.
7. The machine according to claim 1, wherein said means for applying a lid to each container is disposed beyond the filling means and further comprising means associated with said lid applying means for sterilizing each such lid, said sterilizing means turning each lid through an angle of 90 and exposing it for approximately 1.8 seconds to associated infrared light prior to application of each such lid to its container.