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Publication numberUS3859774 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 14, 1975
Filing dateMar 22, 1973
Priority dateMar 23, 1972
Also published asDE2214080A1, DE2214080B2, DE2214080C3
Publication numberUS 3859774 A, US 3859774A, US-A-3859774, US3859774 A, US3859774A
InventorsBausch Franz Hubert
Original AssigneeHamba Maschf
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for the sterile packaging of foodstuffs
US 3859774 A
Abstract
An apparatus for the sterile packaging of foods, for instance dairy products or the like, in cup-shaped previously-shaped containers, which comprises an endless conveyor chain adapted to carry cup-shaped finished containers along an upper and a lower pass. A filling station, a lid-application station, a sealing station, and an ejection station are provided. The containers are conveyed in succession past the stations. The apparatus has housing means which extends over at least the entire conveyor chain as a self-enclosed sterile chamber free of drive means. At least one-half of the length of the conveyor chain in front of the filling station is juxtaposed with a discharge mouth of a finished-container magazine opening directly into the sterile chamber. Immediately adjoining the sterile chamber is a sterilizing-agent spray station which provides a sterilizing-agent path of action corresponding at least to the length of the lower course of the conveyor chain. A nozzle pipeline system is provided over the entire length of the sterilizing-agent path of action. The nozzle pipeline system is fed optionally with a sterilizing agent and with sterile drying air, respectively, and is located in a plane below the conveyor chain. The sterile chamber is subdivided into partial lengths along the upper course of the conveyor chain in the region on the sterile-chamber side of the filling, lid-applying and sealing stations by a screening provided with its own additional pressure-producing sterile-air feed and its own outlet.
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atent 1 1 1451 Jan.14,1975

[ APPARATUS FOR THE STERILE PACKAGING OF FOODSTUFFS [75] Inventor: Franz Hubert Bausch, Wuppertal,

Germany [73] Assignee: Firma Hamba-Maschinenfabrik Hans A. Muller, Wuppertal-Vohwinkel, Germany 221 Filed: Mar. 22, 1973 211 Appl.No.:343,800

[30] Foreign Application Priority Data Primary ExaminerRobert L. Spruill Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Ernest G. Montague; Karl F. Ross;Herbert Dubno [5 7] ABSTRACT An apparatus for the sterile packaging of foods, for instance dairy products or the like, in cup-shaped previously-shaped containers, which comprises an endless conveyor chain adapted to carry cup-shaped finished containers along an upper and a lower pass. A filling station, a lid-application station, a sealing station, and an ejection station are provided. The containers are conveyed in succession past the stations. The apparatus has housing means which extends over at least the entire conveyor chain as a self-enclosed sterile chamber free of drive means. At least one-half of the length of the conveyor chain in front of the filling station is juxtaposed with a discharge mouth of a finished-container magazine opening directly into the sterile chamber. Immediately adjoining the sterile chamber is a sterilizing-agent spray station which provides a sterilizing-agent path of action corresponding at least to the length of the lower course of the conveyor chain. A nozzle pipeline system is provided over the entire length of the sterilizing-agent path of action. The nozzle pipeline system is fed optionally with a sterilizing agent and with sterile drying air, respectively, and is located in a plane below the conveyor chain. The sterile chamber is subdivided into partial lengths along the upper course of the conveyor chain in the region on the sterile-chamber side of the filling, lid-applying and sealing stations by a screening provided with its own additional pressure-producing sterile-air feed and its own outlet.

9 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures PATENTEDJAN 1 41975 sum 1 or 4 PATENTEDJANI 41975 SHEET 4 0F 4 Fig.

3O .W 'W

APPARATUS FOR THE STERILE PACKAGING OF FOODSTUFFS The present invention relates to an apparatus for the sterile packaging of foodstuffs, for instance of dairy products or the like, in cup-shaped finished containers which, on an endless conveyor chain in sterile condition, in succession pass through a filling station, a lidapplying station, a sealing station and an ejection station.

In a known apparatus, there is provided in front of, i.e., outside the actual bottling device, a drum in which the finished containers are sterilized and then are delivered to the machine from said drum by means of a transfer device.

In such a machine, a considerable structural length is required for the sterilizing of the finished containers, since the drum and the transfer device must be arranged in front of the machine on the entrance side. Furthermore, this drum must have a relatively large diameter so that the sterilizing liquid can act, over a relatively long path, upon the containers which are to be sterilized.

It is an object of the present invention to make the finished containers sterile not only directly in the machine itself, but despite a relatively short length of the machine, to obtain an effective sterilization even in the case of large, deep containers of large surface.

According to the invention, the apparatus, at least over the entire length of its conveyor chain, is formed as a self-enclosed sterile chamber which is free of drive means and which has at least one half length of the conveyor chain in front of the filling station. The discharge mouth of a finished-container magazine or feed means discharges directly into the sterile chamber. Directly adjoining the chain is a sterilizing-agent spray station while a steriling-agent action path is formed which corresponds at least to the length of the lower course of the conveyor chain. Over the entire length of this sterilizing-agent action path there is provided a nozzle pipeline system, which can be fed selectively with a sterilizing agent or with sterile drying air and which is located in a plane below the conveyor chain. The sterile chamber is subdivided predominantly over portions of the upper course of the conveyor chain in the regions of the filling, the lid-applying and sealing stations located on the sterile-chamber side, by a screen provided with its own sterile-air feed which in addition produces pressure.

Due to the fact that it is possible with the invention to form within the apparatus a self-enclosed sterile chamber which is free from drive means and to introduce the finished containers to be sterilized, directly into this sterile chamber, the containers can be made sterile directly in the machine itself, which affords considerable structural advantages over the apparatus described above and eliminates additional structural units.

The place at whichthe finished containers brought into the machine from the outside at the sterilizing zone is decisive. This is so effected in the case of the present invention, that at least one half length of the conveyor chain is present between the mouth of the finishedcontainer magazine and the filling station. This fact means, in practical operation, that the containers sprayed with sterilizing liquid immediately after the delivery from the magazine onto the conveyor chain are subject to sterilizing action over a relatively long path, namely at least over a length corresponding to the length of the lower course of the conveyor chain, as a result of which the effect of the sterilization is improved.

Because of the relatively long path for the action of the sterilizing agent, the system of the present invention is particularly suited also for large, deep containers of large surface, since their sterilization has heretofore represented a real problem.

It is possible, within a fixed length of the machine necessary for the arrangement of the individual treatment stations, to obtain a sufficiently long period of time for the action of the sterilizing agent.

Since in accordance with another proposal of the present invention a nozzle pipeline system, which can be fed optionally or selectively with sterilizing agents or with sterile drying air is provided over the entire range of the path of action of the sterilizing agent, this path of action of the sterilizing agent, which must necessarily be traversed by each of the finished containers supplied, can be additionally used, since not only does sufficient time remain for the action of the sterilizing agent, but in addition these sprayed containers can also be treated with sterile drying air, so that in this way the containers arrive absolutely sterile, and dry at the tilling station.

So that the action of sterile drying air on the containers treated along the sterilizing-agent action path does not have a detrimental effect on the treatment stations operating in the region of the upper course of the conveyor chain, the present invention provides an additional screening, which shields the region of the filling, lid-applying and sealing stations on the sterile-chamber side. If because of the action of drying air, splatterings of a sterilizing agent come off from the containers, they are not brought, as a result of the screening, into the region of the treatment stations, so that the function of these stations is not impaired thereby.

This shield is formed as a trough which is provided with its own optional sterile-air or sterilizing-agent feed and with its own outlet for sterilizing agent. Thus even at filling station, lid-applying station and sealing station which are enclosed by the screening trough, assurance is had that these places also are absolutely sterile. By the additional production of a pressure in the region of the upper course of the conveyor chain, no air which is saturated with sterilizing agent will pass out of the lower region into the upper region.

According to a feature of the invention, the sterile chamber is divided, by at least one partition plate in a plane below the upper course of the conveyor chain and another partition plate in a plane above the lower course of the conveyor chain, into two elongated sterile duct chambers, which reduce the total volume of the chambers, form an upper and a lower duct shaft, and are connected with each other at both ends.

The reduction of the effective volume of the sterile chambers has a favorable effect on maintaining of the sterile. condition of the chamber and on the other hand reduces the danger of reinfection. Furthermore, the upper and lower courses of the conveyor chain are so separated from each other by the partitions, that splatterings of the sterilizing agent can no longer act detrimentally on the treatment stations operating in the re gion of the upper course under the action of the drying by the nozzle pipeline system within the path of action of the sterilizing agent.

The upper partition can be formed, at least over the region of the filling and the lid-applying stations, as a trough with an inclined bottom provided with outlet.

In this case, the upper partition fulfills a twofold purpose in that on the one hand it is able to represent a limitation for the upper tunnel or canal, while on the other hand it assumes the function of a trough.

If the upper and lower partitions are formed with vertical partition walls as box frames open on both sides extending over the entire width of the sterile zone of the machine, one can use plates of a size which can easily be handled and can dispose transverse supports between such box frames in order to brace the machine or support the sealing station.

The discharge opening of the finished-container magazine can now be provided in the region of the upper course of the conveyor chain directly adjacent the ejection device which deforms or removes the filled, closed containers as the last treatment station for containers to be filled and have a sterile bridge consisting of a pair of nozzles.

This is particularly advantageous for the reason that in this way practically the entire portion of the conveyor chain beginning with the ejection station and extending to the filling station over the entire length of the lower course of the conveyor chain can be fully utilized in order to obtain a sufficiently long path of action for the sterilizing agent.

The system of nozzle pipelines which optionally con duct sterilizing agent or sterile drying air comprises a number of individual pipes corresponding to the number of rows of conveyor chains located side by side, one line of the pipe being provided below each individual row of conveyor chain, each individual line of pipe of the pipeline system being surrounded by a separate protective jacket over a length corresponding to the region of spray of the sterilizing agent.

By this arrangement, not only is there obtained the result that each individual row of conveyor chain which is occupied with finished containers, has its own pipeline associated with it, in order to make the sterile treatment of the finished containers particularly effective, but in addition, due to the protective jacketing of each individual pipeline over parts of its length, assurance is provided that the spray deposit in the direct region of spray of the spray agent station is not subjected to premature drying. Rather, the spray agent has sufficient time to act on the containers, while the actual drying process takes place somewhat later. In addition, due to the jacketing, cooling of the pipes and evaporation of the dripping sterilizing agent is avoided.

The screening troughhas associated with it a nozzle pipeline system consisting of a plurality of individual pipes acting between the rows of conveyor chains, said system being arranged at a distance over the screening and extending over the entire length thereof.

The lid-applying station is provided with a multi-arm lid-suction device, a sprayer, arranged in front of a lidsupporting arm provided with a lid, acts on said arm during the standstill time of each operating cycle. By the additional action on a lid already removed during the standstill time of an operating cycle of the lid feed, all lids which are to be applied are also subjected to sufficient sterilizing action.

These and other objects will become more readily apparent from the following detailed description, given with reference to the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view, partly in section, of the apparatus, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an end view thereof in section along the line IIII of FIG. 1, the apparatus being shown here only at the portion corresponding to the sterile chamber;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation, corresponding to FIG. I, of another embodiment with an upper and a lower tunnel chamber; and

FIG. 4 is an end view corresponding with FIG. 2.

The filling device, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 of the accompanying drawing, is provided with a filling station 10 which can fill a measured quantity of a product from a feed 11. Furthermore, adjoining this filling station there is provided a lid-applicator station 12. Behind it is a sealing station 13. And finally there is also provided an ejection device 14 which removes the filled containers 15 from a conveyor chain 16, the containers being then moved away by means of a conveyor chain 17. Furthermore, this device is also provided with a magazine 18 which contains empty preformed containersl9.

In the apparatus shown there is provided on a machine frame 20 a closed large-volume sterile chamber 21, free of drive means, which extends over the entire length of the conveyor chain 16 and forms the center part of the machine. In the case of this apparatus, the mouth 22 of the finished-container magazine 18 is inserted directly into the sterile chamber 21, so that the finished containers which are to be filled can be made sterile directly in the sterile chamber on the machine side. This mouth point 22 is located at a point of the machine which is at least one half the length of a conveyor chain-in front of the filling station 10. In the embodiment shown by way of example, this mouth point 22 is provided directly adjoining the ejection device.

The conveyor chain 16, which is equipped with individual cells, as seen in FIG. I, of cup, shape, each adapted to receive one finished container, held by friction can as can be noted from FIGS. 2 and 4 be provided with a plurality of rows of cells lying alongside of each other.

In the direction of travel of the conveyor chain adjoining the charging station 22 for the finished containers, there is a sterilizing agent spray device 23, which is adapted to spray the finished containers 19 conveyed by the conveyor chain 16 to the nozzle mouth. The containers 19 which have now been sprayed start from this time on to pass through a sterilizing agent action path, this sterilizing agent action path being equipped over its entire length with a nozzle pipeline system 24 in such a manner, that a nozzle pipeline 24 is located below each conveyor-chain row.

As can be noted in particular from FIGS. 1 and 3, each nozzle pipeline 24 is provided over a part of its axial length within the spray region with a jacketing 25 so that the sprayed sterilizing agent can act over this path. When the cells of the conveyor chain 16 containing the individual containers 19 have left the jacketed region 25, they come into the sphere of action of the nozzle pipes 24 through which sterile drying air is conveyed, and which is thereby able to dry the containers.

The sterile chamber 21 is developed on its bottom side as preferably a removable trough 26, which has a discharge connection 27 at at least one end.

It should be mentioned here that the nozzle pipeline system 24 can also be used, for instance before placing the apparatus in operation or during operation, for dispensing a sterile liquid for the purpose of purification or sterilization, this being followed by a drying with sterile drying air.

Furthermore, within the sterile chamber 21, spaced over the bottom 26 of the trough, there is arranged a shield in the form of a trough 28 which screens the region between the filling station and the sealing station 13 off in downward direction. This screening trough is also provided with a discharge connection 29. Above the upper course of the conveyor chain 16 there is provided another nozzle pipeline system 30 which, lying in each case between the conveyor chain rows, can also be used to dispense a sterilizing agent or sterile drying air.

At the lid-application station 12 there is provided a multi-arm lid suction device, which is capable of drawing the individual lids 31 off from a magazine 32 and then advancing them in synchronism past a sprayer 33 and then finally depositing them on the containers 19. In this connection the design is such, that each suction arm which bears a lid 31 comes before the sprayer 33 during the standstill time of an operating cycle, so that sterilization of the lid is possible here as the result of a certain time of action.

In the case of this apparatus, it is seen to it that the sterile chamber 21 is absolutely free of all drive means which, as can be noted in particular from FIG. 2, are provided outside of same. Thus the drive wheels 34 for the conveyor chain 17 are also provided outside the sterile chamber 21, as well as a drive (not shown) for the conveyor chain 16 and the drives of the treatment stations, so that the entire volume of the sterile chamber can be used completely for the sterilizing of the containers.

Differing from a machine with a sterile large chamber 21, in accordance with FIGS. 1 and 2, FIGS. 3 and 4 show a machine which is constructed in accordance with the same principle of treatment for the finished containers, as the machine shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The only difference is the configuration of the sterile chamber 21 which is divided into an upper tunnel chamber 21a and a lower tunnel chamber 21b, by a partition plate 41 below the upper course and another partition plate 42 above the lower course. These partition plates 41 and 42, as can clearly be noted from FIG. 3, may be connected with each other by vertical walls 43 and thus form box-like bodies. The space within these bodies can then be used for other purposes. For instance, the conveyor chain 17 for the removal of the finished containers could be located herein, i.e., the empty course could be passed through here.

By the provision of a plurality of such box frames space is obtained between them which as can be seen can also be utilized by supports for the sealing station or the like. The partition plate 41 of the box frame present in the region of the filling and lidapplicator stations can be shaped as a trough 128 and have an outlet 29.

The preformed containers 19 which are charged at the mouth 22 into the sterile chamber 21 or 21a are first sprayed in the region of the sterilizing-agent spray device 23 and then dried by the nozzle pipeline system 24 in the region of the sterilizing-agent action path. The containers which have been made absolutely sterile then pass into the region of the filling station 10, are filled there, and pass into the sphere of action ofthe lidapplication device 12, where the lids 31 are placed on. A sealing station 13 sees to it that the lids which have been placed on are properly sealed. By means of an ejector 14 located behind the sealing device, the filled containers 15 are lifted out of the conveyor chain 16 and removed from the device by a conveyor chain 17.

I claim:

1. In an apparatus for the sterile packing of food and including a conveyor defining a transport path for containers to be filled, a magazine for depositing the containers in succession upon said conveyor, sterilizing means along said path for spraying the containers on said conveyor with a sterilizing liquid, drying means for drying the sprayed containers, filling means for introducing foodstuffs into said containers, lid-applying means for applying a lid to each of the filled containers to form packages, sealing means for sealing the lid to each package, and ejector means for removing said packages from the conveyor, the improvement wherein:

a. said conveyor is formed as an endless chain having an upper pass and a lower pass and is provided with at least one row of seats adapted to receive said containers;

b. said apparatus comprises housing means completely enclosing said conveyor chain and the entire length of the path of said containers thereon;

c. said filling means, said lid-applying means said sealing means, and said ejector means are provided along the upper pass of said conveyor chain;

d. said magazine opens directly into said chamber to deposit said containers on said chain at a location spaced along said path from said filling means such that the length of travel of said container from said magazine to said filling means is a distance greater than half the length of said chain;

c. said sterilizing means for spraying said liquid onto said containers comprises a spray nozzle trained on said containers carried by said conveyor at a location spaced from said filling means along said path such that the length of travel of said container from said sterilizing means to said filing means is a dis tance at leastequal to half the length of said chain whereby said liquid has a path of action corresponding at least to said lower pass of the chain;

f. said drying means includes a pipeline extending along said lower pass of said chain and provided with nozzles for directing a drying gas onto said containers; and

g. said apparatus further comprises a partition disposed in said chamber between said pipeline and said filling, lid-applying and sealing means, said partition defining with said filling, lid-applying and sealing means a compartment pressurized with sterile gas.

2. The improvement defined in claim 1, wherein said partition is a first partition in said chamber parallel to said upper pass of said chamber and defining a first tunnel therefor, said apparatus comprises a second partition parallel to said lower pass of said chain in said chamber and defining a tunnel for said lower pass on said chamber.

3. The improvement defined in claim 2, wherein said first partition is formed in the region of said filling and lid-applying means as an upwardly open trough with an inclined bottom and an outlet communicating with said trough.

4. The improvement defined in claim 2, wherein said partitions are formed as parts of common box frames extending over the width of the apparatus and open on opposite sides.

5. The improvement defined in claim 1, wherein said magazine opens onto the upper pass of said chain.

6. The improvement defined in claim 1, further comprising a removable trough in said chamber underlying said pipeline.

7. The improvement defined in claim 1, wherein said chain is provided with a plurality of rows of such seats and said pipeline includes a respective row of nozzles aligned with each row of seats.

8. The improvement defined in claim 7, wherein said pipeline is provided with a jacket over a portion of the length thereof.

9. The improvement defined in claim 1, wherein said lid-applying means includes a multi-armed lid-applying device adapted to pick up lids from a supply thereof and deposit them on said containers, and spray means cooperating with said lid-applying means for directing a sterilizing liquid against the lid carried by one of said arms in a standstill position of said device.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4155786 *Dec 15, 1976May 22, 1979Gatrun AnstaltProcess and apparatus for sterilizing a thermoplastic band
US4409775 *Oct 15, 1980Oct 18, 1983The Mead CorporationApparatus for the aseptic packing of high acid food
US4622800 *Jun 26, 1985Nov 18, 1986Gasti-Verpackungsmaschinen GmbhSterilizing method and apparatus
US4821866 *Dec 24, 1987Apr 18, 1989Despatch Industries, Inc.Conveyor for a clean room
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US7926197 *Sep 10, 2003Apr 19, 2011S.I.P.A. Societa Industrializzazione Progettazione E Automazione S.P.A.Process and device for treating the coating of thermoplastic resin containers
US20040099467 *Sep 4, 2001May 27, 2004Ivan DoakeMushroom packing apparatus
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CN104225637B *Jul 29, 2014May 10, 2017浙江益立胶囊有限公司一种胶囊高效杀菌装置
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Classifications
U.S. Classification53/167, 53/282
International ClassificationB65B3/04, A23C3/00, B65B55/02, B65B55/04, B65B55/10, B65B7/28
Cooperative ClassificationB65B55/027, B65B55/10
European ClassificationB65B55/10, B65B55/02D