US 3889725 A
The supported devices in an apparatus which fills beer cans orbit about a vertical axis and have upright housings supporting cylindrical centering members which carry deformable gaskets for the mouths of cans. Such cans are suported by a conveyor which orbits with the filling devices and is movable up and down or is held against vertical movement during rotation with the filling devices. The introduction of liquid into the cans takes place subsequent to introduction of a compressed gas, and such gas can be used to bias the gaskets against the mouths of cans during filling. When the filling of a can is completed, the pressure in its interior is increased to facilitate separation from the respective gasket. That supply of beer which remains in a channel of the housing on closing of the beer-admitting valve can be expelled in response to expansion of gas in a chamber which receives such gas by way of the container and is sealed from the container by beer in the channel. The expansion of gas in the chamber takes place in response to opening of a valve which reduces the pressure of gas above the body of liquid in the container.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Rademacher et al.
[ 1 METHOD OF FILLING BEER CANS OR THE LIKE  inventors: Friedrich Rademacher. Kamen; Karl Quest. Dortmund; Uwe Knabe. Dortmund-Hombruch; Dieter Unger, Waltrop; Heinz Jordan. Dortmund-Korne'. Werner lleckmann, Dortmund; Karl Plock, Dortmund-Lucklemberg. all of Germany Holstein & Kappert Maschineniabrik Phonix GmbH, Dortmund. Germany  Filed: Jan. 8, 1974  Appl. No.: 433,511
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,154,175 4/1939 Mayo 141/39 1 1 June 17, 1975 2.168.841 8/1939 Kantor 141/39 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 201.349 10/1907 Germany 141/5 777.930 7/1957 United Kingdom 141/6 Primary Examiner-Houston 5. Bell. Jr. Attorney. Agent. or Firm-Michael S. Striker  ABSTRACT The supported devices in an apparatus which fills beer cans orbit about a vertical axis and have upright housings supporting cylindrical centering members which carry deformable gaskets for the mouths of cans. Such cans are suported by a conveyor which orbits with the filling devices and is movable up and down or is held against vertical movement during rotation with the filling devices. The introduction of liquid into the cans takes place subsequent to introduction of a compressed gas, and such gas can be used to bias the gaskets against the mouths of cans during filling. When the filling of a can is completed, the pressure in its interior is increased to facilitate separation from the respective gasket. That supply of beer which remains in a channel of the housing on closing of the beeradmitting valve can be expelled in response to expansion of gas in a chamber which receives such gas by way of the container. and is sealed from the container by beer in the channel. The expansion of gas in the chamber takes place in response to opening of a valve which reduces the pressure of gas above the body of liquid in the container.
4 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures PATENTEIJ N 17 m5 -1689'J25 SHEET FIG. 7
PATENTEDJUN 1 7 I975 SHEET PATENTEDJUN 1 7 ms 1% 8 89,72 5
METHOD OF FILLING BEER CANS OR THE LIKE This is a division of application Ser. No. [75,673 filed Aug. 27, l97l. now US. Pat. No. 3.807.463 granted Apr. 30. 1974,
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a method and of filling cans or analogous containers with beer, juice, milk and/or other types of carbonated or non carbonated liquids. More particularly, the invention relates to improvements in a container filling method which can be practiced with apparatus of the type wherein a supply of liquid to be introduced into metallic cans or like containcrs is preferably stored in an annular vessel below a cushion of compressed gas and wherein the vessel rotates during the filling of containers.
Presently known apparatus of the just outlined character are normally provided with an entire battery of equidistant filling devices which extend downwardly from the annular vessel and are provided with means for sealing the mouths of containers (such as beer cans and hereinafter referred to as cans for short) during in troduction of metered quantities of a liquid. such as beer. It is customary to place empty cans onto a com veyor which is provided with means for lifting the cans into sealing engagement with ring-shaped gaskets of the respective filling devices. Since the cans orbit about the axis of rotation of the vessel during introduction of such metered quantities of a liquid. the upper surfaces of the bodies of liquid in the cans are strongly inclined under the action of centrifugal force which acts on decanted liquid, and such inclination presents serious problems during removal of filled cans from the filling apparatus as well as if it is desired to fill each ofa series of cans with identical quantities of a liquid. The prob lems which arise in connection with the inclination of the upper surface of the body of liquid in a filled can are especially serious during downward movement of the can in order to disengage its mouth from the gasket of the respective filling device.
Additional problems arise in presently known filling apparatus for beer cans or the like when the cans consist of relatively weak (readily deformable) material, such as thin aluminum sheet stock. Thus, the magnitude of forces which are employed to insure a satisfactory sealing action between a gasket and the mouth of a can must be maintained within a very narrow range because, if such forces are too weak, the sealing action is unsatisfactory and the respective can cannot receive any liquid or receives less than the desired quantity of liquid. On the other hand, if the forces are excessive, the can is likely to be deformed so that it must be discarded together with its contents and is likely to contaminate the filling apparatus.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved method of filling metallic cans or analogous containers with beer, juice or other carbonated or uncarbonated beverages in such a way that a relatively weak container is not likely to undergo deformation in the course of the filling operation and that each ofa series of successive containers receives the same quantity of liquid.
Another object of the invention is to provide a novel and improved method of preventing contamination of a filling apparatus for beer cans or the like by droplets of liquid. and of reducing the waste in liquid to a mini mum.
A further object ofthc invention is to provide a novel and improved method of introducing metered quantities of liquid into beer cans or analogous containers by gravity flow.
An additional object of the invention is to provide a novel method of sealing the mouths of cans or analogous containers preparatory to and during filling with beer or other types of liquids.
A further object ofthe invention is to provide a novel and improved method of disengaging the mouths ofliq aid-filled containers from gaskets in apparatus for the filling of beer cans or the like.
One feature of the present invention resides in the provision of a method of filling cans or analogous con tainers with liquids. In accordance with a first embodi ment of the invention. the method comprises the steps of placing the mouth of an empty container (such as an aluminum can) into sealing engagement with a gasket (by moving the can against the gasket and/or by moving the gasket against the can raising the pressure in the interior of the thus sealed container by admitting into the container a compressed gas, introducing into the container a metered quantity of a liquid, preferably by gravity flow and preferably while maintaining the liquid at a pressure which is identical with or close to the pressure ofgas in the container. and thereupon raising the pressure in the container in the space above the liquid level to promote the separation of the mouth from the gasket.
In accordance with another embodiment of the invention. the method comprises the steps of placing the mouth of an empty container into sealing engagement with a preferably elastic or deformable gasket, raising the pressure in the container. introducing into the container a pressurized liquid along a predetermined path (for example, through an annular channel) with simultaneous expulsion of gas from the container, terminating the admission of liquid into the container while retaining a supply ofliquid in the path, reducing the pressure in the container above the level of liquid therein. and pneumatically expelling the supply of liquid from the path into the container.
The expelling step preferably comprises confining a portion of compressed gas in an expansion chamber and sealing the thus confined gas from the container by the liquid which flows in the aforementioned path whereby the confined gas expands automatically and expels the supply of liquid from the path in response to a reduction of pressure in the container in the space above the liquid level. The expansion chamber can be connected with the atmosphere subsequent to expulsion of the supply of liquid from the path.
The novel features which are considered as characteristic of the invention are set forth in particular in the appended claims. The filling apparatus itself. however, both as to its construction and its mode of operation, will be best understood upon perusal of the following detailed description of certain specific embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. I is a fragmentary axial sectional view of a filling apparatus for beer cans, showing one of the filling devices in a position in which an annular gasket ofa sealing and centering member engages the mouth of a beer Chm;
FIG. 2 is a horizontal sectional view of the filling dc vice substantially as seen in the direction of arrows from the line II-II of FIG. I:
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary axial sectional view of a filling apparatus embodying a second type of filling devices one of which is shown in axial section.
FIG. 4 is a horizontal sectional view of the second filling device substantially as seen in the direction of ar rows from the line IV-IV of FIG. 3:
FIG. 5 is a similar horizontal sectional view substantially as seen in the direction of arrows from the line \"V of FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary axial sectional view of a filling apparatus employing filling devices which constitute modifications of the device shown in FIGS. 3 to 5; and
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary horizontal sectional view as seen in the direction of arrows from the line VII-VII of FIG. 6;
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referring first to FIGS. I and 2. there is shown a portion of an apparatus which is utilized for the filling of containers with liquids. particularly for the filling of cans 4 with beer or other carbonated beverages. The apparatus comprises a preferably annular vessel or tank 2 having a ring-shaped chamber 3 which contains a supply of liquid (hereinafter called beer) and a cushion of compressed gas (c.g.. air) which forms a layer at a level above the supply of beer. The vessel 2 carries an annulus of equidistant filling devices or units one of which is shown in FIG. I. This vessel is rotated about a vertical axis so that the filling of cans 4 takes place while they travel with the respective filling devices along an arcuate path. preferably in a horizontal plane. The cans 4 are supported by a conveyor II in the form of a turntable which rotates with and at the angular speed of the vessel 2. Such types offilling apparatus are well known in the art.
The mounting of the conveyor II is such that the cans 4 which are transferred onto it at a first transfer station (not shown) need not be moved up or down during filling which takes place while the cans advance from the first station toward a second transfer station (not shown) where the filled cans are removed seriatim for transfer into a capping or sealing machine. not shown.
Each of the filling devices comprises a housing I secured to the underside of the vessel 2 by bolts. screws or analogous fasteners. not shown. The internal chamber 3 of the vessel 2 contains beer in its lower portion and the aforementioned cushion of compressed gas in its upper portion, i.e.. above the liquid level.
The housing I supports and guides an axially reciprocable centering and sealing member 6 which resembles an upright cylinder and is provided with an internal groove for reception of a ring-shaped packing 7 which prevents the escape of liquid and/or gas along the external surface of the housing 1. The external surface of the sealing member 6 is provided with one or more cutouts. recesses. flats or with a circumferentially extending groove [see the groove 8 in FIG. 2) which can receive the prongs of a preferably bifurcated shifter SH serving to move the sealing member 6 up and down in predetermined angular positions of the vessel 2. The
lower end face of the sealing member 6 is formed with a ring-shaped recess or groove 6a for an elastic annular scaling element (hereinafter called gasket) 10 which can be caused to bear against the mouth of the can 4 to seal the latter's interior from the atmosphere during lilling with beer from the chamber 3 of the vessel 2. The uppermost or innermost portion of the recess 6a is of rectangular outline and the radially outermost surface 61] of the recess 60 merges into a downwardly and outwardly flaring conical guide surface or centering surface 9 which serves to center the can 4 during movement ofthe sealing member 6 to the lower end position shown in FIG. I.
The conveyor II is provided with substantially semicircular positioning devices 12 which are open radially outwardly with reference to the axis of rotation of the vessel 2 tie. in a direction to the left. as viewed in FIG. I to permit convenient insertion ofempty cans 4 at the first transfer station and convenient withdrawal of filled cans at the second transfer station. The positioning devices 12 are undercut. as clearly shown in FIG. I. so that they can accommodate portions of the beads 48 at the lower ends of cans 4. If desired. each positioning device 12 can be replaced with one or more suction cups (not shown) or each such positioning device I2 can be provided with one or more suction ports (one shown in FIG. I, as at 12a) which are connected with a suction generating device (e.g., with a suitable fan. not shown) while the respective can travels between the first and second transfer stations to thereby hold the can against movement under the action of centrifugal forcc. The ports 12a can be connected with the suction generating device by way ofa suitable valve plate. not shown. which seals a port 120 from the suction gencrating device as soon as a filled can 4 reaches the second transfer station and is ready to be removed from the conveyor II. The illustrated can 4 is assumed to consist of metallic sheet stock. e.g., aluminumv The filling device of FIG. I further comprises a ringshaped insert or core I3 which is coaxial with and is surrounded by the lower end portion of the housing I to define therewith an annular liquid-admitting channel I4 the lower end portion of which flares conically outwardly and downwardly. as at 14a. to insure that beer which is permitted to flow from the chamber 3 of the vessel 2 can impinge against the internal surface of the cylindrical side wall of the can 4 to thereby reduce the likelihood of splashing and foaming. Thus, the conically diverging lower end portion 14a of the channel 14 insurcs a laminar inflow of beer along the internal surface ofthe can 4. The channel 14 is interrupted at one, two or even more points (for example. at two points which are located diametrically opposite each other with reference to the axis of the sealing member 6) where the core 13 is secured to the housing I.
The housing I is further provided with an internal shoulder 15 which is preferably flush with the upper end face of the core 13 and hence with the upper end of the channel I4. The shoulder 15 constitutes a seat for an elastic valve member 16 which is mounted in the enlarged lower end portion 24 of a tubular carrier 18 formed with one or more radially extending apertures or holes 17 and being biased upwardly by a helical sirin I which reacts a ainst the vessel 2 and bears against a flange (not shown) at the upper end of the carrier 18. The upper end portion ofthe carrier I8 constitutes a follower or is provided with a roller follower which tracks the face of a suitably contigurated stationary ring-shaped cam (not shown) cooperating with the spring 18a to insure that the elastic valve member 16 seals the upper end of the channel 14 during certain first stages of rotation of the vessel 2 and permits beer to flow from the chamber 3 into the channel 14 during certain second stages of rotation of the vessel about its axis. The carrier l8 has an internal space or compartment [9 which communicates with an external space or compartment 19a by way of the apertures 17. The compartments l9 and 191: are in permanent communication with the chamber 3 of the vessel 2. i.e.. a supply of beer fills the space at both sides ofthe enlarged ringshaped lower end portion which carries the elastic valve member 16. Thus. as soon as the spring 18.- is free to lift the carrier 18 above the position shown in FIG. I, a stream of beer is free to flow from the chamher 3, into the compartments 19. 19a and into the upper end of the channel 14 to flow into a can 4 that is centered by the sealing member 6.
The core 13 surrounds a coaxially mounted gas conveying conduit or pipe 20 which has an externally threaded lower end portion 21 meshing with a tapped through bore in a supporting member or yoke 23. The end portion 2l further meshes with a lock nut 22 which normally holds the conduit or pipe 20 against uncontrolled axial movement with reference to the sealing member 6. The two end portions of the supporting member 23 are secured to the sealing member 6 by screws 25 (see FIG. 2) or analogous removable fas- 7 tener means. The upper end portion of the pipe 20 ex tends into the internal space 26 ofa tubular valve body 27 forming part ofa valve which further includes a vertically movable valve member 5. The upper end portion of the valve member 5 carries or constitutes a roller follower (not shown) which tracks the face of a stationary cam serving to insure (preferably in conjunction with a suitable spring, not shown) that the valve including the parts 5, 27 allows the interior of the can 4 to communicate with the space for compressed gas above the level of beer in the chamber 3 in predetermined angular positions of the vessel 2. The upper end portion of the valve member 27 extends above the level of beer in the chamber 3 so that beer cannot enter the can 4 by way of the conduit or pipe 20.
The supporting member 23 for the pipe 20 is preferably mounted in a plane which includes the axis of rotation of the vessel 2.
The external surface of the housing I is provided with a circumferential groove which is surrounded by an internal groove of the sealing member 6 to form therewith a ring-shaped pressure chamber 28. This chamber communicates with the interior of the can 4 by way of one or more axially parallel passages or bores 32 which are machined into the housing 1 and/or sealing member 6 radially outwardly of the channel 14. and with an upwardly extending passage or bore 29 which is machined into the housing l and wherein the flow of gas is con trolled by a pressure reducing valve 30. The valve 30 has a seat 30a which is normally sealed by a conical valve member 31 having an outwardly projecting extension or follower 31a which travels along and can be depressed by a stationary cam 31A mounted adjacent to the path of the valve 30. The pressure of gas in the chamber 28 and passage 29 normally maintains the valve member 31 in sealing engagement with its seat 300.
[he operation of the filling device shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 is as follows:
When an empty beer can 4 is delivered to the illustrated portion of the conveyor I1 and is properly located by the positioning device 12 (and held. if necessary. by suction in the port 1211). the liquid flow controlling valve 15, I6 is closed. the gas flow controlling valve 5. 27 is also closed. and the pressure reducing valve 30 is closed. too. The can 4 thereupon shares the angular movement of the filling device because the conveyor H is driven at the exact speed of the vessel 2 which supports the filling device. The shifter SH is caused to move the sealing member 6 axially down wardly (preferably by means of a cam, not shown) so that the gasket [0 engages and seals the open mouth of the can 4. As soon as the interior of the can 4 is sealed from the surrounding atmosphere, a cam causes or allows the valve member 5 to rise and to thus establish a path for communication between the interior of the can 4 and the gas cushion above the supply of beer in the chamber 3 of the vessel 2 (by way of the tubular valve body 27, space 26 and conduit or pipe 20). This equalizes the pressure in the vessel 2, channel 14. valve body 27, pipe 20, can 4. pressure chamber 28. bore or bores 32 and passage 29. The effective area of the annular surface 28a of the sealing member 6 at the lower end of the pressure chamber 28 exceeds only slightly the effective area of the surface 28b of the housing I at the upper end of the pressure chamber 28 so that compressed gas in the chamber 28 causes the gasket [0 to bear against the mouth of the can 4 with a relatively small force. Thus, the difference between the effective areas of the surfaces 28a and 28h, together with the pressure of gas which is admitted into the can 4 by way of the pipe 20, determines the magnitude of the sealing force acting upon the mouth of the can.
The carrier 18 is caused by the spring to move upwardly when the gas pressure in the can 4 and chamber 28 equals the pressure of gas above the liquid level in the chamber 3. Thus, the valve member 16 moves above and away from the seat 15 and a stream of beer is free to flow into the can 4 by way of the compartments [9, 19a and channel l4. The inflow of beer into the can 4 is terminated automatically when the liquid level reaches the open lower end of the pipe 20. This will be readily understood since the valve 30 is still closed and the freshly admitted supply of beer seals the pipe 20 so that the gas cannot escape from the uppermost part of the can 4. The valve member 5 is thereupon caused to descend and to seal the cushion of gas in the chamber 3 from the pipe 20, and the valve member 16 is also caused to descend and to seal the compartments l9, 190 from the channel l4. Thus. the filled can 4 is still scaled from the atmosphere and is also sealed from the supplies of compressed gas and beer in the vessel 2. The cam 31A thereupon causes the follower 31a to move the valve member 31 of the valve 30 away from the seat 30a. This results in a drop of pressure in the passage 29. chamber 28, bore 32 and the uppermost part of the can 4 above the liquid level. The shifter SH then causes the sealing member 6 to lift the gasket 10 and the pipe 20 above and away from the filled can 4 before the latter reaches the second transfer station. At such second station. the filled can 4 is transferred onto a conveyor (not shown) which forms part of a sealing or closing machine wherein the mouth of the can is sealed in a manner not forming part of the present in\ cntion. As a rule, the can 4 which enters the scaling machine will orbit with one of se\eral sealing devices in the same or similar way as described for the can 4 and filling device of I-'l(i. I.
The upper level of beer in a tilled can 4 may be selected at will by appropriate a\ial adjustment of the conduit or pipe with reference to the supporting member 23 and scaling member 6. Prior to such adjustment. the nut 22 is loosened so that the pipe 20 can be readily rotated with reference to the member 23.
A drawback which is overcome by the advent of the present imcntion is that the cans are less likely to ad here or are incapable of adhering to the gasket of the reciprocable sealing and centering member. Such adherence of the mouth of a can or an analogous containcr to the gasket of a conventional filling device is often attributable to the fact that many types of con tainers are provided with protective layers or coats of lacquer or the like and that such material tends to accumulate at the underside of the gasket. The thus accumulated material act not unlike a layer of adhesive which tends and often succeeds to lift a filled container off the conveyor in response to upward movement of the sealing member.
Another reason for frequent adherence of filled con tainers to the gaskets of filling devices is that the mouth of a conainer is often provided with projecting parts and/or relatively sharp edges which are due to manufacturing defects or are provided intentionally. Such projecting portions or sharp edges are likely to cut into the material ofthe gasket to form therein slits. grooves or like recesses capable of permitting penetration of the mouth of a next-following container and the lifting of such container in response to upward movement of the sealing member upon completion of a filling opera tion. Furthermore. if a sealing member comprises or carries a relatively soft gasket. the material of the gasket is likely to be deformed to partially or completely surround a head or a like formation on the mouth of a container and to thereby cause the container to rise in response to upward movement ofthc respective sealing member. Therefore. many conventional filling apparatus for beer cans or analogous containers comprise one or more deflectors which are mounted in the path of filled containers to insure separation of such containers from the respective gaskets before the containers reach the station where they are caused to leave the filling apparatus for introduction into a sealing machine. Such deflectors or analogous separating means exhibit serious drawbacks because. by striking against an oncom ing filled container, the deflector is likely to deform the container and/or to cause spillage of its contents.
The supporting member 23 can be reached. inspected. removed and reattached without necessitating even partial dismantling of the filling device. Also, the axial position ofthe conduit or pipe 20 can be changed while the supporting member 23 remains attached to the scaling member 6. merely by loosening or removing the nut 22, by thereupon rotating the pipe 20 with reference to the supporting member 23, and by the nut 22 to maintain the pipe 20 in the selected axial position. When the filling device is in use. the movements of the sealing member 6 are invariably synchronized with movements of the pipe 20 to thus insure that each of a series of successive cans 4 will receive the same quantity of liquid. namely. such quantity as is required to seal the lower end of the pipe 20 and to thus terminate the equalization olpressures in the upper part of the vessel 2 and in the upper part of the container 4. If the illustrated pipe 20 is too short or too long, it can be readily removed from the filling device and replaced with a longer or shorter pipe.
FIGS. 3 to 5 illustrate a second filling device or unit which comprises a housing 10] shown as being integral with an annular vessel 102 having a ring-shaped chamber I03 for a supply of beer below a cushion of con% pressed gas. It is clear. however. that the housing l0I can constitute a discrete part which. with a set of similar housings (not shown), is bolted. screwed or other wise separably fastened to the underside of the vessel I02. A beer can I04 rests on a conveyor or turntable III and is held in requisite position by a preferably semicircular or U-shaped positioning device 112 which may but need not be provided with or replaced by suction heads. suction ports or like means for holding the can I04 by suction.
The housing 10] is surrounded by and guides a sub stantially cylindrical sealing and centering member I06 which is movable up and down by a shifter (not shown) corresponding to the shifter SH of FIG. I and having prongs extending or extendable into a pair of horizontal slots I08 shown in FIG. 4. These slots are machined into the peripheral surface of the sealing member I06 substantially or exactly diametrically opposite each other. A ring-shaped elastic packing I07 is mounted in an internal groove ofthe sealing member I06 and bears against the external surface of the adjacent portion of the housing I01. The aforementioned shifter can move the sealing member I06 up and down, i.e., into and from sealing engagement with the upper end portion of the can 104 on the conveyor III. The lower end face of the sealing member 106 is provided with a recess 106a corresponding to the recess of FIG. I and receiving an elastically deformable annular sealing ele' ment or gasket I10. The reference character I09 denotes in FIG. 3 a downwardly and outwardly flaring conical guide surface or centering surface of the sealing member I06.
The housing I0] surrounds an insert or core 113 and defines therewith an annular liquid admitting channel I14 the lower portion of which flares outwardly and downwardly. as at 1140, in order to insure laminar inflow of beer into the can I04. The core 113 may consist of two sections which abut against each other in the plane of the upper end of the conical channel portion ]]4a. The continuity of the channel 114, as considered in the circumferential direction of the core 113, is interrupted at one point (not specifically shown) where the core is secured to the housing 101.
An internal shoulder I15 of the housing 101 is flush with the upper end face of the core 113 and forms therewith an annular seat for an elastic valve member I16 which is held by the enlarged lower end portion I24 ofa tubular carrier 118. The internal compartment 1 19 of this carrier communicates with an external compartment 1190 by way of one or more apertures 117 which are machined into the carrier. The compartment 119a surrounds the carrier I18 and is in turn surrounded by the housing 101. The carrier I18 is biased upwardly by a helical spring 118a and can be moved downwardly, against the opposition of the spring 1180, by a suitably configurated stationary cam, not shown, while the illustrated filling device orbits with the vessel 102 and conveyor III about a vertical axis. As explained in connection with Fl(i. 1. the vessel 102 preferably supports an entire set of equidistant filling devices each of which is preferably identical with the illustrated filling device and serves to introduce into a can 104 a predetermined quantity of beer during travel with the can between a first transfer station where empty cans are delivered onto the conveyor 111 and a second transfer station where tilled cans are being re moved for introduction into a sealing machine, not shown.
The compartments 119, 119a are filled with beer which can flow into the channel 114 and through this channel into a can 104 as soon as the valve member 116 is lifted by the spring 118a.
The core 113 surrounds a gas conveying conduit or pipe 120 which is secured to the sealing member 106 by a substantially L-shaped supporting member 123. One end of the supporting member 123 has a tapped bore for the externally threaded lower end portion 121 of the pipe 120, and the other end of the supporting member 123 is secured to the sealing member 106 by one or more bolts 125 or analogous fasteners. A lock nut 122 is applied to the underside of the supporting member 123 to prevent unintentional axial displacement of the pipe 120. A ring-shaped flange 1210 at the upper end of the externally threaded portion 121 serves as an abutment for the horizontal arm of the supporting member 123.
The upper end portion of the pipe 120 extends into the internal space 126 of a tubular valve body 127 for a valve member (not shown) corresponding to the valve member of FIG. 1. The upper end portion of the valve body 127 is open and communicates with the upper part of other chamber 103 so that it is always filled with gas which exerts pressure against the upper surface of the supply of beer in the vessel 102.
The supporting member 123 is located in a plane which includes the axis of rotation of the vessel 102. The housing 101 is further provided with an external circumferential groove which is surrounded by an internal groove of the sealing member 106 and defines therewith an annular pressure chamber 128 which communicates with the interior of the can 104 by way of a bore, cutout or like passage 132. The passage 132 is formed in part in the housing 101 and in part in the core 1 13. A further passage 129 connects the chamber 128 with a pressure reducing valve 130 mounted in a radial nipple or extension 145 of the housing 101. The valve 130 is a functional equivalent of the valve shown in FIG. 1 and is normally closed.
The pressure reducing valve 130 has a conical seat 130a which is normally engaged by an elastic valve member 13] mounted on a stem 1318 which has an outwardly projecting extension or follower 131a serving to track a cam corresponding to the cam 31A of FIG. I. A helical spring 131D biases the valve member 131 against the seat 130a. The nipple 145 has a radial port 157 by means of which the passage 129 communicates with the atmosphere when the pressure reducing valve 130 is open.
The upper portion 146 of the annular channel 114 between the core 113 and housing 101 communicates with a substantially radially extending bore 147 which is close to the seat 115 and is machined into the housing 101. The bore 147 communicates with an axially parallel bore 148 (see FIG. 5) which communicates with an expansion chamber 150 in the nipple 145 by way of an inclined port 149 [see Fl(i. 3). The expansion chamber 150, the port 149 and the bores 147, 148 are filled with gas. e.g., air. A helical spring 151 in the expansion chamber 150 biases a valve member 152 against the conical seat 153 of a further valve 142 in the the nipple 145. The valve member 152 has an out wardly projecting extension 154 which can be displaced by an enlarged portion or boss 155 of the stem 1318 to thereby move the valve member 152 away from the seat 153. The valves and 142 are mounted in an axial bore 156 of the nipple 145. The boss 155 of the stem 1318 does not abut against the extension 154 of the valve member 152 when the valves 130 and 142 are closed. The chamber communicates with the atmosphere. by way of the port 157 and channels, cutouts and/or bores which are indicated in FIG. 3 by bro ken lines when the follower 131a is depressed to such an extent that it opens the pressure reducing valve 130 and also the valve 142. Communication between the port 157 and the expansion chamber 150 is established by way of one or more cutouts in the follower 1311:, one or more cutouts or bores in the boss 155, and one or more cutouts or bores in the extension 154. Thus the expansion chamber 150 can communicate with the atmosphere simultaneously with the passage 129 but the passage 129 begins to communicate with the atmosphere prior to the chamber 150.
The maximum diameter of the housing 101 exceeds the maximum diameter of the open upper end portion of the can 104 on the conveyor 11]. The same applies for the diameter of the radially outermost surface 106!) in the recess 106a for the gasket 110. The core 113 is rigid with the housing 101 and hence with the vessel 102. The cross-sectional area of the pressure chamber 128 exceeds the maximum area of contact between the gasket 110 and the upper end portion of the can 104, such area of contact being bounded by the innermost and outermost circles of contact between the can and the gasket 110.
The operation of the filling device shown in FIGS. 3 to 5 is as follows:
The sealing member 106 is illustrated in its lower end position in which the gasket 110 is deformed and is held in sealing engagement with the upper end portion of the can 104. It is assumed that the can 104 already contains a predetermined quantity of beer which has introduced into its interior in the same way as described in connection with FIG. 1, i.e. by first moving the valve member in the valve body 127 to its open position while the valve member 116 continues to seal the compartments 119, 119a from the channel 114 and while the valve member 131 dwells in its closed position, and by thereupon opening the valve including the valve member 116 so that a stream of beer can flow into the can 104 to the level of the lower end of the conduit or pipe 120. The valves including the valve member 116 and the valve body 127 are thereupon closed again. If the filled can 104 is to be removed. the shifter which extends into the slots 108 lifts the sealing member 106. The filled can 104 tends to share the first stage of upward movement of the sealing member 106 as a consequence of the aforedescribed relationship between the area of sealing engagement with the gasket 110 and the cross-sectional area of the chamber 128. The interior of the sealing member 106 is assumed to be sealed from the atmosphere and from the chamber 103 of the vessel 102 but is already maintained at atmospheric pressure. In the very instant when the sealing member 106 starts to rise under the action of the shifter, the volume of the chamber 128 decreases because the surface 128a of the scaling member 106 moves upwardly and closer to the surface 128/) of the housing 101. The filled can 104 still remains sealed from the atmosphere because the gasket 110 undergoes expansion in response to lifting of the scaling member 106. i.e.. the gasket continues to remain for a while in scaling engagement with the mouth of the can 104 on the conveyor 111. During expansion of the gasket 110. the volume of the unfilled space above the liquid level in the can [04 increases because the inner diameter of the area of contact between the gasket 110 and the mouth of the can 104 increases. The increase in such volume can be said to approximate the product of the cross-sectional area of the gasket and the length of its upward stroke. The position of the housing 101 and core 113 with reference to the can 104 remains uncharged. The increase in volume ofthe space above the liquid level in the can 104 brings about a drop in pres sure to below atmospheric pressure.
The volume of the chamber 128 decreases in response to upward movement of the sealing member 106 because the housing 101 does not share such upward movement and. therefore. the surface 128a moves closer to the surface 12811. Such rise in pressure is communicated to the interior of the can 104 by way of the bore or passage 132, ie. there occurs an equalization of pressures. Howeven the pressure in the can 104 will rise due to the fact that the rise of pressure in the chamber 128 per unit increment of upward movement of the sealing member 106 exceeds the drop of pressure in the can 104. The rising pressure in the interior of the can 104 above the liquid level biases the can downwardly. i.e., away from sealing engagement with the gasket [10, whereby the can 104 remains on the conveyor 111 to be transferred into the sealing ma chine at the second transfer station.
As mentioned before, the valve 142 can open in response to opening of the pressure reducing valve 130 which opens when the follower 131a is depressed by a cam corresponding to the cam 31A of HO. 1. The opening of pressure reducing valve 130 results in a drop of pressure in the upper portion of the internal space of the can 104 above the liquid level. Such drop in pressure is due to the fact that the interior of the can 104 above the liquid level is free to communicate with the atmosphere by way ofthe port 157. space between the seat 130a and the valve member 131. passage 129, chamber 128 and passage 132. Thus. the pressure of gas above the liquid level in the can 104 is reduced to atmospheric pressure in automatic response to opening of the pressure reducing valve 130. The valve 142 re mains closed while the boss 155 of the stem 1315 re duces the gap between its right-hand end face and the extension 154 to Ycro. Thus. the elevated pressure of gas in the expansion chamber 150, port 149 and bores 148, 147 is communicated to liquid in the channel 114 (whose upper portion 146 communicates with the bore 147) whereby such liquid abruptly or rapidly descends into the can 104. It is to be noted that the valve member 116 is already in scaling engagement with the seat 115. The cam which acts upon the follower 1311! thereupon shifts the boss 155 to such an extent that the valve member 152 of the valve 142 is moved away from the seat 153 so that the expansion chamber 150 is free to communicate with the atmosphere by way of the port 157. This insures that the pressure in channel 114 drops to atmospheric pressure. All this takes place prior to aforediscusscd lifting of the scaling member 106 by means of the shifter whose prongs extend into the slots 108. The alvcs I30 and I42 are thereupon closed by the cam which acts on the follower 131a and by the springs 131D. 151. This restores the initial condition of the filling device which is then ready to admit beer into the next can 104, such can being placed or conveyed onto the conveyor 111 downstream of the second transfer station and not later than at the time when the filling device reaches the first transfer station.
The provision of the valve 142 eliminates a serious drawback of many presently known filling devices wherein a supply of liquid remains in the space corresponding to the channel 114 subsequent to lifting of the sealing member above and away from the mouth of a freshly filled container. 1f the liquid is a carbonated beverage, it is likely to release carbon dioxide gas and to produce drops which escape into the filling apparatus subsequent to movement of a freshly filled container away from registry with the filled device.
The release of carbon dioxide gas which is entrapped in beer or other carbonated beverages normally occurs in automatic response to exposure of such beverages to atmospheric air, for example, when the sealing member of a conventional filling device is lifted above and away from a filled beer can. This causes the formation of aforementioned drops which are free to descend into the filling apparatus if a supply beer remains in the channel of the filling device after the filled can is moved laterally of and out of register with the sealing member of such filling device.
The pressure in the expansion chamber 150 rises to reach the pressure in the upper portion of the chamber 103 when the conduit or pipe is free to establish communication between the interior of an empty can 104 and the cushion of gas above the supply of beer in the vessel 102. The pressure of such gas is communicated to the expansion chamber 150 by way of the channel 114, bores 147, 148 and port 149. The expansion chamber 150 is sealed from the interior of the can 104 and the pressure therein remains unchanged while the beer is free to flow through the channel 114 because such liquid seals the bore 147 from the interior of the can. When the valve member 1 16 is moved to the illustrated sealing position to terminate the admission of beer into the can 104, and when the valve is thereupon opened to reduce the pressure in the can 104 above the body of beer therein. the expansion chamber insures rapid and complete evacuation of liquid which remains in the channel 114 after closing of the valve member 116. This insures that the apparatus cannot be contaminated by droplets of beer subse quent to movement of the filled can 104 laterally of and away from register with the filling device ofFlG. 3. The expansion chamber 150 contributes to more satisfactory filling of cans 104 because it causes admission into a can 104 of that quantity of liquid which would otherwise remain in the channel 114. Since the can 104 cannot be filled to any desired extent merely by relying on the axial position of the conduit or pipe 120 the admis sion of an additional quantity of beer subsequent to scaling of the lower end of the pipe by liquid in the can 104 insures that the liquid level in a can which has been removed from the filling apparatus embodying the device of FIG. 3 is closer to the mouth than in cans which are filled in conventional apparatus with orbiting conveyor means for cans.
The quantity of liquid which remains in the channel 114 subsequent to closing of the valve member 116 and prior to opening of the valve 130 can be relatively large (as compared with the volume ofa can 104) so that the liquid which is admitted in response to expansion of gas in the chamber 150 can constitute a substantial percentage of the contents of a properly filled can. It was found that the provision of the expansion chamber 150 insures very effective and reproducible expulsion of liquid from the channel 114, such expulsion being much more effective than the evacuating action which might be due to capillary effect or other influences.
The filling device of FIGS. 6 and 7 is similar to the filling device of FIGS. 3 to 5. Therefore. all such parts of this filling device which are identical with or clearly analogous to the corresponding parts of the structure shown in FIGS. 3-5 are denoted by similar reference characters plus 300.
The difference between the filling devices of FIGS. 3-5 and 6-7 is that the latter device comprises a modifled connection between the conduit or pipe 420 and the supporting member 423. The pipe 420 is movable axially of the core 312 in the housing 401 and its lower end portion is provided with several circumferential grooves 420g each of which can receive a bifurcated portion 423/) of the horizontal arm of the supporting member 423. The distance between the prongs of the bifurcated portion 423h slightly exceeds the outer diameter of the pipe 420 in each groove 420g. The fastener 425 secures the vertical arm of the substantially L-shaped supporting member 423 to the sealing and centering member 406.
The upper end portion of the pipe 420 extends well into and is movable axially in the lower end portion of the tubular valve body 427. As explained in connection with FIGS. 3-5, the upper end portion of the valve body 427 is in permanent communication with the cushion of compressed gas above the level of the supply of beer in the ring-shaped chamber 403 of the vessel 402. The valve body 427 surrounds and defines a seat for an axially movable valve member (not shown) corresponding to the valve member of FIG. I.
The bifurcated portion 423b of the supporting member 423 can be inserted into any one of the grooves 420g so that the extent to which a can 404 on the conveyor 411 can be filled with beer may be varied within a desired range (corresponding to the distance between the uppermost and lowermost grooves 420g in the pipe 420). Otherwise. the operation of the filling device of FIGS. 6-7 is identical with that of the filling device shown in FIGS. 3-5.
The heretofore described filling apparatus exhibit the important advantage that the cans or analogous containers on the conveyors need not be lifted in order to move their mouths into sealing engagement with the gaskets of the respective sealing members. The mass of the lifting means which are used in conventional filling apparatus to raise empty cans or analogous containers into engagement with the gaskets of the respective sealing members normally considerably exceeds the mass of an empty can. Therefore. the energy requirements of the drive which moves such lifting devices up and down are considerable. especially if the can on the lifting device is to raise the sealing member by way ofthe gasket. Rapid acceleration of relatively heavy lifting devices in modern high-speed filling apparatus presents many problems. not only as concerns the consumption ofen ergy but also as concerns the wear on moving parts and the generation of noise.
Without further analysis. the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can. by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features which fairly constitute essential characteristics of the generic and specific aspects of our contribution to the art and, therefore, such adaptations should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalence of the claims.
What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent is set forth in the appended claims:
1. A method of filling cans or analogous containers with liquids, comprising the steps of placing the mouth of an empty container into scaling engagement with a gasket; raising the pressure in the thus sealed container by admitting into the container a compressed gas; introducing into the container a metered quantity of liquid by gravity flow; and thereupon raising the pressure in the filled container above the body of liquid therein to promote the separation of the mouth from the gasket.
2. A method of filling cans or analogous containers with liquids. comprising the steps of placing the mouth of an empty container into sealing engagement with a gasket; raising the pressure in the interior of the thus sealed container by admitting thereinto a compressed gas; introducing into the container a pressurized liquid by gravity flow along a predetermined path with simul taneous expulsion of gas from the interior of the container; terminating the admission ot'liquitl into the container while retaining a supply of liquid in said path; reducing the pressure above the liquid level in the container; and pneumatically expelling the supply of liquid from said path into the container.
3. A method as defined in claim 2, wherein said expelling step comprises confining a portion of compressed gas in an expansion chamber and sealing the thus confined gas from the container by the liquid in said path whereby the confined gas expands and expels the supply of liquid from said path in response to reduction of pressure in the container above the liquid levelv 4. A method as defined in claim 3, further comprising the step of connecting the expansion chamber with the atmosphere subsequent to expulsion of said supply of liquid from said path.