US RE43035 E1
A conveyor oven has a modulating gas valve which raises and lowers the thermal output of a burner that heats the oven. A bypass line passes a minimum amount of gas to prevent the burner from completely shutting down during periods while the oven remains above a threshold demand for more heat. Electrical isolation is provided between temperature controlling devices to prevent an electrical feed back which might otherwise prevent a complete shut down of the oven during hazardous conditions.
1. A conveyor oven control comprising an energy management system for controlling a flowing stream of hot air through a cavity of an oven for baking a food product; a conveyor extending through said cavity for conveying said food product through said oven; a fuel gas line for conveying fuel gas from a source to a burner in said oven; said energy management system being interposed in said fuel gas line and between said source and said burner for controlling a flow of fuel gas to said burner; said energy management system comprising a controller, a signal conditioner, a fuel gas valve, and an ignition module; a safety shut down valve associated connected with said ignition module to prevent said ignition module from re-igniting said burner during hazardous conditions; a pair of sensors in said oven for sensing instantaneous oven temperatures; said controller being responsive to said sensed temperatures for controlling said energy management system to regulate operation of said fuel gas valve and, thereby, the flow of fuel gas to the burner in order to maintain oven temperature within a predetermined range, said signal conditioner being responsive to said controller for providing signals that control said fuel gas valve; and a pair of transformers, one transformer being coupled to energize said signal conditioner and to electrically isolate said signal conditioner from said ignition module, and the other transformer being coupled to energize said signal ignition module and to electrically isolate said ignition module from said signal conditioner, the pair of transformers connected in parallel with each other and with said controller to prevent an electrical feed back which might otherwise defeat the safety shut down valve between said signal conditioner and said ignition module.
2. The conveyor oven of
3. The conveyor oven of
4. The conveyor oven of
5. A conveyor oven for automatically baking a food product over a timed period under the control of an energy management system, said oven comprising a cavity having a burner associated therewith for providing heated air in said cavity, a fuel gas line for delivering fuel gas to said burner via said energy management system, said burner heating air in a plenum, a system for delivering said stream of heated air from said plenum through said cavity and returning at least a portion of said stream to said plenum, a pair of sensors at different locations in said plenum for sensing an instantaneous temperature of said heated air in said plenum, a valve for modulating the fuel gas delivered to said burner responsive to said sensed instantaneous oven temperature, said delivered fuel gas comprising at least a minimum amount of fuel gas so that said burner means remains in continuous operation regardless of said modulation of fuel gas delivered to said burner, a controller responsive to said sensors for providing signals for regulating said fuel gas valve, a signal conditioner, and an ignition module, said signal conditioner converting said signals provided by said controller into control signals for operating said fuel gas modulating valve, and a pair of transformers, one transformer being coupled to energize said signal conditioner and to electrically isolate said signal conditioner from said ignition module and the other transformer being coupled to energize said ignition module and to electrically isolate said ignition module from said signal conditioner, wherein the pair of transformers are connected in parallel with each other and with said controller to prevent an electrical feedback between said signal conditioner and said ignition module.
6. The oven of
7. An energy management system for a conveyor oven that bakes a food product during a passage through said oven, said energy management system delivering a flowing stream of hot air from a burner and over said food product during said passage and comprising a fuel gas valve, a controller for sensing and regulating the temperature of said stream of hot air, a signal conditioner responsive to said controller for producing signals required to operate said fuel gas valve, an ignition module, and a pair of transformers, one of said transformers delivering power to and providing electrical isolation for said signal conditioner, and the other of said transformers delivering power to and providing electrical isolation for said ignition module, wherein the pair of transformers are coupled in parallel with each other and with said controller to prevent an electrical feed back signal between them the signal conditioner and the ignition module.
8. The system of
9. The system of
10. A conveyor oven comprising a modulating fuel gas valve for supplying heat to said oven; a controller; a signal conditioner for converting signals from said controller into signals for operating said fuel gas modulating valve; an on/off safety valve in said fuel gas line to automatically shut down said oven during predetermined conditions; an ignition module for igniting fuel gas delivered by said safety valve; and an electrical control circuit for operating said fuel gas modulating valve, controller, conditioner, and ignition module, said circuit having a first section relating to mechanical parts of the oven and a second section relating to energy management of heat delivery in said oven, and said electrical control circuit having electrical isolation for preventing a feed back of electrical signals which might prevent shut down of said safety valve during said predetermined conditions between said signal conditioner and said ignition module;
wherein said second section includes first and second transformers coupled in parallel with each other and with said controller to provide said isolation between their secondary windings of the first and second transformers, one of said secondary windings supplying power to and electrically isolating said signal conditioner and not supplying power to said ignition module, and the other of said secondary windings supplying power to and electrically isolating said ignition module and not supplying power to said signal conditioner, said safety valve being coupled to supply fuel gas via said ignition module.
11. The oven of
This is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 09/760,194 filed Jan. 12, 2001 which now U.S. Pat. No. 6,684,875, in turn, claims priority from and replaces Provisional application Serial No. 60/249,685, filed Nov. 17, 2000.
This invention relates to conveyor ovens having reduced fuel consumption and with quieter operation, and more particularly to such ovens having an energy management system including a modulated gas flow with a safety feature that isolates electrical controls in order to enhance an integrity of the safety features built into the oven.
Prior art conveyor ovens are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,964,392 and 5,277,105 owned by the assignee of this invention and in the references cited on the cover pages of these patents. These and other similar patents may be consulted in order to learn details of how conveyor ovens are constructed and operate. Often—but not always—this type of oven is used to cook or bake pizzas, bread, or the like.
Conveyor ovens are devices for automatically baking or cooking food products over timed periods. Normally, they have a conveyor belt which travels through an elongated oven cavity having open ends and at a speed which times the exposure of the food product to the heat of the oven. A food product, such as a pizza, for example, is placed on one end of the conveyor at the entry to the oven cavity and delivered from the oven at the opposite end of the cavity. The heat in the oven and the speed of the conveyor are coordinated so that the food product is fully and correctly cooked or baked by the time when the conveyor delivers it at the exit end.
The conventional method of delivering controlled heat has been to switch burners off and on in order to hold the resulting temperature in the oven cavity within a relatively narrow range. This process has functioned very well in the past. However, anything can always be improved and, therefore, it is always possible to do a better job heating and cooking or baking the food product.
Also, the cost of the fuel (natural or propane gas) for the burners is increasing sharply. Thus, an important goal is to reduce the fuel consumption, which the invention has done by approximately 30%.
A conveyor oven is usually energized by gas, which always requires a safety feature since an explosive atmosphere might be created by leaking gas. As a result, various governmental agencies prescribe an incorporation of safety features, such as a cut-off valve, into the design of the oven. It is important for the oven controls to be designed to not only enable a reliability of these safety features, but also to provide a redundancy for the safety features. In this invention, the safety features are enhanced by providing an electrical isolation between control signals that might otherwise cause a feed back that might enable the oven to continue operation or to re-ignite after a demand for shut down.
Accordingly, an object of the invention is to cook or bake a better food product by maintaining a closer control over the uniformity of the heat in the oven cavity. Here, an object is to maintain a substantially smooth level of heat after the oven is switched on and continuing throughout the oven operation. In particular, an object is to avoid the peaks and valleys of heat swings as the burner switches on and off as it hunts for the targeted temperature.
Another object is to provide a quieter operation by eliminating a blower-like noise which occurred heretofore as the burner switched on.
Still another object is to provide a universal heat controller which can control either a modulating valve or an on/off valve, thereby eliminating a need for many controllers individually dedicated to specific ovens.
A further object of the invention is to provide a control circuit which insures the integrity of a safety feature built into the oven. Here, an object is to provide a self-healing control which so insures the integrity, but which docs not require a replacement of a fuse or other element after the condition requiring a safety valve operation subsides.
In keeping with an aspect of the invention, these and other objects are accomplished by a use of a modulating valve which increases or decreases the amount of the gas flow to a burner without fully switching the burner off or on during a bake cycle. The modulating valve is controlled responsive to temperatures sensed by thermocouple sensors located in the oven. Furthermore, the controller is also able to control an on/off gas valve in response to the same type of sensor signals, so that the same controller may be used universally for both the modern oven using the modulating valve and the older ovens using on/off valves.
The integrity of the safety features built into the oven is preserved by an isolation in the electrical control circuit between the elements which control the modulating valve and a conditioner which converts signals from sensors into signals which can enable an operation of the modulating valve. This isolation prevents feed back which might otherwise cause the modulating valve to behave in a way which would defeat the shutdown of an on/off safety valve. In order to provide a self-healing of this integrity insuring system, it uses transformers for separating and isolating the modulation valve control and conditioner circuits from an ignition control module.
The advantages of the invention are many. There is an improved reliability and a higher quality bake at a shorter bake time and at a lower average temperature. Since the ovens operate at a lower temperature, the components are in a cooler environment which extends their life. The oven is quieter and the energy management system is more efficient due to a use of the modulating gas valve and to a two-way air return, with less turbulence, creating lower DB noise levels. There is an increased flexibility making it easier to rearrange the fingers for delivering heated air to the food product. There is an ability to add a deck, as volume increases, or to remove a deck if volume falls off. All decks are the same.
The invention will be better understood from the following specification taken with the accompanying drawings, in which:
The equipment in
The material parts 26 of the oven energy management system are shown in greater detail in
The modulating valve 30 means is shown in cross section. A main spring 33 biases a main valve 34 into a position either to close or open the gas line 28 in order to prevent or enable a flow of gas to the burner. A by-pass line 35 is provided for enabling gas to flow around the main valve 34 and through a pressure regulator 36 even when valve 34 is closed, thereby continuously maintaining at least a minimum level burner operation. A manual valve 37 in the by-pass line may cut-off or allow the by-pass gas to flow, as a safety or shut down procedure. Midway between regulator 36 and the manual by-pass valve 37, a tap line 38 allows the by-pass gas to flow through modulator 39 in order to enable the gas to flow from the source into an upper chamber 40 which is closed by a diaphragm 41. Modulator 39 is controlled responsive to signals from thermocouple sensors 42 in the oven. As the oven becomes colder, the diaphragm moves down, and as it becomes hotter, the diaphragm moves up. Hence, the diaphragm 41 moves up or down as a function of the instantaneous oven temperatures.
As the diaphragm 41 moves down, it overcomes the bias of spring 33 and opens main valve 34 by a distance which enables a volume of gas to flow in line 28 depending on the distance that valve 34 has moved.
If the oven temperature sensed at 42 goes down, the modulator 39 enables more gas flow from the by-pass line 35 to increase pressure in upper chamber 40, thereby deflecting the diaphragm 41, pushing valve 34 against the bias of spring 33 and opening the main valve 34 by a discrete distance. If the oven temperature sensed at 42 goes up, modulator 39 restricts the flow of by-pass gas, the pressure in upper chamber 40 reduces, the diaphragm 41 returns somewhat from its deflected condition, and spring 33 pushes the valve 34 to a more closed position.
Hence, it should now be clear that the amount of gas delivered to the burner follows the instantaneous fluctuations of the oven temperature, while maintaining a minimum flow through by-pass line 35. With a need for a low heat, there is little or no pressure on the diaphragm 41 and gas flows only through a by-pass and at a very low rate. In between the high and low demands for a high level of heat and a low level of heat, the pressure in the upper chamber 40 has an intermediate effect upon the deflection of diaphragm 41 and, therefore, on the position of main valve 34 and the amount of gas flowing to the burner.
The temperature controller 32 (
The details on the arrangement of the various parts described thus far are best seen in
The manual shut-off valve 48 simply provides for a complete shut down of the system. Usually, this valve is left in an “on” position.
The automatic valve 29 is a conventional on/off device which meets any local safety standards. While such safety valves tend to be fairly uniform, various locations may have their own, non-standard governmental requirements. Therefore, the valve 29 has special meaning depending upon the geographical location of the oven.
Next, the modulating gas valve 30 is located to admit a regulated amount of gas into a burner 50. While any suitable burner may be used, a high efficiency burner is preferred. These burners are found in many appliances from heavy duty home heating to relatively light duty in appliances.
A blower 52 is coupled to the burner 50 via a suitable duct 54 in order to supply combustion air to the burner. When the burner first comes on there is a mixture of gas and forced air, which usually produces a very noisy roar; hence, a blower which switches off and on is noisy. The invention avoids this noise by modulating the flow of gas which never shuts off as demand increases and decreases when the oven temperature decreases or increases.
A second point indicated in
The most important feature is that, in the prior art, the fuel required to maintain the burner operation represented by curve 56 (
The oven contains three thermal couples which are seen in line in
The controls are in a compartment 87 at the front of the oven which is cooled by fans seen in
The mechanical aspects 108 include blower motors 113, 114 which are connected to a suitable commercial power source 112 via switches (such as 115) and circuit breakers (such as 116). The blowers 76 77 are in the plenum 82 plenums 78 to drive a stream of hot air into the oven cavity which is recycled between the fingers and back into the plenum. The high limit thermostat 118 does not normally provide an active function unless the temperature in the oven exceeds some preset threshold safety limit, beyond which the oven might go into a runaway condition. If that limit is exceeded, the contacts 120 open to shut down the oven while contacts 122 close to light a reset pilot lamp 124.
Next, there is a series circuit 126 of door switches which will prevent the oven from Operating unless all doors are suitably closed. If there are any other mechanical parts which have to be in any particular condition for the burner to switch on, associated switches (not shown) may also be provided in the series circuit 126.
A power transformer 128 provides power to the conveyor motor 130 which is turned on/off at switch 132. The motor has a suitable sensing mechanism for maintaining a stable speed selected at and under the control of a known circuit in control box 134.
The energy management system 110 controls the heat in the oven by modulating the delivery of gas to the burners. More particularly, a set of switches 135 either enables or disables the blower. If the blower shuts down, the contacts 136A open and the oven cannot be placed in operation until the manual switch 136B is closed. A coil 146 is energized when the burner blower switch 135 is closed to provide an interlock when the blower is on. The two fans 142, 144 blow cool air over the electronic and other controls in the control compartment 87 in order to prevent a malfunction as a result of over heating.
The temperature controller 32 receives signals from two sensors 85, 86 located at plenum in plenums 78 in the front end of a hot air stream for supplying heated air in the oven. The controller 32 is a product of the Honeywell Company. The switches 152 detect the presence of the various air streams in the oven. Basically, these switches have air sails in the oven at a location where they are moved by the air stream in order to open or close electrical switches. These sail switches are simply on/off switches to indicate the presence or absence of the air stream. Switch 155 is closed in order to heat the oven.
First and second isolation transformers 156, 157 supply 24V power for the electronic equipment coupled to their secondary windings respectively. In particular, transformer 156 supplies an ignition module 158 while transformer 157 supplies signal conditioner 31, thereby isolating the two from each other. The controller 32 is supplied from the power line 112. Signal conditioner 31 responds to signals which it receives from the controller 32 and converts them into signals which control the modulating valve 30. A push button 159 must be pressed to reset the modulating valve 30 after it shuts down.
An ignition module 158 is adapted to ignite and maintain a pilot flame that initiates the gas of burner 50 (
Means are provided to enhance the integrity of the safety features. Accordingly, even though there are many safety features on the oven so that it automatically shuts down well before any catastrophic condition is reached, it is conceivable that there could be a feed back condition in a loop extending between the controller 32, the signal conditioner 31, and the ignition module 158, which might interfere with the response of the safety valve 29.
Therefore, it is desirable to provide a safety integrity enhancement by the electrical isolation between the controller 30, conditioner 31 and ignition module 158, which would prevent such feed back.
The power line voltage (here 240V) applied at 112 appears across line conductors 162 and 164. Controller 32 is connected directly across the line so that there will not be any feed back to it via the lint 162, 164 from either signal conditioner 31 or the ignition module 158. The two transformers 156 and 157 have primary windings 168 and 170 connected in parallel across the power line conductors 162, 164, so that the primaries are not affected by events after the secondaries. The secondary winding 172 of transformer 156 supplies the 24V power to ignition module 158 and to the governmental prescribed safety switch 29. The secondary winding 174 of transformer 174 supplies 24V to the signal conditioner 31 and modulating valve 30.
Hence, there is no single path forming a feed back loop for causing an interaction between the controller 32 and conditioner 31, and ignition module 158.
A layout of a front panel control panel is shown at the top of
A four digit numeral display 200 displays either the process variables or the setpoint during normal operation. The right-most digit of this display shows whether the displayed value is in terms of degrees in Fahrenheit or in Centigrade. Alternate information is also displayed during the service depending upon the function being carried out.
A “heat on” indicator is illuminated when the controller is applying an output of 3% or more heat. When an on/off control is configured, the “heat-on” indicator is illuminated when an output heat is provided. Either the present temperature or the programmed setpoint temperature may be displayed. A simultaneous pressing of both the unlock and the display keys 208, 202 will display the value of the heat output with the heat on indicator on. With the output unlocked at key 208, the user is able to cycle through actual temperature display indicators to reveal the actual temperatures, setpoint temperature, and the heat on condition. When the setpoint displays “yes”, it is not possible to change the setpoint.
A locked setpoint condition can be temporarily unlocked at key 210 for making an adjustment of the programmed oven temperature. Sixty seconds later, the setpoint automatically returns to the locked state if no further control operations are carried out after the last press of the display key 202. When the 60 second time period expires, the controller 32 is locked and the display return to the default display.
The output display is automatically locked in a default display when a service man or operator places the controller in the service mode by pressing key 204 or when the hidden key 206 is pressed while the output display is shown. A failsafe condition occurs when any one of the various tests fail, at which time, a flashing signal display is alternately displayed with temperature.
If the oven has not reached 200° F. within fifteen (15) minutes after an initial power-up of the oven, a message is flashed on the display panel indicating that the controls need to be reset (power-cycled). If a thermocouple sensor fails to operate properly, the display will flash “open”. If the polarity of the thermocouple leads are reversed, the display will flash a signal indicating the thermocouple leads are incorrectly connected to the instrument.
The displays also provide prompts for servicing the oven responsive to a simultaneous pressing of the unlock key 208 and the service tool key 204. Each additional press of the service tool key 204 advances the prompts in the order shown under “service mode” in
Setpoint lock key 210 automatically flashes the temperature that has been selected for an operation of the oven. The setpoint can be changed up or down by pressing either the increment or decrement keys 212, 214. The degrees (° F. or ° C.) used for the prompts is changed by pressing either the increment or decrement keys. While at the degrees ° F. or ° C. prompt, a selection of “F” or “C” automatically changes the units of all the display to ° F. or ° C. While the default display prompt is being displayed, an indicator flashes to indicate which display is chosen as the default display, which can be changed by pressing either the increment or decrement keys.
Those who are skilled in the art will readily perceive various modifications that fall within the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, the appended claims are to be construed to cover all equivalents.