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Title:
APPARATUS FOR SEALING THE TOP OF A PACKAGE FOR A FOOD PRODUCT AND SYSTEM FOR FORMING AND FILLING A FOOD PACKAGE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/219970
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus (10) for sealing the top of a package (30) for a food product is disclosed. The apparatus (10) comprises a pair of oppositely disposed first and second sealing jaws (12, 14) configured for reversibly engaging each other over the top of the package (30), at least one wedge (26) on the first sealing jaw (12) configured for contacting a first top portion of the package (30) to form a first gable panel (32), a key (22) on the second sealing jaw (14) configured for contacting a second top portion of the package (30) to form a second gable panel (33), at least one lug (24) on the key (22) configured for reducing skewing of the package (30) prior to sealing, and a rubber dolly (20) on either the first or the second sealing jaw (14), the rubber dolly (20) and the opposing sealing jaw (12) being configured to form and seal a fin (34) between the rubber dolly (20) and the opposing sealing jaw (12) thereby sealing the top of the package (30). A system (60) for forming, filling, and sealing a package containing a food product comprising the apparatus (10) is also disclosed.

Inventors:
KEIKHAEE, Manoochehr (Källby Ängaväg 8B, Lund, 22270, SE)
RIIS MÖRK, Jörgen (Äblehaven 16, 4390 Vipperöd, 4390, DK)
LUNDMARK, Dennis (Centrumgatan 25, LOMMA, 23433, SE)
REGNER, Lars (Västra Strandgången 14, Falsterbo, 23942, SE)
Application Number:
EP2018/064106
Publication Date:
December 06, 2018
Filing Date:
May 29, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TETRA LAVAL HOLDINGS & FINANCE S.A. (70 Avenue Général-Guisan, PULLY, PULLY, CH-1009, CH)
International Classes:
B29C65/02; B29C65/78; B65B7/18; B65B51/14; B29C65/18
Domestic Patent References:
WO2010136756A12010-12-02
Foreign References:
US6430899B12002-08-13
DE102015102860A12016-09-01
JPH046025A1992-01-10
FR1433873A1966-04-01
EP0466271A11992-01-15
US6430899B12002-08-13
US7509791B22009-03-31
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TETRA PAK - PATENT ATTORNEYS SE (AB Tetra Pak, Patent Department Ruben Rausings gata, LUND, 22186, SE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . An apparatus (10) for sealing the top of a package (30) for a food product, the apparatus comprising:

a pair of oppositely disposed first and second sealing jaws (12, 14) configured for reversibly engaging each other over the top of the package (30); at least one wedge (26) on the first sealing jaw (12) configured for contacting a first top portion of the package (30) to form a first gable panel (32); a key (22) on the second sealing jaw (14) configured for contacting a second top portion of the package (30) to form a second gable panel (33);

at least one lug (24) on the key (22) configured for reducing skewing of the package (30) prior to sealing; and

a rubber dolly (20) on either the first or the second sealing jaw (12, 14), the rubber dolly (20) and the sealing jaw (12,14) opposing the rubber dolly (20) being configured to form and seal a fin (34) between the rubber dolly (20) and the opposing sealing jaw (12, 14) thereby sealing the top of the package (30).

2. The apparatus (10) of claim 1 , wherein the rubber dolly (20) is on the second sealing jaw (14).

3. The apparatus (10) of claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the rubber dolly (20) has a bevelled surface (46) configured for contacting the first or second gable panel (32, 33). 4. The apparatus (10) of any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the rubber dolly (20) is between 2 mm and 6 mm thick, preferably 4 mm thick.

5. The apparatus (10) of any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein the rubber dolly (20) has a plurality of holes (44) for receiving a fastening element for securing the dolly (20) to the sealing jaw (12, 14).

6. The apparatus (10) of any one of claims 1 to 5, comprising at least two lugs (24) on the key (22). 7. The apparatus (10) of any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein the lug or lugs (24) has at least one chamfered surface (50).

8. The apparatus (10) of any one of claims 1 to 7, further comprising at least three wedges (26), each wedge (26) having a projection (28) configured for contacting a third top portion of the package (30). 9. The apparatus (10) of claim 8, further comprising a gap (36) between at least two of the wedges (26), the gap (36) being configured for housing a closure on the package (30).

10. The apparatus (10) of any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein the first and second sealing jaws (12, 14) further comprise a cooling portion (42) configured for receiving the sealed package (30).

1 1 . The apparatus (10) of any one of claims 1 to 10, further comprising a pair of arms (1 6, 18), each arm being connected to one of the first and second sealing jaws (12, 14) and being configured for reversibly engaging the sealing jaws (12, 14) with each other.

12. A system (60) for forming, filling, and sealing a package containing a food product, the system (60) comprising:

a bottom forming and sealing station (64) for folding a packaging material blank into a package and sealing the bottom of the package;

a filling station (68) for filling the package with the food product; and an apparatus (10) according to any preceding claim for sealing the top of the package.

13. The system (60) according to claim 12, further comprising a package magazine (62) for storing the packaging material blanks.

14. The system (60) according to claim 12 or claim 13, further comprising a sterilisation station (66) for sterilising the package prior to filling the package with the food product.

Description:
APPARATUS FOR SEALING THE TOP OF A PACKAGE FOR A FOOD PRODUCT AND SYSTEM FOR FORMING AND FILLING A FOOD PACKAGE

Technical Field

The present solution relates to an apparatus for sealing a package suitable for containing a food product. More particularly the solution relates to an apparatus for sealing the top of a food-containing package having a gable top. The solution also relates to a system for forming and filling a food package comprising the apparatus.

Background

Packaging containers for food products are well known. These containers often have four vertical side walls (generally rectangular panels) that are closed by a gable-shaped top. A typical gable top has two equal sized gable panels that are joined by a sealed top fin. One gable panel may include a closure such as a spout with a threaded cap mounted to the gable panel to facilitate access to the contents within the container. The bottom of the container is first formed from a blank packaging material prior to filling of the container with a food product. The gable top panels are then formed and the fin is sealed.

US 6,430,899 B1 discloses a top sealing and creasing apparatus for a gable top carton. The apparatus has a pair of opposing anvils for engaging and compressing the top fin of the carton together in order to seal the carton. Each anvil also has one or more wedges for shaping and forming distinct creases on the top gable panels.

US 7,509,791 B2 discloses a top sealer for a gable top package having a sealed top fin. The sealer includes an arm support and a pair of opposing arms pivotally mounted to the arm support. The arms each have a sealing jaw at about an end thereof. The arms are pivotal to move the sealing jaws toward and away from one another through an arc. The arm support is linearly movable toward and away from the package, as the arms pivot, to move the sealing jaws downward, toward the package, to alter the arc of the pivoting sealing jaws.

However, existing sealing mechanisms of gable top packages do not provide effective sealing of the fin due to (i) irregularities in the package positioning that occur during feeding of the package to the sealing mechanism and / or (ii) variation in the packaging material specifications e.g. sleeve width and creasing tolerances. In turn this leads to increased bulging of the sealed package and premature leakage / spoilage of the food product within the package.

Thus there is a need for an improved sealing apparatus for a gable top package that is able to correct or at least tolerate variations in packaging positioning and packaging material specifications whilst effectively sealing the top of the package.

Summary

According to a first aspect, there is provided an apparatus for sealing the top of a package for a food product, the apparatus comprising:

a pair of oppositely disposed first and second sealing jaws configured for reversibly engaging each other over the top of the package;

at least one wedge on the first sealing jaw configured for contacting a first top portion of the package to form a first gable panel;

a key on the second sealing jaw configured for contacting a second top portion of the package to form a second gable panel;

at least one lug on the key configured for reducing skewing of the package prior to sealing; and

a rubber dolly on either the first or the second sealing jaw, the rubber dolly and the sealing jaw opposing the dolly being configured to form and seal a fin between the rubber dolly and the opposing sealing jaw thereby sealing the top of the package.

According to a second aspect, there is a provided a system for forming, filling, and sealing a package containing a food product, the system comprising: a bottom forming and sealing station for folding a packaging material blank into a package and sealing the bottom of the package;

a filling station for filling the package with the food product; and an apparatus according to the first aspect for sealing the top of the package.

Brief Description of Drawings

Some preferred, non-limiting embodiments of the present solution will be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 A illustrates an apparatus for sealing the top of a package for a food product according to an embodiment with the sealing jaws spaced apart from one another prior to sealing the package; Fig. 1 B depicts the apparatus of Fig. 1 A with the sealing jaws engaged with one another about the top fin of a package to seal the package;

Fig. 1 C shows the apparatus in Fig.l A after sealing the package;

Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the sealing jaws in the apparatus of Figs. 1 A-1 C;

Fig. 3A is a perspective view of the dolly that is attached to a sealing jaw in Figs. 1 A-C and Fig. 2;

Fig. 3B is a side view of the dolly in Fig. 3A;

Fig. 3C is a front view of the dolly in Fig. 3A;

Fig. 3D is a top view of the dolly in Fig. 3A;

Fig. 4 is a perspective view of the lug that is on the sealing jaw in Figs. 1 A-C and Fig. 2; and

Fig. 5 shows front and rear perspective views of the key that is on the sealing jaw in Figs. 1 A-C and Fig. 2;

Fig. 6A is a top view of a package with an irregular conformation prior to sealing with the apparatus of Figs. 1 A-1 C;

Fig. 6B is a top view of the package in Fig. 6A after contact with a lug on the sealing jaw in the apparatus of Figs. 1 A-1 C but prior to sealing of the fin;

Fig. 6C is a top view of the package in Fig. 6B after formation and sealing of the fin with the sealing jaws of the apparatus of Figs. 1 A-1 C; and

Fig. 7 illustrates a system for forming and filling a package for a food product comprising the apparatus of Figs. 1 A-1 C.

Detailed Description

An apparatus and system according to an embodiment is described below with reference to Figs. 1 -7.

Figs. 1 A-1 C illustrate an apparatus 10 for sealing the top of a package 30 suitable for a food product. Apparatus 10 has a pair of oppositely disposed sealing jaws 12 and 14 located at the end of arms 1 6 and 18. The sealing jaws may be heated to facilitate sealing. The arms 1 6, 18 are connected to a drive mechanism (not shown) at their other end such that in use the arms 1 6, 18 alternately bring the jaws 12, 14 towards each other in the direction of the curved arrows in Fig. 1 A then pull the jaws 12, 14 away from each other in the direction of the curved arrows in Fig. 1 B. Any particular drive mechanism may be utilised such as hydraulic, pneumatic, electromechanical, and electrical drive mechanisms. The bottoms of jaws 12 and 14 are illustrated in more detail in Fig. 2. Both jaws 12, 14 have a sealing portion 40 and a cooling portion 42. Each portion 40 and 42 is able to accommodate two packages at a given time. Jaw 12 has three wedges 26 on the bottom surface of jaw 12 in the sealing portion 40. Each wedge 26 has a projection 28 extending downwardly away from the wedge 26 and jaw 12. Each wedge 26 and its projection 28 are spaced apart from another wedge / projection by gaps 36 which accommodate a closure such as a spout (not shown) on the package 30 during the sealing stage. The other jaw 14 has a key 22 on the bottom surface of jaw 14 in the sealing portion 40. Two lugs 24 extend downwardly away from key 22 and jaw 14. The cooling portion 42 of jaw 12 has a pair of recesses 38 for supplying cooling air to the sealed package 30 and / or allowing residual heat to escape the apparatus 10. The heat may be generated while the package is in the sealing portion 40. A dolly 20 is present on the side sealing surface of jaw 14 that engages jaw 12 during use. Dolly 20 is preferably made of rubber. The apparatus 10 as shown in Fig. 1 A is located above the unsealed top portion of a package 30. The bottom portion of the package 30 is omitted for clarity. The double headed arrow in Fig. 2 depicts the alternating movement of jaws 12, 14 relative to each other during use. The single headed arrow in Fig. 2 depicts the direction of travel of the package 30 through the apparatus 10 as will be described below.

The apparatus 10 operates as follows. A package 30 with an unsealed top portion is fed to a position underneath the sealing portion 40 of the apparatus 10 as shown in Figs. 1 A and 2. The drive mechanism activates arms 16, 18 to move jaws 12 and 14 towards each other in the direction of the curved arrows. As the jaws 12, 14 come closer to engaging, projection 28 contacts the package 30 to fold and form a top portion of the package 30 into gable panel 32. Wedge 26 also contacts the package 30 away from projection 28 at a portion that is closer to the top of the package 30. Key 22 contacts another top portion of package 30 to fold and form an opposing gable panel 33. Lug 24 only contacts the package 30 when the package 30 has an irregular conformation as will be described further below with regard to Figs. 6A-6C. Otherwise, lug 24 passes adjacent to the package 30 to the position shown by the dashed line depicting lug 24 in Fig. 1 B. Dolly 20 and jaw 12 contact and compress the top most portion of the package 30 to form and seal fin 34 between the dolly 20 and jaw 12 as best shown in Fig. 1 B. Once the gable panels 32, 33 and fin 34 are formed and sealed, the arms 1 6, 18 are moved in the direction of the curved arrows shown in Fig. 1 B to separate the jaws 12, 14 and release the sealed package 30 shown in Fig. 1 C. The sealed package 30 is then moved to the cooling portion 42 by a conveyor belt or other transportation system (not shown). When the sealed package 30 is underneath the cooling portion 40 the drive mechanism again moves jaws 12, 14 back into engagement around fin 34. This reinforces the seal that was formed in the sealing portion 40. Residual heat escapes through recesses 38 of jaw 12. Alternatively, cooling gas or cooling air may be supplied to the sealed package 30 via recesses 38. Jaws 12, 14 are then separated and the transportation system moves the sealed and cooled package 30 out of the apparatus 10.

Figs. 3A-3D illustrate a dolly 20 that may be attached to sealing jaw 14. Dolly 20 has four holes 44 for securing the dolly 20 to the jaw 14 using screws or other suitable fastening elements. A bevelled surface 46 at the bottom of dolly 20 rests against the gable panel 33 adjacent to fin 34 of package 30.

Bevelled surface 46 helps to form fin 34 and provide an opposing balancing force to the force applied by wedge 26 to package 30. Non-limiting, exemplary dimensions of dolly 20 as shown in Figs. 3B-3D are:

a: 37 mm

b: 90 mm

c: 50 mm

d: 12 mm

e: 344 mm

f: 4 mm

Θ: 25°

diameter of holes 44: 5.5 mm

Fig. 4 depicts an exemplary lug 24 that is attached to key 22 of sealing jaw 14. Lug 24 has a chamfered surface 50 for assisting with correcting irregular package conformations prior to sealing as described below with respect to Figs. 6A-6C.

Fig. 5 illustrates a key 22 that is on the sealing jaw 14. Key 22 is manufactured in one piece from any suitable material such as metal. Holes 56 and 58 are provided for securing the key 22 to the jaw 14 and the lug 24 to the key 22 using screws or similar fastening elements. The longitudinal length of key 22 spans the length of the sealing portion 40.

Fig. 6A shows a top view of a package 30 with a skewed conformation prior to entering the sealing portion 40 of apparatus 10. A package 30 may become skewed during forming of the bottom portion, filling with the food product, or transport of the package to the apparatus 10. If the skewed conformation is not corrected before sealing the top of the package then an unsymmetrical fin 34 will be formed between sealing jaws 12, 14. This creates a displeasing appearance and may compromise the efficiency of the seal that is formed. The sealed package may also display increased bulging. As the sealing jaws 12, 14 move towards each other during the sealing process, chamfered surface 50 of lug 24 contacts the skewed vertical edges of package 30 and corrects the conformation of the package 30 to one that is highly symmetrical about its horizontal axes (shown by dashed-dotted lines) when viewed from above as shown in Fig. 6B. The sealing jaws 12, 14 then continue to move towards each other in the directions shown by the arrows in Fig. 6B to form the fin 34 and seal the top of the package 30 as shown in Fig. 6C.

Fig. 7 shows a system 60 for forming, filling, and sealing a package containing a food product. System 60 may have a package magazine 62 for storing flat packaging material blanks, if desired. During operation of system 60, the packaging material blanks are fed from magazine 62 (or other source) to a bottom forming and sealing station 64 where the blanks are folded and the bottom portion of the package is formed and sealed. The partially formed package is then fed to a sterilisation station 66 where the package is sterilised with hydrogen peroxide solution and / or UV light. However, it is not essential to include a sterilisation station 66 in system 60. The package is fed from the sterilisation station 66 (or bottom forming and sealing station 64) to a filling station 68 for filling of the package with a food product. Finally, the package containing a food product is transported to sealing apparatus 10 for sealing the top of the package as described above with respect to Figs. 1 A-1 C and 2.

Use of the lug 24 facilitates correction of skewed package conformations prior to sealing thereby resulting in reduced package bulging and more efficient top sealing. Use of the rubber dolly 20 on one of the sealing jaws (instead of simply a stainless steel jaw surface with state marks) allows for formation of an efficient seal between the two jaws regardless of irregularities in the package positioning that may occur during transport of the unsealed package to the apparatus 10. The rubber dolly 20 is also able to efficiently seal the package despite variation in package specifications such as sleeve width and creasing tolerances.

List of reference numerals

The following table lists the features and their respective reference numerals of the apparatus and system.