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Title:
AUTOMATED DEVICE FOR STORING, PRESERVING AND PROVIDING BAGS OF BLOOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/061194
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An automated device for storing, preserving and providing bags of blood comprises a control unit (40) and a refrigerated cell ( 1 1 ) containing a plural ity of storage modules ( 15) on top of one another. Each module comprises a storage disc (.16) which has on it a plurality of radially open compartments ( 17) intended for housing the bags and it is equipped with a motor (IS) of axial rotation of the disc so as to bring, driven by the control unit, a selected compartment with its radial openi ng to a corresponding area for !oading/unioading the bags. Advantageously, for each module ( 15) the loading/unloading area comprises, towards the outside of the cell, an opening equipped with a door ( 14) controlled electrically so as to al low or inhibit the access to the compartment brought to the area for loadi ng/unloading through rotation of the disc.

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Inventors:
PERICOLINI DANIELE (IT)
VENTURA SIMONE (IT)
DE ANGELIS DARIO (IT)
RAGNI MAURIZIO (IT)
Application Number:
IB2012/055490
Publication Date:
May 02, 2013
Filing Date:
October 11, 2012
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Angelantoni Life Science S.R.L. also known as "ALS S.R.L." (Località Cimacolle 464, Massa Martana, I-06056, IT)
International Classes:
F25D25/00; G01N35/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO1993003891A1
WO2004028572A2
WO2005075006A1
WO1993003891A1
Foreign References:
DE4418005A1
US20040154322A1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LAMPIS, Marco et al. (Via Nino Bixio 7, Milano, I-20129, IT)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Automated device for storing, preserving and providing bags of blood comprising a control unit (40) and a refrigerated cell (41) containing a plurality of storage modules (15) on top of one another, each module (15) comprising a storage disc (16) having on it a plurality of radially open compartments (17) intended for housing the bags (46) and being equipped with a motor (18) of axial rotation of the disc to bring, driven by the control unit, a selected compartment (17) with its radial opening to a corresponding area (30) for loading/unloading the bags, for each module (.15) the area for loading/unloading (30) comprises towards the outside of the cell an opening equipped with a door (31) controlled electrically so as to allow or inhibit access to the compartment brought to the loading/unloading area.

2. Device according to claim 1, characterised in that the door (31) is molorised so as to slide in a circumferential direction to the corresponding disc (16) so as to uncover a predetermined circumferential projection of the disc according to how far the door has slid and to adapt the opening io the width of the comparlmenl ( 17) brought to the loading/unloading area.

3. Device according to claim 1, characterised in that the cell (11) is equipped with an access door (13) and each module is supported in the cell in an extractable manner on guides (26.27) so as to be able to be extracted at least partially from the cell lo the opening of said access door (13).

4. Device according to claim I, characterised in that the cell (11) is equipped with an access door (13) on which said openings equipped with doors are arranged (31).

5. Device according to claim 1, characterised in that the compartments are defined by mobile side walls (22) removably fixed lo the disc (16).

6. Device according to claim 1, characterised in thai il comprises at least one sensor (43) for delecting the presence of a bag in one compartment.

7. Device according to claim 1. characterised in that the control unit (4.1) comprises a memory (45) for storing an association between data for recognising a specific compartment of a specific module and data for recognising a bag. each lime a bag is introduced in a compartment the control unit memorising in said memory the association between Lhe data for recognising such a compartment and the data for recognising such a bag, when a request is inserted in the control unit for providi ng a bag having specific recognition data, the control unit finding in the memory the data for recognising the compartment associated with such data for recognising the bag and driving the motor of the moduie to bring such a compartment to the inlet/outlet area so as to allow the bag, defined by the recognition data contained in the request introduced, to be taken.

8. Device according to claim 7. characterised in that it comprises a reader (42, 48, 49) of data for recognising the bags, for acquiring and sending such data to the con trol unit (4 1 ).

9. Device according to claim S, characterised in that the data reader is an optical scanner for bar codes and the data for recognising the bag are contained in a bar code placed on the bag.

Description:
Automated device for storing, preserving and providing bags of blood

The present invention refers to an automated device for storing, preserving and providing bags of blood.

Such types of devices are known for example from WO200 5075006.

Known devices have the drawback of having a complex mechanical structure and/or of requiring a relatively complicated management in order to safely extract a bag of blood without the possibility of error. Such devices also often suffer from the fact that (hey require relatively frequent and onerous maintenance. Moreover, the idle time of the machine for maintenance or repairs is often long, especially in the case in which there is a failure of the internal mechanical movement system, and this forces there to be complicated manoeuvres in order to completely empty out the device, with the risks of error and of mixing up bags and of deterioration of the blood in the bags.

WO93/0389.1. discloses a storage apparatus with motorized annular shelves for specimens. A complex and expensive lifting device is provided for vertical insertion and removal of the specimens from an upper door. A side-wall of the apparatus may be provided with an access opening or a column of access openings, but these openings are for emergency use only, the openings being closed by plugs.

The puipose of the present invention is to avoid the aforementioned drawbacks, by providing an automated device having an innovative structure.

In view of such a purpose it has been thought to make, according to the invention, an automated device for storing, preserving and providing bags of blood comprising a control unit and a refrigerated cell containing a plurality of storage modules on top of one another, each module comprising a storage disc having a plurality of radially open compartments on it that are. intended for housing the bags and being equipped with a motor of axial rotation of the disc to bring, driven by the control unit, a selected compartment with its radial opening to a corresponding area for loading/unloading the bags, for each module the area for loading/unloading comprises towards the outside of the cell an opening equipped with a door controlled electrically so as to allow or inhibit access to the compartment brought to the loading/unloading area.

In order to clarify the explanation of the innovative principles of the present invention and the advantages thereof with respect to the prior art we shall describe, with the help of the attached drawings, an example embodiment applying such principles. In the drawings:

-figure 1 represenls a schematic perspective view of an automated device for storing, preserving and providing bags of blood made according to the invention; -figure 2 represents a schematic perspective view of the device of figure .1, open; -figure 3 represenls a schematic perspective view from above of a module for storing the device of figure 1 ;

-figure 4 represents a schematic view of a cross section of the device of figure i; -figure 5 represents a schematic view of the circiiiation of the cooling air inside the device of figure 1 ;

With reference to the figures, figure 1 shows an automated device, generally indicated with reference numeral 10, made according lo the invention for the automated storing, preserving and providing of bags of blood.

As clearly visible also in figure 2, the device 10 internally comprises a cold-store 11 which is kept al a suitable temperature by means of a known refrigerating plant 12, which is not further illustrated or described since it is well known and can be easily imagined by a man skilled in Lhe art.

The cell II, closed by a service access door 13. houses the bags 46 to be stored. During the normal operation of the device, the door 13 (which can advantageously be equipped with a safety lock) musL not be opened and the device receives or gives out She bags only through suiLable controlled openings 14.

As can be clearly seen also in figure 2, (he refrigerated cell contains a plurality of storage modules 15, on top of one another, each comprising a rotary storage disc 16. For the sake of clarity, one of these modules is shown in the partially extracted position.

As can be clearly seen in figures 3 and 4, the rotary disc of a module 1.5 has a plurality of compartments 17 on it that are opened at least radially (and, advantageously, also at the top) and that are intended for housing the bags to be conserved (for example a bag for each compartment). Each disc is equipped with its own electric motor 18 of axial rolaLion of the disc around a central axis 19. The motor, or the disc, can be possibly provided with an encoder so as to precisely control the position through feedback.

Advantageously, the rotation movement is transmitted peripherally lo the disc by means of a toothing 20 located on the circumferential edge of the disc and that is engaged by a corresponding gear 21 of the motor 18.

Advantageously, the compartments 17 are defined by lateral walls 22 (with holes or openings that are distributed on the surface so as to allow air to circulate, as shall become clearer in the rest of the description) and thai are radially fixed in a removable manner onto the disc so as Lo be able to be moved, so as to be able to obtain compartments with different dimensions according to the specific storage requirements, in particular, Lhe central axis of the disc can comprise seaLs 23 for engaging with the innermost edge of the wall, whereas the outermost edge can be fixed with screws into suitable holes on the disc 16 and on an upper counler ring 24. A light but sufficiently rigid and strong structure is thus obtained.

As can be clearly seen in figure 5, the rotating axis of the disc and the actuation motor are supported on a plate 25 which makes the bottom frame of each module 15.

As it is clear for example in figure 2 (where the lowest module is shown extracted), each module 15 is preferably supported in the cell in such a way as to be extractable in a drawer-like fashion by means of lateral sliding guides 26, 27 so as Lo be abie lo be extracted at least partially from the cell, so as to facilitate, for example, maintenance operations. Moreover, Lhe module can be completely released from (he guides so as to be removed and possibly replaced with a new module. This is particularly useful in Lhe case in which there is a failure of a module, so as to reduce the idle time of the device and/or lhe Lime of opening the access door when the inside is refrigerated.

For Lhe complete removal, Lhe motor and lhe possible additional sensors present in the module are electrically connected lo the rest of the device through suitable known connectors which can be disengaged.

Thanks lo the aforementioned modular structure, a good forced circulalion of cooling air can be obtained inside lhe cell through the modules in a horizontal direction from one side wall to the other, as shown by the arrows in figure 5 where the intermediate modules have been removed for the sake of clarity, with air circulating in the cooling plant below the cell to then be sent along perforated spaces in the side walls and through the modules. This makes it possible to have, throughout the store, a homogeneous temperature of the bags contained inside it. With the structure described also the positioning of possible sensors for detecting the presence of bags in each compartment is facilitated, for example arranged in or below the floor of the compartment itself, as schematically indicated with 43 in figure 4.

A single fixed sensor (advantageously an optical or proximity sensor) placed in a suitable position in each module makes it possible to detect the presence of the bags in each compartment by simply making the storage disc rotate so as to bring ali the disc compartments in sequence to the sensor.

As it is clear also in figure 4, the rotation of the discs in the modules makes it possible to bring, on command, the radial opening of a selected compartment to a corresponding area 30 for loading/unloading the bags.

Advantageously, for each module the loading/unloading area comprises, towards the outside of the cell, an opening 14 that is equipped with a door 31 that is controlled electrically so as to allow or inhibit access inside the compartment which has been brought to the loading/unloading area through rotation of the disc. The door (in figure 4 shown in the open position, with a full line, and in the closed position with a broken fine) is advantageously made like a mobile semicircular partition that follows the peripheral outline of the corresponding rotating disc and that is slidingly moved in a circumferential direction to the storage disc thanks to an electrical motor 32 thereof (for example through a suitable movement through belts, not shown in detail since it can be now easily understood by a man skilled in the art) between the two positions, open and closed. With such a solution it is possible to adapt the width of the movement of the door according to the size of the compartment which must be accessed (size that is obtained by suitably arranging the mobile partitions). In such a way, there can also be compartments having different sizes on the same plate, by suitably setting the electronic control system so as to uncover a predetermined circumferential projection of the disc according ίο die width of the compartment 17 behind it brought to the I oa d i n g/u n 1 o a d i ng a re a .

As can be clearly seen in the figures and, in particular, in figure 2, the openings for accessing the compartments are advantageously arranged on the door of the refrigerated celi.

For managing the operation, the device 10 comprises an electronic control unit (genericaliy indicated with reference numeral 40 in figure 1) Lhat comprises a user interface 41 (for example made with a touch screen display) for giving commands and for visualizing information.

The conlrol unit 40 can be made with a computerised system per se known Lhat is suitable programmed, as can be easily understood by a man skilled in the art based on the present description of the device.

Advantageously, ihe control unit comprises an electronic memory 45 for storing an association between data for recognising a specific compartment of a specific module and data for recognising a bag. in such a way, each lime a bag is introduced in a compartment ihe conlrol unit stores in said memory the association between the dala for recognising such a compartment and the data for recognising such a bag. The data for recognising Ihe compartment can comprise for example data on the angular position of the compartment on the disc. Such data can be provided by means of a per se known position control system, for example by using a stepper motor or an incremental or absolute encoder with a zero reference on the disc, as the rotation motor. Advantageously, the data for recognising each bag are arranged on the bag itself, for example by means of a label 47.

When the request for a bag is inserted in the control unit for providing a bag having specific recognition data (stored when the bag was introduced in the store). Ihe control unit finds in the memory the dala for recognising the compartment associated with such data for recognising the bag and drives the motor of Ihe module to bring such a compartment to the inlet/outlet area, so as to allow the bag defined by Ihe data for recognising contained or associated with the introduced request lo be taken. For example, Ihe request can be introduced by means of the interface 41. arrive from a remote data base system through a suitable data communication line, or also be introduced by means for reading a printed request or in any case stored on a suitable support.

Advantageously, the device It) comprises a reader of data for recognising the bags, for acquiring and sending such data to the control unit when each bag is introduced. The data reader can be an optical scanner for bar codes and Lhe data for recognising the bag can be contained in a bar code that is applied onto the bag itself. Alternatively, other known types of readers can be used, such as for example RFID readers or magnetic tape readers also according to the type of means 47 for retaining information which is preferred to be placed on the bags. In the advantageous embodiment shown in figure 1, the reader (indicated with reference numeral 42) is placed externally on the machine (preferably in a space on the front door) so thai the operator, when !oading or unloading a bag, can make the system acquire the corresponding code of the bag by simply bringing the bag to the reader.

The reader can also be used by Lhe system to acquire a request for a bag, that has been suitably coded by the computerised management system of the blood bank in a suitable support,

in such a way, an operator having the support with such a request only has to make the reader 42 read the request in order for the device 1.0 to identify and provide the correct bag. In (he case in which bar code readers are used, the support with the request can be a simple piece of paper on which a bar code of the request has been printed. In more complex cases, lhe support can also be an electronic or magnetic card for a corresponding reader.

It can also be foreseen that, after emitting the bag, the operator necessarily needs to make the system read an identification code that is present on the bag so as to confirm that the correct bag has been emitted. In the case in which there is an error, the device can then indicate this acoustically and/or visually.

Also for the operations of loading a bag in the device it can preferably be set that Lhe operalor must pre-emptively make the system read the identification of the bag, so that the management system inside the device can automatically associate the particular bag to the compartment in which it is placed and subsequently allow the prompt and safe recovery of the bag through the memorised data, without requiring the access of other externa! data.

in order to read the information on the bag it is also possible to foresee a reader of such information arranged inside the machine, in a position that is suitable for a completely automatic reading. For example the reader can be arranged for reading the information of a bag transiting towards the inlel/outlel area or on a bag that is already in a compartment and has been brought to the reader thanks to the rotation of the disc, as schematically shown in 48 and 49 in figure 4, respectively.

At: this point it is clear how the predetermined purposes have been achieved. The device described has a simple and modular structure. The inlet and outlet operations of the bags are easy, rapid and without errors. Moreover, thanks to the simple and modular structure faults are minimised and also in the case in which there is a failure or the need for maintenance, the idle time is minimised. For example, in the case of failure of a module it is sufficient to unload only such a module and to replace it with a new one, to then carry out repairs on the faulty module offline.

Of course, the description above of an embodiment applying the innovative principles of the present invention has been shown as an example of such innovative principles and must not therefore be used to limit the scope of protection claimed here.