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Title:
CONVEYOR-TYPE OVEN
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/152225
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A conveyor-type oven is particularly well suited for cooking food products such as pizza. The oven may comprise a housing defining a baking chamber, and a primary chamber that is positioned beneath the baking chamber, the housing having an opening at each of the two longitudinal ends of the baking chamber. A continuous conveyor belt transports food to be cooked through the baking chamber, and a source of hot air is arranged to introduce hot air into the primary chamber. An upper plenum assembly is disposed in the baking chamber and includes a plurality of orifices from which to discharge hot air downwardly towards the conveyor belt, while a lower plenum assembly is disposed in the baking chamber and includes a plurality of orifices from which to discharge hot air upwardly towards the conveyor belt. Ducting interconnects the primary chamber with the upper and lower plenum assemblies, and one or more fans are operable to transport hot air from the primary chamber through the ducting to the upper and lower plenum assemblies. The conveyor-type oven enables fast, even cooking of food products while maintaining a relatively small floor-space footprint.

Inventors:
MIERISCH, Andrew Colin (2 Paltarra Court, Doncaster East, Victoria 3109, 3109, AU)
LAMANNA, Dominic (65 John Street, Werribee, Victoria 3030, 3030, AU)
PRICE, Robert Graeme (2 St James Court, Doncaster East, Victoria 3109, 3109, AU)
Application Number:
AU2017/050200
Publication Date:
September 14, 2017
Filing Date:
March 08, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
DMP ENTERPRISES PTY LTD ('Building M115', 87 Turner StreetPort Melbourne, Victoria 3207, 3207, AU)
International Classes:
A21B1/26; A21B1/24; A21B1/48
Foreign References:
US4960100A1990-10-02
US5231920A1993-08-03
US4873107A1989-10-10
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIES COLLISON CAVE PTY LTD (Level 15, 1 Nicholson StreetMelbourne, Victoria 3000, 3000, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A conveyor-type oven comprising:

a housing defining a baking chamber, and a primary chamber that is positioned beneath the baking chamber, the housing having an opening at each of the two longitudinal ends of the baking chamber;

a source of hot air that is arranged to introduce hot air into the primary chamber; a continuous conveyor belt for transporting food to be cooked through the baking chamber;

an upper plenum assembly that is disposed in the baking chamber and includes a plurality of orifices from which to discharge hot air downwardly towards the conveyor belt; a lower plenum assembly that is disposed in the baking chamber and includes a plurality of orifices from which to discharge hot air upwardly towards the conveyor belt; ducting that interconnects the primary chamber with the upper and lower plenum assemblies; and

one or more fans that are operable to transport hot air from the primary chamber through the ducting to the upper and lower plenum assemblies.

2. A conveyor-type oven according to claim 1 , wherein the lower plenum assembly comprises two or more lower plenum chambers, and the ducting includes two or more lower ducts, wherein each lower duct opens into a respective lower plenum chamber.

3. A conveyor-type oven according to claim 2, wherein the housing includes a divider between the primary chamber and the baking chamber, the divider having a divider opening, whereby, in use, air within the baking chamber is able to propagate through the divider opening and into the primary chamber.

4. A conveyor-type oven according to claim 3, wherein the lower plenum chambers are spaced apart, such that, in use of the oven, air within the baking chamber is able to propagate through the space between the lower plenum chambers, through the divider opening, and into the primary chamber.

5. A conveyor-type oven according to either claim 3 or 4, wherein the divider opening is vertically aligned with the separation of the lower plenum chambers,

6. A conveyor-type oven according to any one of claims 3 to 5, wherein the lower plenum assembly has a floor that is spaced from the divider, such that, in use of the oven, air within the baking chamber is able to propagate beneath the lower plenum assembly, through the divider opening, and into the primary chamber.

7. A conveyor-type oven according to any one of claims 1 to 8, wherein the upper plenum assembly is arranged to provide an air curtain effect across each of the openings,

8. A conveyor-type oven according to any one of claims 1 to 7, wherein the ducting includes one or more upper ducts that each extends upwardly beside the baking chamber and opens into the upper manifold assembly,

9. A conveyor-type oven according to claims 2 and 8, wherein the ducting includes a manifold portion that is to receive hot air from the fans, and opens into the upper and lower ducts, 10. A conveyor-type oven according to any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein the conveyor belt is part of a conveyor assembly that comprises:

a first outer portion that supports the conveyor belt outwardly of a first of the openings;

a second outer portion that supports the conveyor belt outwardly of a second of the openings;

a first drum mounted on the first outer portion about which the conveyor belt is to rotate;

a second drum mounted on the second outer portion about which the conveyor belt is to rotate; and

a drive for causing the conveyor belt to rotate.

1 1. A conveyor-type oven according to claim 10, wherein the conveyor assembly further comprises a support frame that extends through the baking chamber, and provides vertical support to the belt.

12. A conveyor-type oven according to any one of claims 1 to 11 , wherein the oven has a bank of one or more fans at each longitudinal end of primary chamber.

13. A conveyor-type oven according to any one of claims 1 to 12, wherein source of hot air can be a gas burner that is arranged to introduce hot air into the primary chamber.

Description:
Field of the invention

The present invention relates to a conveyor-type oven for cooking food.

Background

Conveyor-type ovens are often used in the commercial food and hospitality industries for baking food products in a fast, reliable and consistent manner. The prepared, uncooked food is loaded on a conveyor belt on one side of the oven, and the conveyor belt transports the food through the baking chamber at a selected speed. The cooked food arrives at the opposing side. These types of oven are often used for baking pizzas in commercial quantities because there is minimal user intervention required during the cooking process, once the baking chamber conditions and conveyor belt speeds have been set.

Conveyor-type ovens cook food using either by radiant heat transfer that is generated by resistive heating elements in the baking chamber, or by convective heat transfer via hot air that is generated by a source and supplied to the baking chamber. Typically, convective heat transfer conveyor-type ovens have a gas burner, and fans and ducting that transports the exhausted hot gases to the baking chamber.

The evenness of temperature in the length and width directions of the baking chamber has a significant impact on the cooking performance of a conveyor-type oven. When used in cooking pizza, variations in temperature can affect the colour and/or "doneness" of the pizza exiting the baking chamber. Considerable effort is made by manufacturers and users of conveyor-type ovens to provide even temperatures. To this end, manufacturers have provided conveyor-type ovens with a high degree of customization so that, in turn, users can "tweak" the oven, with the aim to provide a suitably cooked product, in the shortest time possible.

In addition, conveyor-type ovens tend to have a large footprint. For many shop owners, the allocation of floor space in their shop is a significant consideration, as this affecis the business overheads. The oven installation may represent a substantial portion of that floor space, and also places constraints on the movement of staff within the store. Thus, for many shop owners, it is desirable that the footprint of the oven is minimized. Accordingly, it is desired to address one or more of the above issues, and/or at least provide a useful alternative.

Summary of the invention

The present invention provides a conveyor-type oven comprising:

a housing defining a baking chamber, and a primary chamber that is positioned beneath the baking chamber, the housing having an opening at each of the two longitudinal ends of the baking chamber;

a source of hot air that is arranged to introduce hot air into the primary chamber; a continuous conveyor belt for transporting food to be cooked through the baking chamber;

an upper plenum assembly that is disposed in the baking chamber and includes a plurality of orifices from which to discharge hot air downwardly towards the conveyor belt; a lower plenum assembly that is disposed in the baking chamber and includes a plurality of orifices from which to discharge hot air upwardly towards the conveyor belt; ducting that interconnects the primary chamber with the upper and lower plenum assemblies; and

one or more fans that are operable to transport hot air from the primary chamber through the ducting to the upper and lower plenum assemblies. Preferably, the lower plenum assembly comprises two or more lower plenum chambers, and the ducting includes two or more lower ducts, wherein each lower duct opens into a respective lower plenum chamber. in some embodiments, the housing includes a divider between the primary chamber and the baking chamber, the divider having a divider opening, whereby, in use, air within the baking chamber is able to propagate through the divider opening and into the primary chamber. In certain embodiments, the lower plenum chambers are spaced apart, such that, in use of the oven, air within the baking chamber is able to propagate through the space between the lower plenum chambers, through the divider opening, and into the primary chamber. Preferably, the lower plenum chambers are spaced apart in the longitudinal direction.

Preferably, the divider opening is vertically aligned with the separation of the lower plenum chambers. Alternatively or additionally, the lower plenum assembly can have a floor that is spaced from the divider, such that, in use of the oven, air within the baking chamber is able to propagate beneath the lower plenum assembly, through the divider opening, and into the primary chamber. in at least some embodiments, the upper plenum assembly is arranged to provide an air curtain effect across each of the openings. Preferably, the opposing ends of the upper plenum assembly are closer to the openings than the opposing ends of the lower plenum assembly. In at least some preferred embodiment, the density of orifices in the upper plenum assembly is higher in regions adjacent the openings, compared with a central region of the upper plenum assembly.

The ducting can include one or more upper ducts that each extends upwardly beside the baking chamber and opens into the upper manifold assembly. In preferred embodiments, the oven has two upper ducts. in certain embodiments, the ducting includes a manifold portion that is to receive hot air from the fans, and opens into the upper and lower ducts. In some embodiments, the ducting is configured such that at least some hot air discharged from the fans can follow a generally linear path through the manifold portion and into the lower ducts.

The conveyor belt can be part of a conveyor assembly that comprises:

a first outer portion that supports the conveyor belt outwardly of a first of the openings; a second outer portion that supports the conveyor belt outwardly of a second of the openings;

a first drum mounted on the first outer portion about which the conveyor belt is to rotate;

a second drum mounted on the second outer portion about which the conveyor belt is to rotate; and

a drive for causing the conveyor belt to rotate.

The conveyor assembly can further comprise a support frame that extends through the baking chamber, and provides vertical support to the belt In certain embodiments, the support frame extends outwardly of the baking chamber. The support frame can include an upper frame that is to support the belt whilst transporting food to be cooked through the baking chamber. The support frame can also include a lower frame that is to support the belt in a return traversal of the baking chamber.

At least some sections of the support frame are curved in a vertical plane. The upper and/or lower frames can each include two or more frame sections. Preferably, each frame section is curved in a vertical plane. The support frame can include first support members, and second support members, the first support members being non-parallel with the second support members. Preferably, the first support members extend generally transversely to the direction of movement of the conveyor belt. Preferably, the second support members extend obliquely to the direction of movement of the conveyor belt. in some embodiments, the oven has a bank of one or more fans at each longitudinal end of primary chamber.

The source of hot air can be a gas burner that is arranged to introduce hot air into the primary chamber. Brief description of the drawings

In order that the invention may be more easily understood, embodiments will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 : is a perspective view of a conveyor-type oven in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 2: is a front view of the oven of Figure 1 ;

Figure 3: is a top view of the oven of Figure 1 ;

Figure 4: is a right side view of the oven of Figure 1 ;

Figure S: is a front, right perspective view of the oven of Figure 1 , with the conveyor assembly, and side and end panels omitted;

Figure 6: is a left side view of the oven as shown in Figure 5;

Figure 7: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line VN-V!I in

Figure 4, with the conveyor assembly omitted;

Figure 8: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line Vlli-VIII in Figure 4, with the conveyor assembly omitted;

Figure 9: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line IX-IX in

Figure 4, with the conveyor assembly omitted;

Figure 10: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line X-X in

Figure 2;

Figure 1 1 : is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line XI— X! in

Figure 2; and

Figure 12: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line Xil-XN in

Figure 4;

Figure 13: is a perspective view of a conveyor-type oven in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 14: is a front view of the oven of Figure 13;

Figure 15: is a right side view of the oven of Figure 13;

Figure 18: is a front, right perspective view of the oven of Figure 13, with the conveyor assembly, and side and end panels omitted;

Figure 17: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line XV!!—

XVI! in Figure 15; Figure 18: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line

XVII I— XVI I I in Figure 14;

Figure 19: is a perspective view of a conveyor-type oven in accordance with a third embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 20: is a front view of the oven of Figure 19;

Figure 21 : is a right side view of the oven of Figure 19;

Figure 22: is a front, right perspective view of the oven of Figure 19, with the conveyor assembly, and side and end panels omitted;

Figure 23: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line

XXII I— XXI I I in Figure 21 ; and

Figure 24: is a cross section view of the oven, as viewed along the line

XXIV-XXIV in Figure 20.

Detailed description

Figures 1 to 12 show a conveyor-type oven 10 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The oven 10 has a housing 12 that has a front wall 14, a rear wall 18, and two opposing longitudinal end walls 18, 20. The housing 12 has an opening 22, 24 at each of the two longitudinal end wails 18, 20. The housing 12 defines a baking chamber 26 within which food product - such as pizza - is to be cooked, and a primary chamber 28 that is positioned beneath the baking chamber 28.

A source of hot air is arranged to introduce hot air into the primary chamber 28. in this particular embodiment, the source of hot air is a blower gas burner 30 that receives combustible gas from a supply, burns that gas with air to discharge hot combustion products from a nozzle. The nozzle discharges the hot combustion products through a flame tube 31 , which surrounds the nozzle of the burner 30, and into the primary chamber 28. Accordingly, in this embodiment, the hot air is introduced by the discharge of hot combustion products into the primary chamber 28.

For the purposes of this specification and claims, the term "hot air" is to be understood to include hot combustion products (for example, produced by combusting a mix of air and combustible gases), hot exhaust gases, and heated atmospheric air. Combustible gases include propane, natural gas, among others.

The oven 12 has a conveyor assembly 32 that includes a continuous conveyor belt 34 (which is shown only in Figure 12, and is omitted from Figures 1 to 1 1 for clarity). The belt 34 extends through the baking chamber 28, and the conveyor assembly 32 is driven so as to transport food to be cooked and that is placed on the belt 34 through the baking chamber 26. For the purposes of this specification, it will be understood that the direction of travel of the belt 34 defines a longitudinal direction of the oven 2 (although the assembly 32 may be operated to rotate the belt 34 in either direction without materially affecting the longitudinal direction).

Within the baking chamber 28, the oven 10 has an upper plenum assembly, and a lower plenum assembly. Ducting interconnects the primary chamber with the upper and lower plenum assemblies. The oven 10 further has fans 36 that are operable to transport hot air from the primary chamber 28 through the ducting to the upper and lower plenum assemblies from which it is discharged into the baking chamber 28. In the embodiment illustrated in Figures 1 to 12, there are four fans 36, and these are of the centrifugal type that are each driven by dedicated electrical motor.

The oven 12 has the benefit of the hot air being generated and distributed in the primary chamber 28, which is beneath the baking chamber 26. This is most evident from Figures 10 to 12 that show, schematically, the portions of the oven 12 that contain the hot air in use; these portions being the primary chamber 28, the fans 36, the ducting and the upper and lower plenum assemblies. This enables heated air to move in the direction of its natural buoyancy, and to enable a construction of oven that has a high degree of symmetry in the components that supply hot air to the baking chamber (the symmetry being considered in vertical planes extending through the centre of the baking chamber). In addition, the oven 2 has the benefit of the burner 30, fans 36, and parts of the ducting being underneath the baking chamber 26, which minimizes the footprint of the oven 12. in this particular embodiment, the lower plenum assembly has two boxes 38 that each define one the lower plenum chambers. The ducting includes a manifold portion 40 that is to receive hot air from the fans 38, and two lower ducts 42 that each interconnect the manifold portion 40 with one of the boxes 38. The upper side of each box 38 has orifices from which to discharge hot air upwardly towards the belt 34. The orifices are evident in Figures 5 and 8, in which the upper side of each box 38 is visible.

In this embodiment, the upper plenum assembly has a box 44 that is supported by the housing 12 across the top of the baking chamber 26. The ducting further includes two upper ducts 46 that interconnect the manifold portion 40 with the box 44. Each upper duct 46 extends upwardly beside the baking chamber 26 and opens into the long sides of the box 44. As is particularly evident from Figures 10 and 11 , the upper ducts 46 are on opposing sides of the baking chamber 26 so that the hot air enters the box 44 on opposing sides. This symmetrical arrangement facilitates a high degree of symmetry in the gas flows into the box 44. The lower side of the box 44 has orifices from which to discharge hot air downwardly towards the belt 34. The orifices are evident in Figures 5 to 7, in which the lower side of the box 44 is visible.

The orifices in the boxes 38, 44 operate to release hot air towards the conveyor belt. In some alternative embodiments, the boxes may each have an orifice at the end of a short tube, which is known in this field as a "finger".

The housing 12 includes an internal divider 48 that is positioned between the primary chamber 28 and the baking chamber 28. The divider 48 has a divider opening 50, which is shown in Figures 5, 8, 9 and 12. in use of the oven 12, air within the baking chamber 26 is able to propagate through the divider opening 50 and into the primary chamber 28. As will be appreciated, it is the cooler air within the baking chamber 26 that moves to the bottom of the baking chamber 28, and is able to return to the primary chamber 28 via the divider opening 50, in operation of the oven 12, the baking chamber 26 may have an operating temperature in the order of approximately 220 °C to 320 °C. Although the gas returning to the primary chamber 28 is cooler than the operating temperature, it will be appreciated that the return of the air enables the more efficient operation of the burner 30. This has the benefit of enabling a reduction in the operating costs of the oven 12. To facilitate the movement of cooler gas towards the divider opening 50, the boxes 38 of the lower plenum assembly are spaced apart in the longitudinal direction. Conveniently, in this embodiment the divider opening 50 is vertically aligned with the separation of the boxes 38 (as shown in Figure 8). In addition, in this embodiment the floor of each of the boxes 38 is vertically spaced above the divider 48. In this way, cooler gas within the baking chamber 26 can propagate beneath the boxes 38, through the divider opening 50, and into the primary chamber 28 in use of the oven 12.

The boxes 38, 44 of both the lower and upper plenum assemblies extend transversely the full width of the baking chamber 26, such that hot air is supplied evenly across the width of the baking chamber 26. However, as will be evident from Figure 12, the upper plenum assembly is arranged to provide an air curtain effect across each of the openings 22, 24 to the baking chamber 26. To this end, the opposing longitudinal ends of the box 44 are closer to the openings 22, 24 than the longitudinally outer ends of the two boxes 44. Further, the density of orifices in the lower side of the box 44 is higher in regions adjacent the openings 22, 24, than in the central region of the box 44. The lower side of the box 44 has fourteen rows of orifices; each row extending linearly in a transverse direction across the baking chamber 26. As is shown in Figure 7, the separation of the two groups of five rows of orifices adjacent each longitudinal end wall 18, 20 of the housing 12 is half the separation of the four rows of orifices that are between these two groups. The air curtain effect operates to minimize heat loss through the openings 22, 24.

Figures 7 to 9 are horizontal cross section views of the oven 12, in which the conveyor assembly has been removed for clarity. Figure 7 is a section view through the centre of the box 44, such that the lower side of the box 44 is visible; and in particular, the orifices of the upper plenum assembly are visible. Figure 8 is a section view through the centre of the baking chamber 26, such that the upper sides of the boxes 38 of the lower plenum assembly are visible. Figure 9 is a section view taken between the lower side of the boxes 38 and the divider 48. In Figure 9, the gas outlets of the four fans 36, and the flame tube around the nozzle of the burner 30 are visible. The lower ducts 42 are evident in Figure 12. ln addition to the conveyor belt 34, the conveyor assembly 32 also has a first outer portion 52 and a second outer portion 54. Each of the first and second outer portions 52, 54 supports the belt 34 outwardly of the respective first and second openings 22, 24. Each of the first and second outer portions 52, 54 has a drum roller 56, 58 about which the belt 34 is to rotate. The conveyor assembly 32 also has a drive for causing the conveyor belt 32 to rotate. In this embodiment the drive is contained within a drive box 60, The oven 12 has an operating panel 62 on the front wall 14, from which a user can adjust the operating parameters of the oven 12, such as the baking chamber temperature, and the belt speed and direction. The first and second outer portion 52, 54 each include a crumb tray, and the second outer portion 54 includes a tray stop to prevent unattended trays with cooked food from failing from the oven 10. In some alternative embodiments in which the conveyor belt is to be operable in either direction, a tray stop may also be provided on the first outer portion. In some embodiments, the tray stop can be interchanged between the first and second outer portions so as to be mounted at the appropriate end having regard to the direction of the conveyor belt rotation.

The belt 34 is preferably made of a stainless steel wire mesh through which gas is readily able to pass so that hot gases may reach the underside of a food product resting on the belt. As is indicated in Figure 12, an uncooked food product, such as pizza, is loaded onto the belt on one of the outer portions of the conveyor assembly 32. After travelling on the belt 34 through the baking chamber 26, the cooked food product is available to be unloaded on the other of the outer portions.

The conveyor assembly 32 also has a support frame that extends through the baking chamber 26 to provide vertical support to the belt 34. in this embodiment, the support frame includes an upper frame 64 that is to support the belt 34 whilst transporting food to be cooked through the baking chamber 26, and a lower frame 66 that is to support the belt 34 in a return traversal (in other words, when the belt is travelling in the opposite direction) of the baking chamber 26.

The upper and lower frames 64, 66 can each include two frame sections, and these frame sections are arranged beside each other in the longitudinal direction of the oven 12. in the illustrated embodiment, each frame section is curved in a vertical plane. Each of the upper and lower frames 84, 66 has first support members that extend generally transversely to the longitudinal direction, and second support members that extend obliquely to the longitudinal direction. Thus, the first and second support members are neither parallel nor perpendicular with the second support members. The oblique arrangement of the second support members has the benefit of spreading wear across the width of the belt 34. In addition, the heat variation caused by the second support members is spread across the length of the baking chamber 26. In uses of the oven 12 in which the food product is placed directly onto the belt 34 (that is, in which a cooking tray is not used) the variation in cooking of the under side of the food product is spread across the food product. For example, the base of a cooked pizza is less likely to have stripes of uncooked, or partially cooked, pizza dough.

As is shown most clearly in Figures 5 and 8, in this embodiment the oven 12 has a bank of two fans 36 at each longitudinal end of primary chamber 28. The burner 30 is arranged with its nozzle and flame tube positioned to discharge hot air into the primary chamber 28 centrally between the two banks of fans 36. in Figures 10 to 12, the movement of hot air that is discharged from the burner 30 into the primary chamber 28, and then into the ducting, the lower and upper plenum assemblies, and discharged from the orifices (into the baking chamber 26) is shown in the shaded portions, and also by means of solid line arrows. The movement of cooler gas towards and/or through the divider opening 50 is shown by means of dashed line arrows.

The oven 12 has a conveyor belt width so as to be capable of being loaded with three "lanes" of 30 cm diameter pizza trays. In Figures 5 and 6, the location of the openings 22, 24 is indicated to facilitate identification of the orientation of the view, although it will be understood that the openings are not visible in these views.

Figures 13 to 18 show a conveyor-type oven 1 10 according to a second embodiment of the present invention. The oven 1 10 is substantially similar to the oven 10 of Figures 1 to 12. In Figures 13 to 18, the features of the oven 1 10 that are substantially similar to those of the oven 10 have the same reference numeral with the prefix "1". Figures 13 to 15, and 18 show the conveyor assembly 132, although the continuous conveyor belt is omitted from these figures for clarity. In Figures 16 and 17, the entire conveyor assembly 132 is omitted in its entirety. In Figure 18, the movement of hot air that is moved by the fans 136 from the primary chamber 128, into the ducting, the lower and upper plenum assemblies, and discharged from the orifices (into the baking chamber 126) is shown in the shaded portions, and also by means of solid line arrows.

The oven 10 is to have a conveyor belt width that is capable of being loaded with three "lanes" of 30 cm diameter pizza trays. In contrast, the oven 110 is to have a conveyor belt width that is capable of being loaded with four "lanes" of 30 cm diameter pizza trays. The baking chamber 126 of the oven 1 10 is wider to accommodate the greater width of the belt. As a consequence of this greater width, the oven 1 10 has two banks of three fans 136; one bank at each longitudinal end of the primary chamber 128. In other words, the oven 1 10 has six fans 136. Figure 16 shows the two banks of fans 136 with the nozzle of the burner 130 and the flame tube 131 positioned to discharge hot air centrally into the primary chamber 128, and between the two banks of fans 136.

Figures 19 to 24 show a conveyor-type oven 210 according to a third embodiment of the present invention. The oven 2 0 is substantially similar to the oven 10 of Figures 1 to 12. In Figures 19 to 24, the features of the oven 210 that are substantially similar to those of the oven 10 have the same reference numeral with the prefix "2".

Figures 19 to 21 , and 24 show the conveyor assembly 232, although the continuous conveyor belt is omitted from these figures for clarity. In Figure 22, the entire conveyor assembly 232 is omitted in its entirety. In Figure 24, the movement of hot air that is moved by the fans 236 from the primary chamber 228, into the ducting, the lower and upper plenum assemblies, and discharged from the orifices (into the baking chamber 226) is shown in the shaded portions, and also by means of solid line arrows. The oven 210 is to have a conveyor belt width that is capable of being loaded with

30 cm diameter pizza trays in two "lanes". The baking chamber 226 of the oven 210 is narrower as it only needs to accommodate a relatively narrow width of the belt. As a consequence of this narrower width, the oven 210 has two fans 236; one at either _ la - longitudinal end of the primary chamber 228. As shown in Figure 22, the burner 230 and flame tube 231 are positioned to discharge hot air centrally into the primary chamber 228, and between the two fans 238. It will be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to embodiments in which hot air is introduced into the primary chamber by a gas burner. In some alternative embodiments, hot air may be introduced into the primary chamber by a resistive-type heating element (or elements). The heat exchange between the heating elements and the air may occur within the primary chamber, or in a separate space and then introduced into the primary chamber.

Throughout this specification and the claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise", and variations such as "comprises" and "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps.

The reference in this specification to any prior publication (or information derived from it), or to any matter which is known, is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgment or admission or any form of suggestion that that prior publication (or information derived from it) or known matter forms part of the common general knowledge in the field of endeavour to which this specification relates.

The invention has been described by way of non-limiting example only and many modifications and variations may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.