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Title:
A DEVICE FOR MEASURING AN ELECTRICAL PARAMETER IN MILK AND A MILKING APPARATUS INCLUDING SUCH A DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2008/118056
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A device for measuring of an electrical parameter in milk, arranged in a substantially vertical milk flow conduit of a milking apparatus, which device comprises a measuring chamber (9, 19) having at least two electrodes (2, 12). Milk is intended to flow in an upward direction in the conduit, and the measuring chamber is closed in an upward direction and has a downwardly directed opening for entry and exit of milk, and will thus be filled with milk when milk flows through the device, and will instantly empty when the milk ceases to flow. The invention also relates to a milking apparatus for milking of an animal, which comprises such a device.

Inventors:
MEHINOVIC, Raza (Skäcklingevägen 33, Tumba, S-147 55, SE)
OBERMÜLLER, Helmut (Fleminggatan 34, Stockholm, S-112 34, SE)
Application Number:
SE2008/000174
Publication Date:
October 02, 2008
Filing Date:
March 04, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
DELAVAL HOLDING AB (P.O. Box 39, Tumba, S-147 21, SE)
MEHINOVIC, Raza (Skäcklingevägen 33, Tumba, S-147 55, SE)
OBERMÜLLER, Helmut (Fleminggatan 34, Stockholm, S-112 34, SE)
International Classes:
G01N33/04; A01J5/013; F16K7/12; G01N27/07
Domestic Patent References:
WO1999018774A1
Foreign References:
US5245946A
US4714048A
EP0397274A1
US3884187A
US4574736A
US3878819A
US6031367A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KOSSMANN, Jan et al. (DELAVAL INTERNATIONAL AB, P.O. Box 39, Tumba, S-147 21, SE)
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Claims:

Claims

1. A device ( 1 ; 10) arranged in a substantially vertical milk flow conduit of a milking apparatus, which device comprises a measuring chamber (9; 19) having at least two electrodes (2; 12), characterised in that milk is intended to flow in an upward direction in said conduit, and that the measuring chamber is closed in said upward direction and has a downwardly directed opening for entry and exit of milk, such that it will be filled with milk when milk flows through the device, and instantly empties when the milk ceases to flow, the device further comprising a valve having a diaphragm (26), wherein the measuring chamber (9; 19) is arranged prior to the diaphragm in the flow direction.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the measuring chamber (9; 19) is arranged in the device such that the flow direction of milk flowing through the device is altered in the area of the measuring chamber, and such that the chamber is filled with milk and no air is trapped therein, when milk flows through the device.

3. The device of claim 1 or 2, comprising a lower milk flow inlet passage (5; 15) and an upper milk flow outlet passage (6; 16), wherein the measuring chamber (9; 19) is positioned such that its opening is positioned directly above the lower milk flow inlet passage.

4. The device of any one of claims 1-3, wherein the measuring chamber is delimited by an outer wall (4; 14) of the device and a protruding element (3; 13) extending from said outer wall.

5. The device of claim 6, wherein the valve comprises a fluid chamber (11) having a fluid inlet opening (20) and wherein the milk flow outlet passage (16) extends into the fluid chamber (11) and has a fluid outlet opening (22) at its end, which opening is directed towards the diaphragm (26), and wherein the measuring chamber (19) is positioned in the fluid chamber opposite to the diaphragm and underneath the milk flow outlet passage (16).

6. The device of claim 5, wherein a protruding element (13) confining the measuring chamber (19) is a part of the milk flow outlet passage (16) extending into the fluid chamber (11).

7. The device of any one of claims 4-6, wherein the electrodes (2;12) are arranged in, and extend substantially horizontally through the outer wall (4; 14).

8. The device of any one of claims 1-7, wherein the electrical conductivity of the milk is measured by means of the electrodes.

9. The device of any one of claims 1-8, wherein the milk flow is measured by means of registration of the length of a time period within which a signal is given from the electrodes.

10. A milking apparatus for milking of an animal, comprising a milking member (30) intended to be applied to the teats of said animal, a milk conduit (31) for transportation of milk from the milking member (30) to a milk line (32) that is located higher than the milking member, characterised in that a device (1; 10 according to any one of claims 1-9 is arranged in the milk conduit, such that the opening of the measuring chamber is directed towards the milking member.

Description:

A device for measuring an electrical parameter in milk and a milking apparatus including such a device.

Technical field

The present invention relates to a device for measuring an electrical parameter in milk. The device is indented for arrangement in a substantially vertical conduit of a milking apparatus, and comprises a measuring chamber having electrodes. The invention also relates to a milking apparatus comprising such a device.

Background of the invention

The measurement of an electrical parameter, such as electrical conductivity, is of importance in the field of milking, since it can be used as a means for detecting infections such as mastitis in dairy animals. When milk is affected because of mastitis or milk fever, the electrical conductivity of the milk is changed. Mastitis infections in dairy animals can thus be diagnosed based upon the altered pattern in the electrical conductivity of the milk which, in the case of a mastitis infection is substantially increased in a characteristic way. The electrical conductivity can be measured, for example, by means of electrodes between which an A.C. or D.C. voltage prevails. In order to obtain comparable conductivity values between different measuring occasions, the measurement of the conductivity should be performed on a known volume. The measuring electrodes should thus preferably be arranged such that the measuring volume is substantially the same in each measuring occasion, so that comparable values of the electrical conductivity can be obtained.

Various arrangements for measuring of conductivity in milk are known in the art. Electrodes for measuring the conductivity are typically mounted in a sample chamber, in which a milk sample can be received. For continuous in-line measuring, the sample chamber is normally arranged in the milking apparatus in a position between the teat cups and the milk line, and is filled with milk when a milk flow passes by.

Examples of such devices are shown in WO 95/22888 and WO99/18774, in which sample chambers are located in a milk claw. Milk enters the chambers from above and slowly drains away via a small opening provided in the bottom of the sample chamber. Another known device is shown in EP 0397274 Al, in which a sample chamber is provided, which is closed at the bottom, and the milk both enters and exits the sample chamber through an upper opening.

These and other hitherto known devices for measuring electrical conductivity in milk suffer from difficulties in drainage of the milk. In a sample chamber of the type shown in WO 95/22888 or WO99/18774, the drainage opening must be small enough to retain a milk sample in the chamber. However, such a small opening easily becomes clogged by fat agglomerations or dirt particles in the milk. In the type shown in EP 0397274 Al a small amount of milk remains, also when the milk has ceased to flow through the device. The impeded milk drainage in the sample chamber is an obstacle in cleaning of the equipment and might also adversely affect the reliability of the measuring result.

Summary of the invention

The present invention aims at providing an improved device for measuring of an electrical parameter for use in a milking apparatus, which does not suffer from the above disadvantages, but allows a reliable measurement and can easily be cleaned.

This is achieved according to the present invention by means of a device as set out in claim 1. This device is arranged in a substantially vertical milk flow conduit of a milking apparatus and comprises a measuring chamber having at least two electrodes. Milk is intended to flow in an upward direction in the milk flow conduit, and the measuring chamber is closed in an upward direction and has a downwardly directed opening for entry and exit of milk. The chamber will thus be filled when milk flows upwards through the device, and instantly empties through the opening, due to

gravity, when the milk ceases to flow. When the measuring chamber is filled with milk, a signal can be obtained from the measuring chamber via the electrodes. The signal can be used for evaluation of whether the animal suffers from a disease such as mastitis, by comparing the maximum value of the conductivity at different milking occasions. The presence of a signal also reliably indicates the presence of a milk flow through the device. A signal will be given continuously during the passage of a milk slug through the device and will cease when the milk slug has passed since any small remaining amount of milk will directly drain from the measuring chamber. The time period needed for the milk slug to pass through the device is thus easily detected, which together with the known volume of the milk conduit allows the milk flow volume to be calculated. Because the device is adapted to be arranged in a substantially vertical milk conduit in which the milk flows upwardly, it is particularly useful in high-line milking applications, where the milk anyway must be must transferred upwards to the milk line.

The measuring chamber is preferably arranged in the device such that when milk flows through the device the milk flow direction is changed. When the milk flow deviates from its original direction any air trapped in the measuring chamber will be dragged along with the milk flowing by and the chamber will accordingly be completely filled with milk and no air is trapped in the chamber, and thus a reliable value of the electrical parameter is obtained. The device comprises a lower inlet passage, and an upper outlet passage for the milk flow. The measuring chamber is positioned such that its opening is positioned directly above the lower milk flow inlet passage, so that a milk flow entering the device is directed straight into the measuring chamber, which is delimited between an outer wall of the device and a protruding element that extends from the outer wall.

The device may further comprise a diaphragm valve, and the measuring chamber is then arranged prior to the diaphragm in the flow direction. The valve comprises a fluid chamber, which has a fluid inlet opening and a fluid outlet opening, which is

directed towards the diaphragm, at the end of the milk flow outlet passage which extends into the fluid chamber. The measuring chamber is positioned in the fluid chamber opposite to the diaphragm and underneath the outlet passage. This makes the device compact and effective, and several purposes can be fulfilled by means of a single piece of equipment, particularly when the end portion of the outlet passage, extending into the fluid chamber, is used as the protruding element confining the measuring chamber. The electrodes are preferably arranged in, and extend substantially horizontally through the outer wall, for easy mounting and access.

The invention also relates to a milking apparatus for milking of an animal, comprising a milking member 30 intended to be applied to the teats of said animal, a milk conduit 31 for transportation of milk from the milking member 30 to a milk line 32 that is located higher than the milking member, in which a device as described above is arranged in the milk conduit, such that the opening of the measuring chamber is directed towards the milking member 30.

Short description of the drawings

In the following, embodiments of the present invention will be described, by way of example, with reference to the appended drawings, wherein

Fig. 1 shows a cross- sectional view of a first preferred embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2 shows a front view of a second preferred embodiment of the device, in which a diaphragm is not shown;

Fig. 3 shows a cross-sectional view taken on the line A-A in Fig. 2, in which the diaphragm is shown;

Fig. 4 shows a rear view of the device in Fig. 2;

Fig. 5 shows a perspective front view of the device in Fig. 2; and

Fig. 6 shows a perspective rear view of the device in Fig. 2;

Fig. 7, shows schematically a milking apparatus comprising the device shown in Figures 1-6.

Detailed description of the invention

The overall idea of the present invention is to provide in a milk conduit, a measuring chamber that is closed at the upper end and open at the lower end, whereby the interior space of the chamber is easily accessed by upwardly flowing milk, and no risk of clogging exists and the chamber is very easy to clean.

The measuring chamber of the invention may be arranged in a milking apparatus, in practically any location between the teat cups of the milking member and the milk line, as long as it is arranged in a milk conduit in which the milk flows upwards in a substantially vertical direction. Throughout the following description the spatial orientation of the device is presupposed to be the same as when arranged in the substantially vertical milk conduit. Accordingly a lower or bottom element of the device will be located closer to the milking member than an upper or top element.

In a first embodiment of the invention, shown in Fig. 1 , the device 1 comprises a tubular portion inside which a measuring chamber 9 is arranged, which comprises two electrodes 2. The measuring chamber is delimited by a protruding element 3 extending from the wall 4 of the tubular portion. Milk enters the device from below through an inlet passage 5 and is directed straight into the measuring chamber 9. The protruding element 3 is located in the flow direction of the milk and thus hinders the milk flow to continue in its original direction, and instead forces the milk flow to deviate and flow through the gap left in the tubular element beside the measuring chamber 9. The milk then leaves the device through an upper outlet passage 6.

The measuring chamber 9 is closed in the upward direction by means of the protruding element 3 and is open in the downward direction for entry and exit of milk. The protruding element 3 preferably includes a plurality of substantially vertical wall members 7 defining the side walls of the measuring chamber 9, and an upper wall member 8 defining the upper wall of the measuring chamber. In a particularly advantageous alternative the upper wall member 8 is inclined such that is slopes, preferably along a parabolic curve, from the point on the wall from which it extends (at the back end of the measuring chamber) downwards to the opening of the measuring chamber. The measuring chamber 9 is thus upwardly tapered and is narrower at the upper back end, than at the opening, such that it is deeper in the area closest to the wall 4, and is rather shallow in the area near the lower portion of the upper wall member 8. This will enhance the efficiency of the milk flow into and out of the measuring chamber, as well as the removal of any trapped air inside the measuring chamber.

Figures 2-6 show a second embodiment of the invention, in which a vacuum regulation diaphragm valve (shut-off valve) is incorporated in the device 10. The valve includes a fluid chamber 11 which encompasses a somewhat cup-shaped element 27 and a diaphragm 26. The diaphragm is shown only in Fig 3. The fluid chamber 11 comprises a milk inlet opening 20 at its bottom, and a substantially tubular milk inlet passage 15 is attached to the inlet opening below the fluid chamber. A milk outlet passage 16 is arranged at the upper end of the fluid chamber. The outlet passage 16 is comprised of an upper substantially tubular portion mainly located outside the fluid chamber 11 and a lower extending portion 18, 21 located inside the fluid chamber. A milk outlet opening 22 from the fluid chamber 11 is located at the end of the extending portion 18, 21, and the edge rim 23 surrounding the outlet opening 22 forms a sealing surface against which the diaphragm 26 can seal, such that the size of a passage through the outlet opening can be controlled by means of movements of the diaphragm 26. It is also possible to completely close the outlet opening 22 by means of the diaphragm 26. The milk exits through the outlet opening 22 in a

substantially horizontal direction and then turns upwards in a substantially vertical direction through the outlet passage 16.

In this embodiment the measuring chamber 19 is positioned inside the fluid chamber 11 and is located beneath and partially behind the lower extending portion 18 of the outlet passage 16, as seen from the diaphragm point of view. The measuring chamber may be formed as a groove that is delimited by a protruding element 13, which is a part of the lower extending portion 18, 21 of the outlet passage; and substantially vertical side wall surfaces 17. The interior shape of the measuring chamber may be the same as described above for the first embodiment, i.e. being narrower at the upper back end than at the opening.

The device is preferably moulded from a plastics material one piece integrally comprising the fluid chamber 11, the inlet passage 15, the measuring chamber 19 and the outlet passage 16. Two electrodes 12 are arranged in the measuring chamber 19, extending substantially horizontally through openings in the rear wall 14. The electrode connection is protected by protective walls 24 arranged around the openings 25.

In use the milk flows upwards through the device similarly as described for the first embodiment. After having changed direction in the area of the measuring chamber 19 the milk flow leaves the fluid chamber 11 through the outlet passage, via the outlet opening 22 of the fluid chamber.

A milking apparatus for milking of an animal comprising a device as described above is shown in Fig. 7. The apparatus comprises a milking member 30 intended to be applied to the teats of an animal, a milk conduit 31 for transportation of milk from the milking member 30 to a milk line 32 that is located higher than the milking member. The device 1; 10 as described above is arranged in the milk conduit, such

that the opening of the measuring chamber is directed towards the milking member 30.

Many changes and modifications in the above embodiments may, of course, be carried out without departing from the scope of the invention. Accordingly, that scope is intended to be limited only by the appended claims.