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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
DOUGH DIVIDER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/204489
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A dough divider for separating a quantity of dough into smaller dough lumps. The divider includes a hopper to hold a quantity of dough. The hopper has a draw opening at the bottom. A dough chamber has a mouth at the upper end. The chamber moves horizontally relative to the hopper from a draw position where the mouth is fully aligned with the draw opening as a draw aperture, to a burp position where the mouth is partially aligned with the draw opening as a burp aperture, and then to a discharge position where the mouth is not aligned with the draw opening. A piston reciprocates vertically within the chamber between a top location, a drawn location, and a burp location between the top location and the drawn location.

Inventors:
VOYATZAKIS, Andrew, D (P.O. Box 596, Carlisle, MA, 01741, US)
ANTHANASIADIS, George (18 Sanderson Road, Lexington, MA, 02420, US)
Application Number:
US2019/027930
Publication Date:
October 24, 2019
Filing Date:
April 17, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SOMERSET INDUSTRIES, INC. (137 Phoenix Ave, Lowell, MA, 01852, US)
International Classes:
A21C5/02; A21C5/00; A21C5/04; A21C5/06; A21C5/08
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017042106A22017-03-16
Foreign References:
NL9002243A1992-05-18
US3721331A1973-03-20
US1703126A1929-02-26
US4332538A1982-06-01
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARTIN, Steven, K. (Altman & Martin, P.O. Box 424Topsfield, MA, 01983, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A dough divider (10) for producing a dough lump (4) from a quantity of dough (2), the dough divider (10)

comprising :

(a) a hopper (20) adapted to receive the quantity of dough (2), the hopper (20) having a draw opening (26) at the bottom of the hopper (20);

(b) a dough chamber (30) have a mouth (34) at the upper end, the dough chamber (30) mounted to move horizontally relative to the hopper (20) from a draw position (80) wherein the mouth (34) is fully aligned with the draw opening (26) as a draw aperture (38), to a burp position (82) wherein the mouth (34) is partially aligned with the draw opening (26) as a burp aperture (46), then to a discharge position (84) wherein the mouth (34) is not aligned with the draw opening (26) ;

(c) a piston (40) mounted to reciprocate vertically within the dough chamber (30) between a top location (90), a drawn location (92), and a burp location (94) between the top location (90) and the drawn location (92);

(d) whereby, when in the draw position (80), the piston (40) reciprocates from the top location (90) to the drawn location (92) to pull dough (2) into the dough chamber (30) through the draw aperture (38), whereby when in the burp position (82), the piston (40) reciprocates from the drawn location (92) to the burp location (94) to push air and excess dough from the dough chamber (30) through the burp aperture (46), and whereby when in the discharge position (84), the piston (40) reciprocates from the burp location (94) to the top location (90) to push the dough lump (4) out the chamber mouth (34) .

2. The dough divider of claim 1 further comprising a discharge mechanism (62) for discharging the dough lump (4) from the divider (10) after being pushed out the chamber mouth (34) .

3. The dough divider of claim 2 wherein the discharge mechanism (62) comprises a paddle (64) that pivots to push the dough lump (4) into a discharge chute (66) .

4. The dough divider of claim 1 wherein the size of the burp aperture (46) is controlled by a programmed

controller (14) .

5. The dough divider of claim 1 wherein the piston drawn location (92) and the piston burp location (94) are controlled by a programmed controller (14) .

6. A method of producing a dough lump (4) comprising the steps of:

(a) providing a hopper (20) with a draw opening (26) at the bottom;

(b) placing dough (2) in the hopper (20) ;

(c) providing a dough chamber (30) with a mouth (34) at the top of the dough chamber (30) in a draw position (80) wherein the chamber mouth (34) is vertically aligned with the draw opening (26) as a draw aperture (38) ;

(d) a vertically reciprocating piston (40) drawing dough (2) through the draw aperture (38) into the dough chamber (30) ;

(e) moving the chamber (30) horizontally relative to the hopper (20) to a burp position (82) wherein the chamber mouth (34) is partially aligned with the draw opening (26) to form a burp aperture (46) and the dough chamber (30) is provided with a ceiling (48) ;

(f) the piston (40) moving to a burp location (94) pushing the dough lump (4) upwardly a short distance to compress the dough lump (4) against the chamber ceiling (48) to allow air and excess dough to exit the burp aperture (46) ;

(g) moving the chamber (30) horizontally relative to the hopper (20) to a discharge position (84) wherein the chamber mouth (34) has no alignment with the draw opening (26) ; (h) the piston (40) pushing the dough lump (4) out the chamber mouth (34) ; and

(i) discharging the dough lump (4) from the dough divider (10) .

Description:
DOUGH DIVIDER

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to dough preparation, more particularly, to machines for dividing dough into the desired weight .

BACKGROUND ART

A dough divider separates a quantity of dough into smaller lumps, typically for individual baked products.

Current dough dividers are hand-operated, requiring an operator, which means they are non-continuous and slow.

There are two basic mechanisms employed. Auger-feed-type dividers deform and destroy the structure of the dough, and are slow and inaccurate.

Piston-type dividers are difficult to clean, with some machines taking hours, and require extra lubrication, resulting in high maintenance costs. Further, they are not accurate, difficult to adjust, and have high energy costs.

Another issue with machines of the current art is that the dough lumps are not consistent in weight. The machines use volume as a proxy for weight. They assume that the dough has a consistent density throughout and so that all dough lumps of a given volume have the same weight. The problem with this assumption is that it does not account of air trapped in the dough.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

The dough divider of the present invention has a hopper that holds the dough to be divided. The hopper has a draw opening at the bottom.

Below the draw opening is a dough chamber with a mouth that is fully aligned with the draw opening to form a draw aperture. Dough is drawn from the hopper into the chamber by a chamber piston. The piston starts at a top location in the chamber, and as it displaces downwardly to a drawn location, a vacuum is produced in the chamber that draws dough into the chamber. The drawn location determines the volume of the resulting dough lump, where volume is used as a proxy for weight .

The chamber moves horizontally relative to the hopper, driven by a step mechanism, between a draw position, a burp position, and a discharge position. In the draw position, the chamber mouth is fully aligned with the hopper draw opening, thereby maximizing the amount of dough that can be drawn into the chamber by the piston.

After the dough has been drawn into the chamber, the step mechanism moves the chamber to the burp position where the chamber mouth is only partially aligned with the hopper draw opening to form a smaller burp aperture. The size of the burp aperture will depend on the characteristics of the dough. The chamber piston displaces from the drawn location to a burp location, a small distance toward the top of the chamber from the drawn location, to compress the dough lump against the chamber ceiling. Excess dough and air are pushed back into the hopper through the burp aperture.

After the burp step, the step mechanism moves the chamber to the discharge position where the chamber mouth is no longer aligned with the hopper draw opening. The piston moves to the top location, pushing the dough lump out the chamber mouth. A discharge mechanism discharges the dough lump from the dough divider.

In one discharge mechanism, a paddle pivots horizontally to push the dough lump to a discharge chute. Optionally, the discharge chute incorporates a scale to weigh the dough lump. In another discharge mechanism, an arm pivots vertically to push the dough lump to a scale for weighing. Optionally, if the measured weight is out of the acceptable weight range, the controller determines the difference between the measured weight and desired weight and adjusts the piston drawn location so that the next dough lump is closer or within the desired weight range. If desired, the controller can also change the burp position of the chamber, thereby changing the size of the burp aperture.

Objects of the present invention will become apparent in light of the following drawings and detailed description of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the nature and object of the present invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is an upper isometric view of the dough divider of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the dough divider in the draw position;

FIG. 3 is a front view f the dough divider in the draw position;

FIG. 4 is a front, cros -sectional view of the hopper, chamber, and chamber piston in the draw position prior to drawing;

FIG. 5 is a front, cros -sectional view of the hopper, chamber, and chamber piston in the draw position after drawing;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the dough divider in the burp position;

FIG. 7 is a front view f the dough divider in the burp position;

FIG. 8 is a front, cros -sectional view of the hopper, chamber, and chamber piston in the burp position prior to burping;

FIG. 9 is a front, cros -sectional view of the hopper, chamber, and chamber piston in the burp position after burping;

FIG. 10 is a top view o the dough divider in the

discharge position;

FIG. 11 is a front view of the dough divider in the discharge position; FIG. 12 is a front, cross-sectional view of the hopper, chamber, and chamber piston in the discharge position prior to discharge;

FIG. 13 is a front, cross-sectional view of the hopper, chamber, and chamber piston in the discharge position after discharge;

FIG. 14 is an upper isometric view of a first discharge mechanism;

FIG. 15 is a side, cross-sectional view of the discharge mechanism of FIG. 14 prior to discharge;

FIG. 16 is a side, cross-sectional view of the discharge mechanism of FIG. 14 after discharge;

FIG. 17 is a top, partial phantom view of another

discharge mechanism prior to discharge; and

FIG. 18 is a top view of the discharge mechanism of FIG. 15 after discharge.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The dough divider 10 of the present invention provides a number of advantages over dividers of the prior art,

including (1) providing high weight accuracy, in part, by weighing every piece of dough and automatically adjusting to correct the weight of succeeding pieces, (2) separating dough balls of the correct weight from those of the incorrect weight, (3) tallying the number of correct weight dough balls automatically, (4) maintaining the structure of the dough,

(5) simple cleaning with minimum maintenance requirements,

(6) low energy usage, (7) compactness, (8) and high speed, automatic, and programmable operation with stored programs.

The dough divider 10 of the present invention provides some of the above-noted advantages by adding an extra step into the dividing process. As described above, current art devices divide dough by volume as a proxy for weight.

However, the correspondence between volume and weight is not necessarily accurate because of trapped air. The present invention adds a step to the dividing process, that of burping the dough. In other words, the device of the present invention attempts to squeeze trapped air from the dough lump prior to discharging the dough lump for additional

processing. This burping step is described in detail below.

As shown in FIG. 1, the dough divider 10 of the present invention has a frame 12 that holds all of the components in the correct position relative to each other. A controller 14, typically mounted to the frame 12, controls the operation of the dough divider 10, as described below.

A hopper 20 holds the quantity of dough 2 to be divided. In the present configuration, as shown in FIGS. 1-3, the hopper 20 is generally conical, as at 22, with a large opening 24 at the top for inserting dough 2. The present invention contemplates that the hopper 20 can be other shapes. At the bottom of the hopper 20 is a draw opening 26.

The hopper 20 is also intended to encompass any source of dough 2 for the dough divider 10 including, for example, a conduit feeding the dough divider directly from a dough mixer .

Optionally, the hopper 20 is removable from the frame 12 to facilitate easy cleaning. A clamp 28 secures the hopper 20 to the frame 12.

Below the draw opening 26 is a dough chamber 30. The dough chamber 30 is typically, though not necessarily, cylindrical. In the present design, the dough chamber 30 is cylindrical at 7.5 inches high and 3.5 inches in diameter.

The present invention contemplates that the dough chamber 30 can be different sizes for different applications. The dough chamber 30 is composed of a synthetic plastic, stainless steel, or aluminum alloy, but can be composed of any rigid material to which the dough will not stick. One preferred material is ultra high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene.

Optionally, the dough chamber 30 is removable to

facilitate easy cleaning. In the present design, the dough chamber 30 is secured in place during use by a pair of latches 57 seen in FIGS. 1 and 4.

The dough chamber 30 has a mouth 34 that is fully aligned with the draw opening 26 to form a draw aperture 38. An optional seal 32 between the hopper draw opening 26 and the mouth 34 at the upper end of the chamber 30 minimizes air leakage between the hopper 20 and chamber 30, as explained below .

Dough 2 is drawn from the hopper 20 through the draw aperture 38 into the chamber 30 by a chamber piston 40.

Under control of the controller 14, the chamber piston 40 reciprocates through the chamber 30. To draw dough 2 into the chamber 30 in the draw step, the chamber piston 40 starts at a top location 90 at the top of the chamber 30, as in FIG. 4. As the piston 40 displaces downwardly to a drawn location 92, a vacuum is produced in the chamber 30 that draws dough 2 into the chamber 30, as in FIG. 5. The drawn location 92 and the amount of displacement is determined by the desired volume of the resulting dough lump 4, where volume is a proxy for weight. The heavier the dough lump 4 is to be, the greater the displacement, that is, the lower drawn location 92 is in the chamber 30.

The drawn location 92 is initially inputted into the controller 14 by an operator, either directly or indirectly. With a direct input, the operator sets the actual initial drawn location 92. With an indirect input, the operator sets the dough characteristics and the desired weight of the dough lump 4 and the controller 14 determines the initial drawn location 92.

The chamber piston 40 needs to displace at a speed that produces a vacuum strong enough to pull the dough into the chamber 30. In the illustrated design, the chamber piston 40 moves at a speed of at least six inches per second. The optional seal 32 between the hopper 20 and chamber 30

minimizes air leakage to help produce the desired vacuum and so that the amount of dough 2 drawn for a given drawn

location 92 is relatively constant.

The present invention contemplates that any mechanism 42 that can cause the chamber piston 40 to reciprocate in small increments under control of the controller 14 can be

employed. Possible mechanisms include a hydraulic piston and an electric stepping motor. In the illustrated design, an electric stepping motor 43 rotates an internally-threaded rod or nut 44. An externally-threaded rod 45 extending through the nut 44 reciprocates as the motor 43 turns. The

externally-threaded rod 45 attaches to the piston 40, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.

Optionally, in order to facilitate cleaning, the piston 40 is removably attached to the chamber piston operating mechanism 42. In the illustrated design, a removable pin 58 secures the piston rod 45 to the mechanism 42, as shown in FIG. 4.

The chamber 30 and the hopper 20 move horizontally relative to each other between a draw position 80, a burp position 82, and a discharge position 84. Since the piston 40 is within the chamber 30, the piston 40 moves with the chamber 30.

In the illustrated design, the hopper 20 is stationary and the chamber 30 is moved by a step mechanism 50. The step mechanism 50 can take any form that causes the chamber 30 to be reciprocated in small increments under control of the controller 14. Possible mechanisms include a hydraulic piston and an electric stepping motor. In the illustrated design, an electric stepping motor 51 rotates an internally- threaded rod or nut 52. An externally-threaded rod 53 extending through the nut 52 reciprocates as the motor 51 turns. The externally-threaded rod 53 attaches to the chamber 30, as at 54 in FIG. 3.

Alternatively, the chamber 30 is stationary and the hopper 20 is moved by a step mechanism between the draw position 80, the burp position 82, and the discharge position 84.

The draw position 80 is described above, where the chamber mouth 34 is fully aligned with the hopper draw opening 26, thereby maximizing the amount of dough 2 that can be drawn into the chamber 30 by the chamber piston 40 during the draw step.

After the dough 4 has been drawn into the chamber 30, the step mechanism 50 moves the chamber 30 to the burp position 82, shown in FIGS. 6-8. In the burp position 82, the chamber mouth 34 is only partially aligned with the hopper draw opening 26 so that a smaller burp aperture 46 is formed by the unaligned chamber mouth 34 and hopper draw opening 26.

In the present design, the step mechanism 50 can move the chamber 30 in small increments such that the burp aperture 46 can be from 1% to 50% of the size of the draw aperture 38.

The size of the burp aperture 46 for a particular application will depend on the density, consistency, and hydration of the dough .

The burp position 82 is initially inputted into the controller 14 by an operator, either directly or indirectly. With a direct input, the operator sets the actual burp position 82. With an indirect input, the operator sets the desired size of the burp aperture 46 and the controller 14 determines the initial burp position 82 for that size burp aperture 46. Initially, the burp aperture 46 is set to between 10% and 20% depending on the hydration of the dough. The size of the burp aperture 46 can then be adjusted as described below.

As the chamber 30 moves to the burp position 82, the chamber mouth 34 moves under the undersurface of the hopper 20 adjacent to the draw opening 26. The hopper undersurface separates the dough lump 4 in the chamber 30 from the dough 2 in the hopper 20 and becomes the ceiling 48 of the dough chamber 30. At the same time, a plate 56 slides under the hopper 20 to close that part of the draw opening 26 that is not forming the burp aperture 46, as at 60. The plate 56 is attached to the chamber 30 so that it moves with the chamber 30.

In the burp step, which is unique to the present

invention, the chamber piston 40 is programmed to displace from the drawn location 92 to a burp location 94, a

predetermined small distance toward the top of the chamber 30 from the drawn location 92, to compress the dough lump 4 against the chamber ceiling 48, as in FIG. 9. The burp location 94 depends on the desired volume of the resultant dough lump 4. Excess dough and air are pushed back into the hopper 20 through the burp aperture 46. The result is a dough lump 4 that is expected to be within a narrow volume range that is determined by the diameter of the chamber 30 and the distance from the piston 40 to the chamber ceiling 48. The weight of the dough lump 4 is expected to be within a range that is calculated using the volume and expected density of the dough.

After the burp step, the step mechanism 50 moves the chamber 30 to the discharge position 84, shown in FIGS. 10- 12. The chamber mouth 34 is no longer aligned with the hopper draw opening 26 and the hopper draw opening 26 is fully closed by the plate 56 so that dough 2 does not fall through .

Simultaneously, as the chamber 30 moves, the chamber ceiling 48 covers the entire chamber 30, thereby completely separating the dough lump 4 in the chamber 30 from the dough 2 in the hopper 20.

Eventually, when the chamber 30 has moved to the

discharge position 84, the ceiling 48 is no longer covering the chamber 30 so that there is nothing blocking the chamber 30. The piston 40 moves to the top location 90, pushing the dough lump 4 out the chamber mouth 34 in the discharge step, as in FIG. 13. A discharge mechanism 62 discharges the dough lump 4 from the dough divider 10.

In one discharge mechanism, shown in FIGS. 14-16, a paddle 64 pushes the dough lump 4 to a discharge chute 66.

In the illustrated design, a motor 68 pivots the paddle 64 on a horizontal axis 65 under control of the controller 14.

Alternatively, the paddle is oriented to pivot vertically.

Optionally, the discharge chute 66 incorporates a scale 70 to weigh the dough lump 4. Typically, a strain gage is used to weigh the dough lump 4, but any other type of

weighing mechanism can be employed. If the dough lump 4 is out of an inputted acceptable weight range, the controller 14 stops the divider 10 and notifies the operator. If dough lump 4 is within the acceptable range, no additional action is taken. The acceptable weight range is a range of weights around the desired weight of the dough lump 4.

In an alternative discharge mechanism, shown in FIGS. 17 and 18, the step mechanism 50 pivots an arm 72 on a vertical axis 76 that pushes the dough lump 4 to a scale 74 for weighing. Typically, a strain gage is used to weigh the dough lump 4, but any other type of weighing mechanism can be employed. If the dough lump 4 is within the predetermined acceptable weight range, the controller 14 causes the scale 74 to tilt in one direction, discharging the dough lump 4 to the exit. If the weight of the dough lump 4 is out of range, the controller 14 causes the scale 74 to tilt in another direction, discharging the dough lump 4 to a reject bucket. The present invention contemplates that any tilting mechanism can be employed. In one design, the scale 74 is pivoted on a horizontal axis by solenoids.

Optionally, if the measured weight is out of a

predetermined acceptable weight range, the controller 14 determines the difference between the measured weight and desired weight and adjusts the piston drawn location 92 so that the next dough lump 4 is closer or within the desired weight range. If the measured weight is low, the controller 14 causes the chamber piston 40 to displace a greater

distance when drawing the dough 2 into the chamber 30 in the draw step, that is, the piston drawn location 92 is lower in the chamber 30. If the measured weight is high, the

controller 14 causes the chamber piston 40 to displace a lesser distance when drawing the dough 2 into the chamber 30 in the draw step, that is, the piston drawn location 92 is higher in the chamber 30. If desired, the controller 14 can also control the step mechanism 50 to change the burp

position 82 of the chamber 30, thereby changing the size of the burp aperture 46.

After the dough 4 is discharged, the step mechanism 50 moves the chamber 30 back to the draw position 80 of FIGS. 2-

4.

Thus it has been shown and described a dough divider. Since certain changes may be made in the present disclosure without departing from the scope of the present invention, it is intended that all matter described in the foregoing specification and shown in the accompanying drawings be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.