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Title:
IMPROVED FOOD COOKING INSTALLATION.
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2014/170134
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An improved cooking installation (2), characterised by comprising: a cooking chamber, at least one conveyor belt (10) positioned in said cooking chamber and following a spiral path of vertical axis, to receive food products and drive them from an inlet opening (14) to an outlet opening (16) of said chamber, a heat exchange circuit (30) comprising a bundle of pipes (44) disposed as a spiral inserted within said conveyor belt (10) and divided into several portions (60, 62) involving different vertically superposed zones of said cooking chamber and connected together in parallel, and to a heat control unit (32) for generating a heating fluid, means for independently regulating the flow rate of said heating fluid within said portions (60, 62) of the heat exchange circuit (30), a management and control unit for said thermal circuit and for the means for driving said conveyor belt.

Inventors:
LAGO, Leopoldo (Via Casaretta 62, Cittadella, I-35013, IT)
Application Number:
EP2014/056699
Publication Date:
October 23, 2014
Filing Date:
April 03, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TECNO POOL S.P.A. (Via Buonarroti 81, San Giorgio In Bosco, IT)
International Classes:
A23L5/10; A21B1/10; A21B1/48; A23L3/18
Domestic Patent References:
2012-09-13
2009-02-19
2005-02-24
Foreign References:
CN2935830Y2007-08-22
ES2004906A61989-02-16
US5078120A1992-01-07
US20040244400A12004-12-09
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PIOVESANA, Paolo (Via F. Baracca, 5/a, Venezia Mestre, I-30173, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
C L A I M S

1 . An improved cooking installation (2), characterised by comprising:

- a cooking chamber,

- at least one conveyor belt (1 0) positioned in said cooking chamber and following a spiral path of vertical axis, to receive food products and drive them from an inlet opening (14) to an outlet opening (16) of said chamber,

- a heat exchange circuit (30) comprising a bundle of pipes (44) disposed as a spiral inserted with in said conveyor belt (1 0) and d ivided into several portions (60, 62) involving different vertically superposed zones of said cooking chamber and connected together in parallel, and to a heat control unit (32) for generating a heating fluid,

- means for independently regulating the flow rate of said heating fluid within said portions (60, 62) of the heat exchange circuit (30),

- a management and control unit for said thermal circuit and for the means for driving said conveyor belt.

2. An installation as claimed in claim 1 , characterised in that said heat exchange circuit comprises at least one inlet conduit (40) which conveys the fluid from said heat control unit (32) to the inlet of each of said portions (60, 62) of the heat exchange circuit (30), and at least one outlet condu it (42) which conveys the fluid from the outlet of each of said portions (60, 62) of the thermal circuit the heat control unit (32).

3. An installation as claimed in one or more of the preced ing claims, characterised in that the pipes (44) of said bundle are divided into portions of length equal to a fraction of a spiral turn.

4. An installation as claimed in one or more of the preced ing claims, characterised in that the ends of the portions into which the pipes (44) of the bundle are divided are connected together by radial headers (46), which are connected to the adjacent header by a connection portion (48).

5. An installation as claimed in one or more of the preced ing claims, characterised in that sa id reg u lator means com prise mod ulating valves controlled by temperature regulators.

6. An installation as claimed in one or more of the preced ing claims, characterised in that said regulator means are positioned in said at least one inlet conduit (40) or in said at least one outlet conduit (42).

7 . An installation as claimed in one or more of the preceding claims, characterised in that said control and management unit controls said regulator means in such a manner as to ach ieve d ifferent temperatures between the different portions (60, 62) of the heat exchange circuit (30).

8. An installation as claimed in one or more of the preced ing claims, characterised in that each spiral turn of the conveyor belt (10) is faced upperly and lowerly by one spiral turn of the thermal circuit (30).

9. An i n stallation as claimed in one or more of the preceding claims, characterised in that said heating fluid is diathermic oil .

10. An installation as claimed in one or more of the preceding claims, characterised in that the means for driving the conveyor belt comprise toothed wheels (28) which engage the appendices emerging from the outer edge of the conveyor belt (1 0), to drag it into movement along support members fixed to a support structure (8).

11. An installation as claimed in one or more of the preceding claims, characterised by comprising at least two conveyor belts (10) defining a spiral path in which the spiral turns of each conveyor (10) alternate with those of the others.

Description:
IMPROVED FOOD COOKING INSTALLATION

The present invention relates to an improved food cooking installation.

I nd ustria l cooki ng i n sta l lation s a re known com prisi ng a tu n n el traversed from one end to the other by a continuously driven conveyor belt, on wh ich the foods to be cooked are positioned . Th is type of installation is particularly bulky and hardly suitable for use where the available space is limited.

Each food is known to be characterised by its own cooking curve, i.e. by a specific variation which the temperature has to follow during the entire cooking cycle; for example the cooking cycle for bread requires greater heat during the initial stage and a lesser heat during the final stage, whereas that for panettone is exactly the opposite; in contrast, meat requires a constant temperature during the entire cooking cycle.

In order to match the cooking curves for the various foods, traditional cooking installations comprise different temperature zones along the tunnel . The temperature values for each zone are hence initially set according to the type of food to be cooked , and once set must be ma intained constant to enable the foods d riven by the endless conveyor belt to be cooked . As generally it is not possible to instantaneously vary the temperature values in the various tunnel zones, traditional installations are able to simultaneously cook only foods having the same cooking curve.

The main object of the invention is to propose an improved cooking installation which is able to simultaneously handle internally products having mutually different cooking curves. Another object of the invention is to propose an improved food cooking installation of low energy consumption.

Another object of the invention is to propose a cooking installation which operates within a healthy and clean environment.

Another object of the invention is to propose an improved cooking installation which improves food cooking, while reducing and optimizing the cooking times required thereby.

Another object of the invention is to propose an improved installation in wh ich cooking can take place either directly on the conveyor belt or by using baking-pans for containing the food.

Another object of the invention is to propose an improved cooking installation which is simple and quick to produce and at low cost.

All these and other objects which will be apparent from the ensuing description are attained, according to the invention, by an improved cooking installation with the characteristics indicated in claim 1 .

The present invention is further clarified hereinafter in a preferred embodiment described with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 is a perspective view of an improved cooking installation according to the invention,

Figure 2 shows it without the heat exchange circuit,

Figure 3 shows it without the conveyor belt,

Figure 4 shows a detail of the heat exchange circuit in perspective view.

As ca n be see n from th e fig u res , th e i m p roved food coo k i ng installation 2, according to the invention, comprises a spiral structure 4 intended to be housed within a closed cooking chamber; this chamber is not shown in the figures, however it is similar to a container which has its lower surface coincid ing with the base 6 on which the spiral structure 4 is rested, and wh ich is provided with two open ings to enable the foods to enter the cooking chamber and exit therefrom respectively.

In particular, the spiral structure 4 comprises a plural ity of vertical col u mns 8 arranged relative to each other such as to define two coaxial cylindrical surfaces for supporting the superposed spiral turns of a conveyor belt 1 0. In particular, said vertical columns 8 are provided with a plurality of support and guide members suitably spaced apart vertically and defining the various planes 12 of the spiral path followed by the conveyor belt 10.

The installation 2 comprises an entry section 14 and an exit section 16 wh ich ca n be con nected to treatment station s pos itioned respectively downstream and upstream of the installation 2. Suitably, at the exit section 16 a linkage section 1 8 is provided, necessary to return the conveyor belt to the entry section 14.

To the sides of the spiral structure 4, two vertical frames 20 are provided, connected together by a horizontal frame 22; this latter is provided with an actuator 24 which, by suitable transmission means, drives the vertical shafts 26 housed in the two vertical frames 20. Moreover, a series of toothed wheels 28 are keyed along the shafts 26, such that their teeth can engage appendices emerging laterally from the facing links of a chain applied to the outer edge of the conveyor belt 1 0, such that on rotating each shaft 26 by means of the actuator 24, the toothed wheels 28 are made to rotate and drag the conveyor belt 10 into movement. The installation 2 also comprises a heat exchange circuit 30 through wh ich the fl u id used as the thermal vector circu lates in order to heat by radiation the products to be cooked. This fluid is preferably diathermic oil.

The circuit 30 comprises a heat control unit 32 positioned outside the chamber housing the spiral structure 4, and provided with a tank 34, a boiler 36 and a plurality of pipes 38. The circuit 30 also comprises an inlet conduit 40, which emerges from the boiler 36 to carry the high temperature fluid to the structure 4, specifically to the lower spiral turn and to an intermediate spiral turn of the circuit, and two outlet conduits 42 which withdraw the cooled fluid from an intermediate spiral turn and from the upper spiral turn, to transfer it to the boiler 36.

In greater detail, the thermal circuit is formed from a plurality of pipes 44 wound side-by-side to form a spiral . The pipes 44 are not continuous, but for constructional and installation reasons are divided into portions of length equal to one half of a spiral turn and have their ends connected to rad ial headers 46, each of which is connected to the adjacent header by a connection portion 48. Again for constructional reasons, the pipes 44 can also consist of lengths of less than one half of a spiral turn, for example equal to one quarter or to one eighth of a spiral turn.

In particular, the inlet conduit 40 is connected to the lower header 52 of the spiral and to an intermediate header 54, while the two outlet conduits 42 are connected to the intermediate header 56, adjacent to the header 54 connected to the inlet conduit 40, and to the upper header 58 of the spiral . In this manner, the thermal circuit 30 is divided into two parallel portions 60, 62 (half-circuits), which feed the lower zone and the upper zone of the cooking chamber and can be controlled independent of each other by modulating valves positioned in the two conduits 42, between the spiral structure and the heat control unit 32.

The thermal circuit 30 can evidently also be divided into a greater number of parallel portions intended to act on different overlying zones of the cooking chamber.

In any event, the spiral portion of the thermal circuit 30 is inserted within the spiral forming the conveyor belt 10, such that each spiral turn thereof is upperly and lowerly faced by a spiral turn defined by the pipes 44 of the thermal circuit 30.

The installation 2 is also provided with an electronic unit, not represented in the drawings, for coordination and control of the valves which regulate the flow of the heating fluid in the two portions 60, 62 which form the heat exchange circuit 30.

The installation 2 can also comprise two or more conveyor belts 1 0, which define a spiral path in which the spiral turns of each conveyor 10 alternate with those of the others.

The operation of the installation according to the invention is apparent from its description . In particular, the food products to be cooked, originating from the treatment station upstream of the installation, are transferred to the entry section 14 of the conveyor belt 10, which then conveys them towards the spiral structure 4.

Then, by following the ascending spiral path of the conveyor belt 10, the heat of the heated flu id contained in the bundle of pipes 44 positioned below and above the spiral turns of the conveyor belt, is transm itted by radiation to the food products, wh ich are hence cooked . Finally, when the conveyor belt 10 reaches the exit section 16, the cooked products are passed from the conveyor belt 1 0 to a treatment station provided downstream of the cooking installation 2.

If the food s to be cooked req u i re particu lar coo king cycl es, the electronic unit, on the basis of predefined programs, controls the modulating valves in such a manner as to achieve a differentiated temperature in the two zones of the cooking chamber. In particular, if a greater heating fluid velocity is commanded for the upper portion 62 of the bundle of pipes 44, the temperature reached in the upper zone of the cooking chamber is greater than that reached in the lower zone, and vice versa.

From the aforegoing it is apparent that the installation according to the invention is particularly advantageous, in that:

- the use of d iatherm ic oil as heating vector enables stable temperature control and is also particularly suitable for use in the food sector,

- in contrast to air-ventilated traditional installations, it enables a lesser heat dispersion to be achieved, and consequently a greater energy saving; the fact that fan-fed air is no longer used as the environmental heating medium enables h um id ity to rema in unchanged , and also prevents any dust or foreign bodies from being circulated by ventilation,

- the fact that heating takes place by rad iation red uces the formation of convection movements inside the cooking chamber,

- the fact that no ventilation or forced air circulation is provided means that product moisture losses are reduced, with consequent better cooking, - the use of a spiral conveyor enables the overal l installation size to be considerably reduced,

- the cooking within the installation can take place without modification either directly on the conveyor belt or in baking-pans, according to requirements, and hence does not require either upstream or downstream any device for transferring products between the conveyor belt and the installation.