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Title:
A POULTRY DEFEATHERING APPARATUS AND A PICKING ROW FOR USE THERE IN
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2012/175084
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a poultry defeathering apparatus and to a picking row for use in such an apparatus. The picking row comprises an elongate support part, a plurality of picking heads, each of which can be rotated about an axis, which is substantially perpendicular to the length axis of the support part. The axes of rotation intersect with the support part at respective points of intersection and are arranged so that a line drawn between the intersections of the axes of rotation of two neighbouring picking heads forms a sharp angle to the length axis of the support part. Further picking heads are preferably arranged so that the picking heads form a zigzag pattern. In the apparatus picking rows are arranged side-by-side with their respective length axes in parallel and with the picking heads facing in the same direction.

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Inventors:
REMMER, Michael (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
BACH, Ole (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
KJELDSEN, Poul (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
THRANE, Uffe (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
Application Number:
DK2011/050238
Publication Date:
December 27, 2012
Filing Date:
June 24, 2011
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
LINCO FOOD SYSTEMS A/S (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
REMMER, Michael (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
BACH, Ole (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
KJELDSEN, Poul (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
THRANE, Uffe (Vestermøllevej 9, Trige, DK-8380, DK)
International Classes:
A22C21/02
Domestic Patent References:
WO2007071236A1
WO2005072323A2
Foreign References:
US3747159A
GB1437370A
FR1460112A
CN2755995Y
JP2010268719A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROHDE, Vibeke et al. (Awapatent A/S, Rigensgade 11, København K, DK-1316, DK)
Download PDF:
Claims:
P A T E N T C L A I M S

1. A picking row for use in a poultry defeathering apparatus, said picking row comprising an elongate support part with a least one side surface extending along its length axis, a plurality of picking heads each with a plurality of picking fingers and at least one actuator for rotating each of the picking heads about an axis, which is substantially perpendicular to the length axis of the support part and which intersects with the side surface at respective points of intersection, where the axes of rotation of the pickings heads are arranged so that a line drawn be- tween the intersection of the axis of rotation of a first picking head and the intersection of the axis of rotation of a second picking head arranged adjacent to the first picking head forms a sharp angle to the length axis of the support part.

2. A picking row according to claim 1, where a line drawn be- tween the intersection of the axis of rotation of the first picking head and the intersection of the axis of rotation of a third picking head arranged adjacent to the second picking head opposite the first picking head is substantially parallel to the length axis of the support part, and where a line drawn between the intersection of the axis of rotation of the second picking head and the intersection of the axis of rotation of a fourth picking head arranged adjacent to the third picking head opposite the second picking head is substantially parallel to the length axis of the support part.

3. A picking row according to claim 2, where further picking heads are arranged in a similar manner so that the picking heads form a zigzag pattern.

4. A picking row according to claim 2 or 3, where sharp angles between the length axis of the support part and the lines drawn between the intersections are substantially identical.

5. A picking row accord ing to any of the preced ing claims, where the sharp angle(s) between the length axis of the support part and at least one line drawn between intersections is between 1 and 40 degrees, preferably between 2 and 20, more preferred between 5 and 10 degrees.

6. A picking row according to any of the preceding claims, where two or more picking rows are interconnected end-to-end to form one longer picking row.

7. A picking row according to any of the preceding claims, fur- ther comprising a driving mechanism, preferably an electric motor.

8. A picking row according to any of the preceding claims, where the driving mechanism is mounted at a picking head, the axis of rotation of which forms the first or second point of intersection counted from the centre of the picking row along its length axis.

9. A poultry defeathering apparatus comprising at least two picking rows according to any of claims 1-6, said picking rows being arranged side-by-side such that their respective length axes are substantially parallel to each other and at a distance from each other and with the picking heads facing in substantially the same direction.

10. A poultry defeathering apparatus according to claim 9, where two or more picking rows are identical.

11. A poultry defeathering apparatus according to claim 9 or 10, where the picking heads on two adjacent picking rows are arranged so that distances between picking heads located opposite each other on ad- jacent picking rows are substantially the same for all such pairs of picking heads.

12. A poultry defeathering apparatus according to any of claims 9 to 11, where two or more picking rows are arranged end-to-end.

13. A poultry defeathering apparatus according to any of claims 9 to 12, where two or more picking rows are arranged opposite each other with the picking heads of each picking row facing the other.

14. A poultry defeathering apparatus according to any of claims 9 to 13, where two or more picking rows are equipped with different picking heads and/or with the pickings heads in a different arrangement.

Description:
A poultry defeathering apparatus and a picking row for use there in

The present invention relates to a picking row for use in a poultry defeathering apparatus, said picking row comprising an elongate support part with a least one side surface extending along its length axis, a plurality of picking heads each with a plurality of picking fingers and at least one actuator for rotating each of the picking heads about an axis, which is substantially perpendicular to the length axis of the support part and which intersects with the side surface at respective points of intersection. The invention further relates to a poultry defeathering apparatus including such picking rows.

Poultry defeathering apparatuses of this type and the picking rows there fore are known for example from WO2007/071236A1, WO2005/072323A2 and CN2755995Y.

It is a well-known fact that the design of the picking heads and their movement during use are key factors when aiming at reducing the risk of the defeathering operation damaging the carcass, when the picking elements impinge on and move across its surface. If the picking elements interact too heavily with the carcass the result can be down- graded quality and loss of yield. On the other hand, it is important to obtain carcasses that have been fully defeathered, also when the line speed is high.

One factor, which has proven to be of particular importance, is the diameter of the picking heads. The smaller the diameter the smaller the velocity at the periphery and, when using more sets of picking fingers at different distances from the axis of rotation, the smaller the difference in velocity between the fingers and the carcass.

When using picking heads driven by means of a belt as in WO2005/072323A2 and CN2755995Y, the physical properties of the belt, however, sets a lower limit to the size of the picking heads, which has to be arranged relatively close to each other to provide a proper de- feathering. If the diameter becomes too small the belt has to be bent relatively sharply, which causes rapid deterioration and hence too much maintenance. In JP2010268719A it has been attempted to solve this problem by making every other picking head smaller than usual and making the others larger, but the actual effect on the efficiency of the defeathering is questionable.

When using gears instead of belts, the diameter can be made smaller without encountering such problems, but the gears make more noise. The increase of the number of gears, which would be the result of using a larger number of smaller picking heads, has consequently been rejected .

It is therefore the object of the present invention to provide a picking row and a defeathering apparatus allowing an improvement of the efficiency of the defeathering, without causing other problems such as an increase in the noise emission or a shortening of the maintenance interval.

This is achieved with a picking row, where the axes of rotation of the pickings heads are arranged so that a line drawn between the intersection of the axis of rotation of a first picking head and the intersection of the axis of rotation of a second picking head arranged adjacent to the first picking head forms a sharp angle to the length axis of the sup- port part. In other words, when the picking row is arranged to be substantially horizontal, the first and second picking heads are arranged at different heights on the side surface of the picking row facing the bird.

The mutual displacement of the picking heads allows them to cover a larger total area than if the same picking heads had been ar- ranged in the traditional manner in parallel to the length axis of the picking row. If making the pickings heads with a slightly larger diameter than what would have been possible with the same number of picking heads arranged on line on the same support part, the area covered can become even larger with only an insignificant disadvantage due to in- crease perimeter speed.

In the following, unless anything else is stated, reference will be made to picking rows arranged horizontally, which is today the normal orientation during use, but it is to be understood that other orientations may be used without departing from the scope of the invention. This means that whenever terms such as "upwards", "downwards" or "to the side" are used, these refers to the a direction relative to a picking row arranged horizontally and may have to be adapted accordingly if the picking row is arranged in another way.

Preferably both the first and the second picking head is displaced perpendicularly to the length axis, so that the axis of rotation of one is located above the centre line, where picking heads are traditionally attached, while the axis of rotation of the other is located below the centre line. This provides a good balance of the picking row both with regards to weight and vibration caused by the movement of the picking heads and further makes it possible to invert picking rows substantially without influencing the distance between picking heads on neighbouring picking rows.

Usually a picking row comprises a larger number of picking heads and it is then preferred that a line drawn between the intersection of the axis of rotation of the first picking head and the intersection of the axis of rotation of a third picking head arranged adjacent to the second picking head opposite the first picking head is substantially parallel to the length axis of the support part, and that a line drawn between the in- tersection of the axis of rotation of the second picking head and the intersection of the axis of rotation of a fourth picking head arranged adjacent to the third picking head opposite the second picking head is substantially parallel to the length axis of the support part. In this way the picking heads come to form a zigzag pattern, which is preferably re- peated by further picking heads, a typical picking row comprising sections of between five and twenty picking heads.

The pattern of the picking heads may vary depending for example on the size and breed of the birds to be picked, and need not be the same over the entire length of the picking row. It is, however, preferred that the sharp angles between the length axis of the support part and the lines drawn between the intersections are substantially identical. This provides for a regular pattern substantially without gaps between the picking heads, when during rotation of the picking head the picking fingers are spread by the centrifugal force. Regardless whether the zigzag pattern is continuous or not, the sharp angle(s) between the length axis of the support part and the line(s) between intersections will usually be between 1 and 40 degrees, preferably between 2 and 20, more preferred between 5 and 10 degrees.

In a poultry defeathering apparatus according to the invention, at least two picking rows are arranged side-by-side such that their respective length axes are substantially parallel to each other and at a distance from each other and with the picking head facing in substantially the same direction. In this way each picking row may pick a different area of the bird and when picking chickens and birds of similar size, it is common to use three or more rows in order to pick the entire carcass in one go.

The feathers found on different parts of birds are of a different nature, an example being the feather on the wings, which are generally coarser than those on the drumsticks. It may therefore be advantageous to use two or more different picking rows, each equipped with different picking heads and/or with the pickings heads in a different arrangement. For the sake of simplicity and ease of maintenance it is, however, preferred that two or more picking rows are identical, since the risk of a malfunctioning picking row being replaced with a wrong type is then eliminated and only one type of picking row has to be manufactured and kept on stock.

In a preferred embodiment, the picking heads on two adjacent picking rows are arranged so that distances between picking heads lo- cated opposite each other on adjacent picking rows are substantially the same for all such pairs of picking heads. This allows for a relatively uniform distribution of the picking heads when the rows are seen as a whole and hence a uniform interaction with the carcass.

The number of picking heads, which a carcass has to pass to be properly defeathered depends on a number of factors, including the type of picking heads used and the speed with which the carcass is moved along the picking rows. In many cases is will necessary for a chicken to pass twenty or more picking heads. A picking row including that many picking heads is, however, difficult to make and operate satisfactorily and it may therefore be advantageous to use shorter picking rows and arrange two or more of them end-to-end. This may be done by mounting them in a single apparatus frame or by arranging more apparatus units in a row.

As also known from prior art defeathering apparatuses it is preferred to have two or more picking rows arranged opposite each other with the picking heads of each picking row facing the other. This allows the carcass to be defeathered on both sides at the same time and the two-sided picking prevents the carcass from swinging away from the picking heads.

When using a gear system as actuator for rotating each of the picking heads, each picking row is preferably equipped with its own driving mechanism, preferably an electric motor.

Since the picking rows in the apparatus according to the inven- tion is arranged much closer to each other than the those in prior art apparatuses, there is an increased risk of the motors getting in the way when the picking rows are displace and/or tilted in relation to each other. It is therefore preferred that the motors are arranged at a distance from each other seen in the direction of the length axes of the picking rows. This may be achieved by mounting picking rows, where the motor is mounted at a distance from the centre of the picking row side- by-side with every other row is inverted so that the motors of neighbouring rows come to be located at opposite ends. Preferably, the motor of each picking row is mounted at a picking head, the axis of rota- tion of which forms the first or second point of intersection counted from the centre of the picking row along its length axis. This provides a good balance between the overall weight balance of the individual picking row as well as the apparatus as a whole, the distribution of forces and the need for room for the motor. It is, however, to be understood that the motors could also be arranged closer to the middle of the picking row, shifted only enough to prevent neighbouring motors colliding, or closer to the end and that the distance need not be the same on all rows. The most appropriate position will also depend on factors such as the overall length of the picking row and on the number picking heads. When inverting picking rows, the uniform pattern with paired picking heads described above can be achieved by using an uneven number of picking heads or by displacing the rows in relation to each other along their length axes.

In the following the invention will be described in closer detail with reference to the drawing, where:

Fig. 1 shows parts of a prior art defeathering apparatus during operation in an end view,

Fig. 2 shows an apparatus according to the invention in a front view,

Fig. 3 shows the apparatus in Fig. 2 in a perspective view,

Fig. 4 shows three picking rows arranged side-by-side in a front view,

Fig. 5 shows the picking rows in Fig. 4 in an end view,

Fig. 6 shows the picking rows in Figs. 4 and 5 in a perspective view, and

Fig. 7 shows two picking rows arranged end-to-end in a front view.

Six picking rows la, lb, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b of a prior art poultry de- feathering apparatus defining a defeathering zone 4 are shown in Fig. 1, where they are used for picking the feathers off a chicken carcass, which is hanging from a shackle 40 by its legs. Each picking row comprises a support part 10, 20, 30, which, for the sake of simplicity shown only on the middle left picking row in Fig. 1, has a front side surface 20f, a back side surface 20b facing away from the front side surface, a first upwards facing interconnecting side surface 20u and a second downwards facing interconnecting side surface 20d. It is noted, that the terms "upwards" and "downwards" refer only to a general orientation and only to the apparatus shown on the drawing . As an example the interconnecting side surfaces of pickings rows la are not facing directly upwards and downwards and the apparatus as a whole may be build with a different orientation of the picking rows. Unless otherwise stated, similar considerations apply to any other indications of direction given herein.

Picking heads 5 are arranged on the front side surfaces 20f of all rows and it is to be understood that each picking head shown represents a plurality of picking heads distributed along the elongate support part, which extends with its length axis L into the plane of the drawing. Each picking head 5 comprises a disc shaped base member 51 a plurality of picking fingers 52 attached thereto, for exam ple as described in WO2007/071236A1. Inside each of the support parts 10, 20, 30 and projecting through a respective opening (not visible) therein is an actuator 6 for rotating each of the picking heads 5 about an axis R. The actuators may in principle be any mechanism capable of rotation the picking heads, but a series of gears as will be well known to the skilled person is preferred.

In Fig. 1, for the sake of simplicity, the length axis L of the support part and the axis of rotation R are only shown on the middle picking row to the right, but it is to be understood that such axes are found on all picking rows. Likewise, some of the reference numbers are applied only to one of the six picking rows, but it is to be understood that they are identical except for their spatial orientation and hence all include all of the different features described above with reference to Fig. 1.

As may be seen in Fig. 1 the six picking rows la, lb, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b defining the defeathering zone 4 are arranged three on each side of the chicken carcass, thus effectively forming a tunnel, which the carcass is passed through by advancing the shackle 40 on a conveyor (not shown). The middle picking rows 2a, 2b are arranged with their axes of rotation R substantially horizontal, whereas the upper and lower picking rows la, lb, 3a, 3b on each side are inclined with the picking heads towards the centre of the defeathering zone as represented by angles A, B, C and D in order to make the shape of the defeathering zone conform to the shape of the carcass. These angles may be changed in order to adapt to difference in the size and breed of the birds, the later having influence on the shape of the carcass, and the picking rows may further be moved in and out as indicated by the double arrows.

The prior art picking rows are arranged at a distance from each other for allowing a mutual movement and angling and for preventing direct contact, which has been known to result in the generation of noise. The gaps thus existing between the picking rows are covered by sealing sheets 7 to prevent feathers from escaping the defeathering zone 4.

In the following description of the invention like reference numerals are used to denote like structures for the picking rows and pick- ing heads as in Fig. 1, but with 100, 200 and 300 added, respectively.

Referring now to Figs. 2 and 3 a poultry defeathering apparatus according to the present invention is shown. This defeathering apparatus too comprises three picking rows 101, 102, 103 arranged above each other, but here only one such set of is shown. The apparatus may in principle be used in this configuration, but it is preferred that a corresponding though mirror inverted second set of picking rows are provided just as in Fig. 1, since a double sided picking will prevent the carcass from swinging away from the picking heads 105 during operation. This also applies to other embodiments of the invention described below.

In the embodiments shown in Figs. 2-7, the picking rows are shown as being arranged closely against each other, but it is to be understood that this is not an essential feature of the present invention and that the picking rows could also be arranged at a distance from each other as shown in Fig. 1.

The picking rows in Figs. 2 and 3 are each provided with twelve picking heads 105 arranged in a zigzag pattern. In this embodiment the arrangement of the picking head is identical on all three picking rows, meaning that the distance E between neighbouring picking heads on two neighbouring picking rows is the same for all such pairs of picking heads. For the sake of simplicity the picking heads are shown without picking fingers, represented only by the base members 151.

The zigzag pattern may be made with picking heads 105, which could have been arranged on a straight line, but it is also possible to use picking heads of a somewhat larger diameter. This involves an increase of the perimeter speed of the picking heads, which may involve a disadvantage as described in the introduction, but in return the area covered by the picking heads of a single picking row becomes much larger. In the embodiments shown in Figs. 2 and 3 as well as in the following figures, slightly oversized picking heads has been used, but it is to be understood that the skilled person might consider altering the size ratio to achieve an optimal balance between these advantages and drawbacks.

Each picking row 101, 102, 103 is attached to the apparatus via a pin 111, 121, 131 projecting from end surfaces 112, 122, 132 of the picking rows and inserted into respective holes in fittings 181,182,183 on a picking frame 180. In this embodiment, the pin connection simply allows the picking row to swing about the pin axis under the influence of external forces, such as the contact between the picking fingers and the carcass. It is, however, preferred to provide means for actively swinging one or more of the picking rows, for example by attaching push/pull rods (not shown) to the holes 113, 123, 133 in the ends surfaces 112, 122, 132 of the respective picking rows.

The picking frame 180 is attached to an apparatus frame 184 via pin connections 185 potentially allowing it to swing and its position can be adjusted in by means of a height adjustment mechanism 186 and by rolling the apparatus frame 184 on wheels 187 along rails 188. In this embodiment the rails 188 are hung either from the ceiling or a larger frame (not shown), but it is also possible provide rails at the floor or to use a wheeled apparatus frame running directly on a floor without rails.

Each picking row is provided with an electric motor 114, 124,

134 for driving the picking heads 105. The motors may be battery driven or receive power via a cable (not shown), which may be wholly or partially integrated in the apparatus frame 184. Other driving mechanisms are of course also possible including hydraulics and so is the use of a single motor for all three picking rows. Combustion engines are, however, less preferred due to the exhausts.

As may be seen, the motors of the uppermost 101 and lowermost 103 picking rows are located somewhat to the left of the centre of the picking row, namely at the fifth of the twelve picking heads counted from the left. The motor on the intermediate picking row 102 is located at the eighth of the twelve picking head, i.e. somewhat to the right of the centre of the picking row. This is to give space for each motor, thus not only allowing a swinging of the individual picking rows without the motors colliding, but also preventing overheating and giving space for maintenance and repair. Moreover, the displaced positions of the motors also contribute to balancing the apparatus as a whole both with regards to weight and with regards to vibration. The motors may in principle be arranged anywhere between the centre and the respective end of the picking row, but to make sure that the force generated by the motor is distributed substantially evenly on all picking heads, it is preferred that they are arranged at picking heads located one or two positions away from the centre.

The motors shown on the drawing are low-energy motors, which are relatively small compared to the motors traditionally used, and it will thus be understood that the problems with regards to space may be even more pronounced than what is illustrated here.

Figs. 4, 5 and 6 show another embodiment of picking rows 201, 202, 203 according to the invention, each with eleven picking heads 205. Here, for the sake of simplicity, only two picking heads are shown on each picking row and only one is shown with picking fingers 252. The positions of the remaining picking heads are illustrated by the intersection between their axis of rotation 215, 225, 235 and the side surface 216, 226, 236 of the picking row.

The picking rows in Figs. 4, 5 and 6 are identical and the mutual displacement of the motors 214, 224, 234, which may be seen in Figs. 4 and 6 has been achieved by simply inverting the intermediate picking row 202. This may also be seen from the position of the pins 217, 227, 237, which serve the same function as the holes 111, 121, 131 in the end surfaces of the picking rows in Figs. 2 and 3. If such an inversion of the pins and/or holes used for interconnection to the frame (not shown in Figs. 4-6) is for some reason not desired, the support part 210, 220, 230 can be made with detachable end plates constituting the end surfaces 212, 222, 232. These may then simply be detached and inverted when inverting the picking row in question. Such end plates may be attached for example by means of screws or with a snap-lock as a click-on unit. Detachable end plates will allow the addition of other functionalities as will described later and will also provide access to the interior of the support part for inspection or maintenance. Another, though less versatile alternative, is to provide a series of threaded holes in the end surfaces thus allowing the addition and removal of pins etc. according to demands.

When using picking rows with an odd number of picking heads as in Figs. 4, 5 and 6 is also possible to used mirrored front plates and back plates on every second row in the apparatus. When using picking rows with an even number of picking heads, the picking rows can be entirely identical.

The use of identical picking rows mean that a defective picking row may be replaced by any other picking row, that only one type has to be kept in stock and that the risk of wrongful mounting is reduced. As may be seen in Figs. 4 and 6 this may, however, result in the distance between pair of picking heads on neighbouring picking rows is no longer constant but varies as shown by Fl and F2. This may be totally accept- able, but if not, the problem can be solved by using picking rows with an even number of picking heads.

A third embodiment of a picking row 301 according to the invention is shown in Fig. 7. This picking row is assembled from two smaller picking rows 301a and 301b, which have been connected at end surfaces. Each of the smaller picking rows 301a, 301b has eleven picking heads 305 and the pattern of the picking heads on the right picking row 301b is inverted in relation to the pattern on the left picking row 301a, so that together they create a continuous zigzag pattern.

The interconnection has here be achieved by removing standard end plates as those described with relation to the embodiment in Figs. 4- 6 and inserting a connector 309, which interconnects the two smaller picking rows 301a and 301b.

In addition to the pins 311a, 311b for interconnection to the picking frame 180, the end plates 312a, 312b are here provided with drain pipes 347a, 347b for allowing water and any other fluids possibly penetrating into the support part during cleaning to escape.

Each of the smaller picking rows 301a, 301b has its own motor 314a, 314b, both of which are located at the fourth picking head counted from the left, but it is to be understood that the two motors could also be located differently from each other.

The invention should not be regarded as being limited to the embodiments shown. On the contrary, various modifications and combinations of the features shown will be within the scope of the invention.