Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
STERILIZING MACHINE FOR LOOSE PRODUCTS AND DEVICE TO DISCHARGE LOOSE PRODUCTS FROM SAID STERILIZING MACHINE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/123505
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Sterilizing machine for loose products, comprising a casing (14, 14') in which a treatment chamber (11) is made, able to house the loose products to be treated and provided with a discharge aperture (23) from which, on each occasion, the treated loose products exit; the sterilizing machine comprises a discharge device (25, 25' 25") of the treated loose products exiting from said discharge aperture (23), the discharge device (25, 25' 25") is removable and provided with: at least a first flange (26, 26', 26") which can be positioned around the discharge aperture (23) and is configured to be removably attached to at least one external wall (17, 17') of the casing (14, 14') of the treatment chamber (1 1) by removable attachment elements (24) able to engage with the flange (26, 26', 26") and with the external wall (17, 17') of the casing (14, 14'); at least a second flange (31, 3 1', 31") that has at least one passage aperture (38, 38', 38") for the sterilized loose products to pass from the discharge device (25, 25', 25") toward a subsequent station of use, a package or other; at least one pipe (30, 30', 30") with a substantially truncated cone shape positioned between the first flange (26, 26', 26") and the second flange (31, 31', 31").

Inventors:
BENI, Stefano (Via Carducci 6, PORDENONE, 33170, IT)
Application Number:
IT2018/050256
Publication Date:
June 27, 2019
Filing Date:
December 21, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ICOS PHARMA S.P.A. (Via Enea Ellero 15, ZOPPOLA, 33080, IT)
International Classes:
A61L2/07; F16L37/12
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016046781A12016-03-31
WO2016202716A22016-12-22
WO2015150581A12015-10-08
WO2016097265A12016-06-23
Foreign References:
CN2565614Y2003-08-13
CN101457385A2009-06-17
CN106287052A2017-01-04
EP3219331A12017-09-20
DE1600403A11970-01-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PETRAZ, Davide Luigi et al. (GLP SRL, Viale Europa Unita 171, UDINE, 33100, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Sterilizing machine for loose products, comprising a casing (14, 14’) in which a treatment chamber (11) is made, able to house the loose products to be treated and provided with a discharge aperture (23) from which, on each occasion, the treated loose products exit, said sterilizing machine being characterized in that it comprises a discharge device (25, 25’ 25”) of the treated loose products exiting from said discharge aperture (23), said discharge device (25, 25’ 25”) being removable and provided with:

at least a first flange (26, 26’, 26”) which can be positioned around said discharge aperture (23) and is configured to be removably attached to at least one external wall (17, 17’) of the casing (14, 14’) of the treatment chamber (11) by removable attachment elements (24) able to engage with said flange (26, 26’, 26”) and with said external wall (17, 17’) of the casing (14, 14’);

at least a second flange (31, 3 G, 31”) that has at least one passage aperture (38, 38’, 38”) for the sterilized loose products to pass from said discharge device (25, 25’, 25”) toward a subsequent station of use, a package or other;

at least one pipe (30, 30’, 30”) with a substantially truncated cone shape positioned between said first flange (26, 26’, 26”) and said second flange (31, 31’, 31”).

2. Machine as in claim 1, characterized in that said discharge device (25’) comprises at least one connector (32, 33) to introduce a fluid under pressure inside said pipe (30’) positioned between said first flange (26’) and said second flange (31’).

3. Machine as in claim 1, characterized in that said first flange (26, 26’) has a substantially quadrangular shape and said second flange (31, 31”) has a circular shape.

4. Machine as in claim 1 , characterized in that said first and second flanges (26, 26’, 31’) both have a substantially quadrangular shape.

5. Machine as in claim 1, characterized in that said first and second flanges (26”, 31”) can both have a circular shape.

6. Machine as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said external wall (17, 17’) of the casing (14, 14’) comprises a counter-flange (28) on which said flange (26) engages, said counter-flange (28) being provided with positioning seatings (29) of said removable attachment elements (24).

7. Machine as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that between said discharge device (25, 25’, 25”) and said external wall (17, 17’) of the treatment chamber (11) at least one fluid seal gasket (35) is provided, able to surround said discharge aperture (23).

8. Machine as in claim 7, characterized in that said fluid seal gasket (35) can be housed inside an annular seating (34) made in proximity to said flange (26, 26’, 26”) of the discharge device (25, 25’, 25”).

9. Machine as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said first flange (26, 26’, 26”) comprises a plurality of holes (27) suitable to house said removable attachment elements (24), said holes (27) being distributed uniformly along the whole extension of said first flange (26, 26’, 26”).

10. Machine as in any claim hereinbefore, characterized in that said casing (14, 14’) comprises said at least one external wall (17, 17’) and at least one internal wall (16) between which a shell (15) is made where at least a pressurized fluid flows.

11. Machine as in claim 10, characterized in that, in correspondence with said discharge aperture (23), said shell (15) comprises tubular elements (36) for the passage of said pressurized fluid.

12. Machine as in claim 10, characterized in that in correspondence with said discharge aperture (23), it comprises portions of shell (37) for the passage of said pressurized fluid.

Description:
“STERILIZING MACHINE FOR LOOSE PRODUCTS AND DEVICE TO

DISCHARGE LOOSE PRODUCTS FROM SAID STERILIZING MACHINE”

* * * * *

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns a sterilizing machine for loose products, for example a sterilizing machine with a rotating drum which can be used, in particular, in the field of hospitals, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, or in the industrial sector in the production of the loose products themselves.

The loose products can be, for example, closing caps for test tubes for laboratory analysis, closing caps for vials of drugs, or small instruments or objects used in operating theaters or laboratories, or other.

The present invention also concerns a device to discharge loose products from the sterilizing machine.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is known that in the field of hospitals, or pharmaceuticals, or other fields, such as the food industry for example, it is necessary to use sterile products to avoid contamination or alteration of substances with which they come into contact, or to avoid introducing bacteria, germs, other corpuscles or potentially pathogenic or harmful agents into environments where the total absence thereof is required.

Among the sterile products mentioned above, in all the fields mentioned above, loose products, even small ones, are normally present, such as, for example, caps for closing test tubes intended to contain substances to be subjected to laboratory analysis, or small instruments or objects used in operating theaters or laboratories.

These loose products can already be sterile when they are produced and sold in packages which are themselves sterile, or are sterilized before each use and re- used several times during their useful life.

It is known to sterilize these loose products in sterilizing machines provided with a sealed chamber in which a rotating drum receives the products to be sterilized from a so-called“dirty” loading side, performs the sterilization thereof during a treatment cycle of suitable duration, and discharges them from a so- called“sterile” discharge side, where they are generally packaged in sterile packages.

For example, rotating drums are known, partitioned into sectors, each containing a desired quantity of loose products to be delivered into the individual packages after sterilization.

Other types of sterilizing machines can provide a treatment chamber in which there is no rotating drum, but in which, for example, the loose products to be treated are housed in other containing elements.

Once the treatment has been completed inside the sterilizing machine, the loose products are discharged from the discharge side of the machine and can be sent to subsequent stations of use, for example transfer pipes or ducts toward filling machines, storage stations or other.

Generally, on the discharge side of the loose products treated by the sterilizing machine, there is a discharge aperture with which a discharge device is associated, for example a sort of cone or hopper which, on one side, is welded to the discharge aperture and, on the other side, has a connector element that can be of various types, depending on the different uses or functions of the loose products.

The discharge devices or pipes, being welded to the wall of the treatment chamber in correspondence with the discharge aperture, are difficult to remove from the treatment machine, unless the weld is removed, an operation which, as can be understood, can prove to be complex and can risk irreparably compromising the structure and functioning of the sterilizing machine itself.

The need to remove these discharge devices could derive, for example, from the need to provide different functions or uses for the loose products, hence from the need to replace the discharge device, for example to change its shape, connector elements or other.

Substantially, therefore, if it is provided that the loose products are used in a station of use or for a function different from the originally intended one, which requires, for example, a different discharge device, it is necessary to replace the entire sterilizing machine.

Known sterilizing machines, therefore, have obvious problems of flexibility with regard to the subsequent functions or uses of the loose products treated, especially with regard to the need to provide different discharge devices. Some known sterilizing machines for loose products which have the above problems in varying degrees, relating above all to the flexibility with regard to the subsequent functions or uses of the loose products treated and the difficulty of possibly replacing the discharge devices or pipes directly connected to the machine, are described for example in documents WO-A-2016/097265, WO-A- 2016/202716, WO-A-2015/150581, EP-A-3064226, WO-A-2017/149029, EP-A- 3064226 and WO- A- 2016/046781.

Other limitations and disadvantages of conventional solutions and technologies will be clear to a person of skill after reading the remaining part of the present description with reference to the drawings and the description of the embodiments that follow, although it is clear that the description of the state of the art connected to the present description must not be considered an admission that what is described here is already known from the state of the prior art.

There is therefore a need to perfect a sterilizing machine which can overcome at least one of the disadvantages of the state of the art.

One purpose of the present invention is therefore to provide a sterilizing machine for loose products which is flexible compared with known sterilizing machines, in particular with regard to the possibility of varying the use or function of the loose products treated and emerging from the treatment chamber of the sterilizing machine.

Another purpose of the present invention is to provide a sterilizing machine which is equipped with an interchangeable discharge device which can be replaced as necessary, so as to be able to adapt the sterilizing machine to different uses or functions of the loose products treated.

Another purpose of the present invention is to provide a sterilizing machine which allows an effective sterilization cycle, always guaranteeing optimal pressure conditions inside the treatment chamber, while providing an interchangeable and replaceable discharge device.

Another purpose of the present invention is to provide a discharge device which can be applied to any sterilizing machine whatsoever and has a suitable connector according to the use or function of the loose products treated downstream of the sterilizing machine.

The Applicant has devised, tested and embodied the present invention to overcome the shortcomings of the state of the art and to obtain these and other purposes and advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is set forth and characterized in the independent claims, while the dependent claims describe other characteristics of the invention or variants to the main inventive idea.

In accordance with the above purposes, a sterilizing machine for loose products comprises a casing in which a treatment chamber is made, able to house the loose products to be treated and provided with a discharge aperture from which, on each occasion, the treated loose products exit.

In some embodiments, the sterilizing machine comprises a discharge device of the treated loose products exiting from the discharge aperture; the discharge device is removable and provided with:

- at least a first flange which can be positioned around the discharge aperture and configured to be removably attached to at least one external wall of the casing of the treatment chamber by removable attachment elements able to engage with the flange and with the external wall of the casing;

- at least a second flange that has at least one passage aperture for the sterilized loose products to pass from the discharge device toward a subsequent station of use, a package or other,

- at least one pipe with a substantially truncated cone shape positioned between the first flange and the second flange.

The discharge device can comprise at least one connector to introduce a fluid under pressure inside the pipe positioned between the first flange and the second flange.

In some embodiments, the first flange can have a substantially quadrangular shape and the second flange can have a circular shape.

In other embodiments, the first and second flanges can both have a substantially quadrangular shape.

In still other embodiments, the first and second flanges can both have a circular shape.

The machine can also comprise a counter-flange on which the first flange engages; the counter- flange being provided with positioning seatings of the removable attachment elements.

Between the discharge device and the external wall of the treatment chamber, at least one fluid seal gasket can be provided, able to surround the discharge aperture.

The fluid seal gasket can be housed inside an annular seating made in proximity to the first flange of the discharge device.

The first flange can comprise a plurality of holes suitable to house the removable attachment elements; the holes are preferably distributed uniformly along the whole extension of the first flange.

The discharge device can comprise connector elements or suchlike, according to the various uses or functions of the loose products treated in the treatment chamber of the sterilizing machine.

The casing of the machine can comprise at least one external wall and at least one internal wall between which a shell is made where at least a pressurized fluid flows.

In correspondence with the discharge aperture the shell can comprise tubular elements for the passage of the pressurized fluid.

Alternatively, in correspondence with the discharge aperture, the machine can comprise portions of shell for the passage of the pressurized fluid.

These and other aspects, characteristics and advantages of the present disclosure will be better understood with reference to the following description, drawings and attached claims. The drawings, which are integrated and form part of the present description, show some forms of embodiment of the present invention, and together with the description, are intended to describe the principles of the disclosure.

The various aspects and characteristics described in the present description can be applied individually where possible. These individual aspects, for example aspects and characteristics described in the attached dependent claims, can be the object of divisional applications.

It is understood that any aspect or characteristic that is discovered, during the patenting process, to be already known, shall not be claimed and shall be the object of a disclaimer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS These and other characteristics of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of some embodiments, given as a non-restrictive example with reference to the attached drawings wherein:

- fig. 1 is a three-dimensional view of a sterilizing machine for loose products according to the invention;

- fig. 2 is a view from below of the sterilizing machine in fig. 1 ;

- fig. 3 is a view from below of a variant of the present sterilizing machine;

- fig. 4 is a first three-dimensional view of a discharge device according to a first embodiment of the invention;

- fig. 5 is a second three-dimensional view of the discharge device in fig. 4;

- fig. 6 is a first three-dimensional view of a discharge device according to a second embodiment of the invention;

- fig. 7 is a second three-dimensional view of the discharge device in fig. 6;

- fig. 8 is a three-dimensional view of third embodiment of a discharge device according to the invention.

To facilitate comprehension, the same reference numbers have been used, where possible, to identify identical common elements in the drawings. It is understood that elements and characteristics of one embodiment can conveniently be incorporated into other embodiments without further clarifications.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF SOME EMBODIMENTS

We will now refer in detail to the various embodiments of the present invention, of which one or more examples are shown in the attached drawings. Each example is supplied by way of illustration of the invention and shall not be understood as a limitation thereof. For example, the characteristics shown or described insomuch as they are part of one embodiment can be adopted on, or in association with, other embodiments to produce another embodiment. It is understood that the present invention shall include all such modifications and variants.

Before describing these embodiments, we must also clarify that the present description is not limited in its application to details of the construction and disposition of the components as described in the following description using the attached drawings. The present description can provide other embodiments and can be obtained or executed in various other ways. We must also clarify that the phraseology and terminology used here is for the purposes of description only, and cannot be considered as limitative.

With reference to the attached drawings, a sterilizing machine 10, 10’ according to the invention, see fig. 1, fig. 2 and fig. 3 for example, comprises a casing 14, 14’ inside which a treatment chamber 11 is made, in which the loose products to be treated can be housed.

By way of non-restrictive example, reference will be made hereafter in the description to a sterilizing machine 10, 10’ in whose treatment chamber 11 a rotatable drum 12 is housed, however, the description could also refer to a sterilizing machine 10 of a different type and comprising a treatment chamber 11 for the loose products without a rotatable drum 12, but provided, for example, with other containing elements for the loose products to be treated.

The drum 12 can rotate around an axis X and is made to rotate by suitable drive means, not shown, and connectable to a shaft 13 directed along the axis X and integral with the drum 12.

The drum 12 positioned in the treatment chamber 11 is substantially cylindrical in shape, just like the casing 14, 14’ which surrounds it.

The casing 14, 14’ comprises at least one internal wall 16 and at least one external wall 17, 17’, between which an annular interspace or shell 15 is made, in which a pressurized fluid, for example steam, flows.

The drum 12 can be divided into a series of containing sectors 18, able to contain a determinate quantity of loose products to be treated.

The containing sectors 18 typically have a pyramidal and widened shape proceeding from the center to the periphery of the drum 12.

In proximity to the periphery, each of the containing sectors 18 comprises a door 19, which can be selectively closed or opened to allow the loading of the loose products to be treated into the corresponding containing sector 18 and the discharge of the loose products treated from the containing sector 18.

The treatment chamber 11 comprises a loading aperture 20 for the loose products to be treated inside each of the containing sectors 18. The loading aperture 20 can be provided with a corresponding closing lid 21.

Generally, the loading aperture 20, as shown, is positioned on an upper part of the casing 14 of the treatment chamber 11. The loading aperture 20 is generally used to automatically load the loose products to be treated inside the treatment chamber 11, therefore in this case inside the containing sector 18 which arrives on each occasion in correspondence with the loading aperture 20.

The treatment chamber 11 can also provide a loading aperture 22 through which it is possible to manually load the products to be treated in the machine.

The treatment chamber 11 also comprises a discharge aperture 23, from which the loose products treated in each containing sector 18 exit on each occasion.

The discharge aperture 23 is preferably positioned in a lower part of the sterilizing machine 10, so that the loose products treated coming from a given containing sector 18 pass through the discharge aperture 23 due to gravity.

A discharge device 25 for the loose products treated is connected to the discharge aperture 23, removably and by means of suitable removable attachment elements 24, such as bolts, screws, pins or suchlike.

The discharge device 25 comprises a first flange 26 suitable to be disposed removably around the discharge aperture 23 and suitable to be associated with the external wall 17, 17’ of the casing 14, 14’ by means of the removable attachment elements 24.

The first flange 26 can comprise a series of holes 27 through which the removable attachment elements 24 can pass.

The holes 27 made on the first flange 26 are preferably distributed uniformly over the entire extension of the first flange 26.

On the external wall 17, 17’ of the casing 14, 14’ a counter-flange 28 can be positioned, suitable to correctly and more accurately position the flange 26 of the discharge device 25 on the casing 14.

The counter- flange 28 can be made in a single piece with the casing 14 or subsequently attached thereto. The counter flange 28 is in any case suitable to be connected to any discharge device 25.

The counter-flange 28 is provided with suitable seatings 29 to position the removable attachment elements 24, suitable to removably engage the first flange 26 to the counter-flange 28 and therefore the discharge device 25 to the casing 14, 14’.

For example, it can be supposed that, if the removable attachment elements 24 are threaded bolts or suchlike, the seatings 29 are equipped with corresponding counter-threads suitable to engage with the removable attachment elements 24.

The discharge device 25 comprises at least a second flange 31 which has at least one passage aperture 38 for the sterilized loose products to pass from the discharge device 25 to a subsequent station of use, a collection package or other. The station of use can be, for example, a filling machine where the sterilized loose products will arrive from the passage aperture 38 by means of a corresponding pipe or suchlike.

The discharge device 25, as can also be seen in fig. 4 and fig. 5, comprises a pipe 30 with a substantially truncated cone shape, positioned between the first flange 26 and the second flange 31. The pipe 30 allows the sterilized loose products to pass from the first flange 26 to the second flange 31 and allows them to be concentrated near the second flange 31.

Fig. 6 and fig. 7 show a variant of the discharge device 25’, in which a second flange 31’ is provided, of a different shape with respect to the shape of the second flange 31 and provided with a corresponding aperture 38’ for the passage of the sterilized loose products.

In particular, while in the discharge device 25 the first flange 26 has a quadrangular shape and the second flange 31 has a circular shape, in the discharge device 25’ the first flange 26’ and the second flange 31’ are both quadrangular in shape.

In the discharge device 25’ one or more connectors 32, 33 can also be provided, to introduce a pressurized fluid into the pipe 30’ positioned between the first flange 26’ and the second flange 31’.

The discharge device 25, 25’ comprises an annular seating 34 made in the first flange 26, 26’ and suitable to house at least one fluid seal gasket 35.

The fluid seal gasket 35 is disposed around the discharge aperture 23 between the discharge device 25, 25’ and the casing 14, 14’. In particular, the fluid seal gasket 35 is interposed between the discharge device 25, 25’ and the casing 14, 14’ of the sterilizing machine 10, 10’.

Fig. 8 shows another variant of the discharge device 25”. In this variant embodiment, the discharge device 25” comprises a first flange 26” with a circular shape and a second flange 31”, also with a circular shape. Between the flanges 26” and 31” the truncated cone pipe 30” is provided, therefore the second flange 31” has a smaller diameter than the first flange 26”. In the second flange 31” the aperture 38” is provided, for the passage of the sterilized loose products from the discharge device 25” to a subsequent station of use, a collection package or other. The station of use, as we said, can be, for example, a filling machine to which the sterilized loose products will arrive from the passage aperture 38” through a corresponding pipe or suchlike. The discharge device 25” can also be provided in the flange 26” with an annular seating suitable to house a fluidic seal, like the discharge devices 25, 25’.

As can be seen, the present machine 10, 10’ is equipped with a discharge device 25, 25’, 25” which can provide first flanges 26, 26’, 26” having a quadrangular or circular shape, so as to adapt in a precise and stable manner to any casing whatsoever of a treatment chamber of a sterilizing machine, for example the casing 14, 14’ of the treatment chamber 11.

The second flange of the discharge device 25, 25’, 25” can have a circular shape, such as for example the flange 31 or 31” of the discharge device 25 or 25”, so as to adapt in an optimal manner to a possible counter-flange of a pipe for transferring the sterilized loose products to a station of use, or can have a substantially quadrangular shape, such as for example the flange 3 of the discharge device 25’, so as to adapt in an optimal and stable manner, for example to a collection package of sterilized loose products.

The sterilizing machine 10 of fig. 2 has a casing having an external wall 17 with a width LI, which substantially is slightly wider than the width of the discharge aperture 23.

As previously mentioned, the casing 14 has an external wall 17 and an internal wall 16 between which a shell 15 is made, for the passage of a pressurized fluid, for example steam.

In the case of the sterilizing machine 10, in order to avoid the interruption of the shell 15 and hence to guarantee its continuity even in correspondence with the discharge aperture 23, tubular elements 36 are positioned on the sides of the discharge aperture 23.

The tubular elements 36 are able to maintain the continuity of the shell 15 and allow the pressurized fluid to pass through the discharge aperture 23, without interruptions.

Preferably, at least one tubular member 36 will be provided on each side of the discharge aperture 23, as shown by way of example in fig. 2.

If the sterilizing machine 10’ has an external wall 17’ with a width L2 greater than the width LI of the sterilizing machine 10, or in any case has a width significantly greater than the width of the discharge aperture 23, see fig. 3, the continuity of the pressurized flow of fluid and therefore of the shell 15 is guaranteed by the presence of portions of shell 37 made at the sides of the discharge aperture 23.

The portions of shell 37 will therefore be substantially formed by a space or interspace made between the external wall 17 and the internal wall 16 of the casing 14’, so as to guarantee the fluid communication thereof with the rest of the shell 15.

It is obvious that the present sterilizing machine 10, 10’, since it is provided with a removable discharge device 25, 25’, can be used for the treatment of loose products whatever the function or use of said loose products downstream of the discharge aperture.

The present sterilizing machine 10, 10’ therefore allows to use discharge devices 25, 25’, 25” having different second flanges 31, 31’ and 31” according to the specific needs of use or function of the loose products. In fact, to replace one discharge device with another, it will be sufficient to remove the removable attachment elements 24 from the first flange 26, 26’, 26” and then proceed with the removal of the discharge device to be replaced, then proceed with the removable attachment of a new removable discharge device equipped with a similar first flange 26, 26’, 26” or suchlike.

As also seen, the present sterilizing machine 10, 10’ also always allows to maintain in an manner optimal the pressure conditions provided inside the treatment chamber 11 and/or the shell 15 made in the casing 14, 14’.

Although the above description refers, in particular and by way of example, to a sterilizing machine with a rotatable drum 12, it is obvious that the removable and interchangeable discharge device 25, 25’, 25” to discharge the loose products could also be used for other types of sterilizing machines, having, for example, functioning principles different from sterilizing machines with a rotatable drum. It is clear that modifications and/or additions of parts can be made to the sterilizing machine and device for discharging loose products as described heretofore, without departing from the field and scope of the present invention.

It is also clear that, although the present invention has been described with reference to some specific examples, a person of skill in the art shall certainly be able to achieve many other equivalent forms of sterilizing machine and device for discharging loose products, having the characteristics as set forth in the claims and hence all coming within the field of protection defined thereby.

In the following claims, the sole purpose of the references in brackets is to facilitate reading: they must not be considered as restrictive factors with regard to the field of protection claimed in the specific claims.




 
Previous Patent: PUMPING ASSEMBLY

Next Patent: APPARATUS AND METHOD TO SUPPLY BARS