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Title:
SYRUP COMPARTMENT FOR A FROZEN FOOD PRODUCT DISPENSING MACHINE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/176609
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A syrup compartment for a frozen food product dispensing machine includes a tray guide having at least one ridge to define a plurality of tray spaces, each of the tray spaces including a recess having a recess geometry to form a plurality of recesses. Also included is a plurality of trays disposed on an upper surface of the tray guide, each of the plurality of trays disposed within one of the plurality of tray spaces and configured to support and retain one of a plurality of syrup bags, each of the trays having a sump within a base wall of the tray to form a protrusion on a bottom surface of the tray to form a plurality of protrusions, wherein each of the protrusions have a protrusion geometry that corresponds to the recess geometry of the tray spaces to locate each of the trays in a desired location.

Inventors:
COLEHOUR, Robert (750 N. Blackhawk Blvd, Rockton, Illinois, 61072, US)
FRISQUE, Robert E. (750 N. Blackhawk Blvd, Rockton, Illinois, 61072, US)
BISCHEL, Kevin Henry (750 N. Blackhawk Blvd, Rockton, Illinois, 61072, US)
Application Number:
US2017/025679
Publication Date:
October 12, 2017
Filing Date:
April 03, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CARRIER COMMERCIAL REFRIGERATION, INC. (One Carrier Place, Farmington, Connecticut, 06032, US)
International Classes:
A23G9/22; A23G9/28
Foreign References:
US20030085237A12003-05-08
US4923093A1990-05-08
US20090090734A12009-04-09
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RODRIGUEZ, Paul A. (CANTOR COLBURN LLP, 20 Church Street22nd Floo, Hartford Connecticut, 06103-3207, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS:

What is claimed is:

1. A syrup compartment for a frozen food product dispensing machine comprising:

a tray guide having at least one ridge to define a plurality of tray spaces, each of the tray spaces including a recess having a recess geometry to form a plurality of recesses; and a plurality of trays disposed on an upper surface of the tray guide, each of the plurality of trays disposed within one of the plurality of tray spaces and configured to support and retain one of a plurality of syrup bags, each of the trays having a sump within a base wall of the tray to form a protrusion on a bottom surface of the tray to form a plurality of protrusions, wherein each of the protrusions have a protrusion geometry that corresponds to the recess geometry of the tray spaces to locate each of the trays in a desired location.

2. The syrup compartment of claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of trays further comprises a tube track defined by a cleft in an upper surface of each of the trays and a tube disposed within each tube track.

3. The syrup compartment of claim 2, wherein the tube track extends from the sump to a front region of the tray.

4. The syrup compartment of claim 2 or 3, wherein each of the plurality of trays further comprises a syrup bag probe configured to be operatively coupled to the syrup bag and coupled to the tube to allow the tube to evacuate syrup from the syrup bag.

5. The syrup compartment of claim 4, wherein the syrup bag probe is disposed in the sump.

6. The syrup compartment of any of the preceding claims, wherein the tube track comprises a degree of curvature.

7. The syrup compartment of any of claim 6, wherein the tube track comprises a bend radius ranging from 1.0 inch to 5.0 inches.

8. The syrup compartment of claim 7, wherein the tube track comprises a bend radius ranging from 1.3 inches to 4.5 inches.

9. The syrup compartment of any of the preceding claims, wherein the base wall of each of the trays comprises a rear angled portion extending from the sump toward a rearward region of the tray, wherein the tray guide includes a rear angled portion extending from the recess toward a rearward region of the tray guide, the rear angled portion of the tray guide defining a space between the tray guide and a bottom wall of the syrup compartment to allow an airflow therebetween.

10. The syrup compartment of claim 8 or 9, wherein the angle of the rear angled portion of the base wall of the trays and the tray guide is about 9 degrees.

11. The syrup compartment of any of the preceding claims, wherein the base wall of each of the trays comprises an overall angled geometry that funnels the syrup within each syrup bag to the sump.

12. The syrup compartment of any of the preceding claims, wherein each of the trays includes a handle at a front region of the tray to facilitate moving the tray between an extended position and a retracted position.

13. A frozen food product dispensing machine comprising:

a housing containing a refrigeration system for cooling an interior of the housing; a product dispensing station located proximate a front wall of the housing;

a product mix compartment of the housing having at least one product mix configured to be routed to the product dispensing station; and

a syrup compartment of the housing, the syrup compartment comprising:

a plurality of trays disposed in the syrup compartment, each of the trays configured to support and retain one of a plurality of syrup bags;

a tube track defined by a cleft in an upper surface of each of the trays, the tube track having a degree of curvature with a bend radius ranging from 1.0 inch to 5.0 inches; and a tube disposed within each tube track, the tube extending from a syrup bag probe to a front region of the tray to fluidly couple the syrup bag to a manifold for routing the syrup to the product dispensing station.

14. The frozen food product dispensing machine of claim 13, wherein each of the trays includes a sump within a base wall of the tray to form a protrusion on a bottom surface of the tray to form a plurality of protrusions, wherein each of the protrusions have a protrusion geometry that corresponds to the recess geometry of the tray spaces to locate each of the trays in a desired location.

15. The frozen food product dispensing machine of claim 14, wherein the tube track extends from the sump to a front region of the tray.

16. The frozen food product dispensing machine of any of claims 13-15, wherein each of the plurality of trays further comprises a syrup bag probe configured to be operatively coupled to the syrup bag and coupled to the tube to allow the tube to evacuate syrup from the syrup bag, the syrup bag probe disposed in the sump.

Description:
SYRUP COMPARTMENT FOR A FROZEN FOOD PRODUCT DISPENSING MACHINE

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0001] The embodiments described herein generally relate to food dispensing machines and, more particularly, to a syrup compartment for a frozen food product dispensing machine.

[0002] Syrups and other additives are utilized in frozen food product dispensing machines to flavor drinks, frozen shake, milkshakes, frozen desserts and other products. The syrups are mixed with ice and/or other ingredients or syrups and dispensed from the machine. The syrup container disposed in the product dispensing machine may vary depending upon the application. For example, syrup may be contained within cartons, jugs, bags within boxes, and bags themselves, which are stored in the product dispensing machine. Each of the container types pose unique challenges related to storage, cleanliness, efficiency and overall operation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0003] According to one embodiment, a syrup compartment for a frozen food product dispensing machine is provided. The syrup compartment includes a tray guide having at least one ridge to define a plurality of tray spaces, each of the tray spaces including a recess having a geometry to form a plurality of recesses. The syrup compartment also includes a plurality of trays disposed on an upper surface of the tray guide, each of the plurality of trays disposed within one of the plurality of tray spaces and configured to support and retain one of a plurality of syrup bags, each of the trays having a sump within a base wall of the tray to form a protrusion on a bottom surface of the tray to form a plurality of protrusions, wherein each of the protrusions have a protrusion geometry that corresponds to the recess geometry of the tray spaces to locate each of the trays in a desired location.

[0004] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that each of the plurality of trays further comprises a tube track defined by a cleft in an upper surface of each of the trays and a tube disposed within each tube track.

[0005] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the tube track extends from the sump to a front region of the tray. [0006] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that each of the plurality of trays further comprises a syrup bag probe configured to be operatively coupled to the syrup bag and coupled to the tube to allow the tube to evacuate syrup from the syrup bag.

[0007] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the syrup bag probe is disposed in the sump.

[0008] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the tube track comprises a degree of curvature.

[0009] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the tube track comprises a bend radius ranging from 1.0 inch to 5.0 inches.

[0010] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the base wall of each of the trays comprises a rear angled portion extending from the sump toward a rearward region of the tray, wherein the tray guide includes a rear angled portion extending from the recess toward a rearward region of the tray guide, the rear angled portion of the tray guide defining a space between the tray guide and a bottom wall of the syrup compartment to allow an airflow therebetween.

[0011] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the angle of the rear angled portion of the base wall of the trays and the tray guide is about 9 degrees.

[0012] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the base wall of each of the trays comprises an overall angled geometry that funnels the syrup within each syrup bag to the sump.

[0013] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that each of the trays includes a handle at a front region of the tray to facilitate moving the tray between an extended position and a retracted position.

[0014] According to another embodiment, a frozen food product dispensing machine includes a housing containing a refrigeration system for cooling an interior of the housing. Also included is a product dispensing station located proximate a front wall of the housing. Further included is a product mix compartment of the housing having at least one product mix configured to be routed to the product dispensing station. Yet further included is a syrup compartment of the housing. The syrup compartment includes a plurality of trays disposed in the syrup compartment, each of the trays configured to support and retain one of a plurality of syrup bags. The syrup compartment also includes a tube track defined by a cleft in an upper surface of each of the trays, the tube track having a degree of curvature with a bend radius ranging from 1.0 inch to 5.0 inches. The syrup compartment further includes a tube disposed within each tube track, the tube extending from a syrup bag probe to a front region of the tray to fluidly couple the syrup bag to a manifold for routing the syrup to the product dispensing station.

[0015] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that each of the trays includes a sump within a base wall of the tray to form a protrusion on a bottom surface of the tray to form a plurality of protrusions, wherein each of the protrusions have a protrusion geometry that corresponds to the recess geometry of the tray spaces to locate each of the trays in a desired location.

[0016] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that the tube track extends from the sump to a front region of the tray.

[0017] In addition to one or more of the features described above, or as an alternative, further embodiments may include that each of the plurality of trays further comprises a syrup bag probe configured to be operatively coupled to the syrup bag and coupled to the tube to allow the tube to evacuate syrup from the syrup bag, the syrup bag probe disposed in the sump.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018] The subject matter which is regarded as the disclosure is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the claims at the conclusion of the specification. The foregoing and other features and advantages of the disclosure are apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

[0019] FIG. 1 is a front, perspective view of a frozen food product dispensing machine;

[0020] FIG. 2 is front, perspective view of a syrup compartment of the frozen food product dispensing machine;

[0021] FIG. 3 is a side, sectional view of the syrup compartment;

[0022] FIG. 4 is a front, upper perspective view of a tray of the syrup compartment;

[0023] FIG. 5 is a rear, upper perspective view of the tray;

[0024] FIG. 6 is a front, lower perspective view of the tray;

[0025] FIG. 7 is a front, perspective view of the tray disposed on a tray guide of the syrup compartment; [0026] FIG. 8 is a rear, perspective view of the tray on the tray guide illustrating aspects of the disclosure;

[0027] FIG. 9 is a rear, perspective view of the frozen food product dispensing machine illustrating an airflow in the syrup compartment;

[0028] FIG. 10 is a side perspective view of the syrup compartment further illustrating the airflow therein;

[0029] FIG. 11 is a side elevation view of the tube illustrating dimensions of the tube according to an embodiment; and

[0030] FIG. 12 is a side elevation view of the tube illustrating the tube according to another embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0031] Referring to FIG. 1, illustrated is a frozen food product dispensing machine that is referenced generally with numeral 10. The product dispensing machine 10 includes a refrigeration system and one or more selectively extendable trays 12 each configured to support a respective food product bag, as described in detail below. The extendable trays 12 are disposed within a syrup compartment 11 that is a section of an overall housing 16 of the machine 10. The syrup compartment 11 will be described in greater detail below.

[0032] As shown, the product dispensing machine 10 is adapted to sit on a floor of a food service establishment and may have casters 14 to facilitate its movement on the floor. The product dispensing machine 10 includes the housing 16 which houses one or more refrigeration systems (not shown). The housing 16 includes, in one embodiment, a top wall 18, a bottom wall 20, two substantially similar sidewalls 22, a front wall 24, and a rear wall 26. The one or more refrigeration systems can be energized by a power source for cooling or refrigerating an interior cavity defined by the housing 16 and any contents housed within. In some non-limiting examples, the one or more refrigeration systems may be energized by an AC supply, DC supply, battery, fuel cell, AC or DC generator, solar power, or the like.

[0033] The product dispensing machine 10 includes at least one dispensing station 28 at an upper front region of the housing 16 for use in dispensing, in some examples, iced beverages, milkshakes, or soft-serve products to customers. The preceding list of food products is merely illustrative and not intended to be limiting. As described above, the product dispensing machine 10 includes a refrigeration system contained within the cavity of the housing 16. The refrigeration system is utilized for keeping the contents of one or more of the extendable trays 12 refrigerated, but in another embodiment, the refrigeration system may be de-energized if the contents of one or more of the extendable trays 12 are to be non- refrigerated. This includes holding the refrigerated and/or non-refrigerated syrups and the products dispensed from dispensing station 28 at a user defined temperature. In some embodiments, the refrigeration system can include a roll-bond evaporator, forced air, cold wall conduction, or similar methods. It should be appreciated that the selectively extendable trays 12 which contain a plurality of syrups in convenient bags, may be extended outwards (i.e., forwardly away from the syrup compartment 11 contained within housing 16) and provide access to the contents of the trays 12 during refilling and cleaning. Also, selectively extending the trays 12 outwards also provides access, in another example, to a plurality of tubes 32 that connect the refrigerated contents (e.g., syrups) in the trays 12 to the dispensing station 28.

[0034] Referring now to FIG. 2, the syrup compartment 11 is illustrated in greater detail. The syrup compartment 11 includes the selectively extendable trays 12 which are disposed on a tray guide 60. In the illustrated embodiment, the syrup compartment 11 is located at a bottom region of the product dispensing machine 10 proximate the bottom wall 20 of the housing 16, but it is to be appreciated that the syrup compartment 11 may be located at other elevations of the machine 10 in other embodiments. The trays 12 provide for ease of access to a user during refilling of the trays 12.

[0035] Each of the trays 12 is configured to support and contain one of a plurality of food product bags 30, such as syrup bags. Each of the food product bags is fluidly coupled to a mixing or dispensing region of the product dispensing machine 10 via one of the plurality of tubes 32. In one non-limiting example, a user would replenish a refrigerated food product bag within the product dispensing machine 10 by selectively moving a tray 12 to an extended position. Once extended, the user may remove the respective food product bag replace it with a full food product bag to be placed in the tray 12 and connected to the respective tube 32. The user would then push the tray 12 back into the housing 16 to a retracted position.

[0036] Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, one of the trays 12 is illustrated. A single tray is described in detail and it is to be understood that the remaining trays are configured to be consistent with the tray described in detail. The tray 12 includes a base wall 36 and at least one side wall 38 extending upwardly from the base wall 36. In some embodiments, the side wall 38 is about 4.125 inches in height. The base wall 36 is provided to primarily support the food product bag (e.g., syrup bag) 30 that is placed therein. The side wall(s) 38 assist in retaining the malleable food product bag 30. As shown, the tray 12 includes a sump 40 defined within the base wall 36. The sump 40 is substantially cylindrical in the illustrated embodiment, but it is to be appreciated that the sump 40 includes a sump geometry that may vary from a cylinder. The sump 40 protrudes downwardly to form a protrusion 42 on a bottom surface 44 of the tray 12.

[0037] The sump 40 provides a collection region for residual syrup that forms in the bottom of the tray 12. In particular, the residual syrup is funneled toward and into the sump 40 based on at least one angled portion of the base wall 36 that is oriented to allow gravity to draw the residual syrup toward the sump 40. The angled portion(s) may be angled along a longitudinal direction 46 of the tray 12, a lateral direction 48 of the tray 12, or a combination thereof. For example, a rear angled portion 50 of the base wall 36 extends from the sump 40 toward a rearward region of the tray 12. Additionally, forward angled portion 52 of the base wall 36 extends from the sump 40 toward a forward region of the tray 12 in the form of a curved portion. The forward angled portion 52 includes a cleft 54 in an upper surface 56 of the base wall 36 that defines a tube track 57 sized to at least partially receive one of the plurality of tubes 32 which is operatively connected to the food product bag 30. As described above, lateral funneling is present due to angling of the base wall 36 on sides of the sump 40, thereby ensuring that any residual syrup in the tray 12 flows to the sump 40. In the illustrated embodiment, the tube track 57 extends from the sump 40 to the forward region of the tray 12.

[0038] As shown in FIG. 5, extending and retracting of the tray 12 relative to the syrup compartment 11 is facilitated by manipulation of a forward handle 37 disposed on the forward region of the tray 12. To assist with carrying of the overall tray 12, a rear handle 39 may be provided at the rearward region of the tray 12.

[0039] Referring now to FIG. 7, the tray guide 60 is provided to support and locate each of the plurality of trays 12. The tray guide 60 includes at least one ridge 62 to define a plurality of tray spaces 64, such as the lanes shown in the illustrated embodiment. The trays 12 are easily guided into their respective location by pushing the trays 12 toward a rearward region 68 of the tray guide 60.

[0040] Each tray space 64 of the tray guide 60 includes a recess 70 having a recess geometry that substantially corresponds to the protrusion geometry formed by the protrusion 42 of each tray 12. As described above in connection with the protrusion geometry, the recess geometry may vary from the cylindrical embodiment shown in the illustration. Irrespective of the precise geometries, the protrusion 42 of the tray 12 is at least partially received into the recess 70 of the tray guide 60 to positively locate a desired position of the trays 12. The location of the sump 40 and therefore protrusion 42, as well as the recess 70, may be located anywhere along the tray 12 and tray guide 60, relative to the longitudinal direction 46 of the tray 12. In some embodiments, such as the illustrated embodiment, the protrusion 42 and recess 70 are located closer to the forward region of the tray 12 and tray guide 60 to reduce the required length of the plurality of tubes 32, as will be described below in detail.

[0041] Referring to FIG. 8, the tray 12 is illustrated with the tube 32 disposed therein. More specifically, the tube 32 is disposed within the tube track 57 of the tray 12. The tube 32 extends between a syrup bag probe 72 and a front region of the tray 12 for attachment to a manifold header 73 or other component that facilitates routing of the syrup from the tube 32 to a desired location. The syrup bag probe 72 is disposed within the sump 40 and operatively coupled to the tray 12. The syrup bag probe 72 is configured to interact with, and operatively coupled to, a syrup bag 30 disposed in the tray 12. For example, the syrup bag probe 72 may pierce a fitment on the bottom of the bag to facilitate extraction of syrup from the bag. Conversely, the syrup bag probe 72 may be pierced by the fitment to facilitate syrup extraction. Irrespective of the precise coupling, the probe 72 fluidly couples the bag to the tube 32. By locating the extraction point directly over the sump 40, cleanliness of the tray 40 is improved. Additionally, extraction efficiency is improved due to the funneling contours of the tray 12, which allows gravity to flow the syrup toward the extraction location.

[0042] Neatly disposing the tube 32 within the tube track 57 reduces interaction with the bag 30 to eliminate pockets that may form. Pockets hinder evacuation of the bag 30. By achieving more efficient extraction, the motivation of an operator to salvage remaining contents (e.g., syrup) from the bag 30 is reduced. Efforts to salvage such contents lead to unsanitary practices, such as manually opening the bag in a food service environment and attempting to pour the remaining contents into another bag, which clearly poses contamination risks. The efficient evacuation achieved by the embodiments described herein eliminates such risks.

[0043] As described above, the sump 40 is located closer to the forward region of the tray 12 than the rear region of the tray 12. Such positioning allows the length of the tube 32 to be reduced, while still providing a storage area for the tube 32 to avoid an undesirable arrangement of tubes protruding from the syrup compartment 11. The length of the tube 32 is reduced to a minimum, optimized length relative to the volume and dimensions of the syrup bag 30 and/or the tray 12. Reducing the length of the tube 32 eases tube management which provides several advantages. A shorter tube reduces "flavor scalping," which occurs over time due to syrup residue accumulating on an interior of the tube during operation. Additionally, easier tube management results in a reduction or elimination of the likelihood that an incorrect tube is connected to a particular syrup bag. The cost of the tube 32 is reduced based on a lower requirement for materials, with such cost savings resulting in it being cost-effective to more frequently replace the tubes to even further address the flavor scalping issue noted above.

[0044] The specific dimensions of the tube 32 may vary depending upon the particular application of use. As described above, the benefits associated with reducing the footprint of the tube 32 are numerous. To achieve this reduction, in some embodiments, the bend radius of the tube track 57, and therefore the tube 32 in an installed position, ranges from about 1.0 inches to about 5.0 inches. In other embodiments, the bend radius of the tube track, and therefrom the tube 32 in the installed position, ranges from about 1.3 inches to about 4.5 inches.

[0045] Referring now to FIGS. 11 and 12, the curvature of the tube track 57, and therefore the tube 32 in an installed position, is illustrated in greater detail. In the illustrated embodiments, the tube 32 is oriented as closely as possible to an arc of a circle to provide a continuous radius that corresponds to the ranges described above. As such, the horizontal component, R H , is substantially equal to the vertical component, Ry. By reducing the radius of curvature of the tube 32 as much as possible, the length of the tube is minimized and the volume of syrup in the tube is minimized as well. Vertical length, A v , and horizontal length, A H , are substantially straight length segments required to attach the tube 32 to respective end fitments. The lengths are minimized to the extent possible to reduce the overall tube length and the volume of the syrup in the tube. In some embodiments, the vertical and horizontal lengths are substantially equal (FIG. 11). In other embodiments, the vertical length, A v , is greater than the horizontal length, A H (FIG. 12). A greater vertical length is desired over a greater horizontal length to prevent there being a flat area in the bottom of the syrup bin that will not drain as well into the sump.

[0046] Referring to FIGS. 3, 9 and 10, the rear angled portion 50 of the tray 12 and a rear angled portion 80 of the tray guide 60 is illustrated. In the illustrated embodiment, the rear angled portions 50, 80 substantially correspond to each other. In some embodiments, the angle of the angled portions 50, 80 ranges from about By angling the tray guide 60, a space 90 is defined between the tray guide 60 and a bottom wall 92 of the syrup compartment 11. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, this space allows an airflow 94 to be routed into and through the space 90 for enhanced heat transfer purposes, including cooling of the syrup compartment 11. [0047] Advantageously, the embodiments of the syrup compartment 11 and the overall product dispensing machine 10 described herein provide a simple, effective, minimalist approach to syrup bag replacement, storage, evacuation, and operation.

[0048] While the disclosure has been described in detail in connection with only a limited number of embodiments, it should be readily understood that the disclosure is not limited to such disclosed embodiments. Rather, the disclosure can be modified to incorporate any number of variations, alterations, substitutions or equivalent arrangements not heretofore described, but which are commensurate with the spirit and scope of the disclosure. Additionally, while various embodiments of the disclosure have been described, it is to be understood that aspects of the disclosure may include only some of the described embodiments. Accordingly, the disclosure is not to be seen as limited by the foregoing description, but is only limited by the scope of the appended claims.