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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
TRAY SEALING MACHINE WITH CELL PLATES FOR TRANSPORTING THE TRAYS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/158261
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention regards a sealing machine for the sealing of differently sized trays. If compared to the traditional machines on the market, tray sealing is considerably increased by means of a system picking up an indefinite number of trays from the multi-way bet feeder (1), positioned upstream of the chain (4), provided with an indefinite number of cell plates (5C), consisting of a single part incorporated upstream and downstream of and just on the sealing unit where trays are portioned after being extracted throughout the pick and place system (3), the cell plates (5C) of the sealing chain (4). The size of plates is globally preset according to their number and is the same as the size of the mould (5B) of the sealing unit. Following the motion determined by a servomotor, plates are moved to under the mould (5B) that closes with the lower contrast group (5D) where the tray cell plates (5C) are positioned and determines the production of air with the following production of vacuum, injection of gas, cutting of the film (9) and following film sealing on each tray. At this point, the mould and the lower contrast group open again and cell plates containing sealed trays are emptied: already sealed trays are extracted by the pick and place system (6) installed at the end of the sealing unit process. Subsequently, the following cell plates are moved to under the mould of the sealing unit (5B). The time that trays, positioned in the cells, remain inside the sealing unit, which consists of the upper bell or mould and the lower contrast group, is the same as the time required for air suction for the production of vacuum, the injection of gas, the cutting of film and the following film sealing on each tray.

Inventors:
MONDINI, Giovanni (Via Brescia 5/7, Cologne Bresciano, I-25033, IT)
Application Number:
IT2010/000267
Publication Date:
December 22, 2011
Filing Date:
June 14, 2010
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
MONDINI, Giovanni (Via Brescia 5/7, Cologne Bresciano, I-25033, IT)
International Classes:
B65B7/16; B65B31/02; B65B35/44; B65G17/06
Domestic Patent References:
WO2010007633A1
Foreign References:
US5534282A
EP0559293A1
US20050003059A1
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GANDINI, Claudio (Corso Venezia 2/A, Milano, I-20121, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
120

CLAIMS

125 1. A machine for vacuum and gas sealing of trays distributed along the cell plates, provided with sealing film (9). By means of a pick and place system (3), trays are taken from the multi-way feed belt (1) positioned upstream of the chain (4), which chain comes with an indefinite number of cell plates (5C) the total dimension of which - even in relation to the number of the plates themselves - corresponds to the

130 size of the sealing unit mould (5B). The sealing unit is made up of a upper mould handling unit (5A), an upper bell or mould where vacuum is produced and gas is injected (5B) as well as a lower contrast group (5D), which can be fixed or movable according to the characteristics of trays and supports the sealing force and, after trays are picked up and positioned on the aforementioned cell plats,

135 moves them longitudinally to the chain motion (4) to under the upper vacuum and gas bell or mould of the sealing unit (SA) that, while closing with the lower contrast group (5B) where tray cell plates (5C) are positioned, makes it possible to suck up air with the following production of vacuum, inject gas, cut the film and seal the film on each tray, and finally it opens again for the following transfer of

140 cell plates (5C). Down in the process, the sealing unit incorporates a pick & place system (3) for the extraction of trays from cells (6) and the positioning on a transfer or outgoing conveyor belt (8) as well as a possible rejection system for waste trays (7), the belt feeder of which (2) positioned upstream of the chain (4) is characterised by the presence of an indefinite number of rows where, longitudinally

145 to the belt motion, trays not yet sealed are positioned and, after being taken from the aforementioned belt feeder, are moved to the cell plates of the chain (5C) represented by one piece only and characterised by an intermittent motion, which can be adjusted from the servomotor according to the times of mould closing (5A), vacuum production, gas injection and following sealing of the film on each tray.

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Description:
TRAY SEALING MACHINE WITH CELL PLATES FOR TRANSPORTING THE TRAYS

DESCRIPTION

Tray Sealing Machines with Cell Plate known so far are characterized by a one- step feed movement, which implies the possibility of sealing trays set on a single plate. Each feed motion corresponds to one sealing cycle. With reference to the need for high productions and high rates, this involves very reduced times for tray sealing that determines limits in vacuum production inside the trays. In order to change the atmosphere, that is, eliminate most of the oxygen damaging the food preservation, a high quantity of gas is used to saturate the area around the mould inside of which sealing is completed. Besides a waste of gas being released into the environment and the corresponding increase in production costs, the outcome is qualitatively worse than that one which can be obtained by vacuum production inside a closed mould and gas injection in a proper quantity. The tray atmosphere is at the set pressure and with a controlled oxygen waste, which allows a better food preservation.

The tray sealing machine described in this invention comes with a series of advantages. First of all, the possibility of moving and sealing trays in an indefinite number, with a considerable increase in production per hour. Trays can be characterised by special shapes such as, by way of example, a small or rounded base that does not allow resting the tray itself on a traditional conveyor belt. Another advantages regards the presence of a huge number of rows longitudinally to the conveyor belt and cell plate chain motion, with a considerable increase in productivity.

The aforementioned indefinite number of rows is functional to the extraction, by pick & place system (3), of trays for transfer to the cells positioned on the chain plates, so as to grant the perfect position of trays according to the preset location - in this way, trays maintain the same order in all production steps, from picking-up along the belt feeder to the mould incoming and outgoing motion of the sealing unit. The pick & place system (3) enables, as an alternative to any other equivalent system, the unit to pick up trays from above the belt feeder, move the extraction element operating as pick and place tool (3) and position trays on the sealing machines chain cell plates.

The increased number of trays to seal with considerable increases in production is based on the principle of using tools, in particular a plurality of cell plates that, while allowing every tray to rest on each one of them, constitute submultiples of a bigger element, which is the cell plate. Cells where trays are positioned are submultiples of the plate. The plate is, in its turn, a submultiple of a plurality of plates, that is, an indefinite number of plates having the same size. The possibility of taking from the conveyor belt an indefinite number of trays, which are moved to the sealing unit by means of a plurality of cell plates, increases production. The plurality of cell plates that are moved to the mould (5B) coincides with the mould size, that is, with the upper vacuum and gas bell or mould surface which comes down to the lower contrast group (5D), that is, the lower mould (5E) and allows performing the different stages of air intake, gas injection and following film sealing.

The procedure starting with the upper vacuum and gas bell or mould (5-5B) moving down and ending up when the mould opens again can be defined as the sealing phase.

An additional advantage is represented by the motionlessness of each tray, placed in the cells, when the upper bell or mould of the sealing unit moves down from above for gas vacuum sealing.

The machine described in this invention comes with a chain provided with cell plates (4) for tray transfer; a turn of the film (9) for unwinding, waste recovery and pull from a handling group of the upper mould (5A); the mould (5-5B) inside of which vacuum is produced and gas is injected, the film is cut and sealed on each tray; a lower contrast group (5D), which is either fixed or moveable according to the features of the tray and can support the sealing force. When the mould is closed, cell plates (5C) and accordingly trays to seal are enclosed between the upper mould or upper gas and vacuum bell (5-5B) and the lower mould (5E) and, if there are the conditions to maintain vacuum tightness between the upper mould and cells, the lower mould can also be absent.

Earlier in the cell plate chain process (4) there is usually a tray loading system (1) that, in the preferred embodiment, can be equipped with a belt feeder, with possible migration unit (2), a traditional chain or a plate filling line with a rate that can differ from the sealing unit rate. Trays are taken by the puck and place system (3) to load the sealing machine.

Further down in the cell plate chain process (4) it is possible to install a system for rejection of waste trays (7) and there is a pick up and place system (6) for the extraction of trays from cells and the following positioning of them on a possible chain belt (8).

The rate for the machines described in this invention is intermittent, with well- defined phases. The vacuum and gas and sealing cycle determines a pause during the feeding process, with following stop of the cell plate chain. This allows positioning, by means of the pick and place system (3), trays into the incoming plate cells and extracting outgoing cell plates. When the mould opens again, cell plates where trays are already organised move ahead and, at the same time, move trays to under the mould (5B) while just sealed trays are moved towards the end of the process. In the meantime, the film (9) is unwound for subsequent sealing. 80 Trays are positioned inside the plate cells in a number equal to those moved to under the sealing unit. Trays positioning corresponds to the organisation of trays on the cell plate chain of sealing machines covered by this invention.

Figure 1 shows the sealing machine with a detail of the cell plate chain. The two lateral chains convey plates containing the cells where trays are positioned.

85 Figure 2 shows the enlargement of cell plates that, in this case, come with two rows of eight cells each one. The size of plates can also change in relation to the number and dimension o trays, with following change in the size of each individual cell.

Figure 3 shows the front view of the sealing machine, characterised by the 90 elements already mentioned and described in the claims. Please note that there is one only chain for the movement of cell plates.

Figure 4 shows cutaway view of the sealing unit where it is possible to observe the detail of the sealing machine mould, that is, the upper gas and vacuum bell, identified with number 5B.

95 Figure 5 shows the chain during feeding for the movement of cell plates from the point where of trays are loaded by means of the pick-up & place system (3) and moved to under the upper gas and vacuum bell or mould of the sealing machine (5). This corresponds - figure 4 - to the upper gas and vacuum bell or upper mould (5B).

100 Figure 6 shows the chain in stationary position. Cell plates are closed between the upper mould (5B) and the lower mould (5E) so as to produce vacuum, inject gas and seal trays with the film (9).

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