Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR FILLING DISPOSABLE CAPSULES FOR THE PREPARATION OF BEVERAGES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2022/058368
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) comprising a belt production line (2) in continuous advancement comprising a plurality of seats (20i) arranged at a constant pitch (p) for housing a plurality of capsules to be filled (21i), a filling unit (3) above said belt production line (2) comprising a plurality of dosers (30i) for dosing the food substance, wherein the plurality of dosers (30i) is configured in at least one rectilinear row of dosers (30i) and said plurality of seats (20i) is configured for the transit below said filling unit (3) in at least one rectilinear row of seats (20i), in that said plurality of dosers (30i) is arranged at a constant pitch (P) greater than the constant pitch (p) of said plurality of housing seats (20i), and in that a coordinated movement means is envisaged, configured to impose on said rectilinear row of dosers (30i) and on said rectilinear row of seats (20i) a null relative speed in a first and respectively at least a second distinct time intervals, during the unloading of the food substance from said rectilinear row of dosers (30i) into a first and respectively at least a second series of said capsules to be filled (21i) present in said rectilinear row of seats (20i).

Inventors:
SCRIVANI MASSIMO (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2021/075359
Publication Date:
March 24, 2022
Filing Date:
September 15, 2021
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
RYCHIGER AG (CH)
International Classes:
B65B39/12; B65B29/02; B65B39/14; B65B43/52; B65B43/54; B65B57/00; B65G47/08; B67C7/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016088023A12016-06-09
Foreign References:
US20100037981A12010-02-18
US20160355286A12016-12-08
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KELLER SCHNEIDER PATENT- UND MARKENANWÄLTE AG (CH)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. An apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages ( 1) comprising a belt production line (2) in continuous advancement along a transport direction (X) comprising a plurality of seats (20i) arranged at a constant pitch (p) for housing a plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i), a filling unit (3) above said belt production line (2) comprising a plurality of dosers (30i) for dosing the food substance, characterised in that said plurality of dosers (30i) is configured in at least one rectilinear row of dosers (30i) and said plurality of seats (20i) is configured for the transit below said filling unit (3) in at least one rectilinear row of seats (20i), in that said plurality of dosers (30i) is arranged at a constant pitch (P) greater than the constant pitch (p) of said plurality of housing seats (20i), in that the filling unit (3) is linearly movable along the transport direction (X) and in that a coordinated movement means is envisaged, configured to impose on said rectilinear row of dosers (30i) and on said rectilinear row of seats (20i) a null relative speed in a first and respectively at least a second distinct time intervals, during the unloading of the food substance from said rectilinear row of dosers (30i) into a first series (A) and respectively at least a second series (B) of said capsules to be filled (21 i) present in said rectilinear row of seats ( 20i).

2. The apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) according to the previous claim, characterised in that said constant pitch (P) of said plurality of dosers (30i) of said filling unit (3) is equal to twice said constant pitch (p) of said plurality of housing seats (20i) of said belt production line (2).

3. The apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterised in that said rectilinear row of seats (20i) has a continuous rectilinear advancement at constant speed.

4. The apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterised in that said movement means actuates the coordinated movement of said rectilinear row of dosers (30i) with said rectilinear row of seats (20i) when the axis (ACi) of the first capsule of said first series of capsules to be filled (21 i) coincides with the axis (ADi) of the first of said plurality of dosers (30i). The apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterised in that the unloading of the food substance from said plurality of dosers (30i) into said plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i) in said rectilinear row of seats (20i) takes place when said axis (ACi) of said first capsule of said first series (A) of capsules to be filled (21 i) coincides with said axis (ADi) of said first one of said plurality of dosers (30i). The apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) according to one or more of the previous claims, characterised in that said movement means imposes a relative backward displacement of said rectilinear row of dosers (31 i) with respect to said rectilinear row of seats (20i) between the filling of said first series (A) of said one plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i) with an odd index and the filling of said second series (B) of said one plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i) with an even index equal to said pitch (p) of said plurality of housing seats (20i). The apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) according to the previous claim, characterised in that said movement means imposes a relative backward displacement of said row of dosers (31 i) with respect to said rectilinear row of seats (20i) between the occurred filling of said one first series (A) and of said one second series (B) and the filling of a subsequent first series (A) of said plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i) equal to the sum of said pitches (p) of said first series (A) and of said first series (B) minus one unit (p). A method for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages, characterised in that a belt production line (2) is provided, comprising a plurality of seats (20i) arranged to house a plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i), to make said plurality of seats (20i) advance continuously at a constant speed making them transit along a transport direction (X), ordered in at least one rectilinear row of seats ( 20i) arranged at a constant pitch (p), below a filling unit (3) comprising a plurality of dosers (30i) for dosing the food substance ordered in at least one rectilinear row of dosers (30i) arranged at a constant 14 pitch (P) greater than the constant pitch (p) of said plurality of housing seats (20i), the filling unit (3) being linearly movable along the transport direction (X) and filling the capsules present in all the seats (20i) in transit subjecting said filling unit (3) to a coordinated movement with the movement of said seats (20i) wherein between said rectilinear row of dosers (30i) and said rectilinear row of seats ( 20i) a null relative speed is imposed during the unloading of the food substance from said rectilinear row of dosers (30i) into said capsules to be filled (21 i) present in said rectilinear row of seats (20i). The method for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages ( 1) according to the previous claim, characterised by imposing a relative backward displacement of said rectilinear row of dosers (31 i) with respect to said rectilinear row of seats (20i) between the filling of a first series (A) of a plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i) and the filling of a second series (B) of a plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i) , the displacement in particular being equal to said pitch (p) of said plurality of housing seats (20i). The method for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages ( 1) according to the previous claim, characterised in that said relative backward displacement of said row of dosers (31 i) with respect to said rectilinear row of seats (20i) is imposed between the occurred filling of said first series (A) and of said second series (B) and the filling of a subsequent first series (A) of said plurality of capsules to be filled (21 i) equal to the sum of said pitches (p) of said first series (A) and of said first series (B) minus one unit (p).

Description:
APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR FILLING DISPOSABLE CAPSULES FOR THE PREPARATION OF BEVERAGES

Technical Field

The present invention relates to an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages.

Background Art

Disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages, typically coffee, have long been on the market and are easy to handle in machines designed for the preparation of this beverage.

The disposable capsule is generally formed by a waterproof, cup-shaped outer casing, which is filled with food substances, such as soluble or partially soluble coffee powders; the outer casing containing the food substance is then closed at the top with an impermeable film sealed at the edge, generally after replacing and/or enriching the residual air in the container with inert gas to protect the food substance, thus creating the disposable capsule.

The disposable capsule produced in this way is inserted in various ways into the preparation machine, which produces the beverage with its own appropriate incorporated means.

Devices and plants for the manufacture of disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages as described above have been on the market for some time.

It is known that such plants traditionally have successive processing stations along a production line in which the various activities necessary for packaging the finished disposable capsule are subsequently carried out. One station of the production line is dedicated to filling the capsules with the soluble or partially soluble food substance characterising the beverage to be produced.

It is known that a critical issue with automatic plants for the manufacture of disposable capsules is the precision of dosing and the speed at which the capsule is filled with the food substance.

Single and multiple dosers, static or moving, in-line or on carousels, form part of the prior art, and are following the trend of becoming increasingly complex in the quest for greater production line speed and therefore overall plant profitability.

Such traditional plants for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages are known to involve specific complex dedicated devices for the exact positioning of the doser in relation to the capsule for the time required to fill the capsule with the exact dosage of the food substance.

Summary of the invention

There is therefore a need to simplify the design of traditional plants for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of known beverages.

The technical problem addressed by the present invention is, therefore, to develop an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which eliminates the technical disadvantages from the prior art.

Within the scope of this technical problem, an object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which allows continuous movement of the transport line of the capsules to be filled.

A further object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which has an exact positioning of the doser with respect to the capsule.

A further object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages with a high production speed. A further object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which is simple and compact, in order to limit the overall dimensions of the production line.

According to the present invention, the technical problem is solved, and also the above and other objects are achieved, by creating an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages comprising a belt production line in continuous advancement comprising a plurality of seats arranged at a constant pitch p for housing a plurality of capsules to be filled, a filling unit above said belt production line comprising a plurality of dosers for dosing the food substance, characterised in that said plurality of dosers is configured in at least one rectilinear row of dosers and said plurality of seats is configured for the transit below said filling unit in at least one rectilinear row of seats, in that said plurality of dosers is arranged at a constant pitch P greater than the constant pitch of said plurality of housing seats, and in that a coordinated movement means is envisaged, configured to impose on said rectilinear row of dosers and on said rectilinear row of seats a null relative speed in a first and respectively at least a second distinct time interval, during the unloading of the food substance from said rectilinear row of dosers into a first series and respectively at least a second series of said capsules to be filled present in said rectilinear row of seats.

The invention also relates to a method for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages, characterised in that a belt production line is provided, comprising a plurality of seats arranged to house a plurality of capsules to be filled, to make said plurality of seats advance continuously at a constant speed making them transit, ordered in at least one rectilinear row of seats arranged at a constant pitch p, below a filling unit comprising a plurality of dosers for dosing the food substance ordered in at least one rectilinear row of dosers arranged at a constant pitch P greater than the constant pitch p of said plurality of housing seats, and filling the capsules present in all the seats in transit subjecting said filling unit to a coordinated movement with the movement of said seats wherein between said rectilinear row of dosers and said rectilinear row of seats a null relative zero speed is imposed during the unloading of the food substance from said rectilinear row of dosers into said capsules to be filled present in said rectilinear row of seats. Other features of the present invention are also defined in the subsequent dependent claims. There is therefore a need to simplify the design of traditional plants for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of known beverages.

The technical problem addressed by the present invention is, therefore, to develop an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which eliminates the technical disadvantages from the prior art.

Within the scope of this technical problem, an object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which allows continuous movement of the transport line of the capsules to be filled.

A further object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which has an exact positioning of the doser with respect to the capsule.

A further object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages with a high production speed.

A further object of the invention is to create an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages which is simple and compact, in order to limit the overall dimensions of the production line.

According to the present invention, the technical problem is solved, and also the above and other objects are achieved, by creating an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages comprising a belt production line in continuous advancement comprising a plurality of seats arranged at a constant pitch p for housing a plurality of capsules to be filled, a filling unit above said belt production line comprising a plurality of dosers for dosing the food substance, characterised in that said plurality of dosers is configured in at least one rectilinear row of dosers and said plurality of seats is configured for the transit below said filling unit in at least one rectilinear row of seats, in that said plurality of dosers is arranged at a constant pitch P greater than the constant pitch of said plurality of housing seats, and in that a coordinated movement means is envisaged, configured to impose on said rectilinear row of dosers and on said rectilinear row of seats a null relative speed in a first and respectively at least a second distinct time interval, during the unloading of the food substance from said rectilinear row of dosers into a first series and respectively at least a second series of said capsules to be filled present in said rectilinear row of seats.

The invention also relates to a method for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages, characterised in that a belt production line is provided, comprising a plurality of seats arranged to house a plurality of capsules to be filled, to make said plurality of seats advance continuously at a constant speed making them transit, ordered in at least one rectilinear row of seats arranged at a constant pitch p, below a filling unit comprising a plurality of dosers for dosing the food substance ordered in at least one rectilinear row of dosers arranged at a constant pitch P greater than the constant pitch p of said plurality of housing seats, and filling the capsules present in all the seats in transit subjecting said filling unit to a coordinated movement with the movement of said seats wherein between said rectilinear row of dosers and said rectilinear row of seats a null relative zero speed is imposed during the unloading of the food substance from said rectilinear row of dosers into said capsules to be filled present in said rectilinear row of seats.

Other features of the present invention are also defined in the subsequent dependent claims.

Other advantageous embodiments and combinations of features come out from the detailed description below and the entirety of the claims.

Brief description of the drawings

The drawings used to explain the embodiments show:

Fig. 1A-F schematically show the relative movement sequence of the filling unit, the dosers and the production line with the capsules to be filled, and the filling sequence of the capsules.

In the figures, the same components are given the same reference symbols. Preferred embodiments

With reference to the above-mentioned figures, an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages is denoted overall by reference number 1 .

In the figures, an apparatus 1 substantially comprising a belt production line 2 and an upper filling unit 3 is shown.

The production line 2 supports a rectilinear row of housing seats 20i for the capsules to be filled 21 i, which seats are provided with an axis ACi at a constant pitch p.

The linear belt production line 2 is expediently moved by movement means, not shown in the figure, in continuous advancement at constant speed in the direction X.

The upper filling unit 3 comprises a plurality of dosers 30i for dosing the food substance, which dosers are expediently fed by food substances not shown in the figure.

Said plurality of dosers 30i is configured in at least one rectilinear row of dosers 30i and said plurality of seats 20i is configured for transit below the filling unit 3 in at least one rectilinear row of seats 20i.

The upper filling unit 3 is mounted in the production plant above the belt production line 2 with the possibility of a controlled linear movement in the direction X; the plurality of dosers 30i is mounted in line in the filling unit 3 and in axial alignment with the production line 2, with the possibility of a controlled linear movement in the direction Y, orthogonal to the direction X.

Appropriate movement means - typically permanent magnet DC electric motors and electronic control units, e.g. encoders - implement the coordinated movement of the upper filling unit 3 in the direction X and the plurality of dosers 30i in the direction Y.

Such coordinated movement means are configured to impose on the rectilinear row of dosers 30i and the rectilinear row of seats 20i a null relative speed in a first and respectively at least a second separate time interval during the unloading of the food substance from the rectilinear row of dosers 30i into a first series and respectively at least a second series of the capsules to be filled 21 i present in the rectilinear row of seats 20i.

Advantageously, according to the present invention, the plurality of dosers 30i is positioned on the upper filling unit 3 with an axis ADi at a constant pitch P greater than the constant pitch p of the housing seats 20i for the capsules on the belt line 2.

Expediently, the constant pitch P of the plurality of dosers 30i is an integer multiple of the constant pitch p of the plurality of seats 20i: P= nP; typically but not exclusively, in the preferred but not exclusive embodiment described and illustrated herein P = 2p.

The operation of the apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages (1) according to the invention is clear from what is described and illustrated sequentially in figures 1 A to 1 F and, in particular, is substantially as follows.

Figure 1 A shows the belt production line 2 and the filling unit 3 in the initial position of the filling cycle.

The plurality of receiving seats 20i is positioned on the belt production line 2 with pitch p between the respective vertical axes ACi.

The capsules to be filled 21 i are placed in the corresponding seats 20i with their axis coinciding with the axis ACi.

For the sake of clarity and descriptive simplicity and with reference to the figure and as an example of the first preferred solution, 12 capsules to be filled 21 i at pitch p are shown, in sequence numbered from 21-1 to 21-12, subdivided into a first series A of capsules with an odd index and a second series B of capsules with an even index.

Consequently, the filling unit 3 is shown with 6 dosers 30i at pitch P=2p, sequentially numbered from 30-1 to 30-6, where each doser 30i has its own axis ADi coinciding with the axis ACi of the underlying capsule to be filled 21 i: in the initial situation, the first doser 30-1 has its own axis AD-1 coinciding with the axis AC-1 of the first capsule 21-1 of the first series A of capsules. The belt production line 2 moves linearly at constant speed in the direction X.

Suitable movement and control means implement the coordinated movement of the rectilinear row of dosers 30i with the rectilinear row of seats 20i when the axis ACi of the first capsule of the first series of capsules to be filled 21 i coincides with the axis ADi of the first of the plurality of dosers (30i).

These movement and control means move the filling unit 3 in the direction X and coordinate its speed with the speed of line 2 so that the speed of the filling unit 3 relative to the line 2 is zero.

Figure 1 B shows a first phase of filling the capsules of the first series A with an odd index 21 i: the first doser 30-1 is in axial alignment with the first capsule of the series A with an odd index 21-1 , the second doser 30-2 is in axial alignment with the second capsule with an odd index 21-3, and so on up to the sixth doser 30-6 in axial alignment with the sixth capsule with an odd index 21-1 1.

The belt production line 2 and the filling unit 3 move at constant speed substantially rigidly coupled in the direction X, the movement means implement a controlled movement of the dosers 30i along the direction Y approaching the below-arranged capsules to be filled 21 i in the rectilinear row of seats 20i, and appropriate dosing means discharge the programmed dose of the food substance through the dosers 30i into the below-arranged capsules to be filled 21 i.

The discharge of the food substance from the plurality of dosers 30i of the filling unit 3 into the plurality of capsules to be filled 21 i in the rectilinear row of seats 20i occurs when the axis ACi of the first capsule of the first series of the plurality of capsules to be filled 21 i coincides with said axis ADi of the first of the plurality of dosers (30i).

The filled capsules are indicated in the figure by reference 22i.

Figure 1 C shows how, following the filling of a first series A of capsules with an odd index 21 i, the coordinated movement means of the doser 3 implement a controlled movement of the dosers 30i along the direction Y away from the filled capsules 22i. While the belt production line 2 continues movement in the direction X at a constant speed, advantageously and according to the present invention, the coordinated movement means of the filling unit 3 move the filling unit 3 in the direction X but in a backward direction with respect to the movement of the line 2, reducing the synchronisation time of the axes ADi of the dosers 30i with the corresponding axes ACi of the capsules to be filled 21 i of the second series B of capsules with an even index 21 i, arranged at a pitch p from the corresponding axes ACi of the filled capsules 22i of the first series A of capsules with an odd index.

The movement means imposes a relative backward displacement of the filling unit 3 and the rectilinear row of dosers 31 i with respect to the production line 2 and the rectilinear row of seats 20i between the filling of a first series A of a plurality of capsules to be filled with an odd index 21 i and the filling of a second series B of a plurality of capsules to be filled with an even index 21 i thus equal to the pitch p of the plurality of housing seats (20i).

Figure 1 D shows the filling unit 3 in synchrony with the line 2: the axes ADi of the dosers 30i have been synchronised with the corresponding axes ACi of the capsules to be filled 21 i of the second series B of capsules with an even index: the first doser 30-1 is in axial alignment with the first capsule of the series B with an even index 21-2, the second doser 30-2 is in axial alignment with the second capsule with an even index 21-4, and so on until the sixth doser 30-6 in axial alignment with the sixth capsule with an even index 21-12.

The movement means of the doser 3 synchronised the speed in the direction X of the filling unit 3 with the corresponding constant speed of the line 2 so that the relative speed was null.

The belt production line 2 and the filling unit 3 moved at a constant speed substantially rigidly coupled in the direction X.

The movement means implemented a controlled movement of the dosers 30i along the direction Y approaching the capsules to be filled 21 i of the first series B of capsules, after which the appropriate dosing means discharged the programmed dose of the food substance through the dosers 30i into the below-arranged capsules to be filled 21 i.

The filled capsules are indicated in the figure by reference 22i. Figure 1 E shows how, following the filling of a second series B of capsules 21 i, the coordinated movement means of the filling unit 3 implement a controlled movement of the dosers 30i along the direction Y away from the filled capsules 22i; while the belt production line 2 continues the movement in the direction X at a constant speed.

In figure 1 F, it is shown how advantageously, according to the present invention, the coordinated movement means of the filling unit 3 move the filling unit 3 in the direction X but in a backward direction with respect to the continuous movement at constant speed of the line 2, bringing the filling unit 3 back to its initial position illustrated in figure 1 A.

The relative sliding with speed of opposite sign of the line 2 and of the filling unit 3 brings a second series A of capsules to be filled with an odd index 21 i with their axes ACi into axial alignment with the axes ADi of the above-arranged dosers 30i.

Advantageously, according to the present invention, the control and movement means of the filling unit 3 register this axial alignment, implement the movement of the filling unit and synchronise its speed in the direction X with the constant speed of the line 2 when the axis AC-1 of the first capsule to be filled 21-1 of the second series of capsules A following the last-filled capsule 22i of the second series B of capsules coincides with the axis AD-1 of the first doser 30-1 of the filling unit 3.

The control and movement means impose a relative backward displacement of the filling unit 3 and of the row of dosers 31 i with respect to the production line 2 and the rectilinear row of seats 20i between the filling of a first series A and a second series B and a subsequent first series A of a plurality of capsules to be filled 21 i thus equal to the sum of the pitches p of the first series A and the second series B deducted by a unit p, which has already been removed between the filling of the first series A and the filling of the second series B.

The production cycle resumes according to that shown, illustrated and described in figure 1 A and following.

Modifications and variations, in addition to those already mentioned, are of course possible, that is to say, for example, with respect to the multiple n of the pitch P = np, and the number of dosers 30i of the filling unit 3. In practice, it has been found that an apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages according to the invention is particularly advantageous due to the fact that it allows continuous movement of the transport line of the capsules to be filled, ensures an exact positioning of the doser with respect to the capsule, has a high production speed due to the plurality of simultaneously activated dosers, and is simple and has limited overall dimensions.

An apparatus for filling disposable capsules for the preparation of beverages designed in this way is suitable for numerous modifications and variations, all of which fall within the scope of the inventive concept; moreover, all details are replaceable by technically equivalent elements.

In practice, any materials and also dimensions can be used, according to requirements and the prior the art.