US3464363A - Automatic food delivery and return system - Google Patents

Automatic food delivery and return system Download PDF

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US3464363A
US3464363A US684249A US3464363DA US3464363A US 3464363 A US3464363 A US 3464363A US 684249 A US684249 A US 684249A US 3464363D A US3464363D A US 3464363DA US 3464363 A US3464363 A US 3464363A
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tray
delivery
area
guide means
guide
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US684249A
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Randell J Wishart
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Randell J Wishart
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65GTRANSPORT OR STORAGE DEVICES, e.g. CONVEYORS FOR LOADING OR TIPPING, SHOP CONVEYOR SYSTEMS OR PNEUMATIC TUBE CONVEYORS
    • B65G47/00Article or material-handling devices associated with conveyors; Methods employing such devices
    • B65G47/34Devices for discharging articles or materials from conveyor 
    • B65G47/46Devices for discharging articles or materials from conveyor  and distributing, e.g. automatically, to desired points
    • B65G47/48Devices for discharging articles or materials from conveyor  and distributing, e.g. automatically, to desired points according to bodily destination marks on either articles or load-carriers
    • B65G47/482Devices for discharging articles or materials from conveyor  and distributing, e.g. automatically, to desired points according to bodily destination marks on either articles or load-carriers using exclusively mechanical transmitting means between destination marks and switching means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47FSPECIAL FURNITURE, FITTINGS, OR ACCESSORIES FOR SHOPS, STOREHOUSES, BARS, RESTAURANTS OR THE LIKE; PAYING COUNTERS
    • A47F10/00Furniture or installations specially adapted to particular types of service systems, not otherwise provided for
    • A47F10/06Furniture or installations specially adapted to particular types of service systems, not otherwise provided for for restaurant service systems

Description

p 1969 R. J. WISHART 3,464,363
AUTOMATIC FOOD DELIVERY AN-D RETURN SYSTEM Filed NOV. 20, 1967 DlSHWASHER KITCHEN H 3? 32/ 5 32KB? 34 FIG. 5
INVENTOR. RANDELL J. WISHART m a Pmfm?) ATTORNEYS 3,464,363 AUTOMATIC FOOD DELIVERY AND RETURN SYSTEM Randell J. Wishart, 303 Prospect Drive, Oak View, Calif. 93022 Filed Nov. 20, 1967, Ser. No. 684,249 Int. Cl. B61j 3/00; E04h 3/04; B61b 13/00 US. Cl. 104-88 4 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An automatic food delivery and return system is provided for delivering food from a kitchen area to an eating area and returning dishes from the eating area back to the kitchen area. The food is delivered on a powered tray guided from the kitchen area to a particular 'place at a table along guide means in the form of a track or elongated slot. A return track or slot structure is provided extending from the table back to the kitchen area. The guides may include branch guides so that a plurality of different tables may be served automatically by causing trays to switch from the main track or guide to selected ones of the various branches in accord with a given program. Programming of the system is effected by a person working in the kitchen area. The return of empty dishes on the tray is under control of the customer or waitress.
This invention relates generally to food delivery systems and more particularly to an improved automatic food delivery and return system for delivering food from a preparation area to an eating area and returning dishes from the eating area back to the preparation area.
Normally, food is delivered or served in restaurants and other commercial establishments by waiters or waitresses. These personnel add to the overall expense of restaurant operation. In addition, restaurants must be designed to accommodate the trafiic of waitresses traveling from the kitchen area to the eating area.
Some of the foregoing problems have been overcome by providing cafeteria type service. In these systems, the customer simply waits on himself and the need for large numbers of waitresses or waiters is eliminated together with an attendant savings in operating costs. However, there is still the problem of trafiic in the restaurant or other place of dining by the customers themselves in moving through a cafeteria line. Moreover, many people prefer to sit at a table rather than wait in line for their food.
With the foregoing considerations in mind, it is a primary object of the present invention to provide an automatic food delivery system in which the above-mentioned problems are overcome.
More particularly, it is an object to provide an automatic food delivery and return system wherein the required number of waitresses or waiters is substantially reduced to the end that a considerable savings is effected in operating costs.
Another important object is to provide an automatic food delivery and return system meeting the foregoing objects wherein there is a minimum of traffic of personnel between the eating area and kitchen area to the end that greater efficiency can be realized in the design and layout of dining establishments.
Briefly, these and many other objects and advantages of this invention are attained by providing a delivery guide means extending from a kitchen area to the eating area and a return guide means extending from the eating area to the kitchen area. A plurality of trays for holding States Patent dishes of food are provided and prepared at the kitchen area. Cooperating means are provided in the tray and the guide means for constraining the tray means to movement along the guide means. Further, the guide means include various junctions to branch guide means extending to various places at respective tables in the eating area. The trays are programmed in the kitchen area by the chef or other person preparing the food on the various trays to cause respective trays to be delivered to respective tables. The trays themselves include control means operable by the customer to bring the tray to his particular place at the table and reverse its direction of motion. Thus when a person has finished eating, the remaining dishes may be returned to the kitchen area along the return guide means on the same tray utilized for delivering the food initially.
A better understanding of the invention will be had by now referring to one embodiment thereof as schematically illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIGURE 1 is a fragmentary plan view of a food preparation area and an eating area illustrating delivery and return guide means in accord with the invention;
FIGURE 2 is a fragmentary cross section taken in the direction of the arrows 2--2 of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 3 is a further cross section taken in the direction of the arrows 33 of FIGURE 2;
FIGURE 4 is a top plan view of a typical tray utilized in the system of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 5 is a front elevational view of a tray taken in the direction of the arrows 5-5 of FIGURE 4; and
FIGURE 6 is a bottom plan view of the tray of FIG- URE 4.
Referring first to the upper portion of FIGURE 1 there is designated by the letter A a food preparation area or kitchen. This area may include a typical console or counter incorporating grills, ovens, and the like all designated generally by the block 10 and a clean-up area including a dishwasher 11.
Spaced from the kitchen area A is an eating area designated generally by the letter B and this area may include a plurality of tables in the form of booths such as indicated at 12, 13, 14, and 15. Seats forming the booths for the tables 12 and 14 are indicated at 16, 17, and 18.
The various tables such as indicated at 12 and 13 may be positioned on either side of a wall or dividing partition 19 incorporating a food delivery guide means. In the particular embodiment chosen for illustrative purposes, this guide means takes the form of an elongated surface having an elongated central slot 20. This slot, as shown, extends from the kitchen area A to the eating area and includes delivery branch guide means such as indicated at 20a extending laterally from the partition or wall to the various tables. The branch guide means in turn include further branches such as indicated at 20b terminating at various places at the tables at which customers would sit.
Also provided is a return guide means in the form of a return slot 21 disposed vertically beneath the delivery guide slot 20, the slot 21 being visible in the kitchen area A and shown passing into the dishwasher 11.
The main delivery guide means in the form of the slot 20 within the wall structure incorporates junctions 22 for enabling delivery of a tray to a branch guide means 20a at the respective tables. These branch guide means in turn incorporate switches 23 for enabling connection of the individual branches 20b to the branches 20a. Turn means as indicated at 24 and 25 adjacent to the junctions 22 are positioned to be engaged by pins on the tray preset at the kitchen to effect delivery of the tray to a selected table as will become clearer as the description proceeds.
Once the tray has been delivered to a selected table,
the customer operates an individual control such as indicated at 26 on each table. This control operates the appropriate switch 23 to guide the tray directly to the customers place along one of the branch guide means b.
Each of the tables also includes a removable surface portion which may take the form of an access door 27 this surface portion including an initial portion of the branch guide means 20a in the table. Opening of this door 27 provides access to the return guide slot 21 beneath the delivery guide means in the partition structure. Thus, with particular reference to the fragmentary cross section of FIGURE 2, the access door 27 is illustrated in an open condition by the dotted lines and it will be noted that access is thus provided to the return guide slot 21 by a return branch 21a.
In both FIGURES 1 and 2 there is illustrated a tray 28 in the process of delivering food along the delivery guide slot 20.
FIGURE 3 illustrates in greater detail the switches 23 and turn means 24 described in FIGURE 1. As shown, the switch 23 may take the form of a tapered slot structure which may be rotated about a peripheral point to thus connect the branch guide slot 200: with a desired sub-branch slot 20b. Rotation of the switch structure 23 may be effected by a solenoid (not shown) under electrical control from the customer control unit 26 described in FIGURE 1.
The turn means 24 may take the form of curved rails or guides for engaging a pre-positioned pin on the tray as set by the chef or other person in the kitchen in accord with a delivery program for the tray. Thus, if a pin is positioned to engage the rail 24, the tray is diverted to the branch line. If the pin is not in such position, the tray continues straight along the slot 20 to the next table and if another pin is properly positioned to engage the next rail such as 25 in FIGURE 1, which rail is a different distance from the junction, the tray is diverted to that table.
The tray includes a main guide projection 29 extending from its lower end and receivable in the principal guide slot. This guide projection 29 is shown in FIGURE 2 within the delivery guide slot 20'.
Referring to FIGURES 4 and 5 there are shown top and front views of a typical tray such as the tray 28 of FIGURES 1 and 2. As shown, this tray includes a generally rectangularly shaped member having a supporting surface for various utensils such as dishes 30. Also provided are various controls such as a power on and off switch 31 and a forward and reverse switch structure 32. These controls may be so positioned as to be operated automatically when the tray is delivered to its final destination there being provided a suitable stop structure at the end of the guide slot which will engage the switches 31 and 32 to de-energize the tray and automatically connect it for reverse operation when the start button is actuated. Towards this latter end, the controls are shown projecting from the sides of the tray in position to properly engage a suitable stop.
In FIGURE 5, the guide projection 29 is clearly shown as extending below the level of the tray for reception in the slot. Also illustrated is a main drive wheel 33 and stabilizing ball bearings 34 adjacent to the corners of the tray.
1n the botom view of FIGURE 6, the foregoing elements and their arrangement with each other will be evident. Thus, the drive wheel 33 is shown connected directly to a motor 35 secured within the rectangular member below the supporting surface. The drive wheel 33 is positioned to engage the guide surface adjacent to the guide slot. The ball bearings 34, as shown, are disposed respectively adjacent to the corners of the rectangularly shaped member and properly stabilize the tray. The various controls 31 and 32 are indicated 4 schematically by the dashed lines as connected to the motor 35 for controlling the same. In the embodiment described, the motor is powered by suitable batteries (not shown) carried in the tray structure. These batteries may be charged by suitable electrical pickup means (not shown) in the main guide slot.
Also shown in FIGURES 4, 5, and 6 are a series of pins 36, 37, 38, and 39 mounted for vertical movement in the front of the tray 38. The number of these pins corresponds to the number of tables in the dining area. These pins are normally held in an up position. By depressing one pin such as pin 37 to cause its lower end to protrude as at 37, the tray will be guided to the particular table coresponding to that pin. For example, if table 12 of FIGURE 1 corresponds to pin 37, the lower end 37' of this pin is so positioned that it will engage the guide rail 24 and thus turn the tray from the junction 22 on to the branch guide 201:. On the other hand, if pin 36 is the only pin depressed, the tray would be guided to table 14 of FIGURE 1, the position of the pin 36 being'such as to engage the guide'rail 25 of FIGURE 1 which is spaced further from the junction than the guide rail 24. Similarly, the pins 38 and 39 Will function to guide the tray to the tables on the other side of the partition 19, should they be depressed.
With the foregoing description of the various components making up the food delivery system in mind, its entire operation will now be described. Initially, the chef or other supervisor in the kitchen will prepare food on various trays in accordance with initial orders which may be received by one or more waitresses from patrons sitting at the various tables. With each such order there is provided an identification code designating the particular table from which the order was received. As the food is prepared in accordance with the order, it is placed on the tray and the chef or other person in the kitchen will depress the appropriate pin on the tray to direct that particular tray to the described table. The tray itself is properly guided by the downwardly extending guide projection 29 received within the guide slot 20.
When the tray reaches the selected table, the customer will actuate the switch 23 so that the tray is guided to his place. When the tray reaches its destination, the motor for driving the tray is de-energized automatically upon engagement of the on-otf switch button 31 with a suitable projection at the terminus of the guide slot. Also, and as mentioned heretofore, the reversing switch button structure 32 is engaged to place the motor in condition for driving the tray in a reverse direction when the same is started.
The customer will eat his food and when he has finished, he may simply start the tray on its return guide track. Part of this operation will involve raising the removable portion 27 providing access to the lower level return guide slot as described in conjunction with FIG- URE 2. In this respect, it should be noted that one or more of the waitresses can return the dishes to the central kitchen area in this manner and the customer himself need not be troubled with returning the tray.
Referring to FIGURE 1, the returning trays with dishes thereon will pass to the dishwasher 11 wherein suitable attendants will remove the dishes from the tray for cleaning in the dishwasher. The trays may be then repositioned on the delivery guide means 20 preparatory to being loaded with further food for delivery.
As a consequence of the foregoing system, it will be evident that the delivery of food and the return of dishes between the kitchen area and the eating area is greatly facilitated and requires only a minimum of personnel. Moreover, there is reduced considerably the traflic of personnel traveling between the kitchen area and the eating area and the customer himself may at all times remain seated.
From the foregoing description, it will thus be evident that the present invention has provided an improved food delivery system wherein all of the various objects set forth are fully realized.
It is to be understood that the specific embodiment set forth has merely been for illustrative purposes. Clearly there are many equivalent means for carrying out the various functions described. For example, the guide means may comprise a buried wire and the trays may include an electrical sensing means for guiding the tray along the buried wire. This arrangement would avoid the necessity of any types of slots. Still another alternative would be to employ a magnetic guiding structure within the tray which would be attracted to a magnetic material defining the guide means or track. It is to be understood that the term guide means as used herein and in the appended claims is to refer to any suitable system for constraining movement of the tray along a desired path.
Other changes may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The delivery system accordingly is not to be thought of as limited to the specific structure set forth merely for illustrative purposes.
I claim:
1. An automatic food delivery and return system, comprising in combination: a kitchen area; a plurality of tables at an eating area; a main delivery guide means extending from said kitchen area to said eating area adjacent to said tables; branch delivery guide means partially formed in said tables to define guide means to places on said table for serving persons; junction means connecting said main delivery guide means to said branch delivery guide means; turning means adjacent said junction means; branch switch means in said branch delivery guide means connecting said branch delivery guide means to various ones of said places on said table; a return guide means extending from said eating area to said kitchen area; a powered tray means for holding dishes of food; cooperating means in said tray means and guide means for constraining said tray means to movement along said guide means; means in said tray means adapted to be selectively positioned in said kitchen area to engage a selected one of said turning means whereby a person in said kitchen may program a tray of food to be delivered to a desired table; and power control means in said tray means operable by a person in said eating area to whom food is delivered to start said tray means on said return guide means.
2. A system according to claim 1, in which said delivery guide means includes an elongated supporting surface along which said tray means rides, said cooperating means including an elongated slot in said surface and a guide projection extending downwardly from the bottom of said tray means and received in said slot.
3. A system according to claim 2, in which said powered tray means includes: a generally rectangularly shaped member defining a tray surface for carrying dishes; a motor beneath said surface secured to said member; a single drive wheel adjacent to one side of said guide projection for frictionally engaging said surface adjacent to said slot; and four ball bearing adjacent to the four cornern of said rectangularly shaped member for stabilizing said member.
4. A system according to claim 1, in which said return guide means includes a main return guide means disposed vertically beneath said main delivery guide means, each of said tables including a removable surface portion including an initial portion of said branch delivery guide means adapted to be swung open to provide access to said return guide means.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,019,137 3/1912 Doyle 186-1 1,070,472 8/1913 Horton 186-1 1,274,716 8/1918 Horton 186-1 1,606,627 11/1926 Gromer 186-1 3,174,439 3/1965 Edgar 104-88 3,340,821 12/1967 Wesener 104-88 ARTHUR L. LA POINT, Primary Examiner D. F. WORTH III, Assistant Examiner U.S. Cl. X.R. 186-1
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Cited By (9)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3610161A (en) * 1969-11-07 1971-10-05 Randell J Wishart Magnetic food delivery and return system
US3658155A (en) * 1970-09-15 1972-04-25 William G Salter Elevator system
US3857463A (en) * 1972-08-12 1974-12-31 Kueppersbusch Arrangement for the dosing and distribution of food
US4190134A (en) * 1977-04-14 1980-02-26 Noboru Kato Dish carrying system
US5031861A (en) * 1989-12-20 1991-07-16 Wojdylo Henry K System for serving and collecting items on board an aircraft
EP0980663A1 (en) * 1998-08-14 2000-02-23 Rudolf Rölli Beverage dispensing device,especially for catering purpose
US6557669B2 (en) * 2000-03-02 2003-05-06 Asa Co., Ltd. Automatic dish serving system
US20090101445A1 (en) * 2005-12-12 2009-04-23 Heinemack Gmbh Restaurant System
US9545160B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2017-01-17 Heinemack Gmbh Restaurant system and method for operating a restaurant system

Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US1019137A (en) * 1911-07-11 1912-03-05 D L Peller Automatic serving system.
US1070472A (en) * 1911-04-21 1913-08-19 Aaron Horton Transportation system.
US1274716A (en) * 1918-01-05 1918-08-06 Aaron Horton Transportation system.
US1606627A (en) * 1926-05-08 1926-11-09 Gromer Wolfgang Automatic self-serving buffet
US3174439A (en) * 1963-05-27 1965-03-23 Si Handling Systems Tow truck system and tow truck therefor
US3340821A (en) * 1964-03-28 1967-09-12 Erich Wesener Transportation system

Patent Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US1070472A (en) * 1911-04-21 1913-08-19 Aaron Horton Transportation system.
US1019137A (en) * 1911-07-11 1912-03-05 D L Peller Automatic serving system.
US1274716A (en) * 1918-01-05 1918-08-06 Aaron Horton Transportation system.
US1606627A (en) * 1926-05-08 1926-11-09 Gromer Wolfgang Automatic self-serving buffet
US3174439A (en) * 1963-05-27 1965-03-23 Si Handling Systems Tow truck system and tow truck therefor
US3340821A (en) * 1964-03-28 1967-09-12 Erich Wesener Transportation system

Cited By (11)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3610161A (en) * 1969-11-07 1971-10-05 Randell J Wishart Magnetic food delivery and return system
US3658155A (en) * 1970-09-15 1972-04-25 William G Salter Elevator system
US3857463A (en) * 1972-08-12 1974-12-31 Kueppersbusch Arrangement for the dosing and distribution of food
US4190134A (en) * 1977-04-14 1980-02-26 Noboru Kato Dish carrying system
US5031861A (en) * 1989-12-20 1991-07-16 Wojdylo Henry K System for serving and collecting items on board an aircraft
EP0980663A1 (en) * 1998-08-14 2000-02-23 Rudolf Rölli Beverage dispensing device,especially for catering purpose
US6557669B2 (en) * 2000-03-02 2003-05-06 Asa Co., Ltd. Automatic dish serving system
US20090101445A1 (en) * 2005-12-12 2009-04-23 Heinemack Gmbh Restaurant System
KR101402357B1 (en) 2005-12-12 2014-06-02 하인맥 게엠베하 Restaurant system
US9237817B2 (en) * 2005-12-12 2016-01-19 Heinemack Gmbh Restaurant system
US9545160B2 (en) 2013-03-15 2017-01-17 Heinemack Gmbh Restaurant system and method for operating a restaurant system

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