US3640430A - Bulk dispensing system - Google Patents

Bulk dispensing system Download PDF

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Publication number
US3640430A
US3640430A US3640430DA US3640430A US 3640430 A US3640430 A US 3640430A US 3640430D A US3640430D A US 3640430DA US 3640430 A US3640430 A US 3640430A
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Prior art keywords
product
means
spout
cabinet
container
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Expired - Lifetime
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James Gordon Roberts
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Roberts Dairy Co
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Roberts Dairy Co
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B67OPENING, CLOSING OR CLEANING BOTTLES, JARS OR SIMILAR CONTAINERS; LIQUID HANDLING
    • B67DDISPENSING, DELIVERING OR TRANSFERRING LIQUIDS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B67D7/00Apparatus or devices for transferring liquids from bulk storage containers or reservoirs into vehicles or into portable containers, e.g. for retail sale purposes
    • B67D7/06Details or accessories
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F13/00Coin-freed apparatus for controlling dispensing or fluids, semiliquids or granular material from reservoirs

Abstract

The bulk dispensing system serves to dispense metered amounts of one or more refrigerated or nonrefrigerated products in either individual consumer or commercial consumer amounts. In one embodiment, the system dispenses food products and includes a bulk container of 50 to 250 gallon capacity mounted in portable or stationary manner within a refrigerated cabinet. The bulk container detachably connects to a metering mechanism and to a dispensing mechanism so that predetermined amounts of food product can be dispensed. The metering and dispensing mechanisms can be operated automatically by a coin operating mechanism or by manual means. The system can be employed with onsite cabinets, or mobile units and may or may not be refrigerated. The system is maintained under sanitary conditions at all times and can either dispense one product or a selected one of a number of different products directly into a container supplied by the consumer or can be dispensed into a container supplied by the system. In the latter case, the system can also dispense filled containers of all types for removal by a consumer. Specially selected inert gas atmospheres can be used in assisting in the dispensing as well as the presentation of the product.

Description

[ Feb.8,1972

[54] BULK DISPENSING SYSTEM James Gordon Roberts, Omaha, Nebr.

[73] Assignee: Roberts Dairy Company, Omaha, Nebr.

[22] Filed: July 22, 1969 [21] App]. No.: 843,649

[72] Inventor:

[52] US. Cl ..222/1, 222/67, 222/566 [51] Int. Cl. ..G01g 17/04 [58] Field of Search ..222/129.4, 129.3, 67, 566;

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,182,116 12/1939 Copeman ..220/l7 X 2,349,441 5/1944 ....222/l29.3 2,000,556 5/1935 ....222/129.4 X 2,852,043 9/1958 ....222/129.4 X 2,912,143 11/1959 ....222/129.4

3,409,175 11/1968 Bym e ..222/129.4 X

3,509,979 5/1970 New ..194/13 OTHER PUBLICATIONS George Daniels and Loyd Weaver. Popular Science Monthly.vol. 190 no. 5. May l967.pp. 169-173 Primary ExaminerRobert B. Reeves Assistant Examiner-John P. Shannon, Jr. Attorneyl(enyon & Kenyon [5 7] ABSTRACT The bulk dispensing system serves to dispense metered amounts of one or more refrigerated or nonrefrigerated products in either individual consumer or commercial consumer amounts. In one embodiment, the system dispenses food products and includes a bulk container of 50 to 250 gallon capacity mounted in portable or stationary manner within a refrigerated cabinet. The bulk container detachably connects to a metering mechanism and to a dispensing mechanism so that predetermined amounts of food product can be dispensed. The metering and dispensing mechanisms can be operated automatically by a coin operating mechanism or by manual means. The system can be employed with onsite cabinets, or mobile units and may or may not be refrigerated. The system is maintained under sanitary conditions at all times and can either dispense one product or a selected one of a number of different products directly into a container supplied by the consumer or can be dispensed into a container supplied by the system. In the latter case, the system can also 'dispense filled containers of all types for removal by a consumer. Specially selected inert gas atmospheres can be used in assisting in the dispensing as well as the presentation of the product.

50 Claims, 37 Drawing Figures @NEWEB i KMABO SHEE? 0F INVENTOR. F I6. 28 JAMES G. ROBERTS ATTORME r PATENIED F58 8 1972 SHEEY 2 OF 8 FIG. 2

FIG. 3

Q FIG. 4

JAMES G. ROBERTS 9/ j ATTORNEY FIG. 5

PATENTED FEB m 3.s40,430

54 57 23 INVbNTOR. JAMES a. ROBEKTS Arrows) PATENTED FEB 8:972

SHEET R [If 3 FIG.

I N VEN TOR. JAMES G- ROBERTS FIG l6 AT Tom/E Y PA'I'ETED FEB 81972 3,640,430

saw a? a FIG. 2|

INVENI'OR. JAMES G. ROBERTS ATTORNEYS PATENTEU FEB 8 $72 j /SO F I6 24 INVENTOR. JAMES 6. ROBERTS ATTORNEYS 9mm 8mm 3540,4130

SHEW 0F FIG. 37

PBS. 56

INVEN'I'OR.

JAMES G. ROBERTS BYZE7MJW/ BULK DISPENSING SYSTEM This invention relates to a bulk dispensing system for dispensing of a variety of different products, such as food products, and particularly the dispensing of milk, imitation milk, and other liquid beverages.

While bulk dispensing of liquid food products into customer containers has been known in the past, bulk dispensing of liquid food products has virtually disappeared from the market area due to various reasons such as health regulations and the convenience of prepackaged liquid food products. However, in many instances, the marketing of prepackaged liquid food products requires a relatively great deal of time and labor in processing the liquid product, thereafter packaging the liquid product into suitable containers, and thereafter dispensing the packaged containers to suitable sales outlets for sale to the ultimate consumer. All of this therefore results in a relatively expensive price for the product to the ultimate consumer.

Further, in some instances, such as in the purchasing of milk and milk products, where an ultimate consumer requires daily purchase or other frequent scheduling or purchases, inefficient and time-consuming trips to a local supermarket or grocery store have been necessitated. While an alternative to the making of frequent purchasing trips to a sales outlet is the provision of home delivery service, such however, because of further added costs of having a door-to-door distributor, has further increased the purchase price over the usual cost of the supermarket cost.

It is further noted that, in many cases, a dairy farm which produces the milk for packaging is usually located at a considerable distance from a packaging plant while not, however, being located at a great distance from the market area. In these instances, the dairy farm must of necessity ship the milk initially to the packaging plant for packaging into suitable containers and the containers rnust thereafter be shipped back into the market area. All of this, however, is not only time consuming but adds a substantial cost to the packaged milk.

Heretofore, it has also been known to package a liquid food product such as milk in suitable containers for dispensing from roadside units. In such cases, the milk has been packaged in quart or half-gallon sizes and is dispensed from the roadside unit after a predetermined amount of money has been deposited in a suitable coin dispenser. While these units have made it convenient for an ultimate consumer to make frequent purchases, the cost of such purchases have generally been approximately the same as that at a market outlet. This is usually due to the fact that the milk has been prepackaged in order to be dispensed.

Accordingly, it is an object of the invention to provide a bulk dispensing system which is capable of substantially reducing the cost of various products to a consumer.

It is another object of the invention to provide a bulk dispensing system which can be located in convenient areas for onsite dispensing in a relatively rapid manner.

It is another object of the invention to provide a dispensing system which maintains a liquid food product in a sanitary condition until dispensed to an ultimate consumer.

it is another object of the invention to provide an economical means of dispensing a liquid food product to a substantial market area at a relatively low cost.

It is another object of the invention to provide a bulk dispensing system which directly receives a milk product from a dairy farm for dispensing directly to an ultimate consumer.

It is another object of the invention to provide a bulk dispensing system for one product or a selected one of a number of different products in which the packaging and purchasing of the product is carried out at the same location.

Briefly, the invention provides a bulk dispensing system for dispensing products such as various liquid food products and more in particular milk, directly to a consumer. The system functions so that the consumer can purchase a desired quantity of liquid food product while at the same time packaging the purchased product in a convenient container.

The bulk dispensing system utilizes means for selling liquid food products from vending machine type dispensers disposed in road or street side cabinets or on vehicles and adapted to protect public health to conform to standards of regulatory groups such as the United States Public Health Service liquid food (or milk) standards. The system allows the liquid food product to be initially prepared and, in the case of milk, pasteurized in a United States Public Health Grade A or equivalent dairy farm or milk plant under sanitary conditions, and transported under similar sanitary standards or other adequately protective ways, to the point of sale. This system further allows the food product to be maintained in a sanitary condition until finally dispensed to the consumer. All products may or may not be precooled but should be transported at temperatures which will protect the product. In this regard, all handling equipment and lines are or can readily be conditioned to comply with the latest statutory sanitary standards.

More specifically, the bulk dispensing system provides a means for storing and dispensing the food products at the point of sale. The system is used with a cabinet which is sized to house various bulk containers or vessels in which the liquid product is transported from the processing plant and which can be located in locations such as an urban area, a suburban shopping center, a rural roadside, on a dock in the sense of a loading platform, boat dock, marina, or other appropriate location. The system includes a metering mechanism for connecting with the various bulk vessels so that predetermined quantities of the product can be metered from the bulk vessel to the container of an ultimate consumer, or other purchaser. In addition, a dispensing mechanism is connected with the metering mechanism in order to conduct the metered amount of food product into the consumers container.

In order to maintain the interior of the cabinet in a sanitary condition a suitable means such as a refrigerating or heating means is mounted therein. The cabinet may also be maintained at a predetermined temperature by these means. Also, the vessel, metering mechanism and dispensing mechanism are confined within the cabinet in a substantially sealed manner with respect to the outside of the cabinet. In addition, the bulk vessel, metering mechanism and dispensing mechanism are detachable connected to each other so that each can be removed from within the cabinet at different time intervals, as necessary, in order to be returned to a suitable plant for cleaning purposes. Alternatively, the cabinet can be provided with suitable systems for cleaning and sanitizing the various mechanisms in place.

In one embodiment, the bulk dispensing system is further provided with a coin operating mechanism which is mounted adjacent the cabinet to activate the metering mechanism to dispense a predetermined amount of food product corresponding to an amount of coins deposited. Also, an alcove is formed in the cabinet so as to conveniently receive a container for receiving the product dispensed by the dispensing mechanism.

With respect to the bulk vessel of the dispensing system, such can be constructed as a portable unit, for example of 40- to 75-gallon capacity or more, or can be constructed for fixed installation, for example of 250 to 3,000-gallon capacity or more.

in the case of the portable bulk vessel, the vessel is mounted on a movable frame so as to be transported from place to place, for example, by rolling on wheels. Generally, the bulk vessel is of a size so as to be transported in large quantities in suitable trucking arrangements such as on a semitrailer. The bulk vessel is further provided with a discharge pipe located at a lower end which communicates with a sloping floor of the vessel such that the entire contents of the vessel can be emptied without any appreciable residual food product remaining in the container. This discharge pipe can be of rigid construction or of flexible construction and is further provided with a valving means which functions to seal off the flow of food product out of the discharge pipe until otherwise actuated. lnlets are also provided in the top of the bulk vessel for the introduction of the food products and/or preservatives, flavorings, vitamins, or other products. In order to provide for cleansing of the interior of the vessel another opening is provided at the top of the vessel to permit entry into the vessel for cleaning purposes. in addition, a suitable air vent provided with a sanitary filter is also mounted in the cover of the vessel so as to permit the emptying of the vessel without a build up of a vacuum and to prevent contaminants from entering into the vessel, respectively. Alternatively, an inert gas can be used in the vessel so as to eliminate bacteria problems or refrigeration problems. This gas also serves to stabilize and to protect the valves.

This portable bulk vessel can be placed in a refrigerated or other cabinet for retail dispensing by being rolled into place through a suitable door in the side or rear of the cabinet. To this end, should the vessel be rolled directly from a platform of a delivery truck, the cabinet is provided with a suitable loading platform so that the vessel can be rolled directly into the cabinet and connected to the metering mechanism. Alternatively, the vessel can be rolled into a cabinet directly from street level. The vessel can also be used as is for dispensing in commercial quantities, for example, in bakeries, restaurants, and various other places can be housed in a suitable compartment, refrigerated or not, when not in use.

In the case of the bulk vessel for fixed installation, such is of similar construction as above but is, however, of much larger size. In this embodiment, the bulk vessel while being generally fixed within a retail outlet cabinet, a commercial refrigerated compartment, or other type of compartment, can, however, be removed periodically for cleaning purposes. To this end, the bulk vessel is provided with rollers which can be locked in order to retain the vessel in the cabinet or compartment or unlocked so as to permit ease of removal from the cabinet or compartment when desired. In other respects, the fixed installation vessel is the same as above.

With regard to the metering mechanism, such can be operated on a gravimetric basis, a volumetric basis, or other basis. For example, with respect to a gravimetric basis, a charge of food product can be initially dispensed from the bulk vessel into an intermediate tank of the metering mechanism and weighed therein. When a predetermined weight has been achieved, corresponding to the amount of coins deposited in the coin operating mechanism, further flow of product from the vessel is cut off. Thereafter, the contents in the intermediate tank are dispensed into the dispensing mechanism. Alternatively, the vessel itself can be mounted on a suitable weighing platform of a scale and the total weight can be initially registered. Thereafter, depending upon the amount of coins deposited in the coin operating mechanism, the valving means in the discharge pipe of the vessel is automatically opened to discharge the food product until the weight of the vessel on the weighing platform has been reduced by an amount equal to the purchased amount. At this point, the valving means is closed by a means such as an electrical circuit connecting the weighing platform with the valving means. In this latter case, the metering mechanism may be incorporated into the weighing components of the scale so that substantially accurate amounts of food product can be dispensed.

With respect to a volumetric basis, the metering mechanism is provided with suitable valves and flow meters so as to dispense a predetermined volume of fluid in accordance with the amount deposited into the coin operating mechanism. To this end, a flow of product from the bulk vessel is measured in a tank volumeirically and upon reaching a predetermined volume, is dispensed to the dispensing mechanism.

With respect to another metering basis, the amount of food product which is dispensed can be controlled by weighing the actual amount of food product dispensed into a consumer's container. To this end, a suitable load cell of a balance scale is mounted to support a container in a manner to receive the dispensed food product and is connected with a valve in the dispensing mechanism which controls the flow of product out of the dispensing mechanism. The scale further has a variable counterweight means which is connected with the load cell and which can be set in accordance with the coins deposited in the coin operating mechanism to react to predetermined increments of weight above the initial weight of the container.

When the empty container is initially placed on the load cell, the scale responds to the weight by moving to a balance position corresponding to the weight of the container. Thereafter, as the fluid is dispensed into the container, the scale reacts to the increase in weight and when the increment of increased weight corresponding to a predetermined amount of product is reached, the variable counterweight means actuates the valve in the dispensing mechanism to cut off further flow of the product into the container. The metering mechanism thus need only be sensitive to the changes in weight on the load cell caused by the addition of the product to the container.

With respect to the dispensing mechanism such can be used to either directly dispense the food product into a customer's container or can be utilized with a throwaway spout for directing the food product into a container.

In the case of the direct flow of product into a customer's container, the dispensing mechanism is constructed with a spout which in the case of a retail outlet cabinet, is recessed within a compartment of the cabinet above an alcove in which a container has been placed and communicates with the metering mechanism through suitable tubing. In order to maintain the spout in a sanitary condition, that is, with as little as possible exposure to the exterior of the retail outlet cabinet, the alcove for receiving the container is provided with a transparent door for sealing off the alcove from the exterior of the cabinet. In one embodiment, the door can be used to cooperate with the germicidal bulbs disposed within the walls of the alcove so that when the door is opened for insertion of an empty or for removal of a filled container, the bulbs will be actuated so as to prevent contamination of the exposed end of the spout. in another embodiment, the door can be used to cooperate with a mechanical slide plate which covers over the recess containing the spout when the door is opened. In either event, the door can also be connected with the coin operating means such that the door remains in a locked position until the correct amount of coins have been deposited. As a further safeguard, a time lock can be provided on the door so that the door will be urged into the locked position after being opened a predetermined length of time, which time would, of course, be sufficient for a consumer to manipulate his container into the proper position within the alcove for receiving the dispensed product.

In the case of the throwaway spout, the spout of the dispensing mechanism is provided with a semirigid throwaway or cleanable spout extension which is positioned about the spout for each dispensing operation. In one embodiment, a suitable magazine of spout extensions and an actuator means for removing an extension from the magazine and for positioning the extension about the lower end of the fixed spout are provided within the retail outlet cabinet. In use, the actuator responds to the opening of the alcove door so as to remove a spout extension and position the spout extension about the fixed spout end. After the food product is dispensed, the actuator moves to a disposal station to discard the used spout extension and then moves into position for a second sequence of operations. In another embodiment, the removable spout extension is formed by a vacuum forming means in a strip of material such as plastic. As above, the means for forming a spout and the means for delivering the strip of material are enclosed within the retail outlet cabinet. The spout is severed from the strip by a cutting means after a dispensed volume of food product has been delivered into a container. In another embodiment, a tube is formed from a strip of stock material such as plastic about the spout of the dispensing mechanism as an extension thereof. This tube is also severed from the remainder of the stock strip when the food product has been dispensed.

As an alternative to using a fixed retail outlet cabinet, a portable retail outlet housing can be provided. In such instances, a suitably sized tank, for example, of 6,000-gallon capacity, is provided on a truck for movement from place to place. This tank, as above, cooperates with a metering mechanism and a dispensing mechanism, located in a closed compartment or other compartment at one end of the tank for dispensing a predetermined amount of food product into a customers container. Also, as above, a suitable coin operating means and an alcove for mounting of the container are provided with the dispensing system.

In order to further enhance the sanitary features of the dispensing system, the various components which come into contact with the dispensed product or which may be exposed to the components conducting the dispensed product, are detachable from each other so as to be removed for cleaning purposes. Where the system is housed in a refrigerated retail cabinet, the various components are positioned for ready ac cess for detaching and removing purposes.

The container or containers which can be used with the bulk dispensing system can either be supplied by the consumer or can be dispensed from the system.

In the case where the container is customer supplied, such can be of any construction suitable for filling purposes in the system and for transportation purposes when filled. The container can also be of collapsible construction, such as a plastic bag, which can be suitably mounted within a support frame for mounting within the alcove ofa retail outlet cabinet to receive fluid from a dispensing spout. Such a collapsible container can be supplied with a suitable handle means for carrying purposes or can be combined with a suitable holding frame, for example, of collapsible construction, or placed within a carrying box.

In the case where the container is dispensed from the system, such as from a retail cabinet, the container is preferably of a collapsible construction. That is, the container can be of a construction which, when erected into the final shape, is self-supporting, such as a plastic-coated cardboard carton or precreased foldable blank, or can be of a nonselfsupporting material such as plastic. In this latter case the nonself-supporting container has a collapsible frame which is dispensed at the same time for supporting the container during and after filling operation.

In either of the above cases, the containers each include an opening for filling purposes and a means to close the opening after the container has been filled. In addition, each container may also include a second opening which serves as a spout for pouring out the contents of the container when utilized, for example, in a home.

The container can also be supplied by the system with the food product dispensed therein for retail purposes. In this case, the container is disposed within a cabinet and is handled so as to be filled while in the cabinet prior to exposure to the exterior of the cabinet.

The coin operating mechanism is of any suitable construction to receive various combinations of coins so as to dispense predetermined quantities of liquid, for example, pints, quarts, gallons, and the like into suitable sized containers. The coin operating mechanism is further connected with the metering mechanism so as to activate the mechanism to measure out the proper amount of product and to the dispensing mechanism so as to shut off the flow of product after a predetermined quantity has been dispensed. In other respects, the coin operating mechanism is similar to other known coin operating constructions.

The bulk dispensing system thus permits a supplier of liquid food such as milk to deliver large quantities of the product to various automatically operated dispensing stations for direct consumer purchase and use. In this way, the cost of packaging the liquid product is substantially reduced and the freshness of the product is maintained due to avoidance of any packaging procedures at other locations. Furthermore, since the system permits the dispensing of liquid food in any combination of sizes, the consumer can purchase as much or as little as desired.

In use, the system contemplates the initial delivery of a liquid product filled bulk vessel to a dispensing site, with the removal of an empty vessel from the site for cleaning and refilling. As the bulk vessel is constructed so as to be readily handled, especially in the portable embodiment, the vessel can be rolled into a retail outlet cabinet and locked into communicating engagement with the metering mechanism within the cabinet. To this end, any suitable quick release type valve or fitting can be used. Once in place, the bulk vessel is ready for dispensing operations. After the contents of the vessel have been dispensed, as indicated by a suitable indicating means, such as a weight indicator, upon which the bulk vessel can be mounted, or by a pressure-sensing device connected at a convenient point in the valving means of the bulk vessel, or by a suitable sight gauge, the bulk vessel can be removed. Alternatively, the bulk vessel can also be replaced on a preset schedule, for example, on a daily basis. Furthermore, in order to further ensure a continuous supply of liquid product from a single retail outlet cabinet, a plurality of bulk vessels can be mounted within the cabinet together with duplicate metering mechanisms and dispensing mechanisms. In such cases, either a common dispensing valve can be used for two or more bulk vessels or individual dispensing valves can be used with corresponding individual alcoves and coin operating mechanisms.

These and other objects and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description and appended claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a fragmentary perspective view of the retail outlet cabinet housing a bulk dispensing system according to the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a bulk dispensing system utilizing a delivery truck for delivering and removing bulk vessels from a cabinet according to the invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a filling station bulk dispensing system with an accompanying filling truck according to the invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a mobile vehicle bulk dispensing system according to the invention;

FIG. 5 illustrates a fragmentary side view of a portable bulk vessel according to the invention;

FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of bulk vessel for fixed installation according to the invention;

FIG. 7 illustrates a gravimetric metering mechanism according to the invention;

FIG. 8 illustrates a flowmeter metering mechanism according to the invention;

FIG. 9 illustrates a volumetric metering mechanism according to the invention;

FIG. 10 illustrates a still further volumetric metering system according to the invention;

FIG. 11 illustrates a view of a scale metering system according to the invention;

FIG. 12 illustrates a side view of a volumetric metering mechanism connected with a bulk vessel according to the invention;

FIG. 13 illustrates a front view of the metering mechanism and bulk vessel shown in FIG. 12;

FIG. 14 illustrates a side view of a gravimetric metering mechanism connected to a bulk vessel according to the invention;

FIG. 15 illustrates a view of the metering mechanism and bulk container of FIG. 14;

FIG. 16 illustrates a side view of a means for positioning a throwaway spout extension adjacent to a spout of the dispensing mechanism according to the invention;

FIG. 17 illustrates a top view of the mechanism of FIG. 16;

FIG. 18 illustrates a side view of the mechanism of FIG. 16;

FIG. 19 illustrates a front view of a modified spout extension forming means according to the invention;

FIG. 20 illustrates a top view of the mechanism of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 illustrates a side view of the mechanism of FIG. 19;

FIG. 22 illustrates a fragmentary view of a vacuum forming means of the mechanism of FIG. 19;

FIG. 23 illustrates a front view of a further modified spout extension forming means according to the invention;

FIG. 24 illustrates a top view of the forming mechanism of FIG. 23;

FIG. 25 illustrates a side view of the forming means for FIG. 23;

FIG. 26 illustrates a view of the forming device for forming a strip of material into a tubular extension of the means of FIG. 23;

FIG. 27 illustrates a perspective view of a collapsible selfsupporting container utilized with a bulk dispensing system according to the invention;

FIG. 28 illustrates a side view of the container of FIG. 27 in a collapsed condition prior to filling;

FIG. 29 illustrates a modified nonself-supporting container dispensed within a collapsible frame according to the invention;

FIG. 30 illustrates a side view of a modified spout extension positioning means mounted in sealed relation to a dispensing mechanism according to the invention;

FIG. 31 illustrates a view taken on line 3l3l of FIG. 30;

FIG. 32 illustrates an enlarged width of the spout extension gripping means of the means of FIG. 30;

FIG. 33 illustrates a portable bulk liquid dispensing system according to the invention;

FIG. 34 illustrates a rear view of a retail outlet cabinet according to the invention;

FIG. 35 illustrates a front view of the cabinet of FIG. 34;

FIG. 36 illustrates a fragmentary side view of a bulk dispensing system in which a liquid food product is dispensed in a container; and

FIG. 37 illustrates a view taken on line 37-37 of FIG. 36.

Referring to FIG. 1, the bulk dispensing system includes a retail outlet cabinet which is of suitable proportions to house one or more portable bulk vessels or containers 21, a metering mechanism 22 and a dispensing mechanism 23 therein. The cabinet 20 is constructed with suitable refrigerating means (not shown) so that, for example, the entire contents of the cabinet 20 can be refrigerated, heated, or otherwise maintained at a predetermined temperature especially where milk or other like liquid products are to be dispensed. The bulk vessel 21 contains a volume of fluid food products and is connected to the metering mechanism 22 which serves to meter the flow of fluid passing from the container 21. The dispensing mechanism 23 is connected to the metering mechanism 22 and includes a spout 24 which communicates with the exterior of the cabinet 20 so as to conduct a flow of metered fluid out of the cabinet 20 from the container 21.

In addition, the system includes a coin operating mechanism which is mounted within the cabinet 20 and has a panel board 26 exposed to the outside of the cabinet 20. The panel board 26 serves to receive a quantity of money in the form of coins so as to actuate the metering and dispensing mechanisms by way of a suitable electronic control to dispense a quantity of fluid corresponding to the received coins. Finally, the cabinet 20 is provided with an alcove 27 which is recessed within the cabinet to receive a container and which communicates with the spout 24 to permit the container to be filled with the dispensed fluid. The alcove 27 is further closed in a sealed relationship to the exterior of the cabinet by a door 28.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 5, the bulk container 21 is constructed with a housing 32 having a sloping bottom wall 33 which allows the contents of the container to flow under gravity to a central discharge pipe 34 secured to a lowermost point of the housing 32. The interior of the housing 32 is further divided into separate open-ended compartments by suitable baf' fles 35 secured therein, so that the container 31 maintains the fluid product therein in a relatively calm state during transportation. An inlet 36 is provided in the cover of the housing 32 so that a fluid product can be dispensed into the interior of the housing. This inlet 36 is suitably sealed in any fluid-type manner, for example, by a seal cap, after the container has been filled in order to seal the inlet. In addition, a further opening 37 is provided in the cover of the housing 32 so as to permit entry into the interior of the container for cleaning purposes. This opening 37 is also provided with a seal cap to maintain the interior of the housing 32 in a sanitary condition after being cleaned. Alternatively, instead of using the opening 37 for cleaning purposes, the cover of the housing 32 can be hinged to the sidewalls so that the entire cover can be swung back to permit entry into the interior of the housing 32 for cleaning purposes. A suitable air vent 38 which is provided with a germicidal filter (not shown) is also provided in the cover so as to permit the liquid product within the housing 32 to be dispensed through the discharge port 34 without a build up ofa vacuum within the housing 32. Whenever housing 32 is provided with an inert gas atmosphere for assisting the dispensing of the material and/or for aiding in the preservation of the material, vent 38 is not required.

The housing 32 is further mounted on a plurality of support legs 39, for example, four legs, each of which has a roller 40 attached at the bottom for rolling of the container 21 from place to place. Suitable locking lugs 41 are also provided on the axles of the rollers 40 so as to lock the roller 40 against rotation. In this way, the bulk container 21 can be substan tially fixedly mounted in place. The discharge pipe 34 is also provided with a valving means 42 which serves to seal off the discharge pipe 34 to the passage of fluid during transportation and which serves to permit a flow of fluid product from the discharge pipe 34 when connected in place to a metering mechanism as hereinbelow described. The housing 32 of the bulk container 21 is of sufficient size so as to be transported from place to place on the rollers 40 and is of a capacity preferably in a range of from 40 to 75 gallons. However, any other suitable size capacity can be used, depending upon the frequency of replacement of the container 21 in the cabinet 20 and depending upon the ease of transporting the container 21.

The housing 32 can alternatively be formed as a separate unit from the legs 39 in that the legs 39 can be constructed in a unitized frame (not shown) for removably supporting the housing 32 thereon. In this manner, while the leg frames remain within the cabinet 20, an empty container housing 32 can be replaced with a filled housing 32. This replacement operation can be carried out with the use of gripping handles on the housings or, in the case of heavy loads a mechanical lifting and conveying means can be provided for lifting and placing the housings 32 on the leg frames.

In order to conform with present regulatory health standards or new standards which may be established in the future, the bulk container 21 can be made from a number of suitable materials. For example, the housing 32 can be made of stainless steel with or without a nontoxic plastic lining such as Teflon thereon. Further, the seals for the various members can be formed of any suitable material.

Referring to FIG. 6, the bulk container 21' can also be made in a larger form, for example, of a capacity of 450 gallons, so as to remain in place within a cabinet 20 for extended periods of time without replacement. To this end, the bulk container 21' is constructed in similar regard to the container 21 described above in having a housing 32 with a sloping wall 33 which directs the fluid under gravity through a discharge pipe 34 and a valving means 42 secured to the discharge pipe 34. In addition, the container 21 is provided with a filling port 43 which is closed by a suitable hinged sealing cap 43' and with a suitable access opening 44 which is of sufficient size for cleaning purposes and which is closed by a suitable sealing cap 37. Also, instead of an air vent and filter 38, as above, a valve, such as a one-way valve 38', with a pressure gauge is provided in the cover for introducing a gas, such as, nitrogen or freon, under pressure into the container housing 32. The housing 32 is further mounted on legs 39, each of which is provided with a support pad 45 at the base for mounting of the container 21 on the floor 46 of a cabinet 20.

In order to permit periodic removal of the bulk container 21', each leg 39 is provided with a roller 47 which is mounted on a suitable pivot 48 so as to be pivoted into and out of a position supporting the bulk container 21' for rolling purposes. The pivot 48 can also be provided with a suitable locking lug (not shown) or other locking means so as to be locked into a nonsupporting or a supporting position.

In order to determine the amount of fluid remaining within the housing 32 of the bulk container 21' of a suitable sight gauge 49 is provided on a sidewall of the housing 32 and communicates with the liquid level inside the housing, as is known.

In order to fill the container 21', the cap 43' on the filling port 43 is disengaged from sealing engagement and a hose from a suitable filling tank is inserted into the port 43. As the fluid is discharged into the housing 32, the sight gauge 49 indicates the level of the fluid within the housing 32. When a full position is indicated, the filling of the housing 32 can be stopped and the sealing cap 43 reclosed over the opening 42 in germproof sealtight relationship.

As above, the bulk container 21' can be constructed of various materials which are suitable for sanitary purposes.

It is noted that both the bulk containers described above can be provided with other openings and ports suitable for cleaning purposes. In such cases, these ports and vents are provided with suitable closures which maintain the interior of the housings in a germ-free sealtight condition.

Referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, the metering mechanism 22 is constructed as a volumetric metering system. To this end, the metering mechanism 22 has an inlet pipe 50 which connects over suitable tubing such as a Tygon tube 51 to the discharge pipe 34 of a bulk container housing 32 as above in order to receive a flow of liquid therefrom. The inlet pipe 50 further communicates with a displacement cylinder 52, for example, of l-gallon capacity, via a suitable two-way sanitary valve 53 to deliver the liquid flow from the container housing 32 thereto for measuring purposes. The lower end of the displacement cylinder 52 communicates with a discharge pipe 54 via a similar two-way sanitary valve 55 so as to discharge a measured volume of liquid from the cylinder 52 to the dispensing mechanism 23. The two-way valves 53, 55 are operably connected to a suitable actuating means 56 so as to be selectively opened and closed in chronological order to permit filling of the displacement cylinder 52, subsequent measuring of the volume therein, and dispensing of the measured volume.

The actuating means 56 is constructed with a pair of cams 57 of identical construction, each of which is rotatably mounted on a common shaft 58 for selectively opening and closing the valves 53, 55. The shaft 58 in turn isjournaled in a frame of the mechanism 22 and is connected to a suitable gear motor 59 which serves to rotate the shaft 58 in opposite directions. In addition, a suitable air vent valving arrangement 60, for example, of a pair of Tygon tubes, connects the upper valve 53 with the housing 32 of the bulk container for purposes of venting the valve 53.

During operation, the gear motor 59 actuates the valves 53, 55 in chronological sequence so that the bottom valve 55 is closed while the upper valve 53 is open. This permits a flow of liquid product to pass from the discharge pipe 34 of the housing 32 into the displacement cylinder 52. After the displacement cylinder has been filled, the valve 53 is closed and the bottom valve 55 is opened so as to discharge the fluid from the cylinder 52 to the dispensing mechanism 33. In order to till a predetermined amount of liquid into the cylinder 52, the gear motor 59 is connected via a suitable electrical line 61 to the coin operating mechanism (not shown) so as to be operated over a timespan set in accordance with the amount of coins deposited. Thus, in the event that different amounts of fluid are to be dispensed from the dispensing cylinder 52, depending upon the amount ofcoins deposited, the gear motor 59 can be actuated for greater or shorter periods of time so as to open and close the upper valve 53 in accordance with the amount of fluid to be dispensed. In addition, in order to synchronize the valves 53, 55 to open and close at the proper times to dispense the fluid which has been placed into the displacement cylinder 52, the valve-actuating cams 57 are suitably structured and dimensioned so as to maintain the proper sequence between the actuation of the valves 53, 55.

Referring to FIGS. 14 and 15, as an alternative to the above volumetric measuring system a gravimetric or gas pressure measuring system can be used for the metering device. For example, the metering mechanism 62 is provided with a pump 63 which is connected to the discharge pipe 34 of the housing 32 of the bulk container and to an intermediate tank 64 via a suitable tube 65 at the outlet end of the pump 63. The pump is further connected by a suitable electrical line 66 to the coin operating mechanism (not shown) so as to be actuated thereby to pump the liquid from the discharge pipe 34 into the intermediate tank 64. The intermediate tank 64 is further mounted on a weighing unit 67 so that the amount of liquid introduced into the intermediate tank 64 can be weighed. The intermediate tank 64 further communicates over a sanitary valve 68 with the dispensing mechanism 23 so as to discharge a predetermined weight of liquid from the tank 64. The weighing unit 67 is further operably connected, for example, electrically, to the pump 63 so as to deactivate the pump 63 when a predetermined weight of fluid has been pumped into the intermediate tank 64. To this end, the weighing unit 67 is also operably connected, for example, by an electrical line 70, to the coin operating mechanism so that the weighing unit can be set to the weight of fluid corresponding to the amount of deposited coins.

In operation, after the coins have been deposited the weighing unit 67 which is normally at a zero position so as to negate the weight of the tank 64 is programmed to react to the weight corresponding to the amount of coins while the pump 63 is actuated to pump the fluid from the discharge pipe 34 into the intermediate tank 64. When the fluid in the intermediate tank 64 reaches the weight corresponding to the amount of coins deposited, the weighing unit 67 reacts to this weight to shut off the pump 63. Thereafter, the valve 68 is ac' tuated, for example, by a suitable line 71 connected to the pump 63 so as to be opened upon deactivation of the pump 63. In this way, the valve 68 permits the weighted amount of fluid in the tank 64 to be dispensed to the dispensing mechanism 23.

Referring to FIG. 7, the metering mechanism 72 can alternatively be constructed with an intermediate tank 73 which communicates by way of an inlet pipe 72 with the discharge pipe 34 of a bulk container housing. The inlet pipe 74 is provided with a valve 75 which is controlled by the coin operating means 25 so as to open and close in response to the amount of coins deposited in the coin operating device 25. The tank 73 further has a discharge pipe 76 containing a valve 77 therein which communicates with the dispensing mechanism 23. The valve 77 is synchronized with the inlet valve 75 so as to be actuated after the closing of the inlet valve 75. In addition the tank 73 is provided with a weighing unit 78 which serves to measure the weight of the fluid added to the tank 73 in a manner similar to that above.

During operation, after the coins have been deposited in the coin operating means 25, the valve 75 is opened to admit liquid into the tank 73. At the same time, the weighing unit 78 begins to record the increase in weight caused by the addition of the liquid and upon the weight of the liquid reaching the weight corresponding to the amount of deposited coins, the weighing unit 78 actuates the valve 75 to close. After a slight time delay, the weighing unit 78 also actuates the valve 77 to open so as to dispense the liquid from the tank 73 to the dispensing mechanism 23.

Referring to FIG. 8, a further embodiment of the metering mechanism includes the use of a flowmeter assembly 79 which is disposed in communication with the discharge pipe 34 of a bulk container and which is actuated by the coin operating means 25. The flowmeter assembly 79 includes a flow pipe 80 which connects to the discharge pipe 34 and which contains a flowmeter 81 therein. The flowmeter 81 connects to a meter 82 so as to be actuated thereby. The meter 82 further communicates via a suitable line 83 to the coin operating means 25 so as to be actuated and deactuated in response to the depositing of a predetermined amount of coins in the coin operating means 25. In operation, after the coins have been deposited, the meter 82 is set to a corresponding flow quantity and activates the flowmeter 81 to permit the passage of liquid through the flow pipe 80. After a metered amount of flow has reached the predetermined amount, the meter 82 stops the flowmeter 81 so that further flow is cut off. In this event, the flow pipe 80 connects directly with the dispensing mechanism.

Referring to FIG. 9, the metering mechanism can be constructed on a volumetric basis by a positive displacement system 84. This system includes a tank 85 which is connected by an inlet pipe 86 to the discharge pipe of a bulk container and an outlet pipe 87 which connects to the dispensing mechanism. In addition, a valve 88 is disposed in the inlet line 86 and a corresponding valve 89 is disposed in the outlet line 87. These valves are suitably connected to the coin operating means 25 so as to be opened and closed in chronological relationship therewith in a similar manner as the valves 53, 55 described above with respect to FIG. 12. In addition, a piston 90 is reciprocally mounted within the tank 85 in sealing engagement with the sidewalls of the tank 85 to support a column of liquid thereon. This piston 90 is also connected to the coin operating means, for example, electrically, and cooperates with suitable means, for example, contacts (not shown) on the sidewalls of the tank 85 for indicating the displacement of the piston 90 and thus the volume of liquid. These contacts serve to actuate the valves 88, 89 to shut off the liquid flow and to dispense the liquid.

in operation, after the coins have been deposited, and a corresponding contact on the wall of the tank 85 is activated, the valve 88 opens so that the fluid flows through the inlet pipe 86 to the interior of the tank 85. The piston 90 which is in an uppermost position then moves down under the weight of the fluid until reaching the contact which has been activated. The contact then closes and causes the actuation of the valves 88, 89 such that the valve 88 closes and the valve 89 opens. After opening of the valve 89, the piston is then positively moved upwardly so as to force the liquid out of the tank 85 and into the discharge pipe 87. After the liquid has been dispensed, the valve 89 closes and the valve 88 opens so further liquid can be dispensed into the tank 85 for the next sequence.

Referring to FIG. 10, the metering mechanism can also be constructed with a modified control system 91 which includes a tank 92 which communicates via an inlet pipe 93 with the bulk container and with a discharge pipe 94 which communicates with the dispensing mechanism. In addition suitable valves 95, 96 are disposed in the respective inlet and outlet pipes for sequential opening and closing. In order to actuate the valves 95, 96 a float switch 97 is disposed within the tank 92 to cooperate with a suitable switching mechanism on the exterior of the tank wall 92 (not shown).

In operation after a suitable amount of coins have been deposited in the operating means and a corresponding switching mechanism is activated, the valve 95 is opened so that liquid is dispensed through the inlet pipe into the tank 92. The liquid then causes the float switch 97 to rise upwardly within the tank. When the float switch 97 reaches the level of the activated switching mechanism, the switch 97 closes the switching mechanism so the valve 95 is closed to the further flow of liquid. Shortly thereafter, the valve 96 is activated to open so that the volume of liquid is dispensed from the tank 92 through the discharge pipe 94 to the dispensing mechanism (not shown).

Referring to FIG. 11, instead of using a metering system in the flow line through which the liquid is dispensed from the bulk container, a scale means 98 is mounted within the alcove 27 to receive a suitable container 99 thereon. The scale means 98 is connected by a suitable line 100, for example, electrically, to a valve 101 in a flow line 102 connected directly to the discharge pipe '34 of the bulk container and to the coin operating means 25 via another line so as to actuate the valve 101 in response to predetermined weights on the scale means corresponding with the amount of coins deposited. For example, the scale means includes a balancefor initially balancing the initial load of the container 99 to obtain a zero point and a variable counterweight means (not shown) which is set in accordance with the amount of coins deposited at a predetermined point corresponding to the weight of the material to be added to the container 99. The variable counterweight means is further connected by the line 100 to the valve 101 so that when the increasing weight of the container 99 and contents reaches the preset weight the variable counterweight means shuts off the valve 101. In operation, after the coins have been deposited, and the container 99 has been mounted on the scale means 98, the initial balance condition is reached. Next, the variable counterweight means is set to the weight corresponding to the amount of deposited coins. The valve 101 is then opened so that the liquid flows directly from the bulk container through the discharge pipe 34 and flow line 102 into the container 99. When the container and contents reach the predetermined point of the variable counterweight assembly, the counterweight assembly cuts off the valve 101, preventing further flow into the container 99. The filled container 99 can be removed from the alcove 27 by opening the door 28 and removing the container.

With respect to the various metering mechanisms described above, it is noted in each case, except that shown in FIG. 11, that the metering mechanisms are constructed as self-contained units so as to be removed from the retail outlet cabinet for cleaning purposes separately from the bulk container or dispensing mechanisms. In the case of the metering mechanism shown in FIG. 11 such is constructed so as to be periodically removable from the alcove 27 for cleaning purposes, if necessary. However, since the scale mechanism 98 can be electrically connected to the valve 101, only the part of the scale mechanism 98 exposed to the alcove 27 need be removed for cleaning purposes. To this end, a separate load cell can be positioned in the alcove to receive the container thereon and a separate scale mechanism containing the variable counterweight means can be enclosed within the cabinet in a sealed compartment. The load cell would then be electrically connected with the remainder of the scale mechanism so as to be readily detached and removed for cleaning purposes while the major structure of the scale mechanism remains within the cabinet.

Referring to FIGS. 16, 17 and 18, the dispensing mechanism 23 is constructed so as to dispense a flow of metered liquid from the metering mechanism 22 and to dispense a throwaway spout for aiding in a discharge of the liquid into a container within the alcove of a cabinet 20. To this end, the dispensing mechanism 23 includes a spout 102 which communicates via a flexible tube 103, for example, of Tygon material, with the discharge pipe of the metering mechanism (not shown) to conduct a flow of liquid. The spout 102 is secured to a clamp 104 which is pivotally mounted on a shaft 105 and connected to a rotary actuator, e.g., a piston cylinder 106 secured to a fixed point within a frame of the mechanism 23 so as to be pivoted about the shaft 105. In addition, the clamp 104 is slidably mounted on the shaft 105 via a bearing sleeve 107 fixed to the clamp 104 and has an outwardly extending arm 108 which is secured to a piston rod 109 of a vertical actuator, e.g., a piston 110 mounted on a frame of the mechanism 23 which serves to raise and lower the clamp 104 on the shaft 105. The spout 102 is thus mounted for horizontal and vertical displacement.

The dispensing mechanism 23 also includes a magazine 111 which is constructed in a spiral form so as to sequentially deliver a sequence of sanitized spout extensions 112, for example, of plastic material, to a predetermined location at the end of the magazine 111. The magazine 111 is mounted on a suitable frame 113 of the mechanism 23 or cabinet 20 at a point spaced below the normal level of the spout 102 and cooperates with a spout ejecting means 114 positioned adjacent the spout 102 for the removal of a used spout extension 112 from the spout 102. The spout ejecting means 114 includes a piston 115 having a reciprocally mounted piston rod 116 therein on the end of which a suitable clamp 117 is mounted for engaging and removing a spout extension 112 from the spout 102.

The dispensing means 23 further includes a sliding door assembly 118 for closing off an opening 123 in the roof 113 of the alcove 27. This assembly 118 includes a plate 119 which is slidably mounted in suitable guideways 120 (FIG. 18) about the opening 123 and which connects to a reciprocal piston rod 121 of a fixedly mounted piston 122 in the cabinet. The plate 119 and/or the guides 120 can be of any suitable antifriction material such as Teflon or of any other suitable material. The piston 122 is operably connected to the door 28 to the alcove 27 and a circuit in the coin operating means (not shown) so as to maintain the plate 119 over the opening 123 while the door 28 is open and to move the plate 119 from the opening 123 when the liquid is ready to be dispensed.

In order to operate the dispensing mechanism 23, the rotary actuator 106, vertical actuator 110, spout ejector means 114 and piston 122 are each electrically connected to the coin operating means 25 in any suitable manner, for example, electrically, so as to be actuated in timed sequence to place a removable spout extension 112 from the magazine 111 on the spout 102 for dispensing of a flow of liquid from the spout 102 into a container disposed within the alcove 27. To this end, after the coins have been deposited, the vertical actuator 110 is actuated so as to raise the clamp 104 and, at approximately the same time, the rotary actuator 106 is also actuated so as to rotate the spout 102 from a position over the opening 123 in the alcove 27 to a position over the foremost removable spout extension 112 in a magazine 111. Thereafter, the vertical actuator 110 moves the clamp 104 and spout 102 down so that the spout 102 engages the foremost removable spout 112 frictionally. The vertical actuator 110 then causes the clamp 104 to move upwardly, while the rotary actuator 106 returns the spout 102 over the opening 123. Next, the piston 122 is actuated to slide the plate 119 away from the opening 123 while the vertical actuator 110 moves the clamp 104 downwardly to project the removable spout extension 112 through the opening 123. A container is then aligned with the removable spout extension 112 and after the proper amount of liquid has been dispensed through the spout 102, the line 103 and the metering mechanism 22, the vertical actuator 110 moves the clamp I04 upwardly to retract the removable spout 112 through the opening 123. At the same time, the plate 119 is moved to again seal the opening 123 via piston 122. Next, the spout ejector means 114 is actuated to move the rod 116 outwardly so that the clamp 117 engages the removable spout 112. The rod 116 then retracts so that the removable spout extension 112 is stripped from the spout 102 by the clamp 117. The removed spout extension 112 can then be deposited into any suitable receptacle within the cabinet 20. The dispensing mechanism 23 is then ready for the next sequence of operations.

As shown in FIG. 16, the alcove 27 can be provided with an overflow pan 124 which is perforated at the top to receive any overflow of liquid from the spout 102 or container within the alcove 27. The pan 124 is further provided with suitable outlet lines 125 which connect with a suitable receptacle for storage of the excess fluid.

Referring to FIGS. 19 to 21, the dispensing mechanism can alternatively be constructed with a means to form a removable spout extension within the cabinet from a strip of material. For example, this dispensing mechanism 126 is constructed with a spout 127 which is supplied with a liquid flow via a suitable tube 128 connected to the metering device 22. The spout extension forming means 12? is disposed within the cabinet to form a spout extension 128 and to position the formed spout extension below the spout 127. The spout extension forming means 129 includes a support shaft 130 which mounts a spool 131 of flat strip material such as a formable plastic and a plurality of food rolls 131 which convey the strip of material through a vacuum forming mold 132 for forming of the strip into a sequential array of spout extensions 128 depending from the remainder of the strip.

Referring to FIG. 22, the vacuum forming mold 132 is provided with a pair of mold halves which define a mold cavity 133 shaped to the shape of the removable spout 128 to be produced and which are movably mounted with respect to each other. In addition, a plurality of heaters such as calrod units 134 are mounted in a reciprocally vertically movable frame 135 above the mold cavity 133 to heat the material over and in the cavity. The frame 135 is connected to a piston 136 which is actuated to move the frame 135 vertically up and down. The mold cavity 133 also communicates via a line 137 to a vacuum cylinder 138 (FIG. 19) of known construction for evacuation of the cavity under the material therein.

A tip-cutter assembly 145 is also provided downstream of the mold 132 so as to cut off the base of a formed extension 128 to provide an opening therein and is of conventional construction.

Referring to FIGS. 19 and 21, the dispensing mechanism 126 further includes a cutting assembly 139 for severing the used removable spout extensions 128 from the strip of material. The cutting assembly 139 includes a shear which is pivotally mounted on a support pin 141 and which is fixedly related to a lever 142 also pivotally mounted on the pin 141. The lever 142 connects with a piston rod 143 of a piston 144 fixed within the cabinet 20 so as to be pivoted in response to actuation of the piston 144.

In operation, as the piston rod 143 is retracted into the piston 144, the shear 140 is rotated in a clockwise manner as viewed in FIG. 21 past a shear block 145 positioned above the plane of the plastic strip so as to sever the foremost extension 128 from the strip. The foremost extension is then deposited into any suitable receptacle within the cabinet. During operation, after the coins have been deposited in the coin operating means, the feed rolls 131' are actuated to advance the strip of material through the mold 132 so that a previously formed spout extension 128 is moved into position under the fixed spout 127. The liquid is then dispensed through the spout 127 and spout extension 128 into the container mounted within the alcove 27. At the same time as the liquid is being dispensed, the flat strip of material which is moved into the vacuum forming mold is subjected to a vacuum drawn on the cavity side through the line 137 to the vacuum cylinder 138. At the same time, the heater 134 is brought down onto the mold 132 over the mold cavity 133 so as to heat the plastic material extending thereacross. Thus, under the influence of the heat and the vacuum, the plastic material forms into the cup shape of the mold cavity 133. After the plastic material has been formed into a cup-shaped extension, the heater 134 is raised and the vacuum is released.

After the filling operation has been completed the feed rolls 131 are again actuated to advance the strip of material. At the same time, the mold halves are moved on the support rods 132" so as to permit the formed spout extension 128 to be advanced out of the mold 132 to the tip-cutter assembly 146 wherein the bottom of the formed spout extension is cut so as to provide an opening therethrough.

After a second operation has been completed, the formed extension is again advanced from the tip-cutter assembly 146 under the spout 102. In this position, the spout extension 128 is adapted to direct the stream of liquid from the spout 127 to a confined path for dispensing into a container within the alcove 27.

After a dispensing operation has been completed, the spout extension 128 is advanced from the position under the spout 127 to the severing position. At this position, the shear is actuated so as to sever the used spout from the remainder of the strip of material.

It is noted that the sequence of operations of this dispensing mechanism is timed to a sequence of filling and dispensing operations. That is, for each actuation of the device by the depositing of coins, the strip is advanced one station at a time, such that a formed spout extension is moved from the mold cavity 132 to the tip-cutter 146, the previously formed spout extension moves from the tip-cutter 146 under the spout 127 and a used spout moves from under the spout 127 into a preliminary station prior to a further subsequent movement into the severing station at the shear 140.

Referring to FIGS. 23, 24 and 25, the dispensing mechanism can further be constructed so as to form a removable spout extension from a strip of material mounted directly about the dispensing spout. To this end, the dispensing mechanism 147 includes a roller 148 for mounting a spool 149 of strip plastic material 151 or other suitable material, a forming chute 150 below the spool 148 for shaping the strip of material 151 into a tubular form about a spout 152 secured to a shaft 153 by a suitable mounting bracket 154 and feed rollers 161 for moving the material through the chute 150. In addition, the mechanism 147 includes a pair of brushes 155 for applying a suitable adhesive material to the edges of the strip below the chute 150 and a pair of crimping rollers 156 below the brushes 155 for adhesively bonding the edges of the strip together into the tube. Finally, a suitable shear 157 is located below the crimping rollers 156 for subsequently severing a length of the tubes after use. As above, the shaft 153 is supported for reciprocal vertical motion in a pair of suitable brackets 158 secured to the frame of the mechanism 147 and is driven by a suitable piston 159 also mounted in the frame of the mechanism 147.

During operation, the spout 152 is supplied with liquid via a suitable tube 160 connected with the metering mechanism while the strip of material 151 is formed into a tube around the spout 152. More specifically, after the coins have been deposited, the feed rollers 161 are actuated so as to draw a strip of paper from the spool 149 to pass through the forming chute 150 and form a tubular extension for enveloping the spout 152. Shortly thereafter, the piston 159 is actuated so that the spout 152 is moved along with the forming chute 150 and brushes 155 downwardly through the opening 123 in the cabinet past a sliding plate 119 of a sliding door assembly as above. After the liquid has been dispensed through the spout 152, the spout 152 is retracted along with the removable spout extension. Next, the sliding plate 119 is moved back over the opening 123 as above described and the shear assembly 157 severs the lower extension of the formed tube. This severed extension can then be disposed of in any suitable manner.

With respect to the various dispensing mechanisms described above, each cooperates with a sliding plate disposed to slide over the opening in the alcove communicating the alcove area with the respective spouts. During operation, the various spouts can be moved down through the openings after the slide plates have been moved away so that a container within the alcove can be suitably aligned with the spouts. Once the filling operation has been completed, the slide plates automatically move back across the opening to seal off the opening against the entry of any contaminants. Also, as the slide plate moves across the opening the removable spouts are retracted and subsequently severed within the cabinet and disposed of.

Alternatively, referring to FIGS. and 31, the disposable spout assembly means can be located in a separate compartment from the dispensing mechanism such that the dispensing mechanism can be sealed to the outside at all times. In this re gard, the dispensing mechanism 22 is disposed within a compartment 161 of the cabinet with the spout aligned over an opening 162 in the compartment. In order to seal off the compartment 161 a sliding door assembly 118, as described above, is mounted over the opening 162 and is suitably connected to the coin operating means (not shown) via a suitable line 163. The disposable spout extension forming means 164 is also mounted within a separate compartment 165 of the cabinet and includes a magazine dispenser 166 which serves to dispense preformed open-ended spout extensions 167. In addition, a gripping mechanism 168 for gripping a disposable spout 167 is rotatably mounted on a vertical shaft 169 within the compartment 165. This gripping mechanism 168 includes a pair of fingers 170 which are pivotally mounted at their ends to a common piston rod 171. The rod 171 is reciprocally mounted in a piston 172 and cooperates with a sleeve 173 which surrounds the rod 171 with a spacing and which pivotally mounts the fingers 170 thereon so that upon reciprocation of the rod 171 by the piston 172, the gripping fingers 170 open and close upon each other. The piston 172 is further mounted for rotation with the shaft 169 from a position under the opening 162 to a position about the lowermost removable spout extension 167 under the magazine 166. 1n addition, the piston 172 is slidably mounted on the shaft 169 and is connected by a lever 174 to a piston 175 which serves to move the lever and thus the piston 172 vertically up and down.

The sliding door assembly 118 is further connected with the door 28 to the alcove 27 such that only when the door is in a closed and locked position will the slide assembly actuate the plate 1 19 to open the opening 162 to the passage of liquid. To this end, a contact 176 is mounted within the cabinet frame to receive a suitable locking lug 177 fixed to the door 28 (not shown). The locking lug 177 can be designed in such a fashion so as to act as a fail-safe system which is tamperproof so that the contact 176 is only actuated when the lug 177 is in place. The contact 176 is further connected via a suitable line (not shown) to the line 163 which connects the piston 122 of the sliding door assembly 118 to the coin operating means. Suitable means are also disposed within the respective lines such that the piston 122 only becomes operative when the contact 176 has been actuated.

In operation, with the door 28 initially locked in place, the coins are deposited into the coin operating means. Thereafter, through a suitable connection the locking lug 177 of the door is released and the door is able to open. At the same time, the gripping fingers 170 of the gripping mechanism are rotated with a gripped spout extension therebetween from a position under the magazine 166 to a position over the opening 123 to the alcove 27. Next, the piston 172 is moved downwardly so that the removable spout extension 167 projects through the opening 123. The consumer then places a container in alignment with the spout 167 and shortly thereafter the sliding door assembly 118 is actuated, for example, after a slight time lag in response to the placement of the gripping fingers 170 under the opening 162 which is aligned with the opening 123 to the alcove. After the plate 119 has slid away from the opening 162, the liquid is dispensed from the dispensing mechanism 22 into the container. After the predetermined amount of liquid has been dispensed, the sliding door assembly 118 automatically slides the plate 119 across the opening 162 to seal the opening to the exterior. At the same time, the piston 172 is moved upwardly and the spout 167 is retracted from the opening 123. Immediately thereafter, the piston 172 is rotated back under the magazine 166. Next, the gripping fingers 170 are opened upon actuation of the rod 171 within the sleeve 173 secured to the piston 172 so that the used extension is dispensed into a suitable receptacle within the cabinet. Preferably, this receptacle is spaced from a point directly under the magazine 166 so as to avoid any contamination of the unused spout extension 167 by the used spout extension.

During operation, as the rod 171 moves outwardly of the piston 172, the pin 179 causes the gripping fingers 170 to pivot on the pins 178 outwardly from each other. As the rod 171 is retracted within the piston 172, the pin 179 causes the gripping fingers 170 to come together. To provide for the movement of the gripping fingers 170, the pin 179 is received within suitable elongated slots 180 of the gripping fingers 170.

Referring to FIG. 1, the coin operating means 25 is constructed of any suitable known construction and is used to initiate the various operational functions of the units of the cabinet 20. That is, the operation of the bulk dispensing system is initiated after a suitable amount of coins have been deposited into the coin operating means 25 corresponding to a desired quantity of liquid product to be dispensed. After the coins have been deposited, the metering mechanism 22 is actuated to allow a flow of product to flow from the bulk container 32 through the metering mechanism 22 into the dispensing mechanism 23. At the same time, should a spout extension forming means be included within the cabinet, this spout extension means is also actuated so as to position a removable throwaway spout extension below the spout 24 of the dispensing mechanism 23. After the metered amount of liquid has been dispensed, the metering mechanism 22 shuts down so that no further flow of liquid is dispensed.

In order to further ensure that the interior of the alcove 27 remains in a germproof condition, suitable germicidal lamps 181 are positioned within the interior of the alcove 27. These lamps 181 are preferably actuated upon the opening of the door 28 to the alcove 27. For example, the lamps 181 are-connected into a suitable circuit with a door lock mechanism such as the locking lug 177 for the door 28 as shown in FIG. 30. In operation, in order to unlock the door 28, the proper amount of coins must first be deposited into the coin operating means 25. As soon as the door is unlocked, the lamps 181 are activated. Thereafter, the lamps 181 remain on until the dispensing operation has been completed and the door 28 is closed and relocked.

Referring to FIG. 33, while the bulk dispensing system has been described above as being located within a retail outlet cabinet 20, such can also be incorporated in a portable dispensing unit such as for commercial purposes, as in a bakery. In such cases, the bulk dispensing system 200 includes a bulk container 201 constructed in a manner similar to that described above with a discharge pipe 202 and a valve 203 in the pipe 202 for opening and closing of the pipe 202. In addition, a metering mechanism 204 is connected to the discharge pipe 202 for metering out predetermined amounts of liquid product. This metering mechanism 204 is similar to the metering mechanism 22 as described in FIG. 12 above and need not be further described. In addition, a dispensing mechanism 205 is connected to the metering mechanism 204 so as to dispense the metered amount of liquid therefrom. This dispensing mechanism 205 includes a valve 206, for example, a hand valve in the dispensing line so that the flow of dispensed liquid can be manually shut off. Both the metering mechanism 204 and dispensing mechanism 205 are mounted under the container 201 on a traylike support 211 connected to the legs 39 supporting the bulk container 201 so as to be movable therewith.

The portable unit is constructed so as to be moved from place to place and the gear motor 207 of the metering mechanism 204 is adapted to be connected to a suitable power source (not shown) by a powerline 208.

In operation, the portable bulk dispensing unit is brought to the location at which the liquid product is desired to be dispensed. Thereafter, the quantity of liquid product required is set within the dispensing mechanism 204, for example, by turning of a graduated dial operably connected to the timing mechanism of the gear motor 207. Should the quantity desired be less than the capacity of the tank 210 of the metering mechanism 204, the gear motor 207 is set to operate for a corresponding period of time so that only that quantity is delivered into the tank 210. However, should the desired quantity be greater than the capacity of the tank 210, the gear motor 207 is set to operate for a full cycle with subsequent full or part cycles to complete the desired quantity. After the tank 210 has been filled and emptied via the dispensing mechanism 205, the metering mechanism 204 is deactivated.

In the event that it becomes necessary to shut off the flow of liquid through the dispensing mechanism 205 from the metering mechanism 204, the hand valve 206 can be manually operated to close off further flow. Thus, after the metering mechanism 204 completes a cycle of operation, the tank 210 can be closed on" to the dispensing mechanism 205. At this point, only the liquid remaining between the tank 210 and the valve 206 would remain within the dispensing system. This excess liquid, however, can be drawn off to any suitable means for removal after opening of the valve 206.

Referring to FIGS. 34 and 35, the bulk container 21 can be mounted within the cabinet in any suitable arrangement. For example, the bulk container can be mounted on an elevated platform 212 so as to be rolled into place from a trailer truck body. The respective metering and dispensing mechanisms are also mounted under the container housing on a traylike platform 213 as above. In this way, the dispensing spout 214 can be mounted at an elevated point so that the liquid from the bulk container flows under gravity into a suitable container mounted within the alcove 27 (FIG. 35). In addition, the refrigeration apparatus 215 can be mounted under the level of the bulk container 21 in the space provided. Also, the remaining space within the cabinet can be utilized for entry of personnel to inspect the bulk dispensing system and refrigeration apparatus 215. The remainder of the system functions as described above and need not be further discussed.

Referring to FIG. 2, wherein like reference numerals have been used to indicate like parts above, the cabinet 20 can be provided with a loading platform 216 and a door 217 adjacent to the platform 216 so that the bulk containers 21 can be removed and replaced in the cabinet 20 from suitable trucks 218. In this regard, the platform 216 is at the elevation of the rear loading platform of the truck 218 such that the bulk containers 21 can be rolled from the truck onto the platform and vice versa. The truck 218 can be provided with any suitable conveying system so that the bulk containers can be shipped in large numbers and can be easily and readily removed and replaced within the confines of the truck 218. To this end, the truck 218 can be provided with various tracks 218 upon which the rollers of the bulk container can be rolled in predetermined paths. Alternatively, the truck body 218 can be provided with a conventional floor so that the bulk containers 21 can be rolled in any fashion across the floor and secured or locked in place against rolling. Furthermore, suitable locking arrangements 220 as are known can be provided within the truck 2118 to further secure the bulk containers in place during transport.

Referring to FIG. 3, in the event that a relatively large stationary bulk container 21' as shown in FIG. 6 is mounted within the cabinet 20, such can be filled by a tank truck 221 of suitable construction for transporting a large supply of liquid food product therein in a refrigerated condition. To this end, the tank truck 221 includes a refrigerated housing 223 with a suitable metering mechanism 224 as above for dispensing a metering amount of food product into the bulk container 21 through the opening 42. In addition, a suitable pump 225 for pumping out the liquid and a suitable hose 226 connected to the pump 225 is provided for facilitating the dispensing of the food product from the truck 221 into the container 21.

Referring to FIG. 4, the bulk liquid dispensing system can be incorporated into a vehicular system in which the dispensing system constitutes a tank 232 which is carried on a bed 230 of a trailer truck 229, a metering mechanism 223, as described above, and a dispensing mechanism 234, as described above. The metering mechanism 233 and dispensing machine 234 are mounted within a refrigerated compartment 235 which extends from the rear of the truck and which provides an alcove 236 in which the container can be placed for receiving the liquid dispensed from the tank 232. A suitable coin operating means 237 is also provided adjacent the compartment 235 to provide a means for actuating the dispensing system. In other respect, the bulk dispensing system is similar to that described above with respect to FIG. 1.

The capacity of the tank 232, for example, 6,000 gallons, is such that a number of high volume consumers can be supplied within a relatively short period of time. To this end, the metering mechanism can be utilized to measure quantities, for example, 30- to SO-gallon units, in each sequence of operation, so as to increase the amount of product dispensed within a given period of time.

Referring to FIGS. 27 and 28, a container 240 which can be used with any of the above-described bulk dispensing systems, is made of a semirigid material so as to be collapsed into a relatively flat shape of narrow profile (FIG. 28) when not in use. To this end, the material can be of any suitable plastic material which is nontoxic or can be of a suitable plasticcoated material such as cardboard which can be easily folded into the flat shape and expanded into an opened position for receiving dispensed liquid. The container 240 has a spout 241 at the upper end and a carrying handle 242 secured integrally, or by other suitable means, to a sidewall 243. As shown, the sidewall 243 is collapsible about a central plane such that in the collapsed position, the handle 242 is substantially confined within the inwardly folded halves of the sidewall 243. The pposite sidewall is of similar construction except for the handle. In addition, a suitable cap 244, for example, of the snap-on type, is mounted for snapping over the opening of the spout 241 to seal the contents of the container 240.

Referring to FIG. 29, a container 245 can alternatively be formed of a nonself-supporting material, such as a polyethylene plastic, which can be readily collapsed into a flattened configuration when not filled. The container 245 includes a spout 246 which is covered by a suitable seal cap 247 so as to permit filling of the container 245 with a liquid product. In addition, the container 245 can be provided with a suitable pouring spout 248 formed by a tear-away tie member at an upper comer so that the liquid product within the container can be subsequently dispensed.

In order to facilitate the transportation of the filled container 245, a suitable collapsible support frame 249 is provided. This support frame 249 includes various members which are hinged together so as to permit the frame 249 to be collapsed into a flattened configuration and opened into a substantially rectangular-shaped recess for holding the filled container 245 therein. In addition, the frame 249 includes a suitable guide 250 at the top for holding the spout 246 of the container in proper position for filling from one of the dispensing systems described above. Further, the frame 249 is provided with a pair of handles 251 for transporting the filled container from place to place.

Referring to FIGS. 36 and 37, the bulk dispensing system 252 can be utilized with a cabinet in which a dispensed liquid can be further dispensed in a prepackaged assembly. In this regard, the cabinet 253 contains a magazine 254 of containers 240, such as that described above in FIGS. 27 and 28, which is housed within a suitable scalable compartment of the cabinet 253. The magazine 254 is provided with a suitable springloaded false wall 254' which serves to push the containers from one end of the magazine to the other. Generally, the containers 240 are mounted within the magazine 254 in the flattened configuration and are maintained in this condition by the spring-loaded wall 254. A transporting means 255 is mounted adjacent to the magazine 254 and is connected via a suitable line 255' to the coin operating means 25 so as to be actuated thereby in a predetermined sequence. The transporting means 255 includes a piston 256 which reciprocally mounts a piston rod 257 therein. The end of the piston rod 257 is provided with a pair of spring-loaded gripping fingers 258 which are biased towards each other under a slight spring force by a suitable spring (not shown) and which are normally spaced apart a distance slightly less than the diameter or width of the spout 241 of the containers 240. The piston rod 257 is further disposed with respect to the magazine 254 such that upon extension of the piston rod 257 from the piston 256, the gripping fingers 258 engage about the spout 241 of a container 240 in a friction fit engagement sufficient to withdraw the container 240 from the magazine 254 upon retraction of the piston rod 257 into the piston 256. The transporting means 257 is further mounted on suitable guideways (not shown) and is attached to a moving mechanism 259 for reciprocal movement in a direction substantially parallel to the alignment of the containers 240 within the magazine 254.

The system 252 further contains a spout 260 of a dispensing mechanism, for example, such as described above, through which a metered amount of liquid can pass. In addition, a moving platform 261 is positioned below the spout 260 ad consists of a plurality of rails 262 which are spaced apart and connected together. The platform 261 is further mounted so as to be moved in a rectilinear fashion with a first movement in an upward vertical direction, a second movement in a horizontal direction, a third movement in a vertical downward direction and a fourth movement in a horizontal direction opposite the second movement so as to return to the initial point. The spout 260 and platform 261 are positioned adjacent to a wall 263 which seals off the alcove 27 of the cabinet 252 from the internal contents of the cabinet 252, namely, the spout 260. The wall 263 is provided with a suitable opening which is sealed off by a sliding wall 264 which is suitably actuated by a reciprocating mechanism 265 secured to the wall 263 and operatively connected to the coin operating means 25 by a suitable line 266. The alcove 27 is provided with a platform 267 which is constructed of a pair of rails 268 which are spaced apart a distance sufficient to allow the passage of the rails 262 of the platform 261 therebetween. As shown, the platform 267 in the alcove 27 is slightly above the initial position of the platfonn 261 under the spout 260.

In operation, after the coins have been deposited, the coin operating means 25 actuates the piston 256 of the transporting means so as to move the fingers 258 of the piston rod 257' into the magazine 254 to engage the foremost containers 240. Next, the piston rod 257 is retracted so as to withdraw the gripped container 240 from the magazine 254. Immediately thereafter, the moving mechanism 259 causes the transporting means 255 to move down the guideways so as to position the container 240 under the spout 260. To this end, the spout 241 of the containers is automatically positioned under the spout 260. The filling operating then begins and as the liquid fills the a container 240, the container 240 begins to expand into its opened position. After the filling operation has been completed and the flow to the spout 260 has stopped, the platform 261 is moved vertically upwardly so as to rest against the base of the filled container 240. The piston rod 257 is then further retracted into the piston 256 so as to disengage from the container 240. It is noted that the weight of the container when filled on the platform 261, is sufficient to overcome the withdrawing forces of the gripping fingers 258 from around the spout 241 so as to prevent removal of the container from the platform 261. However, as a further precaution, a suitable stop means can be provided adjacent the platform 261 so as to permit the gripping fingers 258 to be pulled from the spout 241. Thereafter, as the transport means is returned to its initial position, the platform 261 begins to advance towards the wall 263. At the same time, the sliding door 264 is raised via the piston 265 to permit passage of the container 240 through the opening. As the platform 261 moves into the alcove 27, the rails 262 pass between the rails 268 of the platform 265 so as to position the container on the platform 267. Next, the platform 261 is moved vertically downwardly so that the filled container 240 is transferred onto the platform 267. Next, the platform 261 returns through the wall 263 and the sliding door 264 is closed.

The sliding door 264 is suitably connected in a circuit with the door 28 to the alcove such that when the sliding door 264 is in a raised position, the door 28 is locked. This prevents any entry into the interior of the cabinet 253 via the alcove 27.

After the sliding door 264 has been closed, the door 28 is unlocked so that the consumer can reach in and remove the filled container 240 from the platform 267. The consumer can then cap the container with the cap 244 (FIG. 27).

The invention thus provides a bulk dispensing system which is capable of dispensing volumes of liquid product in a sanitary and relatively inexpensive condition. The system can be incorporated into a fixed station dispensing unit or into a mobile or portable unit. In this way, the system can be used for retail purchases by ultimate consumers in pint, quart, half-gallon, or gallon size units. The system can also be used for wholesale consumption by commercial establishments. In either case, metered quantities of the exact amounts of product which are desired can be dispensed in an easy manner.

The system is constructed so that when used for retail sales a consumer can select the amount of food product desired by depositing a corresponding amount of coins in the coin operating means. In those cases where the system dispenses into the consumer's container, it is only necessary for the consumer after depositing the coins to properly align the container within the alcove of the cabinet in order to receive the dispensed liquid. In those cases where the system itself dispenses the liquid product in a container, it is only necessary for the consumer to deposit the proper amount of coins. In these situations, should a consumer wish to purchase different amounts of product, a plurality of magazines with different sized containers are provided within the cabinet while the container-transporting means is selectively positioned between these various magazines to select the proper container for the amount of coins deposited.

Because the liquid bulk dispensing system can be used to sell food products directly to a consumer from the supplier there is no need to provide separate bottling or packaging plants for the product. This not only reduces the time for a sale from supplier to ultimate consumer but also significantly reduces the price of the food product sold. This is an especial advantage to the consumer since large volumes of food product can be purchased without experiencing relatively expensive costs.

Furthermore, since the dispensing system is constructed in a sanitary fashion. and is operated in an automatic manner, the food product is maintained in a sanitized condition.

The invention further allows not only liquid food products to be readily and accurately dispensed but also any flowable product, such as, granulated or dried products. In this way, concentrated products can be easily substituted for dry ingredients such as in bakeries.

It is noted that by inserting a gas, such as nitrogen, into the system, the use of filters and sealed outlets can be eliminated. The gas thus allows the food product to be dispensed without the buildup ofa vacuum. Also, as a gas serves to eliminate the bacteria problem due to the absence of oxygen, there is no need to refrigerate or heat the system in order to maintain a sanitary condition. The gas also serves to protect the valves used throughout the system against corrosion and to stabilize the food product dispensed.

It is finally noted that various vitamins in addition to vitamins D and E can be added to the food product in the bulk vessel or in the dispensing lines where desired.

What is claimed is:

l. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet;

a portable bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having means for rollably removing said vessel from within said cabinet, a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel and a valve connected to said port for opening and closing said port. to a flow of the product therethrough;

means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition;

a metering mechanism detachably connected to said port within said cabinet for receiving and for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port;

a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing the measured flow of the product therefrom into a container; and

an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receivin g and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product'thereto.

2. A bulk product dispensing system as 'set forth in claim 1 wherein said means for maintaining the product'in said system in a sanitary condition includes, meansi for maintaining a predetermined temperature in the interior of said cabinet.

3. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said alcove has an opening communicating with the interior of said cabinet and said spout whereby a dispensed flow of the product from said spout can fill the container within said alcove.

4. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 3 which further comprises a door on said cabinet for closing said alcove to the exterior of said cabinet and a locking means for cyclically locking said door in said cabinet during dispensing of the product frornsaid spout.

5. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a tank for volumetric measurement of the flow of the .product received therein from said discharge port. j I

6. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 5 wherein said metering mechanism further includes a pair of valves connected to said tank for selectively connecting said tank with said discharge port of said vessel and said dispensing mechanism and means for selectively opening and closing said valves in chronological sequence to alternately permit filling and emptying of said tank.

7. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 5 which further comprises means for adjusting the operation of said means for selectively opening and closing said valves in order to vary the amount of the product discharged into said tank from said discharge port.

8. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 6 wherein said means for adjusting the operation of said means for opening and closing said valves includes a coin-operated mechanism mounted in said cabinet for selectively adjusting the operation of said means for opening and closing said valves in response to the depositing of predetermined amounts of coins.

9. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a tank for gravimetric measurement of the received flow of the product.

10. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 9 wherein said metering mechanism further includes a pump connected to said discharge port and said tank for pumping a flow of the product from said discharge port into said tank, a weighing unit connected to said tank for measuring the weight of the product in said tank and operably connected to said pump for deactivating said pump in response to a predetermined weight of the product in said tank, and a valve connected between said tank and said dispensing mechanism for dispensing a weighed amount of the product therefrom.

11. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 10 which further comprises a coin-operated mechanism connected to said pump for activating said pump and said weighing unit for conditioning said weighing unit to react to a predetermined weight in said tank to deactivate said pump.

12. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a flowmeter connected to said discharge port for controlling and measuring the flow of the product therefrom, a second meter connected to said flowmeter for selectively activating and deactivating said flowmeter, and operating means connected to said second meter for adjusting said second meter to respond to predetermined quantities of flow to deactivate said flowmeter.

13. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a tank having an inlet connected to said discharge port and an outlet connected to said dispensing mechanism, a float switch in said tank for floating on the level of said product in said tank, and means responsive to said float switch for closing and opening of said valves to empty the product from said tank into said dispensing mechanism.

14. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 which further includes first means for dispensing a container within said cabinet and second means for positioning the dispensed container under said spout, said first and second means being sealed from said alcove.

15. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said means for maintaining the product in a sanitary condition includes means for keeping a contained atmosphere of a predetermined gas within said bulk product vessel.

Claims (50)

1. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a portable bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having means for rollably removing said vessel from within said cabinet, a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel and a valve connected to said port for opening and closing said port to a flow of the product therethrough; means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition; a metering mechanism detachably connected to said port within said cabinet for receiving and for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing the measured flow of the product therefrom into a container; and an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto.
2. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition includes means for maintaining a predetermined temperature in the interior of said cabinet.
3. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said alcove has an opening communicating with the interior of said cabinet and said spout whereby a dispensed flow of the product from said spout can fill the container within said alcove.
4. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 3 which further comprises a door on said cabinet for closing said alcove to the exterior of said cabinet and a locking means for cyclically locking said door in said cabinet during dispensing of the product from said spout.
5. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a tank for volumetric measurement of the flow of the product received therein from said discharge port.
6. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 5 wherein said metering mechanism further includes a pair of valves connected to said tank for selectively connecting said tank with said discharge port of said vessel and said dispensing mechanism and means for selectively opening and closing said valves in chronological sequence to alternately permit filling and emptying of said tank.
7. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 5 which further comprises means for adjusting the operation of said means for selectively opening and closing said valves in order to vary the amount of the product discharged into said tank from said discharge port.
8. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 6 wherein said means for adjusting the operation of said means for opening and closing said valves includes a coin-operated mechanism mounted in said cabinet for selectively adjusting the operation of said means for opening and closing said valves in response to the depositing of predetermined amounts of coins.
9. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a tank for gravimetric measurement of the received flow of the product.
10. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 9 wherein said metering mechanism further includes a pump connected to said discharge port and said tank for pumping a flow of the product from said discharge port into said tank, a weighing unit connected to said tank for measuring the weight of the product in said tank and operably connected to said pump for deactivating said pump in response to a predetermined weight of the product in said tank, and a valve connected between said tank and said dispensing mechanism for dispensing a weighed amount of the product therefrom.
11. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 10 which further comprises a coin-operated mechanism connected to said pump for activating said pump and said weighing unit for conditioning said weighing unit to react to a predetermined weight in said tank to deactivate said pump.
12. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a flowmeter connected to said discharge port for controlling and measuring the flow of the product therefrom, a second meter connected to said flowmeter for selectively activating and deactivating said flowmeter, and operating means connected to said second meter for adjusting said second meter to respond to predetermined quantities of flow to deactivate said flowmeter.
13. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism includes a tank having an inlet connected to said discharge port and an outlet connected to said dispensing mechanism, a float switch in said tank for floating on the level of said product in said tank, and means responsive to said float switch for closing and opening of said valves to empty the product from said tank into said dispensing mechanism.
14. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 which further includes first means for dispensing a container within said cabinet and second means for positioning the dispensed container under said spout, said first and second means being sealed from said alcove.
15. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said means for maintaining the product in a sanitary condition includes means for keeping a contained atmosphere of a predetermined gas within said bulk product vessel.
16. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 15 wherein said means for keeping a contained atmosphere of a predetermined gas within said bulk product vessel keeps a contained atmosphere therein of an inert gas.
17. A bulk product dispEnsing system as set forth in claim 1 wherein said metering mechanism for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port includes means for applying a pressure fluid to the product to assist the discharge thereof from said discharge port.
18. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 17 wherein said means for applying a pressured fluid to the product to assist the discharge thereof includes applying an inert gas to the product.
19. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel; means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition; a metering mechanism within said cabinet for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing the measured flow of the product therefrom into a container; an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto; and a spout extension means in said cabinet for removably positioning a spout extension under said spout for guiding the dispensed product into a container in said alcove.
20. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 19 wherein said spout extension means includes means for supplying a plurality of preformed spout extensions, means for positioning a spout extension on said spout, and means for removing a spout extension from said spout.
21. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 19 wherein said spout extension means includes a magazine containing a supply of spout extensions therein, a rotary actuator for moving said spout between a first position over an opening to said alcove and a second position over a spout extension in said magazine, a vertical actuator for reciprocally moving said spout downwardly at said first position into said magazine to receive a spout extension and downwardly at said second position to project the spout extension through said opening.
22. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 21 wherein said spout extension means further includes means for removing a used spout extension from said spout.
23. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 19 wherein said spout extension means includes means for supplying a strip of formable material, vacuum forming means for sequentially forming a plurality of cup-shaped spout extensions in said strip, and feeding roller means for positioning a spout extension under said spout.
24. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 23 wherein said spout extension means further includes a tip cutter for cutting the bottom of sequentially formed spout extensions and a cutting assembly for severing a used spout extension from said strip.
25. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 19 wherein said spout extension means includes a spool means for supplying a strip of material, a chute for forming the strip into a tube about said spout, and means for sealing the edges of the strip together.
26. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 25 wherein said spout extension means further includes a shear for cutting a used portion of the tube from the remainder of the tube.
27. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 19 wherein said spout is mounted in a first compartment of said cabinet and said spout extension means is mounted in a second compartment sealed with respect to said first compartment.
28. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 27 wherein said first compartment includes an opening communicating with said second compartment for passage of a flow of the product from said spout, and which further includes a sliding door assemBly for selectively closing said opening.
29. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 28 which further includes a door in said alcove for closing said alcove to the exterior of said cabinet, means for locking said door in a closed position and means connected between said locking means and said sliding door assembly for maintaining said sliding door in a closed position over said opening while said door is in an open position.
30. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 27 wherein said spout extension means includes a magazine for sequentially dispensing a plurality of nested spout extensions and means for moving a spout extension from said magazine to a position under said spout.
31. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel; means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition; a metering mechanism within said cabinet for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing the measured flow of the product therefrom into a container; an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto, a magazine within said cabinet for supplying containers; transporting means for removing a container from said magazine and positioning the container under said spout; a wall sealing said spout from said alcove; an opening in said wall, a sliding wall for selectively sealing said opening; and means for moving a filled container from under said spout through said opening into said alcove.
32. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 31 which further includes a door on said alcove for closing said alcove to the exterior of said cabinet and means connected between said door and said sliding wall for maintaining said sliding wall over said opening while said door is open.
33. A portable bulk product dispensing system comprising a bulk container for containing a supply of a product, said container having a discharge pipe for discharging a flow of the product from said container; a support frame mounting said bulk container thereon and having wheel means for moving said frame secured thereon and a traylike support; a metering mechanism mounted on said traylike support under said bulk container and connected to said discharge pipe for measuring the flow of the product passing from said discharge pipe; and a dispensing mechanism mounted on said traylike support under said bulk container and connected to said metering mechanism for dispensing a measured amount of the product from said metering mechanism.
34. A portable bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 33 wherein said bulk container includes a sloping bottom for directing the contained product towards said discharge pipe.
35. A portable bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 33 wherein said wheel means for moving said frame includes rollers on the lower end of said frame.
36. A portable bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 33 wherein said metering mechanism is a volumetric metering system for measuring predetermined volumes of discharged product.
37. A portable bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 33 wherein said dispensing mechanism includes a spout for flow of the dispensed product therethrough and a valve in said spout for closing said spout to the flow of the product therethrough.
38. A portable bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 33 which further comprises means for applying a gaseous fluid to the product to be dispensed.
39. A portable bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 38 wherein said means for applying a gaseous fluid to the product includes applying an inert gas to the product.
40. A method of automatically dispensing metered amounts of a food product comprising the steps of: providing a supply of food product; discharging a flow of food product from the supply into a container at a first position; measuring the food product being discharged into the container at said first position; shutting off the discharge of food product into the container in response to a predetermined amount of food product being measured; and thereafter moving the product filled container to a second position spaced from said first position for subsequent removal, said second position being sealed from said first position prior to movement of the filled container to said second position and after movement of the filled container to said second position while the filled container is positioned in said second position.
41. A method as set forth in claim 40 wherein said first position is disposed in germproof sealed compartment of a cabinet and said second position communicates with the exterior of the cabinet.
42. A method as set forth in claim 40 wherein the container is supplied from within the cabinet for filling with a measured amount of food product.
43. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel and a valve in said discharge port for opening and closing said port to a flow of the product therethrough; a metering mechanism within said cabinet for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port, said metering mechanism including means disposed in said alcove for weighing the contents of a container disposed thereon, said weighing means being operatively connected to said valve for closing said valve in response to a predetermined weight of the contents of the container disposed on said weighing means; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing the measured flow of the product therefrom into a container; an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto; and a coin-operated means connected to said valve to open said valve and connected to said weighing means to adjust said weighing means to respond to different weights thereon for subsequent closing of said valve.
44. A bulk product dispensing system as set forth in claim 43 further comprising means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition.
45. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet, a bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel; means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition; a metering mechanism within said cabinet for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port, said metering mechanism including a tank having an inlet connected to said discharge port and an outlet, a valve for each of said inlet and said outlet for the opening and closing thereof, a weighing means adjacent said tank for weighing a predetermined weight of the product admitted therein, and means connected to said weighing means and responsive thereto for selectively actuating said valves to fill said tank with the predetermined weight of the product and subsequently to empty said tank; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said outlet of said tank for dispensing the measured flow of the product therefrom into a container; and an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent Said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto.
46. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein; discharging means for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said discharging means for dispensing the flow of the product therefrom into a container; an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto; a metering mechanism within said cabinet for controlling a flow of the product from said discharging means, said metering mechanism including means disposed in said alcove for weighing the contents of a container disposed thereon, said weighing means being operatively connected to said discharging means for closing said discharging means in response to a predetermined weight of the contents of the container disposed on said weighing means; and a coin-operated means connected to said discharging means to open said discharging means and connected to said weighing means to adjust said weighing means to respond to different weights thereon for subsequent closing of said discharging means.
47. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a portable bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having means for rollably removing said vessel from within said cabinet and a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel; means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing a flow of the product therefrom into a container; a metering mechanism within said cabinet for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port, said metering mechanism including a tank having an inlet connected to said discharge port and an outlet connected to said dispensing mechanism below said inlet to receive the product therein, a valve in each of said inlet and said outlet, and means connected to said valves for selectively closing and opening said valves in response to a predetermined volume of product in said tank to empty said tank; and an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto.
48. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a portable bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having means for rollably removing said vessel from within said cabinet, a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel and a valve connected to said port for opening and closing said port to a flow of the product therethrough; means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition; a metering mechanism detachably connected to said port within said cabinet for receiving and for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing the measured flow of the product therefrom into a container; an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto; and operating means for activating said metering mechanism and said dispensing mechanism to dispense a predetermined amount of the product into a container.
49. A portable bulk product dispensing system comprising a bulk container for containing a supply of a product, said container having a discharge port for discharging a flow of the product from said container; a support frame mounting said bulk container thereon and having means for moving said frame secured thereon; a metering mechanism mounted on said support frame and connected to said discharge port for measuring the flow of the product passing from said discharge port, said metering mechanism being adjustable to measure different amounts of the product therein for dispensing therefrom; and a dispensing mechanism mounted on said support frame and connected to said metering mechanism for dispensing the measured amount of the product from said metering mechanism.
50. A bulk product dispensing system comprising a cabinet; a bulk product vessel mounted in said cabinet for containing a supply of the product therein, said vessel having a discharge part for discharging a flow of the product from said vessel and a valve connected to said discharge port for opening and closing said port to a flow of the product therethrough; means for maintaining the product in said system in a sanitary condition; a dispensing mechanism having a spout within said cabinet in communication with said port for dispensing the flow of the product therefrom into a container; a metering mechanism within said cabinet for controlling a flow of the product from said discharge port, said metering mechanism being detachably connected to said port downstream of said valve to receive a flow of the product therefrom, and including a tank for volumetric measurement of the flow of the product received therein from said discharge port and a pair of valves connected to said tank for selectively connecting said tank with said discharge port of said vessel and said dispensing mechanism and means for selectively opening and closing said valves in chronological sequence to alternately permit filling and emptying of said tank; and an alcove connected to said cabinet adjacent said spout for receiving and supporting a container therein in communication with said spout during the dispensing of the product thereto.
US3640430A 1969-07-22 1969-07-22 Bulk dispensing system Expired - Lifetime US3640430A (en)

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DE (1) DE2036460A1 (en)
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GB (3) GB1325591A (en)

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US20060230842A1 (en) * 2005-03-16 2006-10-19 John Crane Safematic Oy Flowmeter
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US20120067920A1 (en) * 2010-09-20 2012-03-22 Prince Castle LLC Dispenser for Liquids
US8381941B2 (en) 2010-05-05 2013-02-26 Barton Group, Inc. Flexible container with integral dispensing tube
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US9714110B2 (en) 2012-03-23 2017-07-25 Prince Castle LLC Holding tank with internally reinforced sidewalls and liquid dispenser using same
US9758284B2 (en) 2013-09-27 2017-09-12 Barton Group, Inc. Flexible container with integral extended internal dispensing tube in a stand-up configuration
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US7131468B2 (en) 2002-05-10 2006-11-07 Ecolab Inc. Method for creating a ready-to-use product from a concentrated form
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US7322231B2 (en) * 2005-03-16 2008-01-29 John Crane Safematic Oy Flowmeter of a variable orifice type having a cleaning arrangement
US20090293987A1 (en) * 2008-06-03 2009-12-03 Boyer Denise Method of distributing and retailing liquid washing/cleaning products
US20140366492A1 (en) * 2010-03-10 2014-12-18 Ch&I Technologies, Inc. Aseptic distribution system method using refillable containers
US9533778B2 (en) * 2010-03-10 2017-01-03 Ch&I Technologies, Inc. Aseptic distribution system method using refillable containers
US8381941B2 (en) 2010-05-05 2013-02-26 Barton Group, Inc. Flexible container with integral dispensing tube
US8430266B2 (en) 2010-05-05 2013-04-30 Barton Group, Inc. Flexible container with integral dispensing tube
US8534497B2 (en) * 2010-09-20 2013-09-17 Prince Castle, LLC Dispensing method and apparatus utilizing a sensor to determine a time that a dispensing valve is open
US9174834B2 (en) 2010-09-20 2015-11-03 Prince Castle LLC Apparatus and method for dispensing user-specified fixed volumes of liquids
US9212042B2 (en) 2010-09-20 2015-12-15 Prince Castle LLC Apparatus and method for dispensing liquids using a table to determine dispense time
US9533869B2 (en) 2010-09-20 2017-01-03 Prince Castle LLC Pinch valve for dispenser for liquids
US20120067920A1 (en) * 2010-09-20 2012-03-22 Prince Castle LLC Dispenser for Liquids
US9714110B2 (en) 2012-03-23 2017-07-25 Prince Castle LLC Holding tank with internally reinforced sidewalls and liquid dispenser using same
US9758284B2 (en) 2013-09-27 2017-09-12 Barton Group, Inc. Flexible container with integral extended internal dispensing tube in a stand-up configuration
US9815606B2 (en) 2015-04-29 2017-11-14 Barton Group, Inc. Flexible stand-up pouch container for flowable products
US10059498B2 (en) 2015-10-02 2018-08-28 Barton Group, Inc. Thermoformed flexible dispensing container with integrally formed flat bottom for a stand-up configuration

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
DE2036460A1 (en) 1971-02-04 application
CA963860A1 (en) grant
GB1325592A (en) 1973-08-01 application
GB1325593A (en) 1973-08-01 application
GB1325591A (en) 1973-08-01 application
FR2055429A5 (en) 1971-05-07 application
CA963860A (en) 1975-03-04 grant

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