Title:
Device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin of the type having hoppers for holding the eating utensils sortingly, a tray for holding the napkin, a staging assembly for receiving the napkin from the tray and the eating utensils from the hoppers on top of the napkin, a wrapping assembly for wrapping the napkin around the eating utensils so as to form a wrapped set of eating utensils, and a banding assembly for providing a band around, so as to hold together, the wrapped set of eating utensils. The improvement includes an ultraviolet light assembly disposed in each of the hoppers and which generates ultraviolet light directly upon all surfaces of the eating utensils after the eating utensils have been loaded into the hoppers so as to sanitize the eating utensils from contaminates the eating utensils picked up prior to, and during, loading of the eating utensils into the hoppers.



Inventors:
Scaduto, Benny (Fairfield, NJ, US)
Application Number:
09/785057
Publication Date:
08/22/2002
Filing Date:
02/16/2001
Assignee:
SCADUTO BENNY
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/582, 53/176
International Classes:
B65B11/00; B65B55/16; (IPC1-7): B65B55/16; B65B11/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
TAWFIK, SAMEH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Benny Scaduto (5 Orlando Drive, Fairfield, NJ, 07004, US)
Claims:

The invention claimed is:



1. An improved device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin of the type having hoppers for holding the eating utensils sortingly and having interior surfaces with heights for facing and surrounding the eating utensils and mouths for introducing the eating utensils therein, a tray for holding the napkin, a staging assembly operatively connected to the hoppers and to the tray for receiving the napkin from the tray and the eating utensils from the hoppers on top of the napkin, a wrapping assembly operatively connected to the staging assembly for wrapping the napkin around the eating utensils so as to form a wrapped set of eating utensils, and a banding assembly operatively connected to the wrapping assembly for providing a band around, so as to hold together, the wrapped set of eating utensils, said improvement comprising an ultraviolet light assembly disposed in each of the hoppers and generating ultraviolet light directly upon all surfaces of the eating utensils after the eating utensils have been loaded into the hoppers so as to sanitize the eating utensils from contaminates the eating utensils picked up prior to, and during, loading of the eating utensils into the hoppers.

2. The improved device as defined in claim 1, wherein said improvement further comprises said ultraviolet light assembly comprising a lid cooperating with, and selectively closing the mouths of, the hoppers.

3. The improved device as defined in claim 2, wherein said improvement further comprises said lid having an interior surface for facing the eating utensils when said closes the mouths of the hoppers.

4. The improved device as defined in claim 3, wherein said improvement further comprises said ultraviolet light assembly further comprising a ultraviolet light reflective material directly covering all of said interior surface of said lid so as to completely line said lid with said ultraviolet light reflective material.

5. The improved device as defined in claim 4, wherein said improvement further comprises said ultraviolet light reflective material further directly covering all of the interior surfaces of each of the hoppers so as to completely line the hoppers with said ultraviolet light reflective material.

6. The improved device as defined in claim 5, wherein said improvement further comprises said ultraviolet light reflective material directly covering all of the interior surfaces of each of the hoppers being continuous with said ultraviolet light reflective material directly covering all of said interior surface of said lid when said lid closes the mouths of the hoppers so as to form completely ultraviolet light reflective chambers for holding the eating utensils.

7. The improved device as defined in claim 4, wherein said improvement further comprises said ultraviolet light reflective material being a sheet.

8. The improved device as defined in claim 6, wherein said improvement further comprises said ultraviolet light assembly further comprising a plurality of ultraviolet germicidal lamps disposed on said ultraviolet light reflective material in said hoppers.

9. The improved device as defined in claim 8, wherein said improvement further comprises said plurality of ultraviolet germicidal lamps extending the heights of the interior surfaces of the hoppers completely.

10. The improved device as defined in claim 8, wherein said improvement further comprises each of said ultraviolet germicidal lamps being tubular.

11. The improved device as defined in claim 8, wherein said improvement further comprises each of said ultraviolet germicidal lamps generating said ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 253.7 nanometers for destroying bacteria and other microorganisms, including mold spores, yeast, and virus resident on the eating utensils loaded in the hoppers.

12. The improved device as defined in claim 8, wherein said improvement further comprises at least one ultraviolet germicidal lamp extending along said ultraviolet light reflective material on each interior surface of each hopper, and when said lid closes the mouths of the hoppers and forms said completely ultraviolet light reflecting chambers, said ultraviolet light generated by said plurality of ultraviolet germicidal lamps reflects off all of said ultraviolet light reflective material in said completely ultraviolet light reflecting chambers and impacts upon all of the surfaces of the eating utensils, and in doing so, sanitizes the eating utensils from contaminates the eating utensils picked prior to, and during, loading of the eating utensils into the hoppers, while said lid prevents said ultraviolet light from escaping from said completely ultraviolet light reflecting chambers and into the ambient, and in doing so, prevents said ultraviolet light from causing radiation sickness.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a device for wrapping eating utensils in a napkin. More particularly, the present invention relates to an improved device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Within a large segment of the food service industry, food service providers serve millions of customers reusing a small inventory of silverware, also referred to herein as eating utensils, which are washed after each use.

[0005] Because individually handling eating utensils to set places at tables is time-consuming, a significant number of food service providers supply eating utensils in bundles which are prepared well in advance of use by manually wrapping the necessary utensils in napkins.

[0006] While this procedure provides more rapid dispensing of utensils when needed, and facilitates the rapid resetting of tables for use, such preparation remains labor intensive. For high volume restaurants and chains, the labor costs may be in the tens of thousands of dollars annually per restaurant.

[0007] Numerous innovations for silverware and napkin manipulating devices have been provided in the prior art that will be described. Even though these innovations may be suitable for the specific individual purposes to which they address, however, they do not teach a device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin.

[0008] FOR EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 5,046,297 to Lippert et al. teaches a receiving station of a packaging machine for stacks of folded paper napkins or the like having a cassette with a base plate and a cover plate. The spacing between the base and cover plates changes automatically not only during the course of each operating cycle, rather the basic spacing between the cover and base plates also capable of being adjusted while the machine is operating, in order to be able to quickly and reliably adapt the width of the cassette to different stack thicknesses.

[0009] ANOTHER EXAMPLE, U.S. Pat. No. 5,117,928 to Weihe teaches an apparatus for receiving and sorting a plurality of pieces of flatware for delivery of the flatware to a holding or storage mechanism, the apparatus comprising a tube mechanism comprising a wall forming a tube having an open end for slidable delivery of the flatware pieces to a holding mechanism, the tube mechanism having a selected length, a selected internal volume and a slot extending lengthwise in the wall for receiving pieces of flatware lengthwise through the slot, the flatware pieces having a selected length and depth. The tube mechanism is pivotably mounted on a support structure at a selected point along the length of the tube mechanism such that the slot is disposed upwardly for receiving the pieces of flatware downwardly through the slot and into the internal volume of the tube mechanism. The tube mechanism is pivotably mounted on the support structure for pivoting between a stationary at-rest position and non-stationary positions such that the tube mechanism is disposed in a tilted orientation relative to horizontal when in the stationary at-rest position. The support structure includes a pivot stop for limiting the degree of the tilted orientation of the at-rest position. A stop mechanism is included for holding pieces of flatware received within the internal volume of the tube mechanism against sliding out of the tube mechanism when the tube is in the at-rest tilted orientation.

[0010] Accordingly, the need exists for an apparatus that automatically wraps eating utensils in a napkin. Such a need has been met by U.S. Pat. No. 5,469,688 to Dunbar et al. which teaches a prior art device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin.

[0011] The configuration of the prior art device 10 for automatically wrapping eating utensils 12 in a napkin 14 can best be seen in FIG. 1, which is a diagrammatic perspective view of a typical prior art device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin, and as such, will be discussed with reference thereto.

[0012] The device 10 includes hoppers 16 for holding the eating utensils 12 sortingly, and which have interior surfaces 15 with heights for facing and surrounding the eating utensils 12 and mouths 17 for introducing the eating utensils 12 therein.

[0013] The device 10 further includes a tray 18 for holding the napkin 14.

[0014] The device 10 further includes a staging assembly 20 that is operatively connected to the hoppers 16 and to the tray 18 for receiving the napkin 14 from the tray 18 and the eating utensils 12 from the hoppers 16 on top of the napkin 14.

[0015] The device 10 further includes a wrapping assembly 22 that is operatively connected to the staging assembly 20 for wrapping the napkin 14 around the eating utensils 12 so as to form a wrapped set of eating utensils.

[0016] The device 10 further includes a banding assembly 24 that is operatively connected to the wrapping assembly 22 for providing a band around, so as to hold together, the wrapped set of eating utensils and form a banded wrapped set of eating utensils 26.

[0017] While this device provides automatic wrapping of eating utensils in a napkin, such a device does not assure that the eating utensils are sanitary at the point of wrapping.

[0018] It has been found that bacteria or other microorganisms, including mold spores, yeast and virus, can be destroyed in the air or on exposed surfaces if they are subjected to ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 253.7 nanometers.

[0019] Research performed by Dr. Harvey C. Rentschler of Westinghouse Laboratories in the early 1930's led to the development of the Sterilamp® Ultraviolet Tube, which tube emits UV light with that wavelength. In order for the UV light from these tubes to kill microorganisms, the rays must directly strike them.

[0020] The exposure to UV light necessary to kill bacteria (or the “kill” factor) is a product of time and intensity. If the bacteria or mold spores are hidden below the surface of a material or are not in the direct path of the rays, they will not be destroyed.

[0021] There is, however, a danger to humans from use of UV light; radiation sickness. This manifests itself as a reddening of the skin or an irritation of the eyes if there is prolonged, or intense, exposure to the rays. For this reason, UV lights must be shielded to prevent direct or reflected from striking humans.

[0022] Accordingly, the need exists for an apparatus that not only automatically wraps eating utensils in a napkin, but assures that the eating utensils are sanitary at the point of wrapping.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0023] ACCORDINGLY, AN OBJECT of the present invention is to provide an improved device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin that avoids the disadvantages of the prior art.

[0024] ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention is to provide an improved device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin that is simple to use.

[0025] BRIEFLY STATED, STILL ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention is to provide an improved device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin of the type having hoppers for holding the eating utensils sortingly, a tray for holding the napkin, a staging assembly for receiving the napkin from the tray and the eating utensils from the hoppers on top of the napkin, a wrapping assembly for wrapping the napkin around the eating utensils so as to form a wrapped set of eating utensils, and a banding assembly for providing a band around, so as to hold together, the wrapped set of eating utensils. The improvement includes an ultraviolet light assembly disposed in each of the hoppers and which generates ultraviolet light directly upon all surfaces of the eating utensils after the eating utensils have been loaded into the hoppers so as to sanitize the eating utensils from contaminates the eating utensils picked up prior to, and during, loading of the eating utensils into the hoppers.

[0026] The novel features which are considered characteristic of the present invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its construction and its method of operation, together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will be best understood from the following description of the specific embodiments when read and understood in connection with the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0027] The figures of the drawing are briefly described as follows:

[0028] FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic perspective view of a typical prior art device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin;

[0029] FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic perspective view of the present invention; and

[0030] FIG. 3 is an enlarged diagrammatic top plan view taken in the direction of ARROW 3 in FIG. 2 of the ultraviolet light assembly of the present invention.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS UTILIZED IN THE DRAWING

Prior Art

[0031] 10 prior art device for automatically wrapping eating utensils 12 in napkin 14

[0032] 12 eating utensils

[0033] 14 napkin

[0034] 15 interior surfaces of hoppers 16 for facing and surrounding eating utensils 12

[0035] 16 hoppers for holding eating utensils 12 sortingly.

[0036] 17 mouths of hoppers 16 for introducing eating utensils 12 into hoppers 16

[0037] 18 tray for holding napkin 14

[0038] 20 staging assembly for receiving napkin 14 from tray 18 and eating utensils 12 from hoppers 16 on top of napkin 14

[0039] 22 wrapping assembly for wrapping napkin 14 around eating utensils 12 so as to form wrapped set of eating utensils

[0040] 24 banding assembly for providing band around, so as to hold together, wrapped set of eating utensils and form banded wrapped set of eating utensils 26

[0041] 26 banded wrapped set of eating utensils

Present Invention

[0042] 30 improved device of present invention for automatically wrapping eating utensils 12 in napkin 14

[0043] 32 ultraviolet light assembly

[0044] 34 lid of ultraviolet light assembly 32

[0045] 36 interior surface of lid 34 of ultraviolet light assembly 32 for facing eating utensils 12 when lid 34 closes mouths 17 of hoppers 16

[0046] 38 ultraviolet light reflective material of ultraviolet light assembly 32

[0047] 40 completely ultraviolet light reflective chambers of ultraviolet light assembly 32 for holding eating utensils 12

[0048] 42 plurality of ultraviolet germicidal lamps of ultraviolet light assembly 32

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0049] Referring now to the figures, in which like numerals indicate like parts, and particularly to FIG. 2, which is a diagrammatic perspective view of the present invention, the improved device of the present invention is shown generally at 30 for automatically wrapping the eating utensils 12 in the napkin 14.

[0050] The improvement comprises an ultraviolet light assembly 32 disposed in each of the hoppers 16 and generating ultraviolet light directly upon all surfaces of the eating utensils 12 after the eating utensils 12 have been loaded into the hoppers 16 so as to sanitize the eating utensils 12 from contaminates the eating utensils 12 picked prior to, and during, loading of the eating utensils 12 into the hoppers 16.

[0051] The configuration of the ultraviolet light assembly 32 can best be seen in FIG. 3, which is an enlarged diagrammatic top plan view taken in the direction of ARROW 3 in FIG. 2 of the ultraviolet light assembly of the present invention, and as such, will be discussed with reference thereto.

[0052] The improvement further comprises the ultraviolet light assembly 32 comprising a lid 34 cooperating with, and selectively closing the mouths 17 of, the hoppers 16.

[0053] The improvement further comprises the lid 34 having an interior surface 36 for facing the eating utensils 12 when the lid 34 closes the mouths 17 of the hoppers 16.

[0054] The improvement further comprises the ultraviolet light assembly 32 further comprising a ultraviolet light reflective material 38 directly covering all of the interior surface 36 of the lid 34 so as to completely line the lid 34 with the ultraviolet light reflective material 38.

[0055] The improvement further comprises the ultraviolet light reflective material 38 directly covering all of the interior surfaces 15 of each of the hoppers 16 so as to completely line the hoppers 16 with the ultraviolet light reflective material 38.

[0056] The improvement further comprises the ultraviolet light reflective material 38 further directly covering all of the interior surfaces 15 of each of the hoppers 16 being continuous with the ultraviolet light reflective material 38 directly covering all of the interior surface 36 of the lid 34 when the lid 34 closes the mouths 17 of the hoppers 16 so as to form completely ultraviolet light reflective chambers 40 for holding the eating utensils 12.

[0057] The improvement further comprises the ultraviolet light reflective material 38 being a sheet.

[0058] The improvement further comprises the ultraviolet light assembly 32 further comprising a plurality of ultraviolet germicidal lamps 42 disposed on the ultraviolet light reflective material 38 in the hoppers 16.

[0059] The improvement further comprises the plurality of ultraviolet germicidal lamps 42 extending the heights of the interior surfaces of the hoppers 16 completely.

[0060] The improvement further comprises each of the ultraviolet germicidal lamps 42 being tubular.

[0061] The improvement further comprises each of the ultraviolet germicidal lamps 42 generating the ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 253.7 nanometers for destroying bacteria and other microorganisms, including mold spores, yeast, and virus resident on the eating utensils 12 loaded in the hoppers 16.

[0062] The improvement further comprises at least one ultraviolet germicidal lamp 42 extending along the ultraviolet light reflective material 38 on each interior surface 15 of each hopper 16, and when the lid 24 closes the mouths 17 of the hoppers 16 and forms the completely ultraviolet light reflecting chambers 40, the ultraviolet light generated by the plurality of ultraviolet germicidal lamps 42 reflects off all of the ultraviolet light reflective material 38 in the completely ultraviolet light reflecting chambers 40 and impacts upon all of the surfaces of the eating utensils 12, and in doing so, sanitizes the eating utensils 12 from contaminates the eating utensils 12 picked prior to, and during, loading of the eating utensils 12 into the hoppers 16, while the lid 34 prevents the ultraviolet light from escaping from the completely ultraviolet light reflecting chambers 40 and into the ambient, and in doing so, prevents the ultraviolet light from causing radiation sickness.

[0063] It will be understood that each of the elements described above, or two or more together, may also find a useful application in other types of constructions differing from the types described above.

[0064] While the invention has been illustrated and described as embodied in an improved device for automatically wrapping eating utensils in a napkin, however, it is not limited to the details shown, since it will be understood that various omissions, modifications, substitutions and changes in the forms and details of the device illustrated and its operation can be made by those skilled in the art without departing in any way from the spirit of the present invention.

[0065] Without further analysis, the foregoing will so fully reveal the gist of the present invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily adapt it for various applications without omitting features that, from the standpoint of prior art, fairly constitute characteristics of the generic or specific aspects of this invention.