Title:
Cooking device for regenerating a cooking product
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cooking device for regenerating an item to be cooked includes a regeneration compartment, inside of which at least two regeneration levels are or can be arranged at different heights, in particular, while being fixed by being pushed in. A timer that trips an alarm after a set or settable regeneration time has elapsed is assigned to each regeneration level. Additionally, the cooking device includes an operational control with an input unit for manually initiating the timer of each regeneration level loaded with an item to be cooked and a display unit for displaying a period of time characteristic of an initiated timer.



Inventors:
Juergens, Andrea (Kirchheim, DE)
Greiner, Michael (Landsberg, DE)
Funk, Gerd (Landsberg, DE)
Treu, Thomas (Muenchen, DE)
Application Number:
11/353552
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
02/13/2006
Assignee:
RATIONAL AG (Landsberg/Lech, DE)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
D21C7/00; A47J39/00; F24C7/08; F24C15/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
PELHAM, JOSEPH MOORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHRISTENSEN O'CONNOR JOHNSON KINDNESS PLLC (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
1. Cooking device for the regeneration of cooking product in a regeneration compartment, including at least two regeneration levels, whereby each regeneration level has a clock assigned to it which triggers an alarm after the completion of a set or settable regeneration duration, the cooking device comprising: an operational element with an input unit for manual initiation of the clock of each regeneration level loaded with cooking product and with a display unit for displaying a time span characteristic for an initiated clock.

2. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein the regeneration levels are defined by one or more racks.

3. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein the regeneration levels can be arranged in different heights.

4. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein the regeneration duration of each regeneration level can be adjustable or selectable through the input unit.

5. Cooking device according to claim 4, wherein the regeneration duration of each regeneration level can be adjustable or selectable through the input unit as a function of the type of cooking product to be regenerated.

6. Cooking device according to claim 1 wherein the same regeneration duration is or can be set for at least two of the regeneration levels.

7. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein the same regeneration duration is or can be set for all of the regeneration levels.

8. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein the characteristic time span of each clock reflects the corresponding residual running time of the regeneration level belonging to the said clock, which is obtained from the difference between the said regeneration duration and the time elapsed since the initiation of the said clock.

9. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein the input unit comprises at least one key field and/or a touch-screen.

10. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein the input unit and the display unit are made as one unit.

11. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein a central time manager cooperates with the clocks.

12. Cooking device according to claim 11, wherein the central time manager is implemented by a microprocessor.

13. Cooking device according to claim 1, wherein at least one regeneration parameter, can be controlled and/or regulated through a control and/or regulating unit.

14. Cooking device according to claim 13, wherein the one regeneration parameter is determined by a temperature and/or a moisture in the regeneration compartment.

15. Cooking device according to claim 13, wherein the at least one regeneration parameter can be controlled and/or regulated through the control and/or regulating unit in each regeneration level.

16. Cooking device according to claim 13, wherein the at least one regeneration parameter can be controlled and/or regulated through the control and/or regulating unit in the regeneration compartment as a whole.

17. Cooking device according to claim 13, wherein the at least one regeneration parameter can be controlled and/or regulated through the control and/or regulating unit as a function of an output value of at least one sensor.

18. Cooking device according to claim 17, wherein the at least one sensor is a cooking process sensor.

19. A cooking device for the regeneration of cooking product, comprising: a regeneration compartment, including at least two regeneration levels; a clock associated with each regeneration level, wherein each clock triggers an alarm after the completion of a regeneration duration for the associated regeneration level; an input unit for manual initiation of the clock associated with each regeneration level; and a display unit for displaying a time span characteristic for one or more of the clocks.

20. The cooking device according to claim 19, wherein the input unit enables the regeneration duration of each regeneration level to be adjusted or selected.

21. The cooking device according to claim 20, wherein the input unit enables the regeneration duration of each regeneration level to be adjusted or selected as a function of the type of cooking product to be regenerated.

22. The cooking device according to claim 19, wherein the input unit enables the same regeneration duration to be set for at least two of the regeneration levels.

23. The cooking device according to claim 19, wherein a characteristic time span of each clock reflects the corresponding residual running time of the regeneration level belonging to the clock, obtained as the difference between the regeneration duration for the regeneration level belonging to the clock and the time elapsed since the initiation of the clock.

24. The cooking device according to claim 19, wherein the input unit comprises at least one key field and/or a touch-screen.

25. The cooking device according to claim 19, wherein the input unit and the display unit are made as one unit.

26. The cooking device according to claim 19, including a microprocessor coupled to said input unit and said clocks.

27. The cooking device according to claim 26, wherein said microprocessor implements a central time manager in conjunction with the clocks.

28. The cooking device according to claim 19, further including a control and/or regulation unit that controls at least one regeneration parameter in the regeneration compartment.

29. The cooking device according to claim 28, further including a sensor that measures the regeneration parameter in the regeneration compartment.

30. The cooking device according to claim 29, wherein the sensor is temperature or a moisture sensor.

31. The cooking device according to claim 28, wherein the control and/or regulation unit controls or regulates the at least one regeneration parameter in each regeneration level of the regeneration compartment.

32. The cooking device according to claim 28, wherein the control and/or regulation unit controls or regulates the at least one regeneration parameter in the regeneration compartment as a whole.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of International Application No. PCT/DE2004/001473 filed Jul. 8, 2004, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference, and claims priority to German patent application number 103 37 161.3 filed Aug. 13,2003.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present application concerns a cooking device for the regeneration of cooking product in a regeneration compartment in which at least two regeneration levels, in particular respectively determined by a rack, are arranged or can be arranged at different heights, whereby each regeneration level has a clock assigned to it which sends out an alarm after the expiration of a set or a settable regeneration duration.

BACKGROUND ART

Generic cooking devices for regeneration of a cooking product have been known for a long time from the state of the art. They comprise a regeneration compartment or cooking compartment into which racks with cooking products can be inserted at different levels. Such different levels can be formed, for example, by an oven rack or similar device. The cooking product is regenerated, for example, heated, in the cooking compartment.

DE 43 24 015 C1 describes a generic cooking device in the form of a large-scale-kitchen cooking device with a number of racks loadable with the cooking products, in which at least one switch disposed on each rack which can be automatically activated during loading as well as at least one timer that is connected to said at least one switch is allocated, and which can be adjusted to the desired cooking time. In addition, a loading indicator is provided which indicates for each rack, with the aid of the switch and the timer, if the rack is loaded and if the food located on the rack is cooked to completion. In this large-scale-kitchen cooking device, each rack is provided with a sensor which triggers a signal when a rack is loaded, for example, when a container pushed on the rack contacts a switch assigned to the rack. If for any arbitrary reason such a contact cannot be made, no signal is given by the corresponding sensor. Before pushing in the container into the known cooking devices the duration of regeneration or cooking time of the food introduced is entered through a knob for adjusting the timer.

DE 33 16 221 A1 describes a recirculating oven in which several baking trays can be inserted. This recirculating oven comprises a heating device which in each case comprises a radiating heating body which is built into one or several baking trays that can be pushed into the baking oven, and in the pushed-in position of the baking tray, it is electrically connected to a switching and control device of the baking oven, whereby the switching and control device is designed to supply a heating body assigned to a recirculating air blower and/or feeds the heating body of the baking tray with current.

A device is known from DE 90 07 085 U1 for the heating of foods where the cooking compartment is divided into at least two zones separable from one another, whereby in these zones different treatment temperatures exist, especially for overheating steam in a smaller zone of the cooking chamber. Different regeneration times cannot be set.

DD 229 588 A1 describes a device for cooling, heating and cooking of foods, whereby first the prepared foods are inserted into a cooling part and then on an operating panel a cooling process and the time for the transfer of all foods into a heating part as well as the level of temperature and the duration of heating in the heating part can be adjusted. It is also possible that only foods of certain sections of the cooling part are transferred into the heating part, in order to be able to adjust the number of needed foods as required.

A parameter-controlled system in an oven for heating a food is known from EP 0 313 768 B2. The parameters that come into consideration are the temperature, volumetric throughput, moisture and the circulation of a heating medium. Furthermore, the system includes an audible alarm when a predetermined heating time has elapsed or when a corresponding cooking curve has been followed, without individualization according to the levels in the cooking compartment.

EP 0 737 423 B1 concerns a device for automatic treatment of products to be cooled, cooking product and goods to be baked, as well as a method suitable for this treatment. In the device several cooking and/or baking processes may proceed simultaneously. A cooking process is ended, for example, when a core temperature sensor has measured the required temperature within a cooking product.

EP 1 275 333 A1describes a steam cooking device with several cooking levels in a cooking compartment, where in each case separate temperature-measuring devices are arranged in at least two cooking levels. With this steam cooking device it is possible to reach a controllable temperature distribution in all horizontally-arranged cooking levels. As desired, either a targeted uniform temperature distribution can be set in the entire cooking compartment or different temperatures can be set in the individual cooking levels, through which a simultaneous beginning and simultaneous ending can be achieved during the cooking of cooking products with different cooking times.

The microwave ovens of U.S. Pat. No. 4,390,965 have the aim to perform simultaneous ending of different regeneration and cooking processes in several microwave ovens. For this purpose, an electronic system is proposed for the regeneration of a number of portions of cooking products in an equal number of microwave ovens. Starting from the longest time duration, which has been entered for the regeneration of cooking product in a given microwave oven, the adjusted regeneration time proceeds, so that finally all microwave ovens have regenerated or cooked their cooking products simultaneously.

WO 99/55212 discloses a method, a device and a container for heating pre-cooked foods, whereby the foods are heated simultaneously and uniformly with induction heating coils and hot steam in closed compartments.

The disadvantages of the cooking devices from the state of the art is that they cannot be handled simply and flexibly in order to insert a number of cooking products at different times into the cooking device so that they can be removed from the cooking device after the elapse of the individually desired time period. Rather, the use of an extensive sensor system in cooperation with each individual rack of a number of racks is required for individualization, which is cost-intensive. Furthermore, with the generic cooking devices it is possible only to introduce the cooking products at different times on racks, to be removed when they are satisfactorily completed, which introduction triggers a contact with a switch at the corresponding rack. Also, individual insertion and removal of individual dishes from the existing racks can be monitored with the generic cooking devices only with great expenditure of time.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

Therefore, the task of the present invention is to further develop a generic cooking device in such a way that the disadvantages of the state of the art are overcome, especially by making it possible to have simple, flexible and clear regeneration of cooking products with different introduction and removal times.

According to the disclosure, this task is solved by an operating element with an input unit for manual initiation of the clock of each regeneration level loaded with cooking product and with a display unit for indicating a characteristic time span for an initiated clock.

Hereby it is preferred that the regeneration duration of each regeneration level be adjustable or selectable through the input unit, preferably as a function of the type of cooking product to be regenerated.

Embodiments are characterized by the fact that the same regeneration duration can be set or is set for at least two, and preferably for all regeneration levels.

Preferably it is proposed that the characteristic time span of each clock reflects the corresponding remaining time of the regeneration duration of the regeneration level belonging to the said clock, which is obtained from the difference of the said regeneration duration and the time elapsed since the initiation of the said clock.

Furthermore, it can be provided that the input unit comprises at least one key field and/or a touchscreen.

It is also proposed that the input unit and the display unit are made as one unit.

Cooking devices as described herein are characterized by a central time management especially provided by a microprocessor, in cooperation with the clocks.

Finally, it can also be provided that at least one regeneration parameter, determined especially by a temperature and/or a moisture in the regeneration compartment, can be controlled and/or regulated through a control and/or regulating unit in each regeneration level as such, or in the regeneration compartment as a whole, preferably as a function of the output value of at least one sensor, such as in the form of a cooking process sensor.

The invention is based on the surprising finding that, by providing an operational control, empty regeneration levels or those loaded with cooking products as well as the remaining regeneration durations of the loaded regeneration levels can be indicated in a simple, flexible and clear manner after initiation of the clocks of the particular regeneration levels that are loaded. Extensive sensor systems which check whether or not, for example, a container was inserted into a rack is not required according to the present invention, which will save costs. Furthermore, the use of the said operating controls, preferably in the form of a touch-screen, makes it possible to monitor the loading of racks with trays as a function of time. Such trays are usually placed onto a rack plate already located in the cooking device, so that the trays do not have to trigger any signal upon contact with the rack plate or a switch. The loading of the levels can be displayed on a normal display of the cooking device in a simple and clear manner.

If, in a preferred embodiment of the disclosed cooking device, a regeneration program is stored in a fixed manner in the cooking device for a specific type of cooking product, such as poultry, pizza or similar product, the regeneration of a number of cooking products of a type of cooking product can be initiated after choosing the type of cooking product and the individual assignment in a regeneration level by simply touching the key belonging to the said regeneration level, which saves additional operating steps, since the duration of regeneration does not have to be adjusted repeatedly through switches or knobs for each item of the particular type of cooking product to be regenerated.

Furthermore, by the use of a clock for each individual rack, which clock triggers an alarm after the completion of a certain regeneration duration, individual utilization of the cooking device is possible such that various cooking products can be individually regenerated in the cooking device, independently of other cooking products that have to be regenerated. This operation leads to better utilization of the cooking device and also to savings in time, since one does not have to wait until a regeneration cycle of a cooking product is completed within the cooking device before a new cooking product can be introduced into the cooking device. Rather, with the cooking device described herein, it is possible to assign and to regenerate an additional cooking product on a rack in the cooking device while a regeneration process for another cooking product is already progressing in the cooking device. The regeneration durations of different cooking products can also be set individually in the cooking.

The end of a regeneration duration is communicated to the user by an alarm in a cooking device. This alarm can be a visual and/or an acoustic alarm, whereby preferably it can be provided that the acoustic alarm is displayed.

In a specially preferred embodiment of the cooking device described herein, it is furthermore provided that at least one regeneration parameter, such as temperature and/or moisture, is uniform within the entire regeneration compartment. However, to a person skilled in the art of this field, it is immediately obvious that different regeneration parameters can be set locally within the regeneration compartment depending on the cooking product to be regenerated.

Control of the regeneration parameters is possible, for example, as a function of the output values of a cooking process sensor, as described in DE 199 45 021.8.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further characteristics and advantages of the invention follow from the detailed description of an embodiment of the invention given below with reference to the drawing consisting of two figures.

FIG. 1 shows a section of an operating element for a cooking.

FIG. 2 shows a cooking device including the operating element of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a section of an operational control 1 for a cooking device (not shown) which can hold ten racks at different heights in its cooking compartment, for example using an oven rack. Preferably, operational control 1 is a touch-screen. Within operational control 1, key fields 2 are arranged, whereby one key field is provided for each rack. In addition to the key fields 2, the operational control 1 naturally may include other elements which are necessary for the operation of the cooking device and for programming and adjusting key fields 2.

According to FIG. 1, ten key fields are provided, one for each of the ten racks (not shown). As soon as a rack is loaded with the cooking product to be regenerated (not shown), it can be selected from key field 2. For example, in FIG. 1, racks 1 and 8 are indicated as being loaded with cooking products. Such a loading can be represented by a symbol, whereby in FIG. 1 an abstract representation of a rack was chosen. In addition to this symbol, another visual display can be present, for example, a blinking of the key or of the border of the key. For the occupied racks, in this case racks 1 and 8, the residual regeneration duration is also indicated. Further, on operational control 1, in a manner known to a person skilled in the art, a desired regeneration duration, here 8 minutes, can be previously set, for example through a dial or appropriate numerical keys or similar devices, for all ten racks. The manner of setting up such a time adjustment is easily performed by a person skilled in the art. The set regeneration duration can, for example, be confirmed through an OK-key (not shown). To start the regeneration process for a rack, the respective rack key can then simply be activated so that the regeneration duration can be started individually for each rack. In FIG. 1, the clock for rack 1 was started 4 minutes previously, so that a remaining regeneration duration of 4 minutes is shown, while in the case of rack 8 the regeneration duration is still six minutes and 23 seconds; that is, the corresponding clock was started 1 minute and 37 seconds ago.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a cooking device 10 for the regeneration of a cooking product is shown. The cooking device 10 includes a regeneration compartment 12 which includes at least two regeneration levels and is shown in FIG. 2 as including ten regeneration levels disposed above one another and defined by racks 13. The cooking device 10 also includes a set of clocks 14, including one clock associated with each regeneration level, wherein each clock 14 triggers an alarm 15 after the completion of a regeneration duration for the associated regeneration level. Likewise, the cooking device 10 includes an input unit and a display unit 20, which may be the control unit 1 shown in FIG. 1, for manual initiation of the clocks 14 associated with the regeneration levels. The display unit 20 displays a time span characteristic for one or more of the clocks 14 in the manner described with respect to FIG. 1. Still further, the input unit 20 enables the regeneration duration of each regeneration level to be adjusted or selected, preferably as a function of the type of cooking product to be regenerated. If desired, the input unit 20 enables the same regeneration duration to be set for at least two of the regeneration levels.

It will be understood that a characteristic time span of each clock 14 reflects the corresponding residual running time of the regeneration level belonging to that clock 14, obtained as the difference between the regeneration duration for the regeneration level belonging to the clock 14 and the time elapsed since the initiation of the clock 14.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, the cooking device 10 includes a microprocessor 22 which acts in conjunction with the clocks 14 to implement a central time manager. Still further, a control and/or regulation unit 24 controls at least one regeneration parameter in the regeneration compartment 12 and one or more cooking process sensors 26 is/are disposed in the regeneration compartment 12 to measure the regeneration parameter in the regeneration compartment 12. If desired, the control and/or regulation unit 24 controls or regulates the at least one regeneration parameter at each regeneration level of the regeneration compartment 12 or in the regeneration compartment 12 as a whole.

During the operation of the cooking device, the regeneration duration for the racks can be altered individually or for all of them together. This operation may be necessary, for example, when a type of cooking product is changed or when the temperature within the cooking device is to be changed.

The end of a given regeneration process for a rack is indicated by a visual and/or acoustic signal. For example, the acoustic signal can be a buzzer which buzzes for a given time duration, for example, two seconds. A visual signal can be provided by the fact that, for example, when the regeneration process is completed the corresponding rack key blinks. Other signals can also be provided, especially visual ones, for example during the operation of a regeneration method for a certain rack as a request to check or set the durations of the regeneration or similar.

One can also conceive that for at least a certain given rack a regeneration program can be stored in a fixed manner in the cooking device, for example, in order to regenerate a cooking product of the same type of cooking product on a given rack so that the setting of the corresponding clock does not have to be repeated each time but can be started for example, by a given key combination on the operational control. Thus, for each rack a regeneration program that is specific to a given cooking product can be stored.

Finally, one can also conceive that a regeneration method for a given rack can be terminated early in a simple manner (for example by pressing a corresponding key). It may also occur that all regeneration processes that are being carried out at one time in the cooking device need to be slowed down or accelerated. Therefore, a key combination can also be provided with which the regeneration duration can be changed for all racks simultaneously.

The characteristics of the invention disclosed in the above specification, in the drawing as well as in the claims can be but are not necessarily essential individually as well as in any arbitrary combination for realizing the invention in its different embodiments.