Title:
Container filling device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container filling device fills containers, in particular wine bottles and bag-in-box type containers, with fluid from a supply reservoir, for example a reservoir for containing homemade wine. The device includes a nozzle fixed above a movable carrier which supports the container to be filled thereon. The nozzle receives fluid from a pump controlled by a mechanism which dispenses a controlled volume of fluid into the container. The carrier is movable from a bottle position for supporting a wine bottle between the nozzle and carrier and a bag mode in which a bag holder is supported on the carrier which supports a bag from a bag-in-box container thereon with the spout of the bag in alignment with the nozzle.



Inventors:
Alves, Luis (Thunder Bay, CA)
Application Number:
11/198240
Publication Date:
02/08/2007
Filing Date:
08/08/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B1/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ARNETT, NICOLAS ALLEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ryan W. Dupuis (Winnipeg, MB, CA)
Claims:
1. A container filling device for filling a container with fluid from a supply reservoir, the device comprising: a nozzle for dispensing the fluid therefrom into the container; a pump including an intake hose for communication with the supply reservoir and an outlet hose for communication with the nozzle; and a carrier for supporting the container below the nozzle; the carrier being operable in either a bottle mode in which the container comprises a conventional wine bottle supported between the nozzle and the carrier and a bag mode in which the container comprises a conventional wine bag having a spout supported in alignment with the nozzle.

2. The device according to claim 1 wherein there is provided a control mechanism for operating the pump to dispense a control volume of fluid through the nozzle upon activation.

3. The device according to claim 1 wherein there is provided a pressure relief valve coupled to the nozzle for shutting off flow to the nozzle when a prescribed pressure is exceeded, representative of the container being filled.

4. The device according to claim 2 wherein the controlled volume of fluid is adjustable.

5. The device according to claim 4 wherein there is provided an override switch for operating the pump directly instead of through the controlled mechanism.

6. The device according to claim 1 wherein the carrier is biased upwardly toward the nozzle.

7. The device according to claim 1 wherein the carrier comprises a bottle guide including means for locating a bottle thereon concentrically with the nozzle.

8. The device according to claim 1 wherein the carrier generally comprises a horizontal plate for supporting the container thereon to be moveable relative to the nozzle which is fixed in relation to the pump.

9. The device according to claim 1 wherein the carrier includes a bag holder selectively supported thereon in the bag mode, the bag holder comprising a base member and a spout support supported spaced above the base.

10. The device according to claim 9 wherein there is provided a height extension member for supporting the bag support on the carrier spaced upwardly towards the nozzle.

11. The device according to claim 10 wherein the carrier comprises a substantially horizontal plate supported on a post and wherein the height extension comprises a channel for slidably receiving the plate therein and a slot for slidably receiving the post therein.

12. The device according to claim 1 wherein the nozzle is surrounded by frusto conical shaped sealing member.

13. The device according to claim 3 wherein the pressure relief valve includes an overflow hose to which flow is directed when the nozzle is closed.

14. The device according to claim 13 wherein there is provided a bottle holder for supporting a conventional wine bottle therein for receiving the overflow hose.

15. A container filling device for filling a bag, having a spout and being supportable in a box, with fluid from a supply reservoir, the device comprising: a nozzle for dispensing the fluid therefrom; a pump including an intake hose for communication with the supply reservoir and an outlet hose for communication with the nozzle; a carrier for supporting a bag thereon such that the spout is supported below the nozzle in alignment therewith; and a control mechanism for operating the pump to dispense a controlled volume of fluid through the nozzle upon activation.

16. The device according to claim 15 wherein the control mechanism comprises a timer for operating the pump for a prescribed duration corresponding to a prescribed volume of fluid to be dispensed.

17. The device according to claim 15 wherein the control volume of fluid of the controlled mechanism is adjustable.

18. The device according to claim 15 wherein the nozzle is fixed in relation to the pump and the carrier is biased upwardly towards to nozzle.

19. The device according to claim 15 wherein the controlled mechanism includes reset means for dispensing a subsequent controlled volume of fluid through the nozzle upon activation.

20. The device according to claim 15 wherein the carrier is operable in a bottle mode in which the container comprises a conventional wine bottle supported between the nozzle and the carrier and a bag mode in which the container comprises a conventional wine bag having a spout supported in alignment with the nozzle.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a container filling device for filling a container with fluid from a supply reservoir, and more particularly relates to a device for filing bag-in-box type containers of the type commonly used for storing wine therein.

BACKGROUND

Wine is commonly available in either bottles or bag in box type containers in which a bag having a spout is supported in a surrounding box. Various known equipment exists for filling containers of the type commonly available for wine, however these devices in general typically involve a production line rather then being reduced to a sufficiently small scale for personal use by persons making their own wine and subsequently packaging the wine.

Various examples of filling devices relating to bag in box type containers or bottles are described in the following documents: U.S. Pat. No. 3,299,606; U.S. Pat. No. 3,377,775; U.S. Pat. No. 3,447,281; U.S. Pat. No. 3,927,700; U.S. Pat. No. 4,077,182; U.S. Pat. No. 4,363,203; U.S. Pat. No. 4,446,674; U.S. Pat. No. 4,452,030; U.S. Pat. No. 4,530,202; U.S. Pat. No. 4,534,154; U.S. Pat. No. 4,840,017; PCT/AU82/00089 (Quinsee); PCT/AU95/00879 (Astrapak Limited); U.S. Pat. No. 5,533,324 (Masahiko et al); JP2000168704 (Hirolo); JP2003026101 (Hirokazu et al); JP11171101 (Norisane); JP8183504 (Akihiro); JP8151003 (Satsuki); and JP619516 (Satsuki et al).

The known devices for filling containers with wine and the like are generally too complex for individual or personal use. In particular, none provide a simple means of metering the volume of fluid to be dispensed into a particular type or size of bag for bag-in-box type containers. Furthermore, none provide the ability to interchangeably fill either bottles or bags as desired by the user. Accordingly the purchase of separate equipment is cost prohibitive for persons who make their own wine or require small scale use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention there is provided a container filling device for filling a container with fluid from a supply reservoir, the device comprising:

a nozzle for dispensing the fluid therefrom into the container;

a pump including an intake hose for communication with the supply reservoir and an outlet hose for communication with the nozzle; and

a carrier for supporting the container below the nozzle;

the carrier being operable in either a bottle mode in which the container comprises a conventional wine bottle supported between the nozzle and the carrier and a bag mode in which the container comprises a conventional wine bag having a spout supported in alignment with the nozzle.

By providing a container filling device having a carrier which is operable in either a bag mode or a bottle mode provides the convenience of packages liquids in either bottles or bag in box type containers in a manner which is affordable to users at home. By further providing a control mechanism in a device for filling a wine bag in box type container, a controlled volume of fluid can be dispensed into the bag which corresponds to the recommended volume for a particular bag type.

There may be provided a control mechanism for operating the pump to dispense a control volume of fluid through the nozzle upon activation wherein the controlled volume of fluid is preferably adjustable.

There may be provided an override switch on the control mechanism for operating the pump directly instead of through the controlled mechanism in a bottle mode.

Preferably there is provided a pressure relief valve coupled to the nozzle for shutting off flow to the nozzle when a prescribed pressure is exceeded, representative of the container being filled during the bottle mode of operation.

Preferably the carrier is biased upwardly toward the nozzle.

The carrier generally comprises a horizontal plate for supporting the container thereon to be moveable relative to the nozzle which is fixed in relation to the pump.

The carrier may further comprise a bottle guide including means for locating a bottle thereon concentrically with the nozzle.

In addition, the carrier preferably includes a bag holder selectively supported thereon in the bag mode, the bag holder comprising a base member and a spout support supported spaced above the base.

Preferably a height extension member is used for supporting the bag support on the carrier spaced upwardly towards the nozzle.

When the carrier comprises a substantially horizontal plate supported on a post, the height extension preferably comprises a channel for slidably receiving the plate therein and a slot for slidably receiving the post therein.

The nozzle is preferably surrounded by a frusto conical shaped sealing member.

The pressure relief valve may include an overflow hose to which flow is directed when the nozzle is closed. There may be provided a bottle holder for supporting a conventional wine bottle therein for receiving the overflow hose.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a container filling device for filling a bag, having a spout and being supportable in a box, with fluid from a supply reservoir, the device comprising:

a nozzle for dispensing the fluid therefrom;

a pump including an intake hose for communication with the supply reservoir and an outlet hose for communication with the nozzle;

a carrier for supporting a bag thereon such that the spout is supported below the nozzle in alignment therewith; and

a control mechanism for operating the pump to dispense a controlled volume of fluid through the nozzle upon activation.

The control mechanism preferably comprises a timer for operating the pump for a prescribed duration corresponding to a prescribed volume of fluid to be dispensed.

Preferably the control mechanism includes reset means for dispensing a subsequent controlled volume of fluid through the nozzle upon activation.

One embodiment of the invention will now be described in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the container filling device in a bottle mode.

FIG. 2, FIG. 3 and FIG. 4 are respective side elevational, front elevational and top plan views of the device in the bottle mode.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the device in a bag mode of operation.

FIG. 6, FIG. 7 and FIG. 8 are respective side elevation, front elevational and top plan views of the device in the bag mode.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the biasing mechanism supported within the housing for biasing the carrier upwardly towards the nozzle.

FIG. 10 is a schematic flow diagram illustrating how the device dispenses fluid into a container from a supply reservoir.

FIG. 11 is a schematic view of the electrical components of the controller.

In the drawings like characters of reference indicate corresponding parts in the different figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the accompanying figures there is illustrated a container filling container device generally indicted by reference numeral 10. The device 10 is particularly suited for filling bottles, bag in box type containers, or any other suitable container for packaging a liquid therein.

The bag in box type containers to which the invention is particularly suited generally comprise a bag having a spout which snaps into a spout opening in a side of the bag. The bag then fits within a box having an opening for receiving the spout therethrough adjacent the bottom end of the box.

The device 10 fills a container 12 from a supply reservoir 14 using a pump 16 controlled by a suitable controller 18 as described herein. The device 10 includes a carrier 20 which supports the container 12 thereon below a nozzle 22 receiving fluid from the outlet hose 24 of the pump 16. The corresponding intake hose 26 of the pump comprises an elongate flexible hose which is simply inserted through the open top end of the reservoir 14. A pressure relief valve 28 is coupled between the pump 16 and the nozzle 22 for controlling flow to an overflow container 30.

The device 10 includes a platform base 32 suitable for mounting on a countertop or other horizontal supporting surface. A rectangular housing 34 extends upwardly from the platform base 32 at one end thereof for supporting the carrier 20 thereon spaced above the platform. The housing additionally supports the nozzle 22 directly above the carrier 20. The pump 16 is mounted on top of the housing near the nozzle 22.

The carrier 20 generally comprises a circular plate 36 which is oriented horizontally on the free end of a support arm 38. The support arm 38 projects horizontally from a track 40 mounted vertically within the housing. A slot 42 through a side wall of the housing receives the support arm 38 therethrough and permits sliding movement of the support arm and plate thereon along the vertical track 40 through the slot in the housing wall.

A rod 44 is mounted within the housing in a fixed relationship alongside the track 40. The rod 44 carries a compression spring 46 thereabout. A bottom washer 48 is held in place at a bottom end of the rod by a suitable nut for engaging one end of the spring 46.

A top flange 50 is slidable along the track 40 in fixed relationship with the support arm 38 and includes an aperture therein for receiving the rod therethrough. A suitable washer is mounted adjacent the top flange for engaging the opposing top end of the compression spring 46. Accordingly when the plate 36 and support arm 38 are moved downwardly, the top flange 50 which moves with the support arm in the track 40 causes compression of the spring 16 against the bottom washer 48 to provide a biasing force which urges the plate back upwardly towards the starting position. When the top flange 50 reaches the top end of the rod 44, corresponding to the top end track 40, the support arm reaches its end of travel within the slot 42 in the housing so that continued upward movement of the carrier 20 towards the nozzle is prevented.

The carrier 20 is operable in a bottle mode of operation as illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4, as well as being operable in a bag mode as illustrated in FIGS. 5 through 7.

In the bottle mode, a bottle guide 52 is supported on the carrier plate 36. The bottle guide 52 is circular and includes a depending peripheral flange which fits about the periphery of the plate 36 upon which it rests. An upper surface of the bottle guide 52 includes a peripheral ridge 54 and a central projection 56 which are concentric with the nozzle below which they are supported. The ridge 54 and projection 56 thus assist in locating a bottle in relation to the nozzle.

Range of motion of the carrier plate 36 is selected so that at its lowermost position clearance between the bottom free end of the nozzle and the bottle guide 52 is sufficient for receiving a conventional wine bottle therebetween. At an upper end of travel, the carrier plate 36 is permitted to move upwardly beyond a point at which a bottle resting on the bottle guide 52 would engage the nozzle so that a continued upward biasing force is applied to the bottle upon engagement with the nozzle for sealing therebetween.

In the bag mode, a bag holder 58 is arranged to be supported on the carrier plate 36 using a height extension member 60. The holder 58 generally comprises a base plate 62 which is rectangular and sufficiently broad for supporting a conventional wine bag thereon. An end plate 64 extends vertically upward from one end of the base plate for mounting a spout support 66 parallel and spaced above the base plate 62. The spout support 66 includes a slot formed therein suitably sized for supporting the spout opening of the wine bag therein.

The height extension member includes a channel formed by upper and lower base plates 68 and 70. The upper and lower base plates are supported by a spacer 72 of thickness corresponding approximately to the thickness of the carrier plate 36, for snugly receiving the carrier plate between the base plates. The spacer 72 includes a curved inner profile corresponding to a radius of curvature of the carrier plate 36 for locating the position of the height extension member in relation to the carrier plate.

A central slot 74 extends from the center of the lower most base plate 70 to a rear edge of the plate for receiving a post 76 slidably therethrough which supports the carrier plate 36 on the free end of the support arm 38.

The height extension member further includes a pair of side panels 78 which are spaced apart on opposing sides of the base plates and which extend upwardly therefrom parallel to one another to a top plate 80 spanning thereacross. The top panel 80 is parallel to the base plates and supports the holder 58 thereon. By providing a channel at the base of the height extension member, the height extension member can be readily slid onto the carrier for selective mounting and disassembly when converting between the bag mode and bottle mode of operations. The height extension member has a height which corresponds to approximately two thirds of a conventional wine bottle so that a combined height of the height extension member and the bag holder 58 which rests thereon fits between the carrier and the nozzle as does the bottle in the bottle mode of operation.

The pump outlet hose 24 feeds T-connector 82 to subsequently feed the nozzle 22 and the pressure relief valve 28. The nozzle includes a frusto conical shaped sealing member about an outer periphery thereof which tapers towards the opening at the bottom free end of the nozzle. The frusto conical seal tapers in width from a top end which is greater in diameter than the neck of a conventional wine bottle and the narrow bottom end which is smaller in diameter than a conventional wine bottle opening for being received therein.

The nozzle further includes an internal valve member, not shown, for shutting off flow through the nozzle when the internal valve member is seated. The internal valve member is controlled by the pressure relief valve 28 in such a manner that when excess pressure beyond a prescribed set point pressure occurs, the pressure relief valve closes that internal valve member of the nozzle and opens flow through the overflow hose to the overflow container 30. A set screw 84 on the pressure relief valve 28 permits adjustment of the set point pressure. A bottle carrier 86 is mounted on the side of the housing in the form of a sleeve structure for slidably receiving a conventional wine bottle therein for use as the overflow container 30. When filling multiple bottles, the combined overflow of several bottles substantially fills the overflow container resulting in an additional bottle being filled.

When operating in the bottle mode, the pressure relief valve 28 detects when the bottle is full as pressure begins to accumulate due to sealing engagement of the nozzle with the bottle opening. When a user visually sees flow in the overflow hose, the pump is manually switched off and the bottle on the carrier plate 36 is replaced with a new empty bottle to continue the filling operation.

The nozzle 22 in either mode of operation is fixed in relation to the housing and is supported concentrically with the support plate 36 spaced above the carrier 20. The nozzle is vertically oriented to point downwardly into a container therebelow to be filled.

The housing also contains a controller 88 powered by a suitable transformer (not shown) also supported within the housing to permit plugging directly into a conventional household electrical power supply outlet. The controller 88 effectively controls power supplied to the pump 16 for controlling on and off operation of the pump. In the bag mode of operation, an on/off switch 90 is provided for controlling power supplied to a relay timer 92 which in turn controls power supplied to the pump 16. When the switch 90 is turned on, the relay timer 92 is activated and the pump is then operated until a prescribed duration of the timer expires at which point power is interrupted to the pump and the pump is shutoff. The timer 92 includes an adjustable dial control 94 which can be varied between various preset durations which correspond to different prescribed volumes of fluid to be dispensed for filling different bags. A reset switch 96 is coupled to the timer 92 so that upon expiry of the timer, a new cycle may begin when the reset switch 96 is depressed. Upon depressing the reset switch 96, the timer then executes operation of the pump for the prescribed duration once again to fill a new bag which has been loaded onto the bag holder.

For operation in the bottle mode, a bottle on/off switch 98 is provided on the housing which bypasses the relay timer 92 to activate the pump 16 directly when the switch is in the on position. The sealing engagement of the nozzle against a bottle eventually causes pressure to build up when the bottle becomes full, to trip the pressure relief valve and cause flow to be redirected into the overflow container, at which point the on/off switch 98 is manually switched off. A manual switch 100 on the pressure relief valve permits the valve to be reset for filling another bottle with flow directed through the nozzle when the switch 98 is again turned on.

Since various modifications can be made in my invention as herein above described, and many apparently widely different embodiments of same made within the spirit and scope of the claims without department from such spirit and scope, it is intended that all matter contained in the accompanying specification shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not in a limiting sense.