Title:
Monitoring System for Dispensing Service Fluids
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for controlling and safeguarding the dispensing of fluids used in servicing centers is provided. The system is devised to provide lubricants to motor vehicles and includes a programmable system that comprises means to activate and deactivate a plurality of fluid dispensing pumps including a shut down of pump feeding air pressure to prevent fluid spills and to preclude the theft or dispensing of fluids at unauthorized times such as at times outside normal servicing hours. The invention also affords improved central proprietors of servicing facilities to set and monitor operable pump periods and includes an automatic shut down, until reactivated by a master key, of pump functions at a specified time of day.



Inventors:
Nallenweg, Richard M. (Weaverville, NC, US)
Osborne, Michael D. (Asheville, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/161805
Publication Date:
02/22/2007
Filing Date:
08/17/2005
Assignee:
BALCRANK PRODUCTS, INC. (Weaverville, NC, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F04B49/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050152789Pressure relief system for paint circulation applicationsJuly, 2005Kapron
20080107553Method of pumping drill cuttings and pump for moving drill cuttingsMay, 2008Mundell
20100034664Sprinkler-compatible ceiling fansFebruary, 2010Wiegel et al.
20080193307Motion Imparting DeviceAugust, 2008Elata et al.
20080260555WASHER FLUID PUMPOctober, 2008Opel et al.
20040265145Hydraulic spool-pieceDecember, 2004Miller
20060275163Combination fuel pump motor assembly with integral filter housingDecember, 2006Pike
20100092309DRINKING STRAW PUMP APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR USINGApril, 2010Hockemeier
20080260559Harmonic Motion Pumping TubeOctober, 2008Mcedwards
20070140879Air pump with improved air intake control structureJune, 2007Huang T. C.
20020031434Swash plate for compresserMarch, 2002Sugiura et al.



Primary Examiner:
BAYOU, AMENE SETEGNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ARTHUR J. PLANTAMURA, ESQ. (PARSIPPANY, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for monitoring and controlling pump means for dispensing vehicle servicing fluids comprising programmable pump operating monitoring means for activating and deactivating the fluid dispensing pump and pump feeding air pressure, said monitoring means including an automatic pump shut down means operable at a predetermined specified time of day and a lock preventing activation of said pump means including pump feeding air pressure following shut down, said lock having securing means to prevent unauthorized unlocking and operation of the pump means.

2. The system according to claim 1 which includes a plurality of dispensing pumps operable so as to be monitored each pump singly or in combination.

3. The system of claim 2 which includes a console containing a switch in combination with a pump ready visual signal light for each pump.

4. The system of claim 3 which includes a set of programmable control buttons for pre-setting pump times and a display window for visually confirming the setting of operable pump periods.

5. The system of claim 2 adapted for utilization in an automotive service center and functioning to dispense lubricating oil.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to an improved system for controlling and safeguarding the dispensing of fluids used in servicing centers such as those devised to furnish lubricants to motor vehicles. More particularly, the invention relates to a programmable system that comprises means to activate and deactivate a plurality of fluid dispensing pumps to prevent fluid spills and to preclude the theft or dispensing of fluids at unauthorized times such as at times outside normal servicing hours. The invention also affords improved control for proprietors of servicing facilities to set and monitor operable pump periods and includes an automatic shut down of pump function capable of being pre-set at a selected time of day and until reactivated by unlocking via a master key.

Various systems are available commercially for monitoring and for inventory control of oil and lubricant fluids dispensed at vehicle servicing centers such as the unit of Samson Corporation of Swannanoa, N.C., referred to as “Control Master.” No system is known for monitoring and automatically controlling the dispensing of servicing fluids, however, in operable times such that pumps will dispense fluids only during limited authorized programmed time periods. Close monitoring control of this kind can be particularly desirable to prevent theft or unauthorized dispensing or leakage of fluids. The system of the invention is suitable for use with conventional vehicle servicing liquids such as, for example, automatic transmission fluid (ATF) gear oil, antifreeze liquid and motor oils, and other know lubricants especially synthetic oils which are relatively very expensive and frequently are misappropriated if pumps can be made operable at times other than those times authorized and monitored by the servicing center proprietor.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

It is accordingly a primary object to the invention to provide a programmable pump operating system for scheduling operable periods for servicing fluid dispensing pumps which include an automatic shut down at a selected time of day such as at the end of the normal work day when the servicing facility is closed.

It is another object of the invention to provide a programmable and changeable servicing pump operating schedule that permits easy deactivation of the pumps to guard against inadvertent spills or unauthorized withdrawal of servicing fluids.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a pump control system capable of simultaneously servicing, i.e., operating and shifting down a plurality of servicing fluid supply pumps.

It is another object of the invention to provide an automatic system for scheduling pump operation times including a master key unlocking system once shutdown takes place and a visual indicator for signaling pump on and off status.

Additional objects and advantages apparent to those skilled in the art will be apparent from the drawing and accompanying description which follows:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of an exemplary pump of the kind useful for controlling/monitoring the dispensing of servicing fluid according to the invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a centralized servicing center lubricant dispersing monitoring station of the kind enabling the control of a plurality (six of which are depicted) of fluid servicing pumps.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Depicted in FIG. 1 is a schematic of a conventional pump fluid reservoir arrangement comprising a fluid container tank 28 containing servicing fluid 30 such as motor vehicle lubricating oil and containing a suitable refill plug 29.

Mounted on the tank is a conventional pump comprising an upper portion 20 exterior of the tank 24 and internal pump portions 25 and 26 which extend down into the servicing fluid 30. A conventional air solenoid 10 depicted with armature 14, when activated functions to the entry of pressurized control air through line 16 from a source (not shown) to activate pump 20. When the solenoid 10 is activated to the open position, air pressure operates the pump 20 to propel fluid through line 29 to a servicing nozzle (not shown).

Depicted in FIG. 2 is a control console 35 comprising an arrangement of components which provide means to monitor a plurality of dispensing fluids from a pump with fluid reservoir of the kind depicted in FIG. 1. The console 35 comprises a bank of three programmable control buttons 41, 42 and 43 to pre-set the desired times of pump operability. At the time of setting, the desired information is shown in a display window 37. When the setting is complete the display reverts to a time of day indication.

Shown at 51 through 56 is a series of six individual operable rocker switches individually operable to enable the solenoid 10 of a corresponding pump. Each of the switches is accompanied by a companion corresponding ready light, 61 through 66, respectively, to visually indicate enablement of its corresponding pump. A master switch 45 which cuts off the feed of pressurized air, such as the feed at line 16 of FIG. 1, assures a reliable shut down of the system and precludes unauthorized dispensing of fluid.

Of particular advantage of the invention resides in the pump operating times programming feature via control buttons 41, 42 and 43 which automatically shuts down the system, at a predetermined time, without further intervention, such that air pressure feed to the solenoid 10 is interrupted and cannot be reactivated until activated via the on/off master key switch 45. The automatic shut down feature characterized by the system of the invention is important as it cuts off the air pressure and guards against accidental leakage of the fluid from tank 24. A leak can be severe and can persist to the extent that the entire contents of the tank would be depleted thereby causing an environmental violation, and is indicative of a situation which can occur in current conventional systems that even during nonuse periods are maintained continuously under constant pressure. In systems under constant pressure, when a line, e.g., line 29, leaks or breaks, especially during unattended periods, the results from spillage are often catastrophic in terms of lost fluid, clean up costs and environmental and public relations consequences.

Although certain preferred embodiments have been illustrated and described, various modifications, equivalents and alternatives will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the disclosure herein. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention should be defined only by the appended claims and equivalents thereof.