Title:
REGENERATING EQUIPMENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In order to provide equipment for heating up, keeping hot, cooling and/or keeping cold food and/or beverages comprising at least one cold compartment and/or at least one hot compartment which is usable in a versatile manner, it is proposed that the equipment comprise at least one regenerating device for heating up and/or keeping hot liquid foods, such as soups or sauces for example.



Inventors:
Konrad, Claus (Kampfelbach, DE)
Kubler, Dietmar (Oberderdingen, DE)
Obreiter, Gerd (Remchingen, DE)
Boss, Ralf (Kraichtal, DE)
Application Number:
11/683690
Publication Date:
09/13/2007
Filing Date:
03/08/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24C7/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PELHAM, JOSEPH MOORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HANLEY, FLIGHT & ZIMMERMAN, LLC (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. Equipment for heating up, keeping hot, cooling and/or keeping cold food and/or beverages, comprising at least one cold compartment and/or at least one hot compartment, wherein the equipment comprises at least one regenerating device for heating up and/or keeping hot liquid foods, such as soups or sauces for example.

2. Equipment in accordance with claim 1, wherein the equipment is moveable, preferably by means of rollers.

3. Equipment in accordance with claim 1, wherein the regenerating device comprises a receptacle for the insertion of a food container.

4. Equipment in accordance with claim 3, wherein the receptacle is in the form of an upwardly open tub.

5. Equipment in accordance with claim 4, wherein the tub is fixed to a cover plate of the equipment, preferably by means of a bolted connection, soldering and/or welding.

6. Equipment in accordance with claim 4, wherein the receptacle is in the form of a standardized gastronomic food container having an integrated heating device.

7. Equipment in accordance with claim 3, wherein the receptacle is dimensioned in such a way that an external side wall of a food container inserted into the receptacle rests at least partially against an inner side wall of the receptacle.

8. Equipment in accordance with claim 3, wherein the receptacle is provided with a heating device.

9. Equipment in accordance with claim 8, wherein the heating device forms at least a part of a base of the receptacle.

10. Equipment in accordance with claim 8, wherein the regenerating device is configured in such a way that a food container inserted into the receptacle rests directly on the heating device.

11. Equipment in accordance with claim 8, wherein the heating device is in the form of an inductive heating device or an electrical resistive heating device.

12. A combination of equipment in accordance with claim 1 and a food container that is adapted to be inserted into the regenerating device of the equipment.

13. A combination in accordance with claim 12, wherein the food container comprises a base body having at least one side wall which bounds an interior space of the food container, and at least one heat conducting element which is manufactured separately from the base body and is fixed to the base body.

14. A combination in accordance with claim 13, wherein the heat conducting element forms at least a part of a base which bounds the interior of the food container in the downward direction.

15. A combination in accordance with claim 12, wherein the regenerating device comprises a heating device and the heat conducting element of the food container is in direct contact with the heating device when a food container is inserted into the regenerating device.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation application of PCT/EP2005/009970 filed Sep. 16, 2005, the entire specification of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF DISCLOSURE

The present invention relates to regenerating equipment, i.e. equipment for heating up, keeping hot, cooling and/or keeping cold food and/or beverages, which comprises at least one cold compartment for holding food and/or beverages that are to be cooled or kept cold and/or at least one hot compartment for holding food and/or beverages that are to be heated up or kept hot.

BACKGROUND

Such regenerating equipments are known from the state of the art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The object of the present invention is to provide a regenerating equipment of this type which is utilisable in a versatile manner.

In accordance with the invention, this object is achieved by equipment including the features indicated in the first part of Claim 1 in that, in addition to the at least one cold compartment and/or the at least one hot compartment, the equipment comprises at least one regenerating device for heating up and/or keeping hot liquid foods such as soups or sauces for example.

Due to the fact that the equipment in accordance with the invention comprises an integrated regenerating device for heating up and/or keeping liquid foods hot, it is possible to regenerate liquid foods, such as soups or sauces for example which are contained in a food container, in the regenerating equipment and to dispense and/or to portion out these liquid foods to customers or guests directly from the regenerating equipment without removing or changing the food container.

Thereby, simultaneously with the process of dispensing and/or portioning out the liquid foods from the food container accommodated in the regenerating device, other foods and/or beverages can be dispensed and/or portioned out from the cold compartment and/or from the hot compartment of the regenerating equipment.

In this way, the regenerating equipment in accordance with the invention provides a particularly versatile and efficient arrangement for the regeneration, cooling, storage and distribution of food and/or beverages directly at the point where the food or beverages are given to the customers.

In particular, in this description and in the attached Claims, a “cold compartment” is also to be understood as meaning a so-called “hot cold compartment” which serves selectively for the cooling of food and/or beverages that are to be cooled or kept cold, or, for heating up the food and/or beverages that are to be heated up or kept hot.

In particular, in this description and in the attached Claims, a “hot compartment” is also to be understood as meaning a so-called “cold hot compartment” which serves selectively for heating up the food and/or beverages that are to be heated up or kept hot, or, for the cooling of food and/or beverages that are to be cooled or kept cold.

In a preferred embodiment of the equipment in accordance with the invention, provision is made for the equipment to be moveable, preferably by means of rollers so that the entire equipment can be moved to the desired dispensing point in a simple manner.

Furthermore, in a preferred embodiment of the invention provision is made for the regenerating device to comprise a receptacle for the insertion of a food container.

This receptacle can, in particular, be formed as an upwardly open tub.

In order to connect the tub reliably to the housing of the equipment, provision may be made for the tub to be fixed to a cover plate of the equipment, preferably by means of a bolted connection, soldering and/or welding.

The regenerating device can be made in a particularly simple and efficient manner from pre-existing and to a large extent standardized components if provision is advantageously made for the receptacle to be in the form of a standardized gastronomic food container having an integrated heating device.

Preferably thereby, the standardized gastronomic food container, which forms the receptacle of the regenerating device, is formed in such a way that it has the dimensions prescribed for standardized gastronomic containers in accord with the September 1993 version of DIN EN 631-1.

A receptacle of the regenerating device formed in this manner offers the advantage that it is particularly well suited to accommodate another standardized gastronomic food container which has the dimensions prescribed in the aforementioned standard, without resulting in the creation of too large a dead space between the inner wall of the accommodating container and the external wall of the accommodated container.

In order to ensure a good transference of heat from the receptacle of the regenerating device to the food container inserted into the receptacle, it is expedient if the receptacle is dimensioned in such a way that the external side wall of a food container inserted into the receptacle, and in particular a standardized gastronomic food container which has the dimensions prescribed for standardized gastronomic containers in accord with the September 1993 version of DIN EN 631-1, rests at least partially against an inner side wall of the receptacle.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, provision is made for the receptacle to be provided with a heating device.

Preferably, the heating device forms at least a part of a base of the receptacle.

In order to ensure good transference of heat from the heating device to the food container inserted into the receptacle, it is expedient if the regenerating device is formed in such a way that a food container, and in particular a standardized gastronomic food container that is inserted into the receptacle thereof rests directly on the heating device.

The heating device of the regenerating device can, in particular, be in the form of an electrical resistance heating device.

However, as an alternative or in addition thereto, provision could also be made for the heating device to be in the form of an inductive heating device for example.

Claim 12 is directed toward the combination of a regenerating equipment in accordance with the invention and a food container that is adapted to be inserted into the regenerating device of the regenerating equipment.

In order to implement the heating and heat retaining processes in the regenerating device, it is particularly expedient if the food container comprises a base body having at least one side wall which bounds an interior space of the food container, and at least one heat conducting element which is manufactured separately from the base body and is fixed to the base body.

Preferably, the heat conductive element forms at least a part of a base of the food container which bounds the interior of the food container in the downward direction.

For rapid and as loss-free a transmission of heat as possible from a heating device of the regenerating device to the food container inserted into the regenerating device, it is expedient if the heat conducting element of the food container is in direct contact with the heating device of the regenerating device when a food container is inserted into the regenerating device.

Further features and advantages of the invention form the subject matter of the following description and the sketched illustration of an exemplary embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a schematic perspective illustration of a moveable regenerating station including a soup regenerating device;

FIG. 2 a schematic front view of the regenerating station in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 a schematic side view of the regenerating station in FIG. 2, as viewed in the direction of the arrow 3 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 a schematic plan view of the regenerating station in FIGS. 1 to 3, with the protective cover removed;

FIG. 5 a schematic vertical cross sectional view through the regenerating station in FIG. 4, along the line 5-5 in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 an enlarged illustration of the region I in FIG. 5, wherein a food container is inserted into the soup regenerating device;

FIG. 7 an illustration corresponding to FIG. 6, wherein the food container has been removed from the soup regenerating device;

FIG. 8 a schematic side view of a food container with a heat conducting base;

FIG. 9 a schematic sectional view through the food container in FIG. 8 in the region designated by II in FIG. 8; and

FIG. 10 a schematic plan view from above of the food container with the heat conducting base depicted in FIG. 8.

Similar or functionally equivalent elements are designated by the same reference symbols in all of the Figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A moveable regenerating station 100 bearing the general reference 100 is illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 7 and comprises a substantially rectangular parallelepiped housing 102 in which there are arranged a hot compartment 104 having an access door 106, a cold compartment 108 having an access door 110 and a cooling unit 112 that is located between the hot compartment 104 and the cold compartment 108 and also a control unit 114 incorporating a control panel 116 for the regenerating station 100.

The regenerating station 100 comprises a (not illustrated) fan and a heating device by means of which air is adapted to be sucked out of the hot compartment 104, heated up and then supplied back to the hot compartment 104 in order to heat up food and/or beverages that are present in the hot compartment 104 or keep them hot.

Furthermore, the cold compartment 108 of the regenerating station 100 is adapted to be cooled by means of the cooling unit 112 in order to cool down food and/or beverages that are present in the cold compartment 108 and/or keep them cold.

The regenerating station 100 is displaceable over the underlying ground by means of a plurality of, four for example, rollers 117 which are held on the lower surface of the housing 102 such as to rotate about vertical axes.

The housing 102 of the regenerating station 100 is closed in the upward direction by a cover plate 118.

As can best be seen from FIGS. 4 and 7, the cover plate 118 is provided approximately centrally thereof with a through opening 120 in which a soup regenerating device 122 of the regenerating station 100 is arranged.

The soup regenerating device 122 comprises a tub 124 in the form of a standardized gastronomic food container GN 1/2-200 having two long side walls 126, two short side walls 128, a peripheral edge region 130 which extends along the upper edge of the side walls 126, 128 and adjoins the side walls 126, 128 along a bend line 132, and a substantially horizontal base region 134 which merges into the side walls 126, 128 via a curved region 136.

A peripheral stacking shoulder 138 is formed in the upper region of the side walls 126, 128.

As can best be seen from FIG. 4, the peripheral edge region 130 of the tub 124 comprises four corner areas 140 which are each provided with a respective embossment 142 in order to make the respective corner area 140 highly stable and protect it from buckling or bending.

The precise construction of these embossments 142 is described in DE 102 10 897 A1 for example.

The base region 134 of the tub 124 is provided with a substantially circular base opening 144 into which a substantially cylindrical hot plate 146, which is provided with a central, concavely curved recess 148 in the upper surface thereof facing the interior of the tub 124, is inserted in such a manner that it completely closes the base opening 144 of the tub 124 and is supported at its edges by the edge of the base region 134 of the tub 124.

The hot plate 146 is connected by purely schematically represented supply lines 150 to a (not illustrated) electrical voltage supply that is arranged in the housing 102 of the regenerating station 100.

The edge region 130 of the tub 124 rests upon the edge of the cover plate 118 surrounding the through opening 120 from above and is welded thereto in order to permanently fix the tub 124 to the cover plate 118.

The tub 124 and the cover plate 118 are preferably formed from a metallic material, from steel identified by the material number 1.4301 for example.

As can best be seen from FIG. 6, a food container 152 is insertible into the previously described soup regenerating device 122, whereby said food container may, in particular, be in the form of a standardized gastronomic food container having a heat conductive plate 154 arranged on the base of the food container 152.

The food container 152 which is illustrated in detail in FIGS. 8 to 10 comprises a base body 156 having two long side walls 158, two short side walls 160, a peripheral edge region 162 which extends along the upper edge of the side walls 158, 160 and adjoins the side walls 158, 160 along a bending line 164, and a substantially horizontal base region 166 which merges into the respective side walls 158 and 160 via a curved region 168 of the base body 156.

As can best be seen from FIG. 10, the peripheral edge region 162 of the food container 152 comprises four corner areas 170 which can each be provided with a respective embossment 172 in order to make the respective corner area 170 highly stable and protect it from buckling or bending.

The precise construction of these embossments 172 is described in DE 102 10 897 A1 for example.

The base region 166 of the base body 156 surrounds a substantially rectangular base opening 174 which is formed as a result of cutting out a part of the base of the base body 156 from the base body 156 along the edge 176 of the base opening 174.

The base opening 174 is completely covered from below by a heat conducting element in the form of the substantially parallelepiped heat conductive plate 154 whose substantially flat upper surface 178 rests flatly against the lower surface of the base region 166 of the base body 156 surrounding the base opening 174 and is firmly connected to the base body 156 of the food container 152 by welding along a peripheral welding seam extending along the edge 176 of the base opening 174.

As can best be seen from FIG. 9, the heat conductive plate 154 comprises a central plate 180 consisting of a highly heat conductive metallic material, of aluminium for example, which is provided on the upper surface thereof with a first deposit or coating 182 of a metallic material, a rust-proof steel for example, and in particular, steel identified by the material number 1.4301, and which is provided on the lower surface thereof with a second deposit or coating 184 of a metallic material, and in particular, a rust-proof steel, preferably, the steel identified by the material number 1.4301.

In addition, the base body 156 of the food container 152 is preferably also made of a metallic material, a rust-proof steel for example, and in particular, is formed from the steel identified by the material number 1.4301.

The rust-proof chromium-nickel steel identified by the material number 1.4301 has the following composition: 17 to 19.5 weight % Cr; 8 to 10.5 weight % Ni; at most 0.07 weight % C; at most 1.0 weight % Si; at most 2.0 weight % Mn; at most 0.045 weight % P; at most 0.015 weight % S; at most 0.11 weight % N; the remainder being Fe.

The side walls 158, 160 of the base body 156, the base region 166 of the base body 156 and the upper surface 178 of the heat conductive plate 154 together form the boundaries for the interior 186 of the food container 152 whose volume is such as to hold approximately 40 portions of soup for example.

In particular, the upper surface 178 of the heat conductive plate 154 within the area of the base opening 174 directly bounds the interior 186 of the food container 152 so that liquid foods contained in the food container 152 are in direct contact with the heat conductive plate 154 and can thus absorb heat directly from the heat conductive plate 154.

The material of the heat conductive plate 154 is of high heat conductivity so that it is possible to supply heat rapidly to the liquid foods contained in the food container 152 through the heat conductive plate 154 when the food container 152 is inserted into the tub 124 of the soup regenerating device 122, as is illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6.

Hereby, the food container 152 is adapted to be inserted into the tub 124 of the soup regenerating device 122 in such a way that the lower surface 188 of the heat conductive plate 154 rests flatly on the upper surface 190 of the hot plate 146 and the side walls 158, 160 of the food container 152 at least partially rest against the side walls 126, 128 of the tub 124, this thereby ensuring particularly good transfer of heat from the hot plate 146 and the tub 124 of the soup regenerating device 122 on the one hand to the heat conductive plate 154 and the base body 156 of the food container 152 on the other.

The heat output of the hot plate 146, which contains (not illustrated) electrical resistance heating elements, can be regulated via the control panel 116 by means of a (not illustrated) regulating circuit in such a way that the liquid foods in the food container 152, which is inserted into the soup regenerating device 122, adopt a desired temperature.

The liquid foods, soups or sauces for example that are contained in the food container 152 can thus be warmed up or kept hot in the soup regenerating device 122 of the regenerating station 100, whereby it is simultaneously possible to directly dispense and portion out food from a food container 152 that is inserted into the soup regenerating device 122 of the regenerating station 100 without the food container 152 having to be removed from the soup regenerating device 122 for the purposes of dispensing the food.

Whilst dispensing liquid foods from the food container 152, food can be dispensed simultaneously from the hot compartment 104 and/or cold foods can be dispensed from the cold compartment 108.

Furthermore, as can best be seen from FIGS. 1 and 3, the regenerating station 100 is also provided with supports 192 which project upwardly from the upper surface of the housing 102 thereof and, together with the cover plate 118, carry an angular protective cover 194 which shields the upper surface of the housing 102 of the regenerating station 100 and thus, in particular, the soup regenerating device 122 from the rear side of the regenerating station 100 remote from the control panel 116 so that the protective cover 194 can serve, in particular, as a so-called “cough protection means”.





 
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