Title:
APPARATUS FOR COOLING GOODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An arrangement suitable for cooling goods includes a controller with a database in which at least one time interval and one desired temperature value valid in the time interval is stored. A regulator function is implemented in the controller, via which function the temperature, returned to the controller via a temperature sensor, of a thermally insulated interior is regulated to the desired temperature value as a function of the time interval by activation or deactivation of a cooling device. Since the goods—for example filled drinks—are only available cooled during the time interval, energy is conserved and the emission of carbon dioxide thus also reduced.



Inventors:
Cummins, Danny (STEINHAUSEN, CH)
Application Number:
11/864258
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
09/28/2007
Assignee:
SIEMENS SCHWEIZ AG (Zurich, CH)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/264, 62/419
International Classes:
F25D11/00; F25D17/06; F25D27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BAUER, CASSEY D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STAAS & HALSEY LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. 1-12. (canceled)

13. An apparatus suitable for cooling goods, comprising: a thermally insulating housing surrounding an interior capable of receiving the goods; a controller; a cooling device controlled by the controller; a temperature sensor arranged in the interior of the thermally insulating housing and used by the controller for measuring temperature of the interior; a clock disposed in the controller; and a database disposed in the controller and in which are stored a desired temperature value valid in time intervals, time interval from a start time to an end time, and a regulator function executable by the controller which regulates the temperature of the interior, returned by the temperature sensor to the controller, to the desired temperature value as a function of the time interval by activation or deactivation of the cooling device.

14. The apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein the cooling device is controlled by the regulator function to attain the desired temperature value in the interior at the start time of the time interval and in that the cooling device is switched off by the optimized regulator function a predetermined period before the end time is reached.

15. The apparatus as claimed in claim 14, further comprising a fan switched on and off by the controller and through which air in the interior is circulated, the controller automatically switching the fan on at a time of a demand for cold from the cooling device and switching the fan off a predeterminable period following deactivation of the cooling device.

16. The apparatus as claimed in claim 15, further comprising at least one light source automatically switched on by the controller at the start time of the time interval and switched off at the end time.

17. The apparatus as claimed in claim 16, further comprising an input/output unit via which the start time and the end time of the time interval can be selected.

18. The apparatus as claimed in claim 17, wherein the desired temperature value can be changed via the input/output unit.

19. The apparatus as claimed in claim 18, wherein the time interval can be defined as a function of a day during a week.

20. The apparatus as claimed in claim 19, wherein the time interval can be defined as a function of a calendar day.

21. The apparatus as claimed in claim 20, wherein the database stores a rest interval, including a rest start and a rest end, and wherein the controller deactivates the cooling device as a function of the rest interval.

22. The apparatus as claimed in claim 21, further comprising a user interface, by which the time interval can be selected from predefined intervals.

23. The apparatus as claimed in claim 22, wherein the apparatus is connected to an external device, and further comprising a communication interface via which the database can be read by the external device.

24. The apparatus as claimed in claim 23, wherein the goods are, portioned drinks and further comprising at least one shelf arranged in the interior of the thermally insulating housing on which the portioned drinks can be stacked.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on and hereby claims priority to European Application No. EP 06121429 filed on Sep. 28, 2006, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

Arrangements suitable for cooling drinks filled for example in cans, bottles, cartons or foil pouches in a sales outlet or bar or in sports or leisure areas are basically suitable for cooling goods which do not incur any damage within the envisaged storage period in the arrangement even if the temperature in the arrangement were to increase to ambient temperature. From WO 03/004950 A an arrangement of this type is known by which products are cooled and frost is created on their surface. Operation of known arrangements of this type consumes a relatively large amount of energy, and this is usually associated with a correspondingly high emission of carbon dioxide.

SUMMARY

An aspect is an arrangement by which filled drinks are available cooled as required, but of which the operation requires as little energy as possible.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other aspects and advantages will become more apparent and more readily appreciated from the following description of the exemplary embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings of which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of an apparatus for cooling drinks,

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the apparatus, a controller,

FIG. 3 is a front view of a user interface of the controller, and

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the controller.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout.

In FIG. 1 reference numeral 1 designates a thermally insulated housing of an arrangement, shown in a cut side elevation, for cooling goods, in particular for cooling drinks. The housing 1 includes at least one advantageously transparent door 2 through which the goods on offer can be seen on the one hand and which allows access to at least one shelf 3, 3a or 3b arranged in the interior 6 of the housing 1 on the other hand.

In a variant the housing 1 is part of a goods vending machine, for example a drinks vending machine, which after selection and payment thereof releases goods, for example a drinks can, in a known manner via an opening provided in the housing 1.

At least one light source 4 or 5 is arranged on the housing 1. By way of example a first light source 4 is positioned in such a way that its light falls on goods stacked on the shelves 3, 3a and 3b and makes them easily visible through the transparent housing wall embodied here as a door 2. The second light source 5 is advantageously arranged on the housing 1 in such a way that its light directs attention to the arrangement for cooling drinks even in a darkened environment.

Portioned drinks 7, which, for example, are filled in cans, bottles, cartons or foil pouches, are stacked on the shelf 3, 3a or 3b.

The arrangement also comprises a cooling device and a controller 8. The cooling device is embodied for example by a refrigerator comprising a compressor 9 and an evaporator 10. A fan 11 for circulating the air in the interior 6 is advantageously active in the region of the evaporator 10. A temperature sensor 12 is also arranged in the interior 6 to measure the temperature υR in the interior 6 of the housing 1. To reduce thermal load the compressor 9 is advantageously not housed in the thermally insulated interior 6 of the housing 1.

The controller 8 is arranged for example in the interior 6 of the housing 1. In a further variant the controller 8 is provided on the outside of the housing 1.

FIG. 2 shows the controller 8 in slightly more detail, connections to further devices also being shown. The controller 8 comprises at least one microcomputer 20, a first switch 21 connected to the second light source 5, a second switch 22 connected to the first light source 4, a third switch 23 connected to the compressor 9, a fourth switch 24 connected to the fan 11, an interface 25 connected to the temperature sensor 12 and a database 26 that can be read and changed by a microcomputer 20. If required the temperature sensor 12 is advantageously fed by the controller 8 via the interface 25. In an advantageous variant the controller 8 also comprises a communication interface 27 advantageously connected to the microcomputer 20.

The microcomputer 20 is, for example, a microprocessor programmed for its use, with required program and data storage units as well as input and output ports. The switches 21, 22, 23 and 24 of the controller 8 are electronic or electromechanical switches, as required, which can be controlled by the microcomputer 20.

Data can be exchanged between the regulator 8 and an external device 29 via the communication interface 27 and a communication medium 28. The communication medium 28 is, for example, a telephone network, a data network, the internet or a radio link.

An exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3 of a user interface of the controller 8 comprises a display unit 30 and input elements 34a, 34b, 34c and 34d implemented for example by buttons. The display unit 30 advantageously allows symbols 31a, 31b and 31c, diagrams 32a, additional information 32b and user instructions 33 to be displayed.

The arrangement can for example also be regarded as a refrigerator which is equipped with the controller 8 and is thereby optimized, with respect to energy consumption, for an application profile that can be selected within wide limits.

The temperature υR in the interior 6 of the housing 1 is regulated to an adjustable desired value υC, and thereby actively cooled, by the controller 8 only as a function of freely selectable periods. If therefore the goods should be available cooled daily from 09:00 until 19:00 for example, and the goods are not perishable, a regulator function of the controller 8 is advantageously programmed in such a way that the temperature υR reaches the desired value υC from 09:00 to 19:00 only respectively and cooling is omitted during the remaining periods, and this makes a significant energy saving possible. FIG. 4 shows activities of the controller 8 in conjunction with the controllable switches 21, 22, 23 and 24, the interface 25, the communication interface 27, the display unit 30, the input elements 34 and the database 26.

In the type of illustration for data flow diagrams selected for FIG. 4 and known from the literature (for example D. J. Hatley, I. A. Pirbhai: Strategies for Real-Time System Specification, Dorset House, N.Y. 1988) a circle denotes an activity, a rectangle an adjoining system or sub-system and an arrow a channel for transmitting data and/or events, the arrow head pointing substantially in the data flow direction. A memory, which, in general, is available to a plurality of activities, is shown by two parallel lines with the same length. The term “memory” in this case denotes a device for storing data which also comprises means for preventing conflicts in the case of simultaneous access of a plurality of activities to the data. By way of example an arrangement comprising two activities connected by a channel is, moreover, equivalent to a single activity which fulfils all functions of the two activities. An activity can generally be divided into a plurality of activities connected by channels and/or memories. Further terms used in the literature of data flow diagrams are “terminator” for the adjoining system or sub-system, “process” or “task” for the activity, “data flow” or “channel” for the channel and “pool” or “data pool” for the memory.

An activity can be implemented as an electronic circuit or in terms of software for example as a process, method, part of a program or routine, the activity in an embodiment in terms of software also comprising the target hardware.

A time interval tatb during which the goods stored in the interior 6 should be available cooled is stored in the database 26. The desired temperature value υC to which the temperature υR of the interior 6 is to be regulated by the controller 8 during the time interval tatb is also stored in the database 26.

The time interval tatb is advantageously defined by a start time ta and an end time te or by the start time ta and a duration.

In the first variant of the controller 8 the time interval tatb applies repeated for every day respectively. In further variants the time interval tatb is based on a week day, a work day, a bank holiday or a calendar day respectively. If required further variants can be implemented in which for example a rest interval tPatPb stored in the database 26 is defined in which the cooling device is not enabled, i.e. the temperature υR of the interior 6 is not regulated. The rest interval tPatPb is advantageously stored in the database 26 by a rest start tPa and a rest end tPe.

The temperature υR of the interior 6, returned to the controller 8 via the temperature sensor 12, is regulated to the desired temperature value υC by a regulator function 42, which can be disposed in the controller 8, as a function of the time interval tatb by activation or deactivation of the cooling device.

The cooling device can advantageously be controlled by the regulator function 42 in such a way that the desired temperature value υC is reached in the interior 6 at the latest at the start time ta of the time interval tatb. If required enabling of the refrigerator is also controlled as a function of the thermal capacity of the goods in addition to as a function of the start time ta. The refrigerator is advantageously switched off by the optimized regulator function a predetermined period before the end time te is reached, the period substantially being adapted to the thermal capacity of the goods, the thermal insulation of the housing and anticipated user behavior when the goods are removed.

A demand for cold that can be triggered by the regulator function 42 is achieved by way of example by activation of the compressor 9 via the third switch 23.

The fan 11 that can be switched on and off via the fourth switch 24 and by which air in the interior 6 can be circulated is advantageously switched on by the regulator function 42 at the same time as a demand for cold to the refrigerator respectively and is advantageously switched off again a predetermined period following deactivation of the refrigerator. In one variant of the regulator function 42 the fan 11 is also briefly periodically switched on respectively in periods in which the refrigerator is deactivated.

The light source 4 or 5, which can be switched on or off via the first switch 21 and/or the second switch 22, is automatically switched on at the start time ta of the time interval tatb and switched off at the end time te by a light controller 41 that can be disposed in the controller 8, whereby additional energy can be conserved.

A calendar that is advantageously stored in the database 26 and to which, if required, instances of the time interval tatb and/or instances of the rest interval tPaPb are bound, can be updated by a clock 44 that can be disposed in the controller 8.

By way of example the time interval tatb can be selected from predefined intervals, which are proposed on the display unit 30, by operator guidance 40 that can be disposed in the controller 8 and associated with the display unit 30 and the input elements 34. In one variant of the operator guidance 40 the start time ta and the end time te of the time interval tatb and/or the rest start tPa and the rest end tPe of the rest interval tPatPb can also be freely selected. The operator guidance 40 also allows selection or alteration of the desired temperature value υC.

The communication interface 27 can be operated by a communication driver 43 that can be disposed in the controller 8. The communication driver 43 makes it possible for example for the external device 29 (FIG. 2) to analyze the database 26 for servicing purposes.

A description has been provided with particular reference to preferred embodiments thereof and examples, but it will be understood that variations and modifications can be effected within the spirit and scope of the claims which may include the phrase “at least one of A, B and C” as an alternative expression that means one or more of A, B and C may be used, contrary to the holding in Superguide v. DIRECTV, 358 F3d 870, 69 USPQ2d 1865 (Fed. Cir. 2004).





 
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