Title:
Auger Chiller with Sloped Unloader
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An auger chiller (10) includes a carcass delivery end (18) that is sloped upwardly with a reduced radius. The auger (32) includes a progressively reduced radius auger segment (38) that matches the configuration of the angled section of the chiller tank, with the pitch of the auger blade being greater in this section of the tank for advancing the birds more reliably in a first-in first-out delivery to a sloped bird unloader (46). An arcuate basin (50) is formed at the lower arc of the peripheral rim wall (48) of the bird unloader, assuring that the heavier birds tend to sink into the basin, tending not to return to the chiller tank.



Inventors:
Cathey, Robert E. (Apex, NC, US)
Baucom, Chris A. (Cary, NC, US)
Phan, Thang (Youngsville, NC, US)
Application Number:
12/057657
Publication Date:
10/01/2009
Filing Date:
03/28/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
62/381
International Classes:
F25D25/04; F25D25/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
DUKE, EMMANUEL E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS | HORSTEMEYER, LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
1. An auger chiller for reducing the temperature of previously eviscerated bird carcasses or the like, comprising: an elongated tank for receiving carcasses and chilled water for reducing the temperature of the carcasses, said tank including a main segment with a substantially constant radius semi-cylindrical bottom wall, and an exit portion having a progressively reduced radius semi-conical bottom wall tapered to a breadth smaller than said constant radius of said main segment bottom wall, an auger assembly extending along said bottom wall of said tank, said auger including main segment auger blades of substantially constant radius in said main segment bottom wall, and an exit portion having a progressively reduced radius tapered auger blade in said a progressively reduced radius semi-conical bottom wall, an unloader at said a progressively reduced radius semi-conical bottom wall of said tank, said unloader including a sloped back wall extending upwardly and away from said progressively reduced radius semi-conical bottom wall, and a paddle assembly positioned at said sloped back wall for moving carcasses up the slope of said sloped back wall and unloading the carcasses from said auger chiller.

2. The auger chiller of claim 1, wherein said unloader includes a peripheral rim wall extending from said sloped back wall of said unloader toward said progressively reduced radius semi-conical bottom wall of said tank and forming an arcuate basin through which said paddle assembly passes to move carcasses along the peripheral rim wall.

3. The auger chiller of claim 1, wherein said auger has helical blades and the helical blades of the portion of the auger in said progressively reduced radius semi-conical bottom wall of said tank are of greater pitch than the pitch of the helical blades in said main segment of said tank.

4. The auger chiller of claim 1, and further including a cold water supply system for withdrawing water from one end of said chiller tank and supplying water to the other end of said chiller tank.

5. An auger chiller for reducing the temperature of previously eviscerated bird carcasses, said auger chiller comprising: an elongated tank for receiving cold water and carcasses, said tank including a bottom wall, an entrance end for receiving carcasses in the water and delivery end for delivering the carcasses out of the water after the carcasses have been chilled, said delivery end of said tank including an upwardly angled segment that converges to a breadth smaller breadth than the rest of said tank, an auger in said tank for advancing the carcasses through the water from said entrance end to said delivery end of said tank, said auger including auger blades that advance the carcasses along said bottom wall and along said upwardly angled segment of the bottom wall, an unloader at said delivery end of said tank, said unloader including a sloped back wall and a rotary paddle assembly juxtaposed said sloped back wall for engaging and lifting the carcasses from said tank.

6. The auger chiller of claim 5 wherein said sloped back wall of said unloader is sloped up and away from said upwardly angled segment of said bottom wall of said tank, and further including a peripheral rim wall extending from said upwardly angled segment of said bottom wall downwardly to said sloped back wall of said unloader and forming with said back wall an arcuate basin for receiving the carcasses from said semi-cylindrical bottom wall of said tank, such that the rotary paddle assembly can engage and move the birds from the arcuate basin along the peripheral connector wall.

7. The auger chiller of claim 6, wherein said peripheral rim wall is joined to said back wall and partially surrounds said paddle assembly, and a peripheral connector wall connected between said peripheral rim wall and said semi-cylindrical bottom wall of said tank.

8. The auger chiller of claim 6, wherein said upwardly angled segment of said chiller tank is semi-conical in shape.

9. An auger chiller for reducing the temperature of recently harvested carcasses, said auger chiller comprising: an elongated chiller tank for receiving cold water and carcasses, said chiller tank including an entrance end for receiving carcasses in the water, said chiller tank further including and a delivery end including an upwardly sloped section, an unloader at the delivery end of said chiller tank, said unloader including a back wall sloped upwardly and away with respect to said upwardly sloped section of said chiller tank, and a peripheral rim wall extending from said back wall from a position lower than said upwardly extending section of said chiller tank and forming a basin for receiving the carcasses, and a paddle assembly positioned at said sloped back wall for moving through the basin and moving carcasses from the basin up the slope of said sloped back wall and unloading the carcasses from said auger chiller.

10. The auger chiller of claim 9, wherein said upwardly extending section of said chiller tank is semi-conical, and the portion of said auger in said semi-conical section of said tank is of greater pitch than the pitch of the auger in said main segment of said chiller tank.

11. The auger chiller of claim 9, and further including a cold water supply system for withdrawing water from one end of said chiller tank and supplying water to the other end of said chiller tank.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention generally relates to a poultry chiller for reducing the temperature of whole birds after the birds have been eviscerated on a poultry processing line. More particularly, the invention relates to an auger chiller with a sloped bird unloader that retrieves the chilled birds from the delivery end of a chiller tank.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the processing of poultry, it is desirable to reduce the temperature of the birds after the birds have been processed, such as after the birds have been de-feathered and eviscerated and are otherwise oven-ready, and before the birds are packaged for delivery to the customers.

One type of poultry chiller is the auger-type chiller that includes an elongated, semi-cylindrical open top tank having an auger placed therein. Cold water is placed in the bird delivery end of the tank and moved to the bird entrance end and the water is recirculated through a cooling system such as a refrigeration system, with the cooled water directed back to the bird entrance end of the tank. The water may contain chemical additives for decontamination or for otherwise treating the birds.

Birds are placed in the tank at the entrance end and the birds are advanced toward the delivery end by rotation of the auger. The auger typically rotates at one revolution for every three to five minutes to advance the birds from the entrance end to the delivery end of the tank. This arrangement moves the water in counterflow relationship with respect to the movement of the birds so that the birds are contacted by the coldest water at the delivery end of the tank.

This type of poultry chiller is generally known in the prior art, as exemplified by U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,868,000; 6,308,529; 6,951,273; and 7,174,724.

Each poultry chiller must include a bird unloader at its delivery end for expediently and reliably unloading the birds that have moved through the chilling process. It is desirable that the birds be unloaded from the chiller in the order in which they were placed in the chiller, so that each bird has a substantially equal dwell time in the cold water of the chiller. One of the problems with the bird unloaders in use in connection with auger chillers is that the larger birds are sometimes missed or dropped by the bird unloader, causing the missed or dropped birds to have more dwell time in the chiller, and possibly other birds having less time. When some birds spend extra time in the chiller, the chiller can become overcrowded. Furthermore, an irregular flow of birds leaving the chiller can cause problems in down stream processing steps.

In order to reliably unload the larger birds, sloped bird unloaders have been developed and used in connection with other types of chillers, such as oscillating paddle chillers and drag chillers. The sloped unloaders have a sloped back wall and a rotary paddle system that continuously rotates and receives the larger birds and moves the birds up the sloped back wall. The paddles are also sloped so as to extend at a substantially right angle with respect to the face of the sloped back wall, so that the weight of the birds is shared by the paddles and by the surface of the sloped back wall, with the weight of the birds tending to urge the birds in contact with the sloped back wall, away from the open space about the paddles. This sloped relationship between the paddles and the surface of the back wall tends to insure that even the larger birds will not be dropped or missed by the bird unloader.

While sloped unloaders have been used in the past in connection with other types of chillers, combining a sloped bird unloader with an auger chiller has not been successfully achieved. One of the problems is that the birds moving off the auger of the chiller are not reliably received by the bird unloader. Another problem is that the bird unloader must be made with a breadth that is greater than the breadth of the chiller, causing space problems at the processing plant and transportation and installation problems when moving the chiller and its sloped bird unloader in place at a processing plant. Another problem with the combination of the auger chiller and the sloped unloader is the reliable movement of the birds into the path of the bird unloader.

It is to these problems that this disclosure is directed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly described, the present invention relates to an auger chiller for reducing the temperature of previously eviscerated bird carcasses or the like, which may include carcasses of other types of animals.

An embodiment of the chiller includes an elongated tank for receiving the carcasses and chilled water is introduced into the tank for reducing the temperature of the carcasses. The tank includes a main segment with a substantially constant radius semi-cylindrical bottom wall, and an exit portion having an upwardly converging bottom wall, tapered to a breadth smaller than the constant radius of the main segment bottom wall.

An auger extends along the bottom wall of the tank. The auger includes a main segment having auger blades of substantially constant radius for operating in the main segment of the bottom wall of the tank, and an exit portion having a progressively reduced radius converging auger blade that corresponds to the converging breadth of the exit portion of the bottom wall of the chiller tank that operates in the reduced radius tapered bottom wall of the chiller tank.

Some of the birds received in the tank typically are expected to be negatively buoyant, having a density slightly greater than the mass of water, such that the birds tend to sink in the water toward the cylindrical bottom wall of the tank. In the meantime, the rotary movement of the auger tends to advance the birds generally along the bottom surface of the tank, with some birds floating above the bottom surface of the tank.

A bird unloader is positioned at the end of the reduced radius tapered bottom wall of the tank, with the unloader including a sloped back wall that is sloped upwardly and away from the reduced radius tapered bottom wall. A paddle assembly is positioned at the sloped back wall for moving carcasses up the slope of the sloped back wall and unloading the carcasses from the auger chiller.

The unloader may include a peripheral rim wall extending from the sloped back wall of the unloader toward the reduced radius bottom wall of the tank. The rim wall and reduced radius bottom wall of the chiller tank form an arcuate basin through which the paddle assembly passes to move carcasses along the peripheral rim wall. The arcuate basin may be located lower than the exit end of the chiller tank so that the birds tend to sink into and be temporarily retained in the arcuate basin until the paddles of the unloader move them out of the basin.

The auger chiller may further include a cold water supply system for withdrawing water from one end of the tank and supplying water to the other end of the tank.

The chiller tank may be half-cylinder or more than half-cylinder in shape, with the auger having an auger shaft parallel to the length of the tank, with the auger having auger flights or blades extending about the auger shaft.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a chiller having a sloped bird unloader and a chilled water recirculation system.

FIG. 2 is a schematic plan view of the auger chiller, showing the auger within the elongated chiller tank and the sloped bird unloader at the end of the chiller tank.

FIG. 3 is a partial top view of the chiller tank and the sloped bird unloader.

FIG. 4 is a side view, in cross-section, of the auger chiller and the bird unloader.

FIG. 5 is an end cross-sectional view, taken along lines 4-4 of FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now in more detail to the drawings, in which like numerals indicate like parts throughout the several views, FIG. 1 illustrates an auger chiller 10 with a sloped bird unloader 12, with the auger chiller including an elongated tank 14 for receiving bird carcasses, with a carcass entrance end 16, a carcass delivery end 18, and a main tank segment 20 extending between the ends.

As shown in FIG. 1, a chilled water recirculation system 22 is provided for reducing the temperature of the water being recirculated from the carcass entrance end 16 to the carcass delivery end 18, thereby forming a counterflow relationship between the chilled water and the oncoming birds. The recirculation system generally includes conduits 24 and 26, with a heat exchanger 28 therebetween, with a pump 30 moving the liquid from the chiller tank through the heat exchanger.

As shown in FIG. 2, the auger 32 extends along the bottom wall of the tank and includes its main segment of auger blades 32 of substantially constant radius in the main tank segment 20.

While the main tank segment 20 may be of substantially constant radius and therefore constant breadth from carcass entrance end 16 through the main tank segment 20, the carcass delivery end 18 has an upwardly angled section 36 that is the exit portion of the tank and includes a semi-conical upwardly angled bottom wall that converges inwardly and upwardly from the semi-cylindrical bottom wall of the main tank segment 20.

Likewise, auger 32 includes an auger exit portion having a progressively reduced radius auger blade segment 38, with its tapered portion corresponding to the taper of the upwardly angled exit section 36 of the chiller tank 14.

Moreover, the pitch of the progressively reduced radius auger segment 38 may be greater than the pitch of the auger blades in the main segment of the auger blades 34.

The larger pitch and the narrowing breadth of the progressively reduced radius auger segment 38 and the matching converging shape of the exit portion of the chiller tank tends to increase the rate of movement of the birds 40 that are being moved through the auger chiller. This assures that the birds are more positively moved out of the progressively reduced radius auger segment 38, particularly since the bottom surface of this portion of the auger tank is upwardly inclined. Ideally, the changes in pitch and radius will be coordinated to maintain substantially constant loading (mass of birds per unit volume of water) in the delivery end 18.

The auger blades 34 and 38 may be helical and both may be mounted on a common axially extending drive shaft 42, with the drive shaft being supported by hanger bearings 44. The drive motor of the auger (not shown) may be at the bird entrance end 16 of the chiller tank 14. Other auger shafts and drive configurations may be used.

As illustrated in FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, bird unloader 12 includes a sloped back wall 46 and a peripheral rim wall 48, with the peripheral rim wall being substantially U-shaped and extending substantially at a right angle with respect to the sloped back wall 46. Since the peripheral rim wall 48 is tilted as shown in FIG. 4, its lower portion forms an arcuate basin that is filled with water from the chiller tank 14. The peripheral rim wall extends downwardly from the open end of the upwardly angled section 36 of chiller tank 14.

Connector wall 54 connects the delivery edge 56 of the elongated chiller tank 14 to the peripheral rim wall 48 of the sloped bird unloader 12. This provides a completed tank for the water in the auger chiller and in the bird unloader, with the level of the water indicated at 60 in FIGS. 4 and 5.

The sloped bird unloader 12 includes a rotary paddle assembly 62 that includes a hub 64 driven by a motor 66 in the direction as indicated by arrow 68 in FIG. 5. The rotary paddle assembly includes paddle arms 70 radiating outwardly from hub 64, and paddles 72 and 74 are mounted on the ends of the paddle arms as indicated in FIGS. 4 and 5. The paddles 74 sweep in a circular direction 68 (FIG. 5) about the peripheral rim wall 48 and through the arcuate basin 50 (FIGS. 4 and 5), engaging the birds 40 and sweeping the birds to the top of the bird unloader. When the paddles 72 and 74 reach the top of the bird unloader, they pass above the edge of the sloped back wall 46 of the bird unloader, so that the birds 40 are free to drop under the influence of gravity from the bird unloader to the next work station.

The upwardly angled section 36 of chiller tank 14 permits the use of a smaller radius bird unloader. Moreover, the larger pitch of the auger blades in the upwardly angled section of the tank 36 assures that the birds will be moved with increased velocity into the sloped unloader 46. Once the birds are received in the arcuate basin, they are most likely to not return to the chiller tank.

It will be noted that the slope of the back wall 46 helps support the birds 40 as they are engaged by the rotary paddle assembly 62, therefore insuring that even the larger birds are not inclined to fall out of or be missed by the paddles 74 as the paddle assembly rotates. The leading paddles 72 assure that the birds 40 will not tend to fall back into the bird unloader when the paddles reach the upper edge of the sloped back wall 46 of the bird unloader.

Since the birds 40 usually are of a negative buoyancy, with a slight tendency to sink in the water of the chiller, the birds are swept by the reduced radius auger segment 38 of the auger 32 up the upwardly angled section 36 of the chiller tank 14 and tend to move as indicated by arrow 78 (FIG. 4) into the path of the paddles 74 where they will be urged through an arcuate path along the peripheral rim wall 48, and then over the upper edge of the sloped back wall 46 to the next work station.

Although a preferred embodiment of the invention has been disclosed in detail herein, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that variations and modifications of the disclosed embodiment can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.