(19)
(11)EP 1 826 173 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
29.08.2007 Bulletin 2007/35

(21)Application number: 06425109.3

(22)Date of filing:  23.02.2006
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B67D 3/00  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC NL PL PT RO SE SI SK TR
Designated Extension States:
AL BA HR MK YU

(71)Applicant: Sirec Engineering S.P.A.
41012 Carpi MO (IT)

(72)Inventor:
  • Tammi, Giuseppe Patrizio
    41012 Carpi (Modena) (IT)

(74)Representative: Botti, Mario et al
Botti & Ferrari S.r.l., Via Locatelli, 5
20124 Milano
20124 Milano (IT)

  


(54)Drinks dispenser for bag-type vessel


(57) The present invention refers to a drinks dispenser comprising a containment case (14), wherein at least one chamber (18) is defined in communication with the outside through a first opening (17) equipped with respective cover (16) and a second drink-supply opening (19). The chamber (18) is intended to house a substantially bag-like vessel (12) containing a pre-selected drink and equipped with supply valve and the drink-supply opening (19) of the case (14) is associated with the supply valve (15). A connection member (20) that is separately manoeuvrable is interposed between the case (14) and the supply valve of the bag-like vessel (12) for a removable locking of the supply valve (15) on the case (14).




Description

Field of application



[0001] The present invention refers to a drinks dispenser in general, particularly but not exclusively indicated for supplying fruit juices and drinks, from a tank that contains them.

[0002] In particular, the present invention refers to a dispenser of the aforesaid type comprising a containment case wherein at least one chamber is defined in communication with the outside through a first opening equipped with respective cover, and a second drink-supply opening, wherein the chamber of the containment case is suitable for housing in a removable manner a substantially bag-like vessel containing a pre-selected drink and equipped with a supply valve, and wherein said drink-supply opening of the chamber is suitable for being associated with the supply valve of the bag-like vessel.

Prior art



[0003] The increasingly widespread use is known of supply equipment of a drink packaged in a bag-like vessel (also called bag), generally made in a flexible sheet of an appropriate plastic material. Supply equipment of this type, also called dispensers-suppliers, are essentially composed of a containment case, shaped as a cabinet, inside of which the vessel of the drink to be supplied is removably positioned.

[0004] To supply the drink, said vessel is equipped with a respective supply valve, with which a member for the interception of the drink flow cooperates, for example a plunger and the like. When the bag-like vessel is positioned in the cabinet-like case, the respective supply valve is engaged through a supply opening, made in a wall of said cabinet. Means are generally provided in the latter for holding the bag-like vessel in the correct position until it is completely emptied.

[0005] While advantageous in several ways, a supplier of the known type nevertheless has several drawbacks that are still not overcome.

[0006] The main drawback lies in the fact that the means for holding the bag-like vessel in a stable manner in the case are "personalised" depending on the type of bag employed, i.e. they have structural and functional characteristics which are closely correlated to those of the bag-like vessel to which they are intended.

[0007] If on one side this ensures a stable positioning of the bag in the chamber, on the other side nevertheless determines a considerable limitation in the possibility to use the same case for bag-like vessels having different characteristics, or adapted for the coupling with different locking means.

[0008] The technical problem underlying the present invention is that of providing a dispenser of a drink from a bag-like vessel, slack container or bag containing it, which allows to overcome the above mentioned drawbacks, and in particular allows to position, in a stable and correct manner, without difficulty, said bag-like vessel in a respective housing chamber defined in the dispenser.

Summary of the invention



[0009] The solution idea underlying the present invention is that of using interface element between a bag-like vessel and the inner chamber of the case, such as for example an instrument which is capable of removably binding, on one side, with the containment case itself (entirely independently from the conformational and/or structural characteristics of the present bag-like vessel) and of removably binding, on the other side, with the vessel or preferably its supply valve, entirely independently from the structural and/or conformational characteristics of the inner chamber of the case.

[0010] On the basis of this idea, the aforesaid technical problem is solved by a drinks dispenser of the above mentioned type and comprising a connection member, which is separately manoeuvrable and is suitable for being interposed between the supply valve of the bag-like vessel and the case for a removable locking of the supply valve of the bag-like vessel on the case.

[0011] Preferably, the connection member is structurally independent from the containment case and comprises first means suitable for engaging, with removable locking, respective opposing means provided in the inner chamber of the containment case.

[0012] Even more preferably, the connection member is structurally independent from the bag-like vessel and comprises second means suitable for engaging, with removable locking, respective opposing means associated with the supply valve.

[0013] Preferably, the connection member may be shaped to form, when associated with the bag-like vessel, a handle or a handgrip for its manoeuvre.

[0014] In a preferred solution, the connection member has a substantially pliers-like conformation, comprising two jaws and respective handles. The jaws are mutually hinged and can be moved between an open and a closed position. Means are preferably present for holding the jaws in a closed position.

[0015] In a preferred solution, the first means and opposing means of removable locking comprise means for a tongue and groove coupling of the connection member in a prearranged coupling seat in the inner chamber, when the connection member is in the closed position.

[0016] Preferably, the first means and opposing means of removable locking comprise snap locking means. In particular, these last comprise latch elements or locks associated with the connection member, and which can be moved against respective counter elements provided in the chamber, wherein said latch means can be operated in opposition to spring-like elements.

[0017] Preferably, the jaws of the connection member are mutually pivoted to a respective end, so that each jaw-handgrip unit constitutes a second-class lever.

[0018] Advantageously, the jaws have respective curvilinear clamping sides, with respective facing concavities, to form a holding clamp of the bag-like vessel supply valve when the pliers is in the closed clamping state.

[0019] Further characteristics and advantages of the dispenser according to the invention will be apparent from the following description of an embodiment thereof, given by way of indicative and non-limiting example with reference to the attached drawings.

Brief description of the drawings



[0020] 

Figure 1 illustrates a view of the dispenser according to the invention, in an open state, associated with a bag-like vessel.

Figure 2 illustrates a view of the dispenser of figure 1 in the closed state.

Figure 3 illustrates a further view of the dispenser of figure 1 without bag-like vessel.

Figure 4 illustrates a view of the dispenser of figure 2 without connection member.

Figure 4a illustrates an enlarged scale detail of figure 4.

Figure 5 illustrates a view of a connection member of the dispenser of figure 1 in a first operating position.

Figure 5a illustrates a view of a bag-like vessel suitably associated with the dispenser of figure 1.

Figure 6 illustrates a view of a connection member of the dispenser of figure 1 in a second operating position.

Figure 7 illustrates a partially sectioned view of an enlarged detail of the connection member of figure 6.

Figure 8 illustrates a plan view of a dispenser according to the invention, with cover removed.

Figure 9 illustrates an enlarged scale detail of the section IX-IX of figure 8.

Figure 10 illustrates an enlarged section along the line X-X of figure 8.

Figure 11 illustrates a view from above of a dispenser according to the invention in accordance with an embodiment, in an open state.


Detailed description of the invention



[0021] With reference to the attached figures, a dispenser according to the present invention for supplying a drink is generally indicated with reference number 10, preferably a loose drink contained in a bag-like vessel 12 for foods.

[0022] The dispenser 10 comprises a containment case indicated with the number 14 in the drawings, having a preferably cabinet-like shape, which defines a chamber 18 for housing the bag-like vessel 12, wherein the chamber 18 is placed in communication with the outside through a first opening 17 equipped with a respective cover 16 and a second drink-supply opening 19, indicated with a dashed line in figure 1.

[0023] The bag-like vessel 12 is of the known type and it is equipped with a supply valve 15 placed in communication with the inside of the sack 12.

[0024] The bag-like vessel 12 (figure 5a) is intended to be removably housed in the chamber 18, with respective supply valve 15 associated and inserted in the second drink-supply opening 19 of the containment case 14.

[0025] Preferably, in the case of the illustrated solution, the dispenser is a refrigerated dispenser and, in this respect, it should be noted that the chamber 18 is made in an upper zone of the case 14, to allow the prearrangement of an underlying technical compartment (not visible in the drawings). The technical compartment is intended to house a refrigerator group for the refrigeration of the chamber 18.

[0026] According to the invention, the dispenser-supplier 10 comprises a connection or interconnection member 20, which is separately manoeuvrable and is interposed between the supply valve 15 of the bag-like vessel 12 and the chamber of the case 14, so as to obtain a removable locking of the supply valve on the case 14.

[0027] Preferably, the connection member 20 is structurally independent from the case 14, and it is equipped with first means 23, 30, 31 suitably engaging, with removable locking, respective opposing means 28, 29, 35 provided in the inner chamber 18 of the containment case 14.

[0028] Even more preferably, the connection member 20 is structurally independent from the bag-like vessel 12 and it is equipped with second means suitably engaging, with removable locking, respective opposing means provided in the bag-like vessel 12.

[0029] In other words, the equipment 10 is provided with an instrument, or tool, which is a separate component with respect to the structure of the containment case 14 and the bag-like vessel 12, and is interposed in an intermediate position between the two elements, so as to establish, on one side, a first coupling with the bag-like vessel 12, and on the other side a second coupling with means provided in the chamber 18. The slack bag-like vessel 12 is thus locked by means of the member 20 to the means 28, 29, 35 provided in the chamber 18.

[0030] Preferably, the connection member 20 is a tool shaped to constitute, when associated with the bag-like vessel 12, a handle or handgrip for its manoeuvre.

[0031] To such end, the member 20 is advantageously pliers-like shaped and is provided with two jaws 25, 26 or claws, mutually pivoted by means of a pin 27 (figures 5, 6, 7). A pair of handles 45, 46 is provided for the grip, each of which projects, as extension, from a respective jaw 25, 26.

[0032] The two jaws 25, 25 are preferably the second locking means mentioned above, and can be angularly moved around the axis of the pin 27 between an open position illustrated in figure 5, to allow the positioning between them of the supply valve 15 portion to be held, and a closed and clamped position for locking the supply valve 15 portion positioned therein. The clamped position is illustrated in figures 6 and 7.

[0033] Preferably, the two jaws 25 and 26 are hinged at a respective end, so that each constitutes a second-class lever.

[0034] As it may be observed in the figures, the pliers-like member 20 is preferably shaped for holding a neck portion, or outlet portion 13 of the supply valve 15, which has preferably cylindrical shape. To such end, the jaws 25 and 26 have respective curvilinear clamping sides, with respective facing concavities so as to form, when the pliers is in the closed position, a holding clamp of the outlet portion 13 of the supply valve 15 of the bag-like vessel 12.

[0035] Preferably, to maintain the two handles 45, 46 and the jaws 25, 26 in the closed position, the member 20 comprises a lock element 47 hinged on one side of one of the two handles, for example the handle 46 illustrated on the right in figures 6-7, and is provided with a related appendage 47a for the snap locking in a corresponding seat 48 made on the other handle 45.

[0036] Preferably the outlet portion 13 of the supply valve 15 is provided with circular features, which favour the mutual engagement with the jaws 25, 26 of the member 20.

[0037] Regarding the first locking means mentioned above, the dispenser 10 comprises means for a tongue and groove coupling of the connection member 20 in a related coupling seat made in the chamber 18, by means of appropriate shaping. It should be noted that the coupling might be carried out only when the member 20 is arranged in the closed position and clamped state. To such end, the member 20 is provided with feet 23 which, when the member is in the closed state, are coupled between ribs 28, 29 present in the chamber 18.

[0038] To further lock the member 20, the first locking means are formed by snap locking elements which comprise two latches 30, 31 or locks (figures 6 and 7) placed on the connection member 20 and slidably moveable in respective guides 32, 33 made on the upper portion of the two jaws 25 and 26 of the connection member 20. The two latches 30, 31 are intended to be engaged against a pair of counter-acting tongues 35, of which only one is visible in figure 4, made integrally in the opposing walls 34, 36 of the case 14.

[0039] In particular, the two latches 30, 31 are moveable from a locking position wherein they are moved, in mutually opposite directions, to an engagement position, against the action of two respective springs 38, 39, and a release position wherein they are withdrawn to each other, removing the mutual engagement with the tongues 35.

[0040] To allow the supply, as anticipated above, when the member 20 is coupled and locked in the seat of the chamber 18, the supply valve 15 is inserted in the supply opening 19. This latter is placed in communication with an underlying collection zone 41 of the drink, where a glass or other vessel is placed. As observed from the figures, a drop collector plate 43 for supporting the glass completes the collection zone 41.

[0041] In such position, the supply valve 15 can be operated by means of a button 62 provided on the cover 16 of the case 14.

[0042] As mentioned above, the supply valve 15 is of known type and available on the market.

[0043] Obviously, within the present invention, supply valves 15 may be used which have different shapes, geometries, and orientations than that illustrated, which, due to their manual setting and actuation, may in any case be actuated with mechanisms such as that illustrated below.

[0044] In particular, the supply valve 15 comprises a valve body 50 fixed to the outlet portion 13, and provided with a retaining plunger of known type, non visible in the drawings. The supply valve 15 also comprises a pair of lateral tongues 51, 52 that are fixedly connected to the retaining plunger and can be raised with respect to the valve body 50 for allowing the drink supply.

[0045] For operating the retaining plunger and activating the supply, in the illustrated solution the equipment 10 comprises a valve lifter system connected to the actuation button 62 accessible from the cover 16, wherein the actuation button 62 comprises a substantially flat base 62a from which two vertical rods 63, 64 extend from opposite sides (figure 10).

[0046] The two rods 63, 64 are intended to cooperate, by means of two vertical arms 65, 66 present in the chamber 18 (figure 4a) with two rocking arms 68, 69 pivoted in two central points P1 and P2. In particular, each of the two rocking arms 68, 69 has a first end cooperating with the respective vertical arm 65, 66 mentioned above, and a second end cooperating with the tongues 51, 52 of the supply valve 15.

[0047] The actuation mechanism is completed by a reaction element intended to keep the valve body 50 of the supply valve 15 locked, and to allow a related lifting movement of the tongues 50, 51 and of the plunger connected to them, with respect to the same body 50.

[0048] To such end, as it may be observed in the drawings, the pliers-like connection member 20 has a pair of balcony-like appendages 70, 71 (figures 6 and 9) frontally projecting above the two jaws 25, 26 which, when closed and inserted in the coupling seat of the chamber 18, are in contact relation with the valve body 50 of the supply valve 15 and allow, keeping the valve body 50 locked, the lifting operation of the tongues 51, 52 and the consequent opening of the supply valve 15.

[0049] The main advantage of the present invention lies in the possibility of locking a bag-like vessel in the chamber, independently from its conformation and structure, due to the coupling obtained by means of the connection member.

[0050] A further advantage lies in that the connection member is provided with grip handles, which allow to grasp the bag in a stable manner, and to handle it with ease so as to position it in the chamber, notwithstanding its soft consistency and possible high weight.

[0051] A further advantage is offered by the clamp-like clamping, which is particularly suitable for the locking of the outlet portion 13 of the supply valve. The locking of the outlet portion 13 avoids gripping the bag, and also facilitates the handling of the supply valve.

[0052] A further advantage lies in the fact that the connection member 20 does not interfere with the drink supply mechanism. Moreover, it is possible to use the connection member with any supply valve, possibly having a different structure from that described above, without altering the grip of the connection member on the bag-like vessel.

[0053] As an example, in figure 11 a dispenser 110 of fruit juices is illustrated according to the invention in accordance with an embodiment, which is provided with the same connection member 20.

[0054] In the solution illustrated in figure 11, the dispenser 110 is provided with two chambers 18, each provided with the same pliers-like member 20 described above.

[0055] It should be noted that the supplier 110 has the same structural and functional characteristics as the dispenser described above, apart from the fact that this is of the type intended for the sale of a non-sparkling drink, such as for example fruit juice. For this reason, the supplier 110 lacks an actuation button for a free supply of the fruit juice, but the supply is electronically controlled upon verification of an effected payment.

[0056] Obviously, a man skilled in the art, in order to satisfy contingent and specific needs, may make numerous modifications and variants to the dispenser 10, 110 described above, all moreover contained in the scope of protection of the invention as defined by the following claims.


Claims

1. Drinks dispenser comprising a containment case (14) wherein at least one chamber (18) is defined in communication with the outside through a first opening (17) equipped with respective cover (16) and a second drink-supply opening (19), said chamber (18) being intended to house a substantially bag-like vessel (12) containing a pre-selected drink and equipped with supply valve (15) and said drink-supply opening (19) of said case (14) being suitable for being associated with the supply valve (15), characterised in that it comprises a connection member (20) which is separately manoeuvrable and is suitable for being interposed between the case (14) and the supply valve (15) of the bag-like vessel (12) for a removable locking of the supply valve (15) on the case (14).
 
2. Dispenser according to claim 1, wherein the connection member (20) is structurally independent from the case (14) and comprises first means (23, 30, 31) suitable for engaging, with removable locking, respective opposing means (28, 29, 35) provided in the inner chamber (18) of the case (14).
 
3. Dispenser according to claim 1, wherein the connection member (20) is structurally independent from the bag-like vessel (12) and comprises second means (25, 26) suitable for engaging, with removable locking, respective opposing means associated with the supply valve (15).
 
4. Dispenser according to any claim 1 to 3, wherein the connection member (20) is pliers-like shaped and comprises a pair of jaws (25, 26) hinged to each other and moveable between an open position and a closed position.
 
5. Dispenser according to claim 4, wherein the connection member (20) is provided with handles (45, 46), each connected to a jaw of the jaw pair (25, 26), the connection member thus being shaped as a handgrip element of the bag-like vessel (12).
 
6. Dispenser according to claim 5, wherein the jaws (25, 26) of the connection member (20) are mutually pivoted to one end so that each jaw (25, 26) constitutes a second-class lever.
 
7. Dispenser according to claim 5, wherein the jaws (25, 26) have respective curvilinear clamping sides, with respective facing concavities, to form, when the connection member (20) is in the closed state, a holding clamp of a portion (13) of the supply valve (15).
 
8. Dispenser according to claim 5, comprising a lock element (47) for keeping the two jaws (25, 26) in the closed position and the handles (45, 46) in the clamping position of the bag-like vessel (12).
 
9. Dispenser according to claim 4, characterised in that the first means and opposing means of removable locking comprise means for a tongue and groove coupling of the connection member (20) in an appropriate seat in the inner chamber (14), when the connection member (20) is in the closed position.
 
10. Dispenser according to claim 4, characterised in that the first means and opposing means of removable locking comprise snap locking means (30, 31).
 
11. Dispenser according to claim 10, wherein the snap locking means are latch elements or locks (30, 31) associated with the connection member (20) and cooperating with counter elements provided in the chamber (18), wherein the latch means is selectively movable against the counter elements.
 
12. Drinks dispenser according to claim 1, comprising the bag-like vessel (12), wherein the supply valve (15) has a valve body (50) and a plunger, characterised in that it comprises a valve lifter system (63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 69) acting on the supply valve (15) for controlling its opening.
 
13. Drinks dispenser according to claim 1, wherein the supply valve (15) comprises a pair of side tongues (51, 52) fixedly connected to a plunger body and which can be raised by means of a valve lifter system (63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 69) with respect to the valve body (50) to activate the plunger.
 
14. Dispenser according to claim 13, wherein the connection member (20) comprises a pair of frontally projecting balcony-like appendages (70, 71), which act as reaction element intended to hold the valve body (50) of the supply valve (15) during an activation movement of the plunger.
 




Drawing