(19)
(11)EP 2 850 913 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
16.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/38

(21)Application number: 13790524.6

(22)Date of filing:  12.04.2013
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H05B 1/02(2006.01)
A47J 37/06(2006.01)
A21B 1/48(2006.01)
A47J 37/04(2006.01)
A47J 37/08(2006.01)
A21B 1/40(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2013/036415
(87)International publication number:
WO 2013/173011 (21.11.2013 Gazette  2013/47)

(54)

TOASTER WITH CONTROLLED CONVEYOR SPEED

TOASTER MIT GESTEUERTER AUSWURFGESCHWINDIGKEIT

GRILLE-PAIN À VITESSE DE BANDE TRANSPORTEUSE COMMANDÉE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 16.05.2012 US 201213473285

(43)Date of publication of application:
25.03.2015 Bulletin 2015/13

(73)Proprietor: HATCO CORPORATION
Milwaukee, WI 53215 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • WILDEBUSH, Hans, Anderson
    Milwaukee, WI 53202 (US)

(74)Representative: Grünecker Patent- und Rechtsanwälte PartG mbB 
Leopoldstraße 4
80802 München
80802 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-03/020041
US-A- 5 253 564
US-A1- 2003 233 173
US-A1- 2008 057 170
US-A1- 2009 075 224
US-B1- 6 543 337
WO-A2-2007/050136
US-A1- 2003 042 248
US-A1- 2004 016 744
US-A1- 2008 203 085
US-B1- 6 198 078
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    BACKGROUND



    [0001] The present invention relates to the field of conveyor toasters, and specifically to mechanisms for controlling the degree of cooking of the food product.

    [0002] Conveyor toasters typically include a housing having a cook chamber, a conveyor for moving food product through the cook chamber, and heating elements for cooking the food product as it is moved through the cook chamber. In order to control the level of cooking of the food product, it is known to control the speed of the conveyor. For example, U.S. patent no. 6,624,396, assigned to Hatco Corporation discloses a conveyor oven that controls the speed of the conveyor based on the temperature inside the oven. For example, if the temperature in the oven is relatively low, then the conveyor will slow down to allow the food product to cook to the desired level. In addition, U.S. patent no. 5,253,564 discloses a conveyor oven that has preprogrammed cook options with different conveyor speeds and heat percentage for different types of food products.

    [0003] In order to conserve energy, conveyor toasters often include a standby mode that stops the conveyor and reduces the heat percentage supplied to the heating elements. The standby mode can be entered by pressing an appropriate button (e.g., a "standby" button), or it can be entered automatically upon the detection of no food product on the conveyor for a period of time. The standby mode can be exited by pressing an appropriate button (e.g., a "cook" button), or it can be exited automatically upon the detection of food product on the conveyor.

    [0004] WO2007/05013682 discloses a conveyer oven for cooking food procudts. Respective oven are often placed in a low temperature, energy-saving mode, when not being used to cook. Upon placing a food order, the controller determines the amount of time required to heat the oven to the desired cooking temperature (heat-up time). During this amount of time, no food is placed inside of the oven, the heat-up time is compared to the amount of time for the food to be prepared before cooking (prep time). If the prep time is longer than the heat-up time, the heating-up of the oven can be delayed and similarly, the control can delay the heating-up of the oven if the cooked food is not needed for a considerable period of time. US5253564A also discloses an oven.

    SUMMARY



    [0005] The present invention provides a conveyor oven comprising a housing defining a cook chamber and a heating element positioned adjacent the cook chamber. A controller is programmed to control a cook time wherein the cooking time is based upon a current estimated temperature in the oven, wherein the current estimated temperature is a calculated using a formula that is function of a heat power input during a previous time period. Preferably, the oven further includes a conveyor positioned to move food product through the cook chamber, and a motor coupled to the conveyor, wherein the controller is programmed to control a speed of the conveyor. In one embodiment, the current estimated
    temperature is a function of a previous estimated temperature. An element time constant can be used to account for different ovens.

    [0006] In another aspect of the invention, the controller is programmed to control a cook time based upon a product load calculation, wherein the product load calculation is a function of a presence of food in the oven. In one embodiment, the oven further includes a presence sensor for detecting the presence of food in the oven and providing a corresponding signal to the controller. Preferably, the product load calculation is a function of a previous product load calculation, with or without a corresponding time constant.

    [0007] Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0008] 

    Fig. 1 is a perspective view of an oven embodying the present invention.

    Fig. 2 is a section view taken along line 2-2 in Fig. 1.

    Fig. 3 is a section view taken along line 3-3 in Fig. 1.

    Fig. 4 is a chart showing heat-based speed modification.

    Fig. 5 is a chart showing product-based speed compensation.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0009] Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of "including," "comprising," or "having" and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms "mounted," "connected," "supported," and "coupled" and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings. Further, "connected" and "coupled" are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.

    [0010] Fig. 1 illustrates a conveyor toaster 10 that embodies the present invention. The toaster includes a housing 12 defining a cook chamber 14, top and bottom heating elements 15,16 positioned adjacent the cook chamber 14, and a conveyor 18 positioned to move food product through the cook chamber 14. A motor 22 is coupled to the conveyor 18 to provide movement to the conveyor 18. The cook chamber 14 has an entrance 24 through which a food product enters the toaster 10 and an exit 26 through which the food product exits the toaster 10 after the food product is cooked. A user input 28 can be used to input information into the toaster 10. A controller 30 is programmed to control the heating element 15,16 and a speed of the conveyor 18 based upon the user input and a variety of parameters and conditions.

    [0011] The controller is programmed to operate the toaster in one of several different modes corresponding with different food types (e.g., bread, bagels, frozen waffles, etc.) that should be cooked at different heat settings and different cook times. The user can input the appropriate food type into the user input. Each food type will have a programmed desired heat setting HS and desired cook time CT that are pre-programmed based upon the steady-state characteristics of the toaster. Unless otherwise noted, the heat setting HS is presented as a dimensionless number from zero to 100. For example, a heat setting of 25 means that the corresponding heating element should be operating at 25% capacity at steady state, and a heat setting of 100 means that the heating element should be operating at its maximum or 100% capacity at steady state. The cook time CT is presented as the amount of time (e.g., in seconds) that a product takes to get through the toaster. For example, a cook time CT of 45 means that a product traveling on the belt has a throughput time of 45 seconds. For toasters with conveyors, the cook time will be inversely proportional to the conveyor speed. For toasters that do not have a conveyor, the cook time can be the amount of time for a cook cycle, which can be controlled by an alarm or by
    pushing the food out of the oven at the end of the cook time. For example, for a drawer-type oven, the drawer can pop open at the end of the cook time.

    [0012] The controller drives the heating elements at a heat power input (e.g., the power provided to the heating elements), which can be represented by a heat percentage HP. The heat percentage HP is a dimensionless number from zero to 100 that represents the actual power level provided to the corresponding heating element. For example, an upper heat percentage HP of 65 means that the upper heating element is driven at 65% of its rated wattage. At steady state, the heat percentage HP of a heating element should approximately correspond with the heat setting HS for that heating element. However, when changing a heat setting, it is often desired to provide a heat percentage HP that is beyond (i.e., above when increasing the temperature and below when decreasing the temperature) the targeted heat setting in order to facilitate a faster change in the cooking ability of the oven. For example, when changing from a heat setting of 40 to a heat setting of 75, the controller can be programmed to drive the corresponding heating element at a heat percentage HP of 90 for a short period of time in order to bring the oven up to the desired cooking ability more quickly.

    [0013] The heat percentage HP is calculated every second according to the following formula:

    HS = heat setting

    Proportional gain = 2.0

    ET = estimated temperature (defined below)

    The proportional gain is a dimensionless multiplier that determines the rate at which the toaster will be heated or cooled when changing the heat settings. A larger proportional gain will heat and cool for rapidly, and a smaller gain will heat and cool more slowly. If the calculated heat percentage is greater than 100, then the actual heat percentage will be 100. Also, if the calculated heat percentage is less than zero, then the actual heat percentage will be 0.

    [0014] The controller is also programmed to control the speed of the conveyor 18 based upon a predicted cooking ability or estimated temperature ET of the toaster 10. For example, if the estimated temperature ET is relatively low, the controller 30 will decrease the speed of the conveyor 18 so that the food product can cook properly. Similarly, if the estimated temperature ET is relatively high, the controller 30 will increase the speed of the conveyor 18 so that the food product does not over cook. The estimated temperature ET is a dimensionless number between zero and 100 and represents a calculated estimation of the ability of the toaster to cook food. An estimated temperature ET of zero corresponds with a toaster that is turned off long enough for the toaster to achieve a steady-state temperature. Similarly, an estimated temperature ET of 100 corresponds with a toaster when it has been running at a maximum heat setting long enough to achieve a steady-state temperature. The estimated temperature ET is calculated every second according to the following formula:

    ETprevious = ET from the previous time period

    HTC = heat time constant

    HPprevious = HP from the previous time period

    The heat time constant HTC is a number from zero to one that represents the estimated rate at which a change in element wattage causes a change in toasting ability. The heat time constant HTC is derived empirically from element testing and is subject to change if there are changes to the element wattage, size, or other variable. In the illustrated embodiment, the HTC is 0.9952 for both the top and bottom elements when the temperature is rising and 0.9970 for both the top and bottom elements when the temperature is falling.

    [0015] The estimated temperature ET is used to calculate a heat-based speed modifier MODheat that will determine the desired speed of the conveyor. The heat-based speed modifier MODheat is a dimensionless number from zero to 100 that represents the % of maximum conveyor speed. The heat-based speed modifier MODheat is calculated every second according to the following formula:

    ETtop = estimated temperature of the top element

    HStop = heat setting of the top element

    bottom gain = 1.08

    ETbot = estimated temperature of the bottom element

    HSbot = heat setting of the bottom element

    The top gain and bottom gain are used to describe a relationship between heat difference and necessary speed difference that is other than 1 : 1.

    [0016] Using the above-calculated heat-based speed modification MODheat, the conveyor will be driven at a speed corresponding with an actual cook time CTactual that a modification of the setpoint cook time CTsetPoint and is calculated according to the following formula:

    MODother = other modification

    [0017] The toaster also includes a product sensor in the form of an electric eye (a transmitter 32, reflector 34, and receiver 36) that will sense when a product has been placed on the conveyor. The controller is programmed to enter a standby mode if it detects no activity (i.e., no products placed on the conveyor and no activity of the user input) for a period of time, such as fifteen minutes. When in the standby mode, the conveyor is stopped and the top and bottom heat settings are set at a user-programmable value, such as 25. In standby mode, once steady state operation has been achieved, the heat percentage HP of both the top and bottom heating elements is also 25, and the estimated temperature of the top and bottom elements is 25, according to the above-noted formulas.

    [0018] The chart in Fig. 4 shows heat percentage HP, estimated temperature ET, and heat-based speed modification MODheat calculated according to the above formulas when changing from the standby mode (top and bottom heat settings at 25) to a cooking mode have a bottom heat setting of 90 and a top heating setting of 65. In this example, the toaster is in the standby mode from time = zero until time = 60 seconds. At that point, the top heat setting is changed from 25 to 65, and the bottom heat setting is changed from 25 to 90. Starting at time = 60 seconds, the calculated heat percentages, predicted cooking abilities, and heat-based speed modification MODheat will change according to the formulas.

    [0019] After the heat percentage HP is calculated based on the heat setting HS and the estimated temperature ET, a vertical heat shift is applied. This is intended to account for heat rising to the top of the toaster in times when no product is going through the toaster. Vertical heat shift is applied when the toaster has nearly reached full cooking ability (i.e., heat-based speed modification MODheat is close to 100) and the electric eye has not detected a product for 120 seconds. Once these conditions are satisfied, the duty cycle of the top heating element drops by 2% every 80 seconds up to a maximum of 8%. If desired, the bottom heating element can also be modified duty cycle using a similar method. It should be appreciated that the above numbers are merely examples, and different numbers could be used without departing from the described concepts.

    [0020] The controller is also programmed to adjust the conveyor speed to account for a product loading condition (i.e., the amount of product placed on the conveyor over a previous period of time). If a large number of products are placed on the conveyor, then the actual cooking ability of the toaster is less. In this regard, the controller monitors the data from the product sensor and calculates a product loading modification to the speed of the conveyor to account for the amount of product on the conveyor over a previous time period. In the illustrated embodiment, the product sensor is the electric eye that determines the presence or absence of a food product on the conveyor. Alternatively, the product sensor could be any suitable sensor, such as a mechanical switch. The signal from the electric eye is "0" when the eye is closed (i.e., product is present) and is "1" when the eye is open (i.e., no product is present).

    [0021] To account for the readings from the electric eye, the controller calculates product loading calculation called an "eye calculation" EC. The eye calculation EC is a dimensionless number from zero to one and is calculated every second according to the following formula:

    ECprevious = previous eye compensation

    ETC = eye time constant

    Reading = electric eye reading ("0" or "1")



    [0022] The eye time constant is a number that predicts how much toasting ability a piece of food product will remove from the chamber, and is subject to change based on the product being cooked. In the illustrated embodiment, the eye time constant is 0.98. The lower boundary LB is the lowest level to which the speed will drop which being continuously loaded with products, and is subject to change based on the product being cooked. In the illustrated embodiment, the lower boundary is 0.65.

    [0023] After the eye calculation EC is performed, the controller calculates an eye-based speed modifier MODeye that will be used to modify the speed of the conveyor. The eye-based speed modifier is a dimensionless number between zero and one and is calculated according to the following formula:

    LB = Lower Boundary of Eye

    [0024] Using the above-calculated eye-based speed modification MODeye, the conveyor will be driven at a speed corresponding with an actual cook time CTactual that is calculated according to the following formula:



    [0025] The chart in Fig. 5 shows eye calculation EC and eye-based speed modification MODeye calculated according to the above formulas under a changing signal from the electric eye. Specifically, at time = zero, the eye is open ("1"), indicating that no product is present on the conveyor. At time = 60 seconds, the eye is closed ("0") and held closed until time = 360 seconds, at which time the eye is open for the remainder of the data.

    [0026] Various features and advantages of the invention are set forth in the following claims.


    Claims

    1. An oven (10) comprising:

    a housing (12) defining a cook chamber (14);

    a heating element (15) positioned adjacent the cook chamber;

    a controller (30) programmed to control a cook time characterized in that the cook time is based upon a current estimated temperature in the oven, wherein the current estimated temperature is calculated using a formula that is a function of a heat power input during a previous time period.


     
    2. An oven as claimed in claim 1, wherein the current estimated temperature is a function of the heat power input during the previous time period and an element time constant.
     
    3. An oven as claimed in claim 1, wherein the current estimated temperature is a function of a previous estimated temperature.
     
    4. An oven as claimed in claim 3, wherein the current estimated temperature is a function of the previous estimated temperature multiplied by an element time constant.
     
    5. An oven as claimed in claim 1, wherein the current estimate temperature is calculated according to a formula comprising:

    wherein ET = current estimated temperature,

    ETprevious = estimated temperature from a previous time period,

    HTC = heat time constant, and

    HPprevious=heat percentage from a previous time period.


     
    6. An oven as claimed in claim 1, further comprising:

    a conveyor positioned to move food product through the cook chamber; and

    a motor coupled to the conveyor, wherein the controller is programmed to control a speed of the conveyor.


     
    7. An oven as claimed in claim 6, wherein the controller is programmed to control the speed of the conveyor based upon speed modification that is calculated according to a formula comprising:

    wherein MODheat = speed modification,

    ETtop = estimated temperature of a top element,

    HStop = heat setting of the top element,

    ETbot = estimated temperature of a bottom element, and

    HSbot = heat setting of the bottom element.


     


    Ansprüche

    1. Ofen (10) umfassend:

    ein Gehäuse (12), das eine Kochkammer (14) definiert;

    ein Heizelement (15), das neben der Kochkammer angeordnet ist;

    eine Steuerung (30), die programmiert ist, um eine Kochzeit zu steuern, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die Kochzeit auf einer aktuellen geschätzten Temperatur in dem Ofen basiert, wobei die aktuelle geschätzte Temperatur unter Verwendung einer Formel berechnet wird, die eine Funktion einer Wärmeenergieeingabe während eines vorhergehenden Zeitraumes ist.


     
    2. Ofen nach Anspruch 1, wobei die aktuelle geschätzte Temperatur eine Funktion der während des vorhergehenden Zeitraumes zugeführten Wärmeleistung und einer Elementzeitkonstante ist.
     
    3. Ofen nach Anspruch 1, wobei die aktuelle geschätzte Temperatur eine Funktion einer vorhergehenden geschätzten Temperatur ist.
     
    4. Ofen nach Anspruch 3, wobei die aktuelle geschätzte Temperatur eine Funktion der vorhergehenden geschätzten Temperatur multipliziert mit einer Elementzeitkonstante ist.
     
    5. Ofen nach Anspruch 1, wobei die aktuelle geschätzte Temperatur gemäß einer Formel berechnet wird, umfassend

    wobei ET = aktuelle geschätzte Temperatur,

    ETvorhergehend = geschätzte Temperatur aus einem vorhergehenden Zeitraum,

    HTC = Wärmezeitkonstante und

    HPvorhergehend=Wärmeprozentsatz aus einem vorhergehenden Zeitraum.


     
    6. Ofen nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend:

    ein Förderband, angeordnet, um das Lebensmittelprodukt durch die Kochkammer zu bewegen; und

    einen mit dem Förderband gekoppelten Motor, wobei die Steuerung so programmiert ist, dass sie eine Geschwindigkeit des Förderbandes steuert.


     
    7. Ofen nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Steuerung programmiert ist, um die Geschwindigkeit des Förderbandes auf der Grundlage einer Geschwindigkeitsänderung zu steuern, die gemäß einer Formel berechnet wird, umfassend

    wobei MODWärme = Geschwindigkeitsänderung,

    EToben = geschätzte Temperatur eines oberen Elements,

    HSoben = Heizstufe des oberen Elements,

    ETunten = geschätzte Temperatur eines Bodenelements und

    HSunten = Heizstufe des Bodenelements.


     


    Revendications

    1. Four (10) comprenant :

    une enceinte (12) définissant une chambre de cuisson (14) ;

    un élément chauffant (15) positionné à côté de la chambre de cuisson ;

    un dispositif de commande (30) programmé pour commander un temps de cuisson, caractérisé en ce que le temps de cuisson est basé sur une température estimée actuelle dans le four, dans lequel la température estimée actuelle est calculée en utilisant une formule qui est fonction d'une entrée de puissance thermique au cours d'une précédente période de temps.


     
    2. Four selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la température estimée actuelle est fonction de l'entrée de puissance thermique pendant la période de temps précédente et d'une constante de temps d'élément.
     
    3. Four selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la température estimée actuelle est fonction d'une température estimée précédente.
     
    4. Four selon la revendication 3, dans lequel la température estimée actuelle est fonction de la température estimée précédente multipliée par une constante de temps d'élément.
     
    5. Four selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la température estimée actuelle est calculée selon une formule comprenant :

    où ET = température estimée actuelle,

    ETprécédente = température estimée d'une période précédente,

    HTC = constante de temps de chaleur, et

    HPprécédente = pourcentage de chaleur d'une période précédente.


     
    6. Four selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre :

    un convoyeur positionné pour déplacer un produit alimentaire à travers la chambre de cuisson ; et

    un moteur couplé au convoyeur, dans lequel le dispositif de commande est programmé pour commander une vitesse du convoyeur.


     
    7. Four selon la revendication 6, dans lequel le dispositif de commande est programmé pour commander la vitesse du convoyeur sur la base d'une modification de vitesse qui est calculée selon une formule comprenant :

    où MODchaleur = modification de vitesse,

    EThaut = température estimée d'un élément en haut,

    HShaut = réglage de chaleur de l'élément en haut,

    ETbas = température estimée d'un élément en bas, et

    HSbas = réglage de chaleur de l'élément en bas.


     




    Drawing




















    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description