(19)
(11)EP 3 342 293 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
22.07.2020 Bulletin 2020/30

(21)Application number: 17205813.3

(22)Date of filing:  07.12.2017
(51)Int. Cl.: 
A23G 9/08  (2006.01)
A23G 9/28  (2006.01)
A23G 9/22  (2006.01)
B67D 1/00  (2006.01)

(54)

MACHINE FOR STORING AND DISPENSING LIQUID OR SEMI-LIQUID OR SEMI-SOLID FOOD PRODUCTS

MASCHINE ZUR AUFBEWAHRUNG UND AUSGABE VON FLÜSSIGEN ODER HALBFLÜSSIGEN ODER HALBFESTEN LEBENSMITTELPRODUKTEN

MACHINE DE STOCKAGE ET DE DISTRIBUTION DE PRODUITS ALIMENTAIRES LIQUIDES, SEMI-LIQUIDES OU SEMI-SOLIDES


(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: 30.12.2016 IT 201600132800

(43)Date of publication of application:
04.07.2018 Bulletin 2018/27

(73)Proprietor: ALI GROUP S.r.l. - CARPIGIANI
20063 Cernusco Sul Naviglio (MI) (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • COCCHI, Andrea
    40012 CALDERARA DI RENO (Bologna) (IT)
  • LAZZARINI, Roberto
    42100 REGGIO EMILIA (IT)

(74)Representative: Milli, Simone 
Bugnion S.p.A. Via di Corticella, 87
40128 Bologna
40128 Bologna (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 186 240
US-A- 5 249 706
GB-A- 2 356 390
US-A- 5 797 519
  
      
    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


    [0001] This invention relates to a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products, specifically food products with a high viscosity such as, for example, dessert creams, ice creams, semifreddi, milkshakes or particularly dense mixtures. The invention is defined by the claims.

    [0002] More specifically, the machine is adapted to dispense food products which must be kept (and dispensed) at temperatures below 0°C (preferably, but not necessarily, between -6°C and -3°C). A particularly strongly felt need in the trade is that for a solution which is particularly safe in terms of food hygiene and which is at once easy and practical to use. Another particularly strongly felt need in the trade is that for a machine which is capable of fluidly dispensing the aforestated food products kept at a temperature below 0°C.

    [0003] Document US5249706 discloses a dispenser for liquids having an insulated cool chamber to receive a liquid container with a flexible tube for flow of liquid, a heat exchanger or pump in the chamber to pump liquid along the tube, a shut-off valve in the chamber below the pump with an opening for the tube to pass to a dispensing point outside the chamber, a motor and shaft for driving the pump, and gears connected between the motor shaft and the pump, a revolution counter coupled to the motor shaft, and connected to a counter logic circuit to count each revolution of the motor shaft, and manual controls mounted on the chamber and connected to the shut-off valve and to the motor, and to the counter logic circuit so that the shut-off valve opens within the chamber and the motor is started thereby driving the pump within the chamber, and automatically stopping the motor shaft when the predetermined count is reached, thereby maximizing the accuracy of the volume of liquid pumped by the pump.

    [0004] Document GB2356390 discloses a beverage dispenser comprises a cabinet for a beverage container, a dispensing valve and a pump. A heat exchange coil is located in the cabinet to cool the beverage, and has inlet and outlet ends extending from the cabinet. A water bath is provided which has an evaporator suspended therein and a refrigeration system for cooling the evaporator is positioned above the water bath. A pump pumps cooled water from the water bath through a supply line to the heat exchange coil and back to the water bath through a return line.

    [0005] The aim of this invention, therefore, is to meet the above mentioned need by providing a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products, specifically food products with a high viscosity 10 (greater than water).

    [0006] A further aim of this invention is to provide a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products, which avoids direct handling of the food product, that is to say, which is particularly safe in terms of food hygiene.

    [0007] A yet further aim of this invention is to provide a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products, which is particularly easy to clean and whose maintenance is greatly simplified. The technical features of the invention, with reference to the above aims, are set out in the claims below and its advantages are apparent from the detailed description which follows, with reference to the accompanying drawings which illustrate examples that are not part of the invention.

    [0008] It is noted that, according to the invention, the machine comprises first and second chambers (2A, 2B) closed by different doors. This is not reflected in the drawings, in which examples of machines comprising one single door 7 are shown instead. These illustrated examples do not form part of the invention, which is defined by the claims.
    • Figure 1 is a schematic view of a first example of a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products;
    • Figure 2 is a schematic view of a second example of a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products;
    • Figure 3 is a schematic view of a third example of a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products.


    [0009] With reference to the accompanying drawings, the numeral 1 denotes a machine for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products (the liquid or semi-liquid food products being particularly viscous, specifically having viscosity higher than water).

    [0010] The machine 1 is capable of storing and dispensing food products such as, by way of non-limiting example, dessert creams, ice creams, semifreddi, milkshakes or particularly dense mixtures.

    [0011] It should be noted that, preferably and more generally speaking, these food products are products which must be kept (and dispensed) at temperatures below 0°C (preferably, but not necessarily, between -6°C and -3°C).

    [0012] The machine 1 for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products comprises, in combination:
    • a refrigerated compartment 2 internally comprising:
      • supporting means 3 for supporting at least one container 5 of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed;
      • a pump 4 connectable to the at least one container 5 of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed;
    • a dispensing nozzle 6 associated with (the bottom of) the pump 4;
    • a refrigeration system comprising a refrigerating circuit associated with the refrigerated compartment to keep it at a predetermined temperature;
    • at least one door 7 for closing the refrigerated compartment 2.


    [0013] It should be noted that the door 7 is hinged to a frame 20 of the machine 1.

    [0014] The door 7 is thus movable between a closed position, where the compartment 2 is closed, to an open positon, where it is open (the latter being illustrated in Figures 1 to 3). As mentioned above, examples of the machine in which only one door 7 is present do not form part of the invention.

    [0015] It should be noted that the supporting means 3 are located in the compartment 2, above the pump 4.

    [0016] More precisely, the pump 4 is connectable to the container 5 by means of a pipe 13.

    [0017] According to the invention, the refrigerated compartment 2 comprises a first chamber 2A which houses the supporting means 3 for supporting the at least one container 5 of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed and a second chamber 2B which houses the pump 4.

    [0018] Thus, the container 5 and the pump 4 are preferably located in two different refrigerated chambers (2A, 2B).

    [0019] The refrigerated chambers (2A, 2B) may or may not be in communication with each other.

    [0020] According to the invention (not illustrated), the refrigerated chambers (2A, 2B) are closed by different doors. According to another aspect, the machine 1 comprises a motor for driving the pump 4, located outside the refrigerated compartment 2 and mechanically connected to the pump 4.

    [0021] The supporting means 3 for supporting the at least one container 5 of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed comprise at least one supporting element 8 located inside the refrigerated compartment 2.

    [0022] Preferably, the supporting element 8 is removable from the refrigerated compartment 2.

    [0023] According to the invention, as illustrated, the supporting element 8 comprises a pair of side walls 9 and a bottom wall 10, defining a housing 11 for holding the container 5 of a liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed.

    [0024] According to the invention, the housing 11 for holding the liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed is at least partly tapered.

    [0025] According to the invention, the side walls 9 of the supporting element 8 are disposed to face side walls 12 of the refrigerated compartment 2, in order to avoid direct contact (which could cause the food product to become spoiled) between the walls of the container 5 of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed and the side walls 12 of the refrigerated compartment 2.

    [0026] It should be noted, therefore, that the supporting element 8 prevents the container 5 of the liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed from being in contact with the side walls of the refrigerated compartment 2.

    [0027] In effect, that would lead to overcooling (in particular, localized overcooling) of the liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed, making it less fluid and more difficult to be properly dispensed. In effect, as is known, the temperature of the walls of the refrigerated compartment 2 is normally lower than that of the food product inside the container 5 and of the air inside the refrigerated compartment 2. Advantageously, thanks to the aforesaid feature, the machine therefore allows particularly effective dispensing of food products such as creams, for example, which, to be stored correctly, must be kept at temperatures below 0°C.

    [0028] Furthermore, in use, the supporting element 8 supports the container 5 of the liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product in such a way as to guarantee that the container 5 of the liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product can be properly emptied.

    [0029] In effect, the container 5 of the liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product is kept inside the housing 11 in an optimum position for dispensing.

    [0030] According to the invention, the at least one container 5 of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed and the housing 11 are shaped to match each other (in other words, the container 5 has the same shape as the housing 11).

    [0031] Preferably, the container 5 is a rigid container.

    [0032] Alternatively, the container 5 is a soft container (that is, one whose volume changes depending on how full it is).

    [0033] In an embodiment not illustrated, the container 5 is of the bag-in-box type, that is, it comprises a first container which contains the food product and which is located inside a second container).

    [0034] Preferably, the first container is made of plastic material.

    [0035] Preferably, the container 5 (in particular if it is of the bag-in-box type) may be provided with a pipe for dispensing the food product (and attached to the container 5).

    [0036] If the pump is peristaltic, the dispensing pipe is preferably inserted partly into the pump (and cut to size).

    [0037] That way, the dispensing pipe becomes a pump component which is periodically compressed during the rotation of the pump rotor so as to allow the product to be dispensed.

    [0038] Advantageously, therefore, it should be noted that every time the container 5 is changed, the dispensing pipe is also changed together with the container, thereby increasing the food safety of the machine 1.

    [0039] It should be noted that the machine 1 preferably comprises an electronic drive and control unit, not illustrated.

    [0040] Preferably, the drive and control unit controls the refrigeration system in such a way as to keep the inside of the refrigerated compartment 2 at a (preset) temperature below 0°C (more preferably, between -8°C and -2°C, and still more preferably, between -6°C and -3°C).

    [0041] Preferably, the machine 1 also comprises a temperature sensor (located preferably inside the compartment 2 or in the immediate vicinity of, or associated with, the refrigeration system), electrically connected to the drive and control unit to allow controlling the refrigeration system (in order to keep the refrigerated compartment 2 at the aforesaid temperature). The machine 1 also comprises an interface for controlling the refrigeration system, specifically for setting the temperature the refrigerated compartment 2 is to be kept at.

    [0042] It should also be noted that the interface allows turning the pump 4 on and off for dispensing purposes.

    [0043] It should be noted that when the pump 4 is on, it allows dispensing the food product contained inside the container 5 connected to the pump. The pump 4 may be a pump of any kind.

    [0044] More specifically, the pump 4 may preferably be chosen from the following group: volumetric pump, peristaltic pump, flexible vane pump, lobe pump, membrane pump, gear pump.

    [0045] Advantageously, the fact that the pump 4 is mounted inside the refrigerated compartment 2 prevents the proliferation of bacteria, thus increasing food safety.

    [0046] It should be noted that the substantial difference between Figures 1-3 lies in the different structure of the pump 4, which is different in each of the figures.

    [0047] Further, in Figure 2, the supporting means 3 for supporting at least one container 5 of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed are not illustrated in the compartment 2 (they are substantially the same as those illustrated in Figures 1 and 3).

    [0048] With reference to the vertical layout of the components, it is noted that the machine 1 comprises, from the top down: supporting container 5, pump 4 and dispensing nozzle 6.

    [0049] As is evident from the foregoing description, the machine 1 allows both storing the food product (at a temperature preferably below 0°C) and dispensing it.

    [0050] It should be noted that the machine 1 is advantageously very easy to clean and its maintenance is much simplified.

    [0051] In effect, the number of components that require cleaning / maintenance is particularly limited and, what is more, the fact that the pump 4 is mounted inside the refrigerated compartment 2 means that cleaning can be carried out less frequently.

    [0052] Furthermore, the easily accessible position of the container 5 and of the pump 4 greatly facilitates the work of operators responsible for cleaning and/or maintenance, when necessary.

    [0053] Moreover, the need for the operator to directly handle the product is substantially avoided, thus reducing the risk of product contamination and increasing food safety.


    Claims

    1. A machine (1) for storing and dispensing liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food products, comprising, in combination:

    - a refrigerated compartment (2) internally comprising:

    - supporting means (3) for supporting at least one container (5) of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed comprising at least one supporting element (8) located inside the refrigerated compartment (2);

    - a pump (4) connectable to the at least one container (5) of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed;

    - a dispensing nozzle (6) associated with the pump (4);

    - a refrigeration system comprising a refrigerating circuit associated with the refrigerated compartment (2) to keep it at a predetermined temperature;
    the machine being characterized in that the refrigerated compartment (2) comprises a first chamber (2A) which houses the supporting means (3) for supporting the at least one container (5) of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed and a second chamber (2B) which houses the pump (4), and in that the supporting element (8) comprises a pair of side walls (9) and a bottom wall (10), defining a housing (11) for holding the container (5) of a liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed, wherein the at least one container (5) of liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed and the housing (11) are shaped to match each other, and wherein the housing (11) for holding the container (5) of the liquid or semi-liquid or semi-solid food product to be dispensed is at least partly tapered and in that the machine comprises a first and a second door which close the first refrigerated chamber (2A) and the second refrigerated chamber (2B) and the side walls (9) of the supporting element (8) are disposed to face side walls (12) of the refrigerated first chamber (2A), in order to avoid direct contact between the walls of the container (5) of the liquid or semiliquid food product to be dispensed and the side walls (12) of the refrigerated first chamber (2A).


     
    2. The machine (1) according to the preceding claim, comprising a motor for driving the pump (4), located outside the refrigerated compartment (2) and mechanically connected to the pump (4).
     
    3. The machine (1) according to any one of claims 1 to 2, wherein the container is a rigid container.
     
    4. The machine (1) according to any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the container is a deformable container.
     
    5. The machine (1) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the pump (4) is a pump of one of the following kinds: volumetric pump, peristaltic pump, flexible vane pump, lobe pump, membrane pump, gear pump.
     
    6. The machine (1) according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a drive and control unit for controlling the refrigeration system in such a way as to keep the inside of the refrigerated compartment (2) at a temperature below 0°C.
     
    7. The machine (1) according to the preceding claim, further comprising a temperature sensor, electrically connected to the drive and control unit to allow controlling the refrigeration system.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Maschine (1) zur Aufbewahrung und Ausgabe von flüssigen oder halbflüssigen oder halbfesten Lebensmittelprodukten, umfassend, in Kombination:

    - ein Kühlfach (2), das innen umfasst:

    - Tragmittel (3) zum Tragen zumindest eines Behälters (5) eines auszugebenden flüssigen oder halbflüssigen oder halbfesten Lebensmittelprodukts, der zumindest ein Tragelement (8) umfasst, das sich innerhalb des Kühlfachs (2) befindet;

    - eine Pumpe (4), die mit zumindest einem Behälter (5) von auszugebendem flüssigem oder halbflüssigem oder halbfestem Lebensmittelprodukt verbunden werden kann;

    - eine mit der Pumpe (4) assoziierte Ausgabedüse (6);

    - ein Kühlsystem umfassend einen Kühlkreislauf, der mit dem Kühlfach (2) assoziiert ist, um es auf einer vorbestimmten Temperatur zu halten;
    wobei die Maschine dadurch gekennzeichnet ist, dass das Kühlfach (2) eine erste Kammer (2A) umfasst, die die Tragmittel (3) zum Tragen des zumindest einen Behälters (5) von auszugebendem flüssigem oder halbflüssigem oder halbfestem Lebensmittelprodukt unterbringt und eine zweite Kammer (2B), die die Pumpe (4) unterbringt, und dadurch, dass das Tragelement (8) ein Paar Seitenwände (9) und eine Bodenwand (10) umfasst, die ein Gehäuse (11) zum Halten des Behälters (5) eines auszugebenden flüssigen oder halbflüssigen oder halbfesten Lebensmittelprodukts definieren, wobei der zumindest eine Behälter (5) eines auszugebenden flüssigen oder halbflüssigen oder halbfesten Lebensmittelprodukts und das Gehäuse (11) so geformt sind, dass sie zueinander passen, und wobei das Gehäuse (11) zum Halten des Behälters (5) des auszugebenden flüssigen oder halbflüssigen oder halbfesten Lebensmittelprodukts zumindest teilweise verjüngt ist und dadurch, dass die Maschine eine erste und eine zweite Tür umfasst, die die erste Kühlkammer (2A) und die zweite Kühlkammer (2B) schließen und die Seitenwände (9) des Tragelements (8) sind so angeordnet, dass sie den Seitenwänden (12) der ersten Kühlkammer (2A) zugewandt sind, um einen direkten Kontakt zwischen den Wänden des Behälters (5) des auszugebenden flüssigen oder halbflüssigen Lebensmittelprodukts und den Seitenwänden (12) der ersten Kühlkammer (2A) zu vermeiden.


     
    2. Maschine (1) nach dem vorhergehenden Anspruch, umfassend einen Motor zum Antreiben der Pumpe (4), der sich außerhalb des Kühlfachs (2) befindet und mechanisch mit der Pumpe (4) verbunden ist.
     
    3. Maschine (1) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 2, wobei der Behälter ein starrer Behälter ist.
     
    4. Maschine (1) nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei der Behälter ein verformbarer Behälter ist.
     
    5. Maschine (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Pumpe (4) eine Pumpe einer der folgenden Arten ist: Volumenpumpe, Schlauchpumpe, flexible Flügelzellenpumpe, Kolbenpumpe, Membranpumpe, Zahnradpumpe.
     
    6. Maschine (1) nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, umfassend eine Antriebs- und Steuereinheit zum Steuern des Kühlsystems, so dass das Innere des Kühlfachs (2) auf einer Temperatur unter 0 °C gehalten wird.
     
    7. Maschine (1) nach dem vorhergehenden Anspruch, zudem umfassend einen Temperatursensor, der elektrisch mit der Antriebs- und Steuereinheit verbunden ist, um die Steuerung des Kühlsystems zu ermöglichen.
     


    Revendications

    1. Machine (1) de stockage et de distribution de produits alimentaires liquides ou semi-liquides ou semi-solides, comprenant:

    - un compartiment réfrigéré (2) comprenant en son sein:

    - des moyens de support (3) servant à supporter au moins un récipient (5) de produit alimentaire liquide, semi-liquide ou semi-solide à distribuer comprenant au moins un élément de support (8) situé à l'intérieur du compartiment réfrigéré (2);

    - une pompe (4) pouvant être reliée à l'au moins un récipient (5) de produit alimentaire liquide, semi-liquide ou semi-solide à distribuer;

    - une buse de distribution (6) associée à la pompe (4);

    - un système de réfrigération comprenant un circuit de réfrigération associé au compartiment réfrigéré (2) pour le maintenir à une température prédéterminée;
    la machine étant caractérisée en ce que le compartiment réfrigéré (2) comprend une première chambre (2A) logeant les moyens de support (3) servant à supporter l'au moins un récipient (5) de produit alimentaire liquide, semi-liquide ou semi-solide à distribuer et une seconde chambre (2B) logeant la pompe (4), et en ce que l'élément de support (8) comprend une paire de parois latérales (9) et une paroi de fond (10), définissant un logement (11) servant à contenir le récipient (5) d'un produit alimentaire liquide, semi-liquide ou semi-solide à distribuer, dans lequel l'au moins un récipient (5) de produit alimentaire liquide, semi-liquide ou semi-solide à distribuer et le logement (11) sont formés pour correspondre l'un à l'autre, et dans lequel le logement (11) destiné à contenir le récipient (5) du produit alimentaire liquide, semi-liquide ou semi-solide à distribuer est au moins partiellement conique et en ce que la machine comprend une première et une seconde porte fermant la première chambre réfrigérée (2A) et la seconde chambre réfrigérée (2B) et les parois latérales (9) de l'élément de support (8) sont disposées pour faire face aux parois latérales (12) de la première chambre réfrigérée (2A), afin d'éviter le contact direct entre les parois du récipient (5) du produit alimentaire liquide, semi-liquide à distribuer et les parois latérales (12) de la première chambre réfrigérée (2A).


     
    2. Machine (1) selon la revendication précédente, comprenant un moteur, servant à entraîner la pompe (4), situé à l'extérieur du compartiment réfrigéré (2) et mécaniquement relié à la pompe (4).
     
    3. Machine (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 2, dans laquelle le récipient est un récipient rigide.
     
    4. Machine (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans laquelle le récipient est un récipient déformable.
     
    5. Machine (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans laquelle la pompe (4) est une pompe de l'un des types suivants: pompe volumétrique, pompe péristaltique, pompe à palettes flexibles, pompe à lobes, pompe à membrane, pompe à engrenages.
     
    6. Machine (1) selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant une unité d'entraînement et de commande servant à commander le système de réfrigération de manière à maintenir l'intérieur du compartiment réfrigéré (2) à une température inférieure à 0 °C.
     
    7. Machine (1) selon la revendication précédente, comprenant de plus un capteur de température, relié électriquement à l'unité d'entraînement et de commande pour permettre de commander le système de réfrigération.
     




    Drawing












    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