(19)
(11)EP 3 684 187 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
13.09.2023 Bulletin 2023/37

(21)Application number: 18786861.7

(22)Date of filing:  18.09.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A21B 1/48(2006.01)
B65G 15/38(2006.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
A21B 1/48
(86)International application number:
PCT/IB2018/057137
(87)International publication number:
WO 2019/058252 (28.03.2019 Gazette  2019/13)

(54)

CONTINUOUS BAKING OVEN COMPRISING A CONVEYOR WITH CAVITIES

DURCHLAUFBACKOFEN MIT EINEM FÖRDERBAND MIT HOHLRÄUMEN

FOUR DE CUISSON CONTINU AVEC UN TAPIS ROULANT COMPRENANT DES CAVITÉS


(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: 19.09.2017 IT 201700104599

(43)Date of publication of application:
29.07.2020 Bulletin 2020/31

(73)Proprietor: SLB S.r.l.
25124 Brescia (IT)

(72)Inventor:
  • SANGIACOMO, Paola
    25124 Brescia (IT)

(74)Representative: Biesse S.r.l. 
Via Corfù, 71
25124 Brescia
25124 Brescia (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 3 112 296
FR-A1- 2 651 093
US-A- 2 989 932
WO-A1-2010/122362
GB-A- 876 540
  
      
    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

    Field of the Invention



    [0001] In its most general aspect, the present invention concerns the food industry sector and, in particular, the invention concerns a continuous baking oven comprising a conveyor.

    State of the art



    [0002] As is known in the food industry sector, there are different equipment and different processes for obtaining different types of food products.

    [0003] In the specific case of cooked food products, such as the so-called bakery products for example, the known art provides continuous baking ovens, wherein a conveyor conveys the food product to be cooked from a loading station of the same food product to a baking station inside a thermal chamber of the baking oven, up to an unloading station of the cooked food product.

    [0004] In processes of the aforesaid type, the food product to be cooked is arranged, in the form of a dough, in direct contact with the conveyor, or is arranged, still in the form of a dough or anyhow of a food composition of varying consistency, inside containers such as baking pans, trays or molds.

    [0005] The processes with which the food product is put in direct contact with the conveyor are inconveniently neither adapted to cook food products for which the high cooking temperatures could cause an undesired excessive deformation of the dough, nor to cook food products whose consistency, before cooking, would not allow them to be arranged directly on the conveyor.

    [0006] In these cases, as mentioned, the food product is sent to the thermal chamber of the baking oven inside the aforesaid containers, which are arranged on top of the conveyor and which must then be removed from the conveyor to allow the extraction of the food product at the end of the cooking.

    [0007] In substance, the methods of the aforesaid type are inconvenient and provide steps of handling the containers inside which the food product is arranged, at least before and at least after the cooking step, which are generally carried out manually or mechanically with the help of robotic arms.

    [0008] Moreover, as mentioned, in the aforesaid methods considered, a step of removing the cooked food product from the containers, which is added to the step of removing the container from the conveyor, is also provided. This step of removing the cooked food product can also be carried out manually or mechanically with the help of robotic arms.

    [0009] In addition to depending on the skills of the designated operator, manual operations significantly slow down the production process of the food products in question, whereas the use of robotic arms requires expensive technology and large and adequate spaces for their installation.

    [0010] The document FR 2 651 093 A1 describes a baking oven for the mass production of flattened food products, starting from a liquid mixture, on a horizontal cooking surface of a continuous conveyor having an upper portion, wherein, in accordance with a first embodiment, the cooking surface is defined by a plurality of cooking plates each independently hinged to a conveyor chain in at least a partially rotatable way, and wherein the baking oven comprises a dosing device to dose the liquid mixture onto the cooking plates, wherein the dosing device comprises a carousel provided with a plurality of molding members comprising rings to mold the flattened food products, wherein each molding member follows a path comprising an approaching step to the cooking surface, a step of loading a predetermined dose of liquid mixture onto a relative cooking plate, a first cooking step, wherein the molding member and the relative cooking plate move adjacently to one another so that to give the desired shape to the food products, and a step of moving the molding member away from the cooking surface, wherein, at the end of cooking, each cooking plate is tilted to unload the molded flattened and cooked products from it, at a lower portion of the conveyor opposite of the aforesaid upper portion.

    [0011] Disadvantageously, the baking oven described in FR 2 651 093 A1 can only be used for liquid mixtures that quickly assume the consistency needed to maintain their shape, given that the molding members are only adjacent to the cooking plates during a first cooking step.

    [0012] Moreover, and disadvantageously, the oven of FR 2 651 093 A1 is structurally and functionally particularly complex, providing a carousel of molding members and cooking plates independently and rotatably hinged to the conveyor chain.

    [0013] Document US 2,989,932 A discloses an endless, flexible, metallic strap which constitutes the body of a mold, which travels in a cyclical path around pulleys, which contains a longitudinal series of round openings that constitute the mold cavities, in which the lower closure member for the mold cavity is constituted by a first endless belt which travels on idler pulleys and a driven pulley and the top closure for the mould cavities is formed by a second endless belt which travels on idler pulleys and a driven pulley, in which the upper run of the first endless belt lies flatly against the underside of the mold strap, thereby forming a bottom closure for those of the mold openings which at any moment overlie the upper run, and in which the lower run of the second belt overlying the upper surface of the mold strap.

    [0014] Document WO 2010/122362 A1 discloses an apparatus for producing drest iron-ore briquette from steel making converter flue-dust, converter sludge or red mud, comprising converter flue-dust storing container, reagent container, autoclave, buffer vessel arrangement, separator, dryer unit, buffer vessel, evaporator, water cooler, driving water vessel and separator unit, in which the apparatus is provided by a mixing unit with pouring slot and a briquetting unit consisting of an endless casting mould belt stretched between two belt drums and driving means connected to at least one of the drums, and open casting moulds with closed bottom and cavity walls made of elastic material are arranged in at least one row on the endless belt.

    [0015] Document EP 3 112 296 A1 discloses a conveyor belt for the industrial production of flat baked goods on an assembly line, comprising a flexible carrier belt and at least one edge shape carried on the carrier belt with an edge delimiting the baked item, wherein the edge shape has the shape and the external dimensions of the finished baked item, wherein a rim of the edge shape is made of an elastic material and wherein the rim is formed in one piece with the carrier belt.

    Summary of the Invention



    [0016] The technical problem underlying the present invention has been to provide a continuous baking oven having structural and functional characteristics such as to overcome one or more of the aforesaid drawbacks of the known prior art.

    [0017] According to the invention, the aforesaid problem is solved by a continuous baking oven comprising a conveyor, according to claim 1. Additional embodiments of the invention are disclosed in the dependent claims.

    [0018] The aforesaid conveyor is of closed-ring type and comprises an outer surface and an inner surface of the ring, and a plurality of seats intended to receive a food product to be cooked, wherein the seats of the aforesaid plurality of seats have respective mouths open essentially at the level of the aforesaid outer surface.

    [0019] In substance the aforesaid conveyor being of closed-ring type without inversion of the surfaces, a given outer surface remains as such along the entire length or extent of the aforesaid conveyor, whether it is stopped or in movement, whereas a given inner surface remains as such along the entire length or extent of the aforesaid conveyor, whether it is stopped or in movement.

    [0020] Therefore the aforesaid mouths are always open, essentially at the level of the aforesaid outer surface of the aforesaid conveyor, whether it is stopped or in movement, and the aforesaid outer surface is comprised between the aforesaid mouths.

    [0021] The aforesaid seats consist of respective blind cavities.

    [0022] The aforesaid conveyor comprises a supporting portion defining the aforesaid inner surface and a cooking portion defining the aforesaid outer surface and the aforesaid plurality of seats, wherein the aforesaid supporting portion and the aforesaid cooking portion are combined with one another, preferably constrained to one another, more preferably in contact with one another.

    [0023] Preferably, the aforesaid supporting portion is made of a first material and the aforesaid cooking portion is made of a second material, wherein the aforesaid first material and the aforesaid second material are different from one another.

    [0024] Preferably, the aforesaid first material has a deformation coefficient lower than the deformation coefficient of the aforesaid second material. In practice, the aforesaid second material is more elastic than the aforesaid first material.

    [0025] Preferably, the aforesaid supporting portion comprises a plurality of through-openings, wherein each seat of the aforesaid plurality of seats of the aforesaid cooking portion engages a respective through-opening of the aforesaid plurality of through-openings of the aforesaid supporting portion.

    [0026] In practice, the aforesaid through-openings are corresponding and complementary to the shape of the aforesaid seats.

    [0027] Preferably, each seat of the aforesaid plurality of seats extends beyond a respective through-opening of the aforesaid plurality of through-openings of the aforesaid supporting portion.

    [0028] Preferably, the seats of the aforesaid plurality of seats are distributed along parallel rows longitudinally extending in the aforesaid conveyor.

    [0029] Preferably, the aforesaid cooking portion comprises a plurality of modules, wherein each module of the aforesaid plurality of modules comprises a percentage of the aforesaid plurality of seats, wherein the modules of the aforesaid plurality of modules are longitudinally placed side by side adjacent to one another in the aforesaid conveyor.

    [0030] Preferably, the aforesaid supporting portion is transversely rigid.

    [0031] Preferably, the aforesaid supporting portion comprises a weave structure with weft and warp, wherein the aforesaid weave structure has a first portion impregnated with silicone in contact with the aforesaid cooking portion, and a second portion, opposing to the aforesaid first portion and impregnated with urethane.

    [0032] Preferably, the aforesaid second material is silicone-based, more preferably a silicone reinforced with glass fibers.

    [0033] This way, the conveyor is sufficiently deformable at least in the so-called cooking portion comprising the seats for the food product and is, therefore, advantageously adaptable to a curved profile, as will become clearer hereinafter.

    [0034] Simultaneously, the conveyor preserves a sufficient rigidity, at least in the so-called supporting portion, which must not be subjected to pronounced deformations given it has to stay in tension to allow the correct operations, as will become clearer hereinafter.

    [0035] Advantageously, a conveyor for a continuous baking oven already provided with containers or molds, in the sense that the containers or molds are obtained in one piece directly on the conveyor, is provided.

    [0036] Still advantageously, the containers or molds, i.e. the aforesaid seats, therefore the aforesaid blind cavities, have the mouth at the level of the aforesaid outer surface of the closed-ring obtained from the conveyor, wherein the outer surface is a continuous surface.

    [0037] This way, the running of the closed-ring conveyor causes an automatic overturning of the containers or molds, without having to resort to the removal thereof from the conveyor after cooking the food product and without having to reposition the containers or molds on the conveyor before a new cooking cycle. Therefore, the cooked food product is also automatically removed from the containers or molds of the conveyor.

    [0038] Moreover, and advantageously, the containers or molds can be loaded with the desired food product in an automatic, simple and effective way, being able to remove any excess food product or spillage thereof from the containers or molds in the loading step, still in an automatic, simple and effective way by means of a scraper, such as, for example, a blade member arranged transversely to the conveyor and substantially positioned in contact with the aforesaid outer surface.

    [0039] The invention provides a continuous baking oven for the preparation of a cooked food product, comprising a loading station of the food product to be cooked, a cooking station of the food product arranged downstream of the aforesaid loading station, and an unloading station of the cooked food product arranged downstream of the aforesaid cooking station, wherein the aforesaid continuous baking oven further comprises a conveyor of the aforesaid type, extended between the aforesaid loading station and the aforesaid unloading station, and movement means for the running of the aforesaid conveyor.

    [0040] Preferably, the aforesaid movement means comprise a motor and at least one belt, one chain or one roller driven by the aforesaid motor, wherein the aforesaid at least one belt, chain or roller operates onto the aforesaid conveyor.

    [0041] Preferably, the aforesaid continuous baking oven comprises a scraper, i.e. a member to remove the excess food product loaded in the aforesaid seats or spilled from the aforesaid seats, wherein the aforesaid scraper is arranged transversely to, and substantially in contact with, the aforesaid outer surface of the aforesaid conveyor, and wherein, more preferably, the aforesaid scraper is arranged between the aforesaid loading station and the aforesaid cooking station.

    [0042] According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the aforesaid continuous baking oven comprises at least one roller in contact with the aforesaid conveyor wherein the seats of the aforesaid plurality of seats extend beyond the respective through-openings of the aforesaid plurality of through-openings, wherein the seats of the aforesaid plurality of seats are distributed along parallel rows longitudinally extending in said conveyor, wherein the aforesaid roller can be driven or not by the aforesaid motor, therefore wherein the aforesaid roller is a pulling roller or a support roller of the aforesaid conveyor, wherein the aforesaid roller is arranged at the aforesaid unloading station of the cooked food product, and wherein the aforesaid roller has a non-linear outer longitudinal profile, particularly an indented outer longitudinal profile, i.e. provided with at least one plurality of first projections alternating with respective recesses.

    [0043] Preferably, the aforesaid first projections substantially have the same height and width from one another and are substantially equi-spaced from one another.

    [0044] Preferably, the aforesaid first projections have a substantially stepped profile.

    [0045] Preferably, the aforesaid roller with a non-linear outer longitudinal profile further comprises a plurality of second projections, wherein the aforesaid second projections alternate with the aforesaid first projections and have height lower than the height thereof, and wherein the aforesaid second projections have a convex profile.

    [0046] In practice, during the running of the aforesaid conveyor in the present continuous baking oven, the aforesaid first projections of the aforesaid roller are between the aforesaid parallel rows of the aforesaid seats, whereas the aforesaid seats are between the aforesaid recesses or grooves comprised between the aforesaid first projections.

    [0047] Moreover, and advantageously, the aforesaid second projections arranged at an intermediate portion of the aforesaid recesses or grooves are also at the aforesaid seats and help remove the food product from the seats, by deforming the lower surface of the same seats in the portion in which the conveyor is curved.

    [0048] According to an embodiment of the invention, in order to obtain the aforesaid non-linear outer longitudinal profile, the aforesaid roller comprises a core, a plurality of first disks and a plurality of second disks removably and concentrically mounted on the aforesaid core, wherein the aforesaid first disks have a diameter greater than the diameter of the aforesaid second disks.

    [0049] Preferably, the aforesaid first disks and the aforesaid second disks alternate with one another.

    [0050] Preferably, each of the aforesaid first disks comprises a substantially flat side edge.

    [0051] Preferably, each of the aforesaid second disks comprises an at least partially convex side edge.

    [0052] Alternatively to the above, in order to obtain the aforesaid non-linear outer longitudinal profile, the aforesaid roller can comprise a core and a sleeve, the latter is removably fitted on the aforesaid core, and wherein the aforesaid sleeve has an outer surface shaped to form the aforesaid indented non-linear outer longitudinal profile.

    [0053] In any case, preferably, the aforesaid roller comprises adjustable fastening means to secure the member or members making up the aforesaid non-linear outer longitudinal profile to the aforesaid core, therefore, the aforesaid disks or aforesaid sleeve, which comprise a ring having at least one slot mounted on the aforesaid core, a locking ring nut fitted on the aforesaid ring and comprising at least one bracket including a slot, and combining means to constrain the aforesaid ring and the aforesaid locking ring nut to one another through the respective slots.

    [0054] This way, conveyors of different widths can be used in the present continuous baking oven.

    [0055] According to the above, the present invention therefore also provides a roller of the aforesaid type and having a non-linear outer longitudinal profile, as considered above.

    Brief description of the figures



    [0056] Further characteristics and advantages of the invention will become clearer by the examination of the following detailed description of some preferred, but not exclusive, embodiments illustrated by way of example and without limitations, with the aid of the accompanying drawings, in which:
    • figure 1 schematically shows a side view of a continuous baking oven comprising a conveyor, according to the present invention;
    • figure 2 shows a top perspective view of a detail of the continuous baking oven and the conveyor of figure 1;
    • figure 3 shows the detail of figure 2 during an operative step of the continuous baking oven and the conveyor, according to the present invention, particularly an unloading step of a cooked food product;
    • figures 4 and 5 show a detail of the conveyor of the continuous baking oven according to the present invention, according to a perspective top and side views, respectively;
    • figures 6 and 7 show an exploded view of a detail of the conveyor of the continuous baking oven according to the present invention, according to a perspective top and side views, respectively;
    • figure 8 shows a front view of a detail of the continuous baking oven of figure 1, specifically a roller having a non-linear outer longitudinal profile according to the present invention;
    • figure 9 shows a detail of the roller of figure 8 according to an embodiment variant of the invention.

    Detailed description of the invention



    [0057] According to the aforesaid figures, 1 generally denotes a conveyor for a continuous baking oven according to the present invention.

    [0058] The conveyor 1 is of the closed-ring type and comprises two linear portions parallel to one another and joined at the ends by two curved portions, defining an outer surface 2 and an inner surface 3 of the loop, wherein at least the outer surface 2 is a surface that extends continuously along the entire extent of the ring.

    [0059] In other words, according to the present invention and to the examples of the figures, since the conveyor 1 is of the closed-ring type without inversion of the surfaces, a given outer surface of the conveyor, therefore of the ring, in the present case the outer surface 2, remains as such along the entire length or extent of the conveyor 1, whether it is stopped or in movement, whereas a given inner surface of the conveyor, therefore of the ring, in the present case the inner surface 3, remains as such along the entire length or extent of the conveyor 1, whether it is stopped or in movement.

    [0060] The conveyor 1 comprises a plurality of seats intended to receive a food product to be cooked, wherein the seats of the plurality of seats denoted by 4 have respective mouths 5 essentially open at the level of the outer surface 2 of the conveyor, therefore of the ring.

    [0061] Therefore, the mouths 5 are always essentially open at the level of the outer surface 2 of the conveyor 1, whether it is stopped or in movement, the outer surface 2 being comprised between the mouths 5.

    [0062] As shown in the examples of the figures, in practice, the seats 4 consist of blind cavities.

    [0063] The conveyor 1 comprises a supporting portion 6 defining the aforesaid inner surface 3 and a cooking portion 7 defining the aforesaid outer surface 2 and the seats 4, wherein the supporting portion 6 and the cooking portion 7 are combined with one another and, particularly, are in contact with and constrained to one another, advantageously by means of a food adhesive such as silicone for food products, for example.

    [0064] According to the invention, it should be noted that the supporting portion 6 is made of a first material, whereas the cooking portion 7 is made of a second material, wherein the first material and the second material are different from one another.

    [0065] In particular, the first material has a deformation coefficient lower than the deformation coefficient of the second material, where the deformation coefficient is a dimensionless size expressed in percentage and defined as the length variation with respect to the initial length, for a given stress.

    [0066] In practice, the second material is a deformable material, more elastic than the first material.

    [0067] More in detail, it should be noted that the supporting portion 6 is transversely rigid and comprises a weave structure with weft and warp, wherein the weave structure has a first portion impregnated with silicone in contact with the cooking portion 7, and a second portion, opposing to the first portion and impregnated with urethane.

    [0068] As far as the second material is concerned, it should be noted that it is preferably silicone-based, more preferably a silicone reinforced with glass fibers.

    [0069] Still according to the examples of the figures and to the present invention, the supporting portion 6 is provided with a plurality of through-openings denoted by 8, in a number equal to the number of seats 4 of the cooking portion 7, wherein each seat 4 engages a respective through-opening 8 and wherein each seat 4 preferably extends beyond a respective through-opening 8 of a portion of predetermined length.

    [0070] Still, it should be added that, preferably, as shown in the examples of the figures, the seats 4 are distributed on parallel rows longitudinally extending in the conveyor 1.

    [0071] Moreover, it should be said that the cooking portion 7 comprises a plurality of modules 9, wherein each module 9 comprises a percentage of the plurality of seats, and wherein the modules 9 are longitudinally placed side by side, adjacent to one another, in the conveyor 1, so as to obtain the aforesaid continuous outer surface.

    [0072] A conveyor for a continuous baking oven provided with its containers or molds, in the sense that the same containers or molds, i.e. the aforesaid seats, are obtained in one piece directly on the conveyor and constitute an integral part thereof, is provided.

    [0073] This way, the food product unloading operation can be carried out from the conveyor following its cooking step, simply by making the conveyor run and rotate, as will become clearer hereinafter.

    [0074] Moreover, advantageously, the containers or molds, i.e. always the aforesaid seats, have mounts at the level of the outer surface of the ring obtained by the conveyor.

    [0075] This way, any excess food product loaded in the seats and/or spilled from the seats during the loading thereof can be simply removed by making the conveyor run under a specific food product removing member, such as, for example, a scraper comprising a blade, as will become clearer hereinafter.

    [0076] According to the above, the conveyor 1 shown above and to which description reference is made, is used in a continuous baking oven according to the present invention, which is generally denoted by 10 in the examples of the figures.

    [0077] In detail, in addition to the conveyor 1, the continuous baking oven 10 comprises a loading station 11 of a food product to be cooked, specifically grated cheese, a cooking station 12 of the product arranged downstream of the loading station 11, an unloading station 13 of the cooked food product arranged downstream of the cooking station 12 and movement means for the running of the conveyor 1, generally denoted by 14.

    [0078] More particularly, in the continuous baking oven 10, the conveyor 1 extends between the loading station 11 and the unloading station 13, between which it runs in a closed movement, in practice rotary, being driven on one side by the aforesaid movement means 14 and supported on the other side by designated supporting and running means denoted by 15.

    [0079] According to the examples of the figures, the movement means 14 comprise a roller 16 and a motor active on the roller 16, not shown in the figures, given that the possibility to provide different movement means, such as motorized belts or chains active on the conveyor, is not however excluded.

    [0080] In particular, the roller 16 is in contact with the supporting portion 6 of the conveyor 1 at the loading station 13 of the food product, i.e. where the closed-ring conveyor 1 inverts its running direction.

    [0081] According to the invention, the roller 16 has a non-linear outer longitudinal profile denoted by 17 and, particularly, the outer longitudinal profile 17 is indented.

    [0082] In other words, the roller 16 at the outer longitudinal profile 17 is provided with a plurality of first projections 18 alternating with respective recesses.

    [0083] In detail, the first projections 18 substantially have the same height and width from one another and are, moreover, substantially equi-spaced from one another.

    [0084] In practice, the first projections 18 define a substantially stepped profile.

    [0085] According to a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the roller 16 with the non-linear outer longitudinal profile further comprises a plurality of second projections 19 which, according to the examples og the figures, alternate with the first projections 18, which have a height lower than the height of the first projections 18, and which have a convex profile, particularly roundish.

    [0086] According to an embodiment of the invention, in order to obtain the aforesaid non-linear outer longitudinal profile 17, the roller 16 comprises a core 20, a plurality of first disks 21 and a plurality of second disks 22 concentrically mounted on the core 20, wherein the first disks 21 have a diameter greater than the diameter of the second disks 22.

    [0087] In particular, each of the first disks 21 comprises a substantially flat side edge 23, whereas each of the second disks 22 comprise an at least partly convex side edge denoted by 24, as shown in the example of figure 8.

    [0088] In detail, the first disks 21 and the second disks 22 alternate one another, given that the possibility of providing different disk arrangements according to the outer profile to be obtained is not, however, excluded, and given that the possibility to obtain the aforesaid non-linear outer longitudinal profile by means of a roller comprising a core and a sleeve removably fitted on the core, is not excluded, wherein the sleeve has an outer surface shaped in the form of the aforesaid indented outer longitudinal profile, this last embodiment being shown in the example of figure 9 wherein a detail of the aforesaid sleeve is denoted by 25.

    [0089] In any case, in both of the aforesaid embodiments, the aforesaid roller 16 preferably comprises adjustable fastening means generally denoted by 26, to secure the member or members making up the aforesaid non-linear outer longitudinal profile to the core 20, therefore the aforesaid disks or aforesaid sleeve, which comprise a ring 27 mounted on the core 20 and having one or more slots 28, a locking ring nut 29 fitted on the ring 27 and comprising one or more brackets 30 including respective slots 31, and combining means 32, such as, for example, a screw with a threaded nut, to constrain the ring 27 and the locking ring nut 29 to one another through the respective slots.

    [0090] This way, conveyors of different widths can be used in the present continuous baking oven, also depending on the dimensions of the food product to be prepared, as will become clearer hereinafter.

    [0091] Therefore, according to the above, the present invention also provides a roller of the type described above in the different embodiments and having a non-linear outer longitudinal profile as considered above.

    [0092] Still according to the invention, the continuous baking oven 10 comprises a scraper 33, i.e. a member for the removal of the excess food product loaded in the seats 4 or spilled from the seats 4, wherein the scraper 33 is arranged transversely to the conveyor 1, substantially in contact with its outer surface 2, preferably between the loading station 11 and the cooking station 12, the possibility to provide a scraper inside the loading station 11 of the food product not being, however, excluded.

    [0093] Finally, as regard the supporting and running means 15 of the conveyor 1, it should be noted that, according to the preferred embodiments described above, they take the form of a second roller also having a non-linear outer longitudinal profile, and particularly an indented outer longitudinal profile.

    [0094] Also in this case, the outer longitudinal profile of the second roller is provided with a plurality of first projections alternating with respective recesses all similar to the aforesaid first projections 18 to which description reference is made.

    [0095] Unlike the roller 16, the second roller of the supporting and running means 15 does not comprise second projections of the type described above, which instead favor the removal of the cooked food product from the conveyor 1 and which particularly favor the ejection of the cooked food product from the seats 4 at the unloading station 13 of the continuous baking oven according to the present invention.

    [0096] With regard to this, the example of figure 3 shows a cooked food product 34 essentially circular in shape, the possibility to obtain food products of different shapes, such as a bar, depending on the conformation of the seats of the present conveyor, not being, however, excluded.

    [0097] Finally, it should be noted that the continuous baking oven 10 comprises a frame generally denoted by 35 and that the loading station 11 and the cooking station 12 are of known type and therefore not described in detail.

    [0098] The advantages of the present invention already made clearer in the above description can be summarized by noting that a continuous baking oven having a conveyor is provided, wherein the conveyor is already provided with containers or molds so that the overturning of the same containers or molds for the removal of the cooked food product is, in practice, carried out in the zone in which the conveyor inverts its running direction, therefore on a supporting and/or movement roller of the conveyor positioned at the outlet of the cooking station of the food product.

    [0099] This way, a food product, such as a grated cheese-based snack, can be obtained with a particularly simple and economic process, totally automated and comprising a minimum number of operative steps.

    [0100] In order to meet incidental and specific requirements, several variations and modifications could be made by a field technician to the illustrated and described embodiments of present invention, provided that all are included in the scope of protection of the invention as defined by the following claims.


    Claims

    1. Continuous baking oven (10) for preparing a cooked food product (34), comprising a loading station (11) to load the food product to be cooked, a cooking station (12) to cook the food product and arranged downstream of said loading station (11), an unloading station (13) to unload the cooked food product (34) and arranged downstream of said cooking station (12), a conveyor (1) extending between said loading station (11) and said unloading station (13), and movement means (14) for the running of said conveyor (1) wherein said conveyor (1) is of closed-ring type and comprises an outer surface (2) and an inner surface (3), characterized in that said conveyor is equipped with a plurality of seats (4) intended to receive a food product to be cooked, wherein the seats of said plurality of seats are blind cavities having respective mouths (5) open at the level of said outer surface (2), wherein said outer surface is comprised between said mouths at the level of the latter, said conveyor (1) comprising a supporting portion (6) defining said inner surface (3), and a cooking portion (7) defining said outer surface (2) and said plurality of seats (4), wherein said supporting portion (6) and said cooking portion (7) are combined one another.
     
    2. Continuous baking oven according to claim 1, wherein said supporting portion (6) and said cooking portion are constrained and in contact one with the other.
     
    3. Continuous baking oven according to claim 1, wherein said supporting portion (6) is made of a first material and said cooking portion (7) is made of a second material, wherein said first material and said second material are different from one another.
     
    4. Continuous baking oven according to claim 3, wherein said first material has deformation coefficient lower than the deformation coefficient of said second material, said second material being more elastic than said first material.
     
    5. Continuous baking oven according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said supporting portion (6) comprises a plurality of through-openings (8), wherein each seat (4) of said plurality of seats of said cooking portion (7) engages a respective through-opening (8) of said plurality of through-openings.
     
    6. Continuous baking oven according to claim 5, wherein each seat (4) of said plurality of seats extends beyond a respective through-opening (8) of said plurality of through-openings.
     
    7. Continuous baking oven according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the seats (4) of said plurality of seats are distributed along parallel rows longitudinally extending in said conveyor (1).
     
    8. Continuous baking oven according to any one of claims 1 and 3-7, wherein said cooking portion (7) comprises a plurality of modules (9), wherein each module of said plurality of modules comprises a percentage of said plurality of seats, wherein the modules (9) of said plurality of modules are longitudinally placed side by side, adjacent to one another, in said conveyor and wherein said supporting portion (6) and said cooking portion (7) are constrained and in contact one with the other.
     
    9. Continuous baking oven according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said supporting portion (6) is transversely rigid, preferably wherein said supporting portion (6) comprises a weave structure with weft and warp, more preferably wherein said weave structure has a first portion impregnated with silicone in contact with said cooking portion (7) and a second portion opposing to said first portion and impregnated with urethane.
     
    10. Continuous baking oven according to any one of claims 3-9, wherein said second material is silicone-based, preferably a silicone reinforced with glass fibers.
     
    11. Continuous baking oven according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein said movement means (14) comprise a motor and at least one belt, one chain or one roller (16) driven by said motor, wherein said at least one belt, chain or roller operates onto said conveyor.
     
    12. Continuous baking oven according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising at least one roller (16) in contact with said conveyor (1) arranged at said unloading station (13), wherein said roller (16) has non-linear outer longitudinal profile, preferably an indented outer longitudinal profile having at least one plurality of first projections (18).
     
    13. Continuous baking oven according to claim 12, wherein said first projections (18) are substantially equi-spaced from one another and substantially have the same height and width from one another, said first projections defining a substantially stepped profile.
     
    14. Continuous baking oven according to claim 12 or 13, wherein said outer longitudinal profile (17) of said roller (16) comprises a plurality of second projections (19), wherein said second projections (19) alternate with said first projections (18) and have height lower than the height thereof, wherein preferably said second projections have convex profile, wherein more preferably said second projections have roundish profile.
     
    15. Continuous baking oven according to any one of claims 12-14, wherein said roller (16) comprises a core (20) and a sleeve which is removably fitted on said core, and wherein said sleeve has an outer surface shaped to form said non-linear outer longitudinal profile, or else wherein said roller (16) comprises a core (20), a plurality of first disks (21) and a plurality of second disks (22) removably and concentrically mounted on said core (20), wherein said first disks (21) have diameter greater than the diameter of said second disks (22).
     
    16. Continuous baking oven according to claim 15, wherein said roller (16) comprises adjustable fastening means (26) to secure said sleeve or said plurality of first disks (21) and said plurality of second disks (22) on said core (20), wherein said adjustable fastening means (26) comprise a ring (27) which is mounted on said core (20) and has at least one slot (28), a locking ring nut (29) which is fitted on said ring (27) and comprises at least one bracket (30) including a slot (31), and combining means (32) to constrain said ring (27) and said locking ring nut (29) one to another through the respective slots.
     
    17. Continuous baking oven according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a scraper (33) for removing possible excess food product loaded in said seats (4) or escaped from said seats (4), wherein said scraper (33) is arranged transversely to, and substantially in contact with, said outer surface (2) of said conveyor (1), preferably between said loading station (11) and said cooking station (12).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Durchlaufbackofen (10) zum Zubereiten eines gegarten Nahrungsmittelprodukts (34), umfassend eine Ladestation (11) zum Laden des zu garenden Nahrungsmittelprodukts, eine Garstation (12) zum Garen des Nahrungsmittelprodukts, die stromabwärts der Ladestation (11) angeordnet ist, eine Entladestation (13) zum Entladen des gegarten Nahrungsmittelprodukts (34), die stromabwärts der Garstation (12) angeordnet ist, einen Förderer (1), der sich zwischen der Ladestation (11) und der Entladestation (13) erstreckt, und Bewegungsmittel (14) zum Bewegen des Förderers (1), wobei der Förderer (1) des Typs mit geschlossenem Ring ist und eine Außenfläche (2) und eine Innenfläche (3) aufweist, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

    der Förderer mit einer Vielzahl von zum Aufnahme eines zu kochenden Nahrungsmittels vorgesehenen Aufnahmen (4) ausgestattet ist,

    wobei die Aufnahmen der Vielzahl von Aufnahmen Sackhohlräume mit entsprechenden Mündungen (5) sind, die auf Niveau der Außenfläche (2) offen sind, wobei die Außenfläche zwischen den Mündungen auf Niveau der letzteren liegt, wobei der Förderer (1) einen die Innenfläche (3) definierenden Tragabschnitt (6) und einen die Außenfläche (2) und die Vielzahl von Aufnahmen (4) definierenden Garabschnitt (7) aufweist, wobei der Tragabschnitt (6) und der Garabschnitt (7) miteinander kombiniert sind.


     
    2. Durchlaufbackofen nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Tragabschnitt (6) und der Garabschnitt aneinander befestigt sind und in Kontakt miteinander stehen.
     
    3. Durchlaufbackofen nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Tragabschnitt (6) aus einem ersten Material und der Garabschnitt (7) aus einem zweiten Material gebildet ist, wobei das erste Material und das zweite Material voneinander verschieden sind.
     
    4. Durchlaufbackofen nach Anspruch 3, wobei das erste Material einen Verformungskoeffizienten aufweist, der niedriger ist als der Verformungskoeffizient des zweiten Materials, wobei das zweite Material elastischer ist als das erste Material.
     
    5. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Tragabschnitt (6) eine Vielzahl von Durchgangsöffnungen (8) aufweist, wobei jede Aufnahme (4) der Vielzahl von Aufnahmen des Garabschnitts (7) in eine entsprechende Durchgangsöffnung (8) der Vielzahl von Durchgangsöffnungen eingreift.
     
    6. Durchlaufbackofen nach Anspruch 5, wobei sich jede Aufnahme (4) der Vielzahl von Aufnahmen über eine entsprechende Durchgangsöffnung (8) der Vielzahl von Durchgangsöffnungen hinaus erstreckt.
     
    7. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Aufnahmen (4) der Vielzahl von Aufnahmen entlang paralleler Reihen verteilt sind, die sich in Längsrichtung in dem Förderer (1) erstrecken.
     
    8. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der Ansprüche 1 und 3-7, wobei der Garabschnitt (7) eine Vielzahl von Modulen (9) umfasst, wobei jedes Modul der Vielzahl von Modulen einen Anteil der Vielzahl von Aufnahmen umfasst, wobei die Module (9) der Vielzahl von Modulen in Längsrichtung nebeneinander und benachbart zueinander in dem Förderer angeordnet sind und wobei der Trageabschnitt (6) und der Garabschnitt (7) aneinander befestigt und in Kontakt miteinander sind.
     
    9. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der vorangehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Tragabschnitt (6) quersteif ist, vorzugsweise wobei der Tragabschnitt (6) eine Gewebestruktur mit Schuss und Kette aufweist, noch bevorzugter, wobei die Gewebestruktur einen ersten Abschnitt, der mit Silikon imprägniert ist und in Kontakt mit dem Garabschnitt (7) steht, und einen zweiten Abschnitt aufweist, der dem ersten Abschnitt gegenüberliegt und mit Urethan imprägniert ist.
     
    10. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der Ansprüche 3-9, wobei das zweite Material auf Silikonbasis, vorzugsweise aus einem mit Glasfasern verstärkten Silikon besteht.
     
    11. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Bewegungsmittel (14) einen Motor und mindestens einen Riemen, eine Kette oder eine Rolle (16) umfassen, die von dem Motor angetrieben werden, wobei der mindestens eine Riemen, die Kette oder die Rolle auf das Förderband wirken.
     
    12. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, umfassend mindestens eine Rolle (16), die mit dem an der Entladestation (13) angeordneten Förderer (1) in Kontakt steht, wobei die Rolle (16) ein nichtlineares äußeres Längsprofil, vorzugsweise ein gezahntes äußeres Längsprofil mit mindestens einer Mehrzahl von ersten Vorsprüngen (18) aufweist.
     
    13. Durchlaufbackofen nach Anspruch 12, wobei die ersten Vorsprünge (18) im Wesentlichen gleich voneinander beabstandet sind und im Wesentlichen die gleiche Höhe und Breite untereinander haben, wobei die ersten Vorsprünge ein im Wesentlichen gestuftes Profil definieren.
     
    14. Durchlaufbackofen nach Anspruch 12 oder 13, wobei das äußere Längsprofil (17) der Rolle (16) eine Vielzahl von zweiten Vorsprüngen (19) aufweist, wobei sich die zweiten Vorsprünge (19) mit den ersten Vorsprüngen (18) abwechseln und gegenüber deren Höhe eine geringere Höhe aufweisen, wobei vorzugsweise die zweiten Vorsprünge ein konvexes Profil aufweisen, wobei noch bevorzugter die zweiten Vorsprünge ein rundliches Profil aufweisen.
     
    15. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der Ansprüche 12 bis 14, wobei die Rolle (16) einen Kern (20) und eine Hülse umfasst, die abnehmbar auf dem Kern angebracht ist, und wobei die Hülse eine äußere Oberfläche aufweist, die so geformt ist, um das nichtlineare äußere Längsprofil zu bilden, oder wobei die Rolle (16) einen Kern (20), eine Vielzahl von ersten Scheiben (21) und eine Vielzahl von zweiten Scheiben (22) umfasst, die abnehmbar und konzentrisch auf dem Kern (20) angebracht sind, wobei die ersten Scheiben (21) einen Durchmesser aufweisen, der größer als der Durchmesser der zweiten Scheiben (22) ist.
     
    16. Durchlaufbackofen nach Anspruch 15, wobei die Rolle (16) einstellbare Befestigungsmittel (26) umfasst, um die Hülse oder die Vielzahl von ersten Scheiben (21) und die Vielzahl von zweiten Scheiben (22) auf dem Kern (20) zu befestigen, wobei die einstellbaren Befestigungsmittel (26) einen Ring (27) umfassen, der auf dem Kern (20) montiert ist und mindestens einen Schlitz (28) aufweist, eine Spannringmutter (29), die auf dem Ring (27) aufgesetzt ist und mindestens einen Bügel (30) mit einem Schlitz (31) aufweist, und Verbindungsmittel (32), um den Ring (27) und die Spannringmutter (29) durch die jeweiligen Schlitze miteinander zu verbinden.
     
    17. Durchlaufbackofen nach einem der vorangehenden Ansprüche, umfassend einen Abstreifer (33) zum Entfernen eines möglichen Überschusses an Nahrungsmittelprodukt, das in die Aufnahmen (4) geladen wurde oder aus den Aufnahmen (4) ausgelaufen ist, wobei der Abstreifer (33) quer zu und im Wesentlichen in Kontakt mit der Außenfläche (2) des Förderers (1), vorzugsweise zwischen der Ladestation (11) und der Garstation (12) angeordnet ist.
     


    Revendications

    1. Four de cuisson continu (10) pour la préparation d'un produit alimentaire cuit (34), comprenant un poste de chargement (11) pour charger le produit alimentaire à cuire, un poste de cuisson (12) pour cuire le produit alimentaire et disposé en aval dudit poste de chargement (11), un poste de déchargement (13) pour décharger le produit alimentaire cuit (34) et disposé en aval dudit poste de cuisson (12), un convoyeur (1) s'étendant entre ledit poste de chargement (11) et ledit poste de déchargement (13), et moyens de déplacement (14) pour le fonctionnement dudit convoyeur (1), dans lequel ledit convoyeur (1) est du type à anneau fermé et comprend une surface externe (2) et une surface interne (3), caractérisé en ce que
    ledit convoyeur est équipé d'une pluralité de sièges (4) destinés à recevoir un produit alimentaire à cuire, dans lequel les sièges de ladite pluralité de sièges sont des cavités aveugles ayant embouchures respectives (5) ouvertes au niveau de ladite surface externe (2), dans lequel ladite surface externe est comprise entre lesdites embouchures au niveau de celles-ci, ledit convoyeur (1) comprenant une portion de support (6) définissant ladite surface interne (3) et une portion de cuisson (7) définissant ladite surface externe (2) et ladite pluralité de sièges (4), dans lequel ladite portion de support (6) et ladite portion de cuisson (7) sont associées entre elles.
     
    2. Four de cuisson continu selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite portion de support (6) et ladite portion de cuisson sont contraintes et en contact entre elles.
     
    3. Four de cuisson continu selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite portion de support (6) est réalisée d'un premier matériau et ladite portion de cuisson (7) et réalisée d'un second matériau, dans lequel ledit premier matériau et ledit second matériau sont différents l'un de l'autre.
     
    4. Four de cuisson continu selon la revendication 3, dans lequel ledit premier matériau a un coefficient de déformation inférieur au coefficient de déformation dudit second matériau, ledit second matériau étant plus élastique que ledit premier matériau.
     
    5. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ladite portion de support (6) comprend une pluralité d'ouvertures traversantes (8), dans lequel chaque siège (4) de ladite pluralité de sièges de ladite portion de cuisson (7) engage une ouverture traversante (8) respective de ladite pluralité d'ouvertures traversantes.
     
    6. Four de cuisson continu selon la revendication 5, dans lequel chaque siège (4) de ladite pluralité de sièges s'étend au-delà d'une ouverture traversante (8) respective de ladite pluralité d'ouvertures traversantes.
     
    7. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel lesdits sièges (4) de ladite pluralité de sièges sont distribués le long de rangées parallèles s'étendant longitudinalement dans ledit convoyeur (1).
     
    8. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 et 3-7, dans lequel ladite portion de cuisson (7) comprend une pluralité de modules (9), dans lequel chaque module de ladite pluralité de modules comprends un pourcentage de ladite pluralité de sièges, dans lequel les modules (9) de ladite pluralité de modules sont longitudinalement placés côte à côte, adjacents entre eux, dans ledit convoyeur et dans lequel ladite portion de support (6) et ladite portion de cuisson (7) sont contraintes et en contact entre elles.
     
    9. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel ladite portion de support (6) est transversalement rigide, de préférence dans lequel ladite portion de support (6) comprend une armature toile à trame et à chaîne, plus préférentiellement dans lequel ladite armature toile présente une première portion imprégnée de silicone et en contact avec ladite portion de cuisson (7) et une seconde portion opposée à ladite première portion et imprégnée d'uréthane.
     
    10. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications 3-9, dans lequel ledit second matériau est à base de silicone, de préférence d'une silicone renforcée par des fibres de verre.
     
    11. Four de cuisson continue selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel lesdits moyens de déplacement (14) comprennent un moteur et au moins une courroie, une chaîne ou un rouleau (16) entraîné par ledit moteur, dans lequel ladite au moins une courroie, chaîne ou rouleau fonctionne sur ledit convoyeur.
     
    12. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant au moins un rouleau (16) en contact avec ledit convoyeur (1) disposé en correspondance dudit poste de déchargement (13), dans lequel ledit rouleau (16) présente un profil externe longitudinal non linéaire, de préférence un profil externe longitudinal dentelé présentant au moins une pluralité de premières saillies (18).
     
    13. Four de cuisson continu selon la revendication 12, dans lequel lesdites premières saillies (18) sont essentiellement équidistantes entre elles et ont essentiellement la même hauteur et la même largeur entre elles, lesdites premières saillies définissant un profil sensiblement en escalier.
     
    14. Four de cuisson continu selon la revendication 12 ou 13, dans lequel ledit profil externe longitudinal (17) dudit rouleau (16) comprend une pluralité de secondes saillies (19), dans lequel lesdites secondes saillies (19) alternent lesdites premières saillies (18) et présentent une hauteur inférieure que celles-ci, dans lequel lesdites secondes saillies présentent de préférence un profil convexe, dans lequel lesdites secondes saillies présentent plus préférentiellement un profil arrondi.
     
    15. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications 12-14, dans lequel ledit rouleau (16) comprend un noyau (20) et un manchon qui est monté de manière amovible sur ledit noyau, et dans lequel ledit manchon présente une surface externe façonnée pour former ledit profil externe longitudinal non linéaire, ou biens dans lequel ledit rouleau (16) comprend un noyau (20), une pluralité de premiers disques (21) et une pluralité de seconds disques (22) montés de manières amovible et concentrique sur ledit noyau (20), dans lequel lesdits premiers disques (21) présentent un diamètre supérieur au diamètre desdits seconds disques (22).
     
    16. Four de cuisson continu selon la revendication 15, dans lequel ledit rouleau (16) comprends moyens de fixation réglables (26) pour serrer ledit manchon ou ladite première pluralité de premiers disques (21) et ladite pluralité de seconds disques (22) sur ledit noyau (20), dans lequel lesdits moyens de fixation réglables (26) comprennent un anneau (27) qui est monté sur ledit noyau (20) et qui présente au moins une fente (28), un collier de serrage (29) qui est monté sur ledit anneau (27) et qui comprend au moins une fixation (30) comprenant une fente (31), et moyens d'association (32) pour contraindre ledit anneau (27) et ledit collier de serrage (29) entre eux à travers les fentes respectives.
     
    17. Four de cuisson continu selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, comprenant un racloir (33) pour enlever un éventuel excès de produit alimentaire chargé dans lesdits sièges (4) ou qui aurait débordé desdits sièges (4), dans lequel ledit racloir (33) est disposé transversalement à, et essentiellement en contact avec, ladite surface externe (2) dudit convoyeur (1), de préférence entre ledit poste de chargement (11) et ledit poste de cuisson (12).
     




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    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