Empty Source Indicating Means Patents (Class 221/6)
  • Patent number: 10026057
    Abstract: The retail cigarette inventory-monitoring system is configured for use with a plurality of prepackaged smoking materials. Each of the plurality of prepackaged smoking materials is a container referred to as a pack. The retail cigarette inventory-monitoring system is a storage system configured for use in storing the plurality of prepackaged smoking materials. The retail cigarette inventory-monitoring system comprises a package rack and a counting device. The counting device attaches to the package rack. The package rack stores as individual packs each pack contained within the plurality of prepackaged smoking materials. The counting device automatically counts the number of packs contained within the plurality of prepackaged smoking materials contained within the package rack of the retail cigarette inventory-monitoring system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 9, 2017
    Date of Patent: July 17, 2018
    Inventor: Hussein Elsherif
  • Patent number: 9810573
    Abstract: Disclosed is a sensor shield for use in a multi-shelf merchandise display unit including a plurality of sensors mounted on a wall of the unit and opposite a source of illumination, in which each sensor corresponds to a single shelf and in which the shelves are at least semi-porous to the illumination. The shield comprises i) a plate having a length that is sufficient substantially to reduce or prevent incident illumination from the shelf above reaching the sensor; and ii) means to attach the plate to casing of or around the sensor or the wall of the unit. The plate is opaque to the illumination detected by the sensor. Also disclosed is a method to reduce the interference of light in a multi-shelf merchandise display unit from shelves above a shelf on which stock levels are being measured and a method for monitoring stock levels in a retail display cabinet by measuring light entering the retail display cabinet.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 4, 2015
    Date of Patent: November 7, 2017
    Assignee: ELSTAT LIMITED
    Inventors: Philip Eric Lambert, Anthony Francis Barcroft
  • Patent number: 9167914
    Abstract: A merchandise dispenser is provided and has a product display tray with a bottom portion for supporting and guiding a rank of product items. The merchandise dispenser also has a spring assembly for advancing the product items forward on the bottom portion. The spring assembly includes a pre-stressed spiral tape having a top surface extending from a mounting end portion thereof and a plurality of light emitting diodes carried in spaced relation on a predetermined length of the top surface of the tape for upwardly illuminating product items when disposed in the product display tray.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 22, 2014
    Date of Patent: October 27, 2015
    Assignee: Vulcan Spring & Mfg. Co.
    Inventors: Alexander Rankin, VI, Robert Gustafson
  • Patent number: 9084385
    Abstract: An object of the invention is to provide an electronic component mounting device and a work method of the electronic component mounting device, capable of ensuring safety of an operator who accesses a work line through a door portion, and avoiding reduction of workability. A space defined by a base (11) and a cover member (14) is partitioned by a partition member (15) to define a plurality of work line storing spaces (SP1). A plurality of work lines (12) are stored in the respective work line storing spaces (SP1) individually. When any of a plurality of door portions (14a) provided in the cover member (14) so as to allow an access to an inside of the respective work line storing spaces (SP1) is opened, an operation of a work line (12) stored in a work line storing space (SP1) accessible through the opened door portion (14a) is stopped.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 23, 2009
    Date of Patent: July 14, 2015
    Assignee: PANASONIC INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT CO., LTD.
    Inventors: Seiichi Miyahara, Nobuhiro Nakai, Minoru Murakami, Takahiro Fukagawa, Takashi Yazawa, Kimiyuki Yamasaki
  • Publication number: 20140367401
    Abstract: A dispenser for dispensing paper or non-woven sheet product for wiping, wherein the level of sheet product contained in the dispenser decreases as the sheet product is dispensed, the dispenser comprising an ultrasonic level sensor for determining the level of the sheet product contained in the dispenser, wherein the ultrasonic sensor is arranged to direct the ultrasonic beam toward a surface associated with the sheet product, wherein a distance that the beam travels to the surface changes progressively as the level of the sheet product in the dispenser changes from a full condition to an empty condition.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 21, 2011
    Publication date: December 18, 2014
    Applicant: SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS AB
    Inventors: Anders Strålin, Per Möller, Johan Lissmats
  • Patent number: 8727178
    Abstract: A condiment packet dispenser that includes a cylindrical shaped housing containing an open top with a plurality of radially partitioned chambers. Each chamber contains a cylindrical shaped container that stores individual condiment packets in a radial manner. The dispenser is operated by pushing a button which sends a signal to a motor control board. The motor control board powers a motor having a spur gear which turns the selected condiment container until the condiment packet is aligned with a drop chute. The packet then falls thru the drop chute and is available for picking up by the customer. There is also a cylindrical shaped top lid which is removable when new condiments need to be loaded to replenish the dispenser. The condiment dispenser sits on top of a base stand that may either be rigidly mounted or may be rotated to choose a condiment.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 20, 2011
    Date of Patent: May 20, 2014
    Inventors: Irene Carter, Roger Henry Gagnon
  • Patent number: 8651320
    Abstract: An apparatus for dispensing open-ended objects such as pharmaceutical vials includes: a housing having an internal cavity configured to house open-ended objects, the housing including a guide and a floor; a pick-up unit mounted to the housing, the pick-up unit including an endless member and at least one pick-up member attached to the endless member; and a drive unit. The endless member engages the drive unit and the guide for movement relative thereto. As the drive unit drives the endless member, the at least one pick-up member travels on a pick-up path, at least a portion of which is within the housing.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 14, 2011
    Date of Patent: February 18, 2014
    Assignee: Parata Systems, LLC
    Inventors: Jody DuMond, Charles H. Guthrie, Joseph C. Moran, Jr., Demetris P. Young, George Raymond Abrams, Jr.
  • Publication number: 20130277382
    Abstract: An apparatus and method are disclosed for determining an empty condition in an item of media container. The apparatus includes a plate member, comprising a reflective region, that moves towards an empty position as items of media are dispensed from a container, and a mask element which is locatable in a first position as items of media are dispensed, and a further position when the container is empty. An empty condition of the container is determined responsive to the mask element being located in the further position.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 24, 2012
    Publication date: October 24, 2013
    Applicant: NCR CORPORATION
    Inventors: Stewart D. Lees, Ross Johnston
  • Publication number: 20130240554
    Abstract: A solution for detecting level of a consumable tissue product (201, 301) in a tissue dispenser (103, 106) located in a washroom. This is provided in a number of aspects such as a tissue dispenser, a method, system, and a sensor unit utilizing two sensor elements (420, 430), each arranged to measure light reflected from a reflection field located on the tissue product, reflected directly from the tissue product, or measure the absence of the tissue product. Data from the sensor elements are wirelessly transmitted to a server (901) for further handling, such as for instance notification to a janitor in charge of service of the washroom.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 15, 2010
    Publication date: September 19, 2013
    Applicant: SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS AB
    Inventors: Anders Stråhlin, Gunilla Himmelmann, Robert Kling, Peter Rehnström, Jerry Svedlund
  • Patent number: 8525662
    Abstract: An out of product indicator is provided. The out of product indicator includes a power generator, a sensor and an alarm. The power generator is configured to generate power based on an interaction with at least one aspect of the device it is coupled thereto. The sensor is configured to determine when a product is low. The alarm is coupled to receive power generated by the power generator. Moreover the alarm is activated based on an output of the sensor.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 16, 2009
    Date of Patent: September 3, 2013
    Assignee: Ecolab USA Inc.
    Inventors: Aron D. Dahlgren, Christopher D. Diller, Nicholas D. Parent, Blake R. Otting
  • Patent number: 8458312
    Abstract: A distributed intelligent system. The distributed network includes at least one gateway server configured for receiving meter data from one or more nodes of a distributed meter network and at least one subscriber station in communication with the at least one gateway server via a communication network. The at least one gateway server is further configured to selectively distribute the received meter data to the at least one subscriber station in accordance with a policy.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 30, 2010
    Date of Patent: June 4, 2013
    Assignee: US Beverage Net Inc.
    Inventors: Prabhu R. Raghunathan, Patrick J. Danial, Mark E. Young
  • Patent number: 8448815
    Abstract: A product dispenser including a frame configured to support a plurality of products and flag element connected to the frame, the flag element being moveable relative to the frame from a first, un-deployed configuration when the flag element is engaged with at least one of the products, to a second, deployed configuration when the flag element is not engaged with the products.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 25, 2010
    Date of Patent: May 28, 2013
    Assignee: MeadWestvaco Corporation
    Inventors: Andrew B. Sholl, John Gelardi, Aaron L. Bates, Laurel Thomas, Caleb S. Loftin
  • Patent number: 8418880
    Abstract: An exemplary embodiment of a probe cover dispenser includes a storage member for accommodating stacked probe covers and a retaining unit with a pair of supporting arms for holding or releasing one of the stacked probe covers. A slide connects the retaining unit. A linking rod with a protrusion portion and a recess portion connects the slidable access member. The linking rod is moved upwardly or downwardly and the protrusion portion or the recess portion is moved to a position corresponding to the slide such that a force is applied to push or pull the supporting arms to release or hold the one of the stacked probe covers in the storage member, while the slidable access member is moved upwardly or downwardly.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 19, 2009
    Date of Patent: April 16, 2013
    Assignee: Mesure Technology Co., Ltd.
    Inventor: Chu-Yih Yu
  • Patent number: 8380346
    Abstract: Item-management systems, apparatus, and methods are described, preferably for management of items such as medicaments. In embodiments, an item-management system comprises a holder defining plural cells, a docking station configured to receive the holder, at least one indicator selectively-operable to indicate the holder cell into which an item is to be loaded, and at least one controller operable to selectively operate each at least one indicator to indicate the cell into which the item is to be received. In embodiments, indicators are provided on the holder. In other embodiments, the indicators may by on a guide associated with the docking station to assist the user in loading the holder. The contents of the loaded holder may be easily loaded, for example, into an automated dispensing machine for packaging and subsequent administration to a patient or for another use.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 20, 2008
    Date of Patent: February 19, 2013
    Assignee: Chundy Group, LLC
    Inventors: Duane S. Chudy, Larry Montgomery, James T. Spernow
  • Publication number: 20120278228
    Abstract: A system and apparatus for accurate and secure dispensing of products using an automated dispensing machine, and transmission, processing and analysis of data concerning items dispensed. In one embodiment the system provides the possibility of combined pharmaceutical supply chain management and medication treatment compliance management and may be applied to controlled dispensing of medications, enabling incentives to encourage higher compliance, recording and processing of patient and health care data. The system allows for automatic replenishment of medications to the RFID equipped medication storage enclosure at the healthcare site. It also allows for complete logging of data relating to which patient has received the correct dosage at what time, by whom this medication was administered, and correlation with other possible RFID tagged documents.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 4, 2011
    Publication date: November 1, 2012
    Applicant: TRANQUILITY GROUP PTY LTD
    Inventor: Marshal Saul Rubinstein
  • Patent number: 8261936
    Abstract: An apparatus for dispensing open-ended objects such as pharmaceutical vials includes: a housing having an internal cavity configured to house open-ended objects, the housing including a guide and a floor; a pick-up unit mounted to the housing, the pick-up unit including an endless member and at least one pick-up member attached to the endless member; and a drive unit. The endless member engages the drive unit and the guide for movement relative thereto. As the drive unit drives the endless member, the at least one pick-up member travels on a pick-up path, at least a portion of which is within the housing.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 14, 2006
    Date of Patent: September 11, 2012
    Assignee: Parata Systems, LLC
    Inventors: Jody DuMond, Charles H. Guthrie, Joseph C. Moran, Jr., Demetris P. Young, George Raymond Abrams, Jr.
  • Patent number: 8235248
    Abstract: Disclosed is an automatic tablet packing apparatus having sliding racks, wherein tablets received in a plurality of tablet cassettes are successively packed on a per dose basis based on a medical prescription. Each of the sliding racks includes a pair of left and right partition walls, a tablet discharge passage to guide the tablets discharged from the tablet cassettes being defined by facing inner surfaces of the left and right partition walls. Cassette pedestals are attached to outer surfaces of the left and right partition walls and in turn, the tablet cassettes are detachably arranged on the cassette pedestals. The left and right partition walls are able to be individually pulled out from a body of the apparatus. As the left or right partition wall is pulled out, the tablet discharge passage is revealed to the outside thus enabling easy cleaning thereof.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 9, 2009
    Date of Patent: August 7, 2012
    Assignee: JVM Co., Ltd.
    Inventor: Jun-Ho Kim
  • Publication number: 20120091162
    Abstract: Systems and methods are provided for a low stock product display alert system. A system includes a pushing element configured to push one or more products toward a front of a shelf as a unit of the product is removed from the shelf. The system also includes an RFID component, where the RFID component is configured to be in a dormant state when the pushing element is in a first position. The system further includes an activation element configured to activate the RFID component when the pushing element is in a second position, where when activated, the RFID component is configured to emit a signal indicating that the product display is out of product.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 17, 2011
    Publication date: April 19, 2012
    Applicant: Goliath Solutions, LLC
    Inventors: Gary L. Overhultz, John W. Pyne, Gordon E. Hardman
  • Patent number: 8132691
    Abstract: A dispensing system for a vending machine includes a vend motor, a cradle, a load bar and a push arm. Upon selection of a particular product, the vend motor rotates the cradle, causing the product to emerge from the vending machine. The cradle is designed to accommodate a wide array of container sizes. The dispensing system incorporates a rotation sensor, a position sensor, and a lift arm. The sensors enable accurate rotation of the cradle through a plurality of vend angles depending upon the particular product being vended, while the lift arm cooperates with the push arm and load bar to refill the cradle after a series of product containers have been dispensed. In addition, the vend motor includes a soft start control that prevents instantaneous rotation of the output shaft so as to prolong an overall operational life of the motor.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 21, 2008
    Date of Patent: March 13, 2012
    Assignee: Crane Merchandising Systems, Inc.
    Inventors: Talbert James Black, Jr., Thomas Roger Meinardi, Edmund Scott Richardson, Terring M. Ware
  • Patent number: 8061556
    Abstract: An automated freezer stores food items stacked in a removable cartridge. The food items are dispensed from the automated freezer in response to a request for the food items. The food items are loaded into the cartridge outside of the automated freezer. When the cartridge is inserted into the automated freezer, the upper end of the cartridge is inserted into a buffer, pushing a plurality of arms in the buffer upwardly to allow food items to pass through the buffer. When the cartridge is removed from the freezer for reloading of food items, a resilient member biases the arms downwardly to retain any food items in the buffer and to prevent any food items in the buffer from falling.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 2, 2003
    Date of Patent: November 22, 2011
    Assignee: Restaurant Technology, Inc.
    Inventors: Jeffrey L. Sands, Ronald J. Glavan, Andrew Paul Franklin, Randy L. Ginner, Henry Thomas Ewald
  • Patent number: 8050796
    Abstract: Implementations of a public use tag marking kiosk. Aspects associated with particular implementations of a tag marking kiosk comprise, among others, automatically marking two sides of a tag within the kiosk, receiving the tag to be marked from the customer, engaging and aligning the tag to be marked, providing a closeable door between the marking implement and the customer while the tag is being marked, ejecting the tag from a tag holder after the tag is marked, and aligning the tag so that a desired tag side is required to be initially facing up on the tag holder. Housing for the kiosk may surround all of the system parts or may be split into a housing shell and a marking unit that fits inside the shell. Marking implements may be laser, mechanical stylus, paint, or others. Tags may be suspended in a cantilevered manner during marking.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 22, 2011
    Date of Patent: November 1, 2011
    Assignee: TagWorks, LLC
    Inventors: George Lynn Hagen, Ryan Hamblin, Carl Ito, Kenneth C. Booth
  • Patent number: 8038016
    Abstract: To reliably bias drugs to a rotor side without upsizing a device, with little layout limitations, and without damaging the drugs. Biasing means that biases drugs stored in a cassette 3 to a rotor 23 side to arrange the drugs includes: a casing 35; a constant load spring 36 provided in the casing 35 and having a spring part 41 fixed to the rotor 23 side of the cassette 3 at its tip; a locking plate 42 provided in the casing 35 and having a gear part 46 that engaged with and disengaged from a locking rack 26 formed in the cassette 3; and a pressing block 43 projected so as to be pressed from the contact surface of the casing 35 in contact with the drugs and rotating the locking plate 42 by pressing to release the gear part 46 from the locking rack 26.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 12, 2005
    Date of Patent: October 18, 2011
    Assignee: Yuyama Mfg. Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Shoji Yuyama, Akira Taniguchi
  • Patent number: 8025181
    Abstract: A dispensing device for beverage cup lid which prevents excessive human contact with the lid prior to insertion upon the beverage cup, the device providing an externally threaded central rotary rod attached to a direct drive bidirectional electrical motor and suspended within a lid cabinet with a stacked plurality of lids retained upon the rotary rod through a central bore in each lid, the lids urged downward by a traveling press plate having a central threaded hole engaging the external threads of the rotary rod, the rotation of the rotary rod causing the press plate to move up and down the rotary rod, pressing against the uppermost lid on the rotary rod against the stacked plurality of lids in increments programmed to release only the lowermost lid from the end of the rotary rod in a receiving area below the retaining rod. The device is operated by the activation of a presence sensor, either a beverage cup or a clean hand, which causes the incremental dispensing of a single lid.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 3, 2009
    Date of Patent: September 27, 2011
    Inventors: Terry Horn, Jerry Horn
  • Patent number: 8020725
    Abstract: A medicine dispensing apparatus which allows a prescribed quantity of medicines to be reliably taken out based on prescription data.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 17, 2004
    Date of Patent: September 20, 2011
    Assignee: Yuyama Mfg. Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Shoji Yuyama, Masahiko Kasuya, Akitomi Kohama, Masatoshi Warashina
  • Publication number: 20110210137
    Abstract: A dispensing unit includes an outer front wall, two outer side walls, a housing for holding a pile of a continuous length of accordion-like folded web of towels of tissue paper or nonwoven including bundles, the outer front wall having an access opening to the pile, a dispensing opening for the web of towels and a feeding mechanism including a member for controlling the dispensing of the web of towels, a drive unit and a braking arrangement for the web of towels. A unit of consumable articles includes the pile of bundles with connecting elements therebetween, which are inserted through the access opening into the housing in the dispensing unit and added to the bottom of the pile. The web of towels is dispensed from the upper part of the pile by a feeding mechanism, which positions the web of towels in a starting mode in the dispensing opening.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 11, 2011
    Publication date: September 1, 2011
    Applicant: SCA HYGIENE PRODUCTS AB
    Inventor: Robert KLING
  • Patent number: 7975875
    Abstract: An entirely mechanical gas bottle dispensing machine that allows to either only dispense by gravity a filled bottle upon insertion of a first token or dispense a filled bottle with return of an empty bottle upon insertion of a second token.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 27, 2007
    Date of Patent: July 12, 2011
    Inventor: Andrzej Borzym
  • Patent number: 7969319
    Abstract: A fill level sensor is magnetically coupled to a hopper of an agricultural implement to provide a signal indicative of product fill level in the hopper relative to a fill line. The sensor can be positioned at various heights to provide variability in the height of the sensed fill line. The fill level sensing components are contained within a sensor housing. A magnet for magnetically mounting the sensor may be coupled to an exterior surface of the sensor housing or enclosed within the sensor housing.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 14, 2008
    Date of Patent: June 28, 2011
    Assignee: CNH Canada, Ltd.
    Inventor: Trevor Kowalchuk
  • Patent number: 7954668
    Abstract: A system and method detect when a product container from which a product is dispensed is empty or nearly empty, and provides a notification of the product status. The system includes a load cell that deflects at a first rate of distance per unit load when a load less than a critical load is positioned to be weighed by the load cell, and a load cell bracket positioned such that the free end of the load cell contacts the load cell bracket when a load substantially equal to or greater than the critical load is positioned to be weighed by the load cell. The load cell bracket may prevent the load cell from further deflection, or it may permit deflection of the load cell at a second rate of distance per unit load when the load cell is in contact with the load cell bracket.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 24, 2010
    Date of Patent: June 7, 2011
    Assignee: Ecolab Inc.
    Inventors: Richard J. Mehus, Bruce W. Weber, Ben J. Wiltsie
  • Publication number: 20110114659
    Abstract: An out of product indicator is provided. The out of product indicator includes a power generator, a sensor and an alarm. The power generator is configured to generate power based on an interaction with at least one aspect of the device it is coupled thereto. The sensor is configured to determine when a product is low. The alarm is coupled to receive power generated by the power generator. Moreover the alarm is activated based on an output of the sensor.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 16, 2009
    Publication date: May 19, 2011
    Inventors: Aron D. Dahlgren, Christopher D. Diller, Nicholas D. Parent, Blake R. Otting
  • Patent number: 7878367
    Abstract: A blister pack system has an upper part and a bottom part, between which a blister pack is disposed. Pouches of the blister pack are aligned with corresponding ejection openings of the upper part and corresponding ejection openings of the bottom part. Every ejection opening of the upper part is associated with an individual contact surface that can be connected to a control/computing unit via an individual strip conductor. The system includes an ejection device, which at a top section has an electrical contact, and at a peg section an additional electrical contact which is electrically connected to the electrical contact of the top section. The individual contact surfaces and the individual strip conductors associated therewith, as well as a common contact surface and a common strip conductor associated therewith or a subsection thereof extend in surfaces of the upper part that are electrically isolated from each other.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 15, 2004
    Date of Patent: February 1, 2011
    Inventors: Udo Simon, Ernst-Rudolf Radtke
  • Patent number: 7837058
    Abstract: A product delivery system for a vending machine includes first and second guide rails and a carriage rail. The guide rails are fixedly mounted in the vending machine spaced from and parallel to each other and extend along respective first and second axes. The carriage rail extends along a third axis and includes first and second ends that are slidably connected to the respective ones of the first and second guide rails. A carrier member is slidably mounted to the carriage rail for movement along the third axis. A first drive belt is coupled to the carriage rail and a first drive motor to selectively shift the carrier member along the third axis. A second drive belt, extending in multiple axes, is connected to each of the first and second ends of the carriage rail and a second drive motor. The second drive motor selectively shifts the carriage rail along the first and second axes upon driving the second drive belt.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 14, 2005
    Date of Patent: November 23, 2010
    Assignee: Crane Merchandising Systems, Inc.
    Inventors: Bryan Alan Collins, Paul Hayward Kelly, Aron Phillip Lewis, Charles Wayne Percy, Joshua Robert Powell, William E. Roe
  • Patent number: 7793769
    Abstract: The present invention provides a vending machine that converts a force applied from a manual operation means into an electric power, and operates by utilizing the electric power as a source of power. A drive force generation/transmission mechanism includes a generator (45) that generates the electric power by utilizing the force applied from the manual operation means (9) and motors (49-55) driven by the electric power generated by the generator (45). Article moving mechanisms (63-69) are constructed to operate by utilizing the output of the motors (49-55) as the operation source.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 27, 2004
    Date of Patent: September 14, 2010
    Assignee: Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Takashi Kumabe, Minoru Honjo
  • Patent number: 7779099
    Abstract: A distributed intelligent system. The distributed network includes at least one gateway server configured for receiving meter data from one or more nodes of a distributed meter network and at least one subscriber station in communication with the at least one gateway server via a communication network. The at least one gateway server is further configured to selectively distribute the received meter data to the at least one subscriber station in accordance with a policy.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 16, 2006
    Date of Patent: August 17, 2010
    Assignee: US Beverage Net Inc.
    Inventors: Prabhu R. Raghunathan, Patrick J. Danial, Mark E. Young
  • Publication number: 20100193538
    Abstract: A dispensing device comprises a loading chamber (12), a dispensing chamber (14), located beneath the loading chamber, a gate or shutter (24) movable between a first open position and a second closed position to allow selective communication of the loading chamber and the dispensing chamber. The device further comprises a first indicating means in the form of a first indicator member (114) which is retainable in a first-retracted position when the gate or shutter (24) is in the closed position and which is displaceable to a second, extended position when the gate or shutter is moved from the closed position to the open position. The device further comprises second indicating means (116) which is actuable to display a second visible signal to indicate that the first signal has been observed.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 18, 2008
    Publication date: August 5, 2010
    Inventor: Stephen William Clarke
  • Patent number: 7694589
    Abstract: A system and method detect when a product container from which a product is dispensed is empty or nearly empty, and provides a notification of the product status. The system includes a load cell that deflects at a first rate of distance per unit load when a load less than a critical load is positioned to be weighed by the load cell, and a load cell bracket positioned such that the free end of the load cell contacts the load cell bracket when a load substantially equal to or greater than the critical load is positioned to be weighed by the load cell. The load cell bracket may prevent the load cell from further deflection, or it may permit deflection of the load cell at a second rate of distance per unit load when the load cell is in contact with the load cell bracket.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 12, 2007
    Date of Patent: April 13, 2010
    Assignee: Ecolab Inc.
    Inventors: Richard J. Mehus, Bruce W. Weber, Ben J. Wiltsie
  • Publication number: 20100070074
    Abstract: A device for dispensing items comprises a cabinet having an interior for storing items. A dispenser frame is coupled to the cabinet and is configured to be accessed, such as by pulling the dispenser frame from the cabinet. The dispenser frame includes a plurality of dividers that are configured to hold the plurality of dispensing mechanisms that each hold multiple items within the storage area. Further, the dividers are reconfigurable to permit the arrangement of the dispensing mechanisms to be adjusted. A lockable door is coupled to the front of the cabinet in front of the dispenser frame. The door may be opened to provide access to the interior of the cabinet and to the dispenser frame. A dispense drawer is positioned below the storage area so that items dispensed from the dispensing mechanisms.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 2, 2009
    Publication date: March 18, 2010
    Applicant: Omnicell, Inc.
    Inventors: Mark Kevin Duncan, Scott L. Kidney, Brian R. Arnold
  • Patent number: 7620157
    Abstract: A machine requiring periodic maintenance, such as a vending machine, is retrofitted to include an alert system for notifying a machine operator that the machine requires servicing. The alert system includes one or more sensors to detect default conditions, a voice recorder for storing one or more voice messages corresponding to default conditions, a transmitter for transmitting the voice messages to the machine operator, and a trigger connected to the one or more sensors and the transmitter for selectively initiating the transmission of appropriate voice messages in accordance with predetermined parameters. The voice messages are transmitted over the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to be heard by the machine operator or stored on the machine operator's voice answering system. The transmitter may be a simple auto dialer connected by wires to a nearby phone jack.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 8, 2004
    Date of Patent: November 17, 2009
    Inventors: Andrew S. Holmes, Kevin D. Knoop
  • Patent number: 7546973
    Abstract: A paper towel dispenser includes a housing with an inner chamber configured to support a paper supply and a dispensing aperture for dispensing paper from the paper supply. The paper supply includes a side that is formed by superimposed edge portions of paper from the paper supply. An indicator mechanism is affixed to the housing within the inner chamber and is disposed adjacent the paper supply. The indicator mechanism includes an indicator operably connected to a release mechanism. The indicator is movable between a retracted position and an indicating position. The release mechanism is pivotally biased away from the housing and is releasable in response to the paper supply being reduced below a predetermined amount. Upon release of the release mechanism, the release mechanism causes the indicator to move to the indicating position.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 2, 2008
    Date of Patent: June 16, 2009
    Assignee: Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP
    Inventors: Gregory D. Budz, Thomas N. Kershaw, John R. Moody
  • Publication number: 20090138122
    Abstract: A pharmacy medication verification system is particularly useful for verifying medications to be dispensed to hospital patients while minimizing or eliminating verification by a pharmacist. Typically, a technician or robot picks the medications from storage bins in accordance with a medical prescription or stocking order and uses various sensors to ensure that the correct medication was picked and enters a medication container. The system typically provides correct and incorrect medication indicators as well as correct and incorrect entry indicators. Error reports may be generated when appropriate to communicate any relevant errors to the pharmacist, who can then verify that the correct medications are in the container. In one aspect, the containers are in the form of patient drawers which fit within a cart for delivery to hospital rooms. A containment device may be used to secure the drawer or other container during the verification process.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 25, 2008
    Publication date: May 28, 2009
    Inventor: David J. Wagner
  • Publication number: 20090127275
    Abstract: An apparatus for supporting taking medicine includes a medicine storage unit which has a plurality of medicine storage holes to store therein medicines to be taken by a user, a sensor controller which determines whether the medicine storage holes include medicines therein, and a medicine taking service unit which receives a preset schedule by synchronizing with a personal computer, checks whether a user has taken medicine according to a determination of the sensor controller and informs a user to take a medicine according to the preset schedule. Thus, users who should take various medicines on a regular basis for daily life may observe the medicine taking time.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 14, 2008
    Publication date: May 21, 2009
    Inventors: Jae Hun CHOI, Soo Jun PARK, Seon Hee PARK
  • Patent number: 7472802
    Abstract: A system for optimally filling an apparatus for dispensing a zigzag folded web of towel material is provided. The system includes a holder that is disposed in a housing for receiving a first stock of zigzag folded web of towel material. The holder also includes a fill meter having a division into at least three areas each having its own coding. The first upper coding indicates that no refilling is required, a second coding below the first indicates that refilling with a refill stock that has a coding equal to the second coding, and each further coding indicates refilling with an increasingly thicker refill stock that has a corresponding coding.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 1, 2005
    Date of Patent: January 6, 2009
    Assignee: Vendor B.V.
    Inventor: Elisabeth Joanna van Riel
  • Patent number: 7455163
    Abstract: A tablet packing apparatus arranged to prevent tablets from bouncing in a tablet drop guide path so that dropping time of the tablets can be shortened so as to be ready in time for packing. The tablet packing apparatus is provided with a tablet drop guide path (12) that guides tablets to a packing unit. The tablets drop obliquely downward from each of tablet outlets (10) of tablet feeders (8) provided in an up and down direction in a manner of a multistage shelf, wherein a bounce preventing member (14) is provided in a position opposing the tablet outlets of the tablet drop guide path, and the bounce preventing member (14) is obliquely provided so that it recedes from the tablet outlets 10 toward the lower end.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 25, 2004
    Date of Patent: November 25, 2008
    Assignee: Yuyama Mfg. Co., Ltd.
    Inventors: Shoji Yuyama, Itsuo Yasunaga
  • Publication number: 20080283542
    Abstract: An apparatus, method and system for dispensing medication in a personal health management system are described. The apparatus for dispensing medication is shown. The apparatus includes one or more storage compartments for storing-one or more medications, an input device for inputting data related to the medications, a data storage device configured to store at least the data, an output device operable to message information related to the medications, and a computing device configured to respond to the data, select one or more of the storage compartments for dispensing of the medication, provide information for the output device, and record quantity and frequency of the dispensing in the data storage device. A method is also provided for dispensing medication in accordance with an aspect of the invention. A system utilizing the apparatus in a personal health management system is also shown.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 18, 2007
    Publication date: November 20, 2008
    Inventors: Priyadarsini Lanka, Sirisha Gudimetla, Saraswati Tumuluri
  • Patent number: 7230223
    Abstract: A sensing arrangement (12) is described. The arrangement comprises: a moveable object (80) including a plurality of marker portions (112) disposed in a calibrated configuration, each marker portion (112) being capable of emitting light in response to stimulation. The arrangement also includes a light source (42) directed towards the marker portions (112) and for causing light emission therefrom. An imaging device (44) is directed towards the marker portions (112) and includes an array of light-detecting elements for sensing light emitted from the marker portions (112) to generate image data. A processor (52), in communication with the imaging device (44), analyses image data received from the imaging device (44) to determine the location of the moveable object (80) based on the calibrated configuration.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 12, 2005
    Date of Patent: June 12, 2007
    Assignee: NCR Corporation
    Inventors: Gunnar Jespersen, Eric G. Lyons
  • Patent number: 7146246
    Abstract: A dispenser has an upper loading chamber (38), a dispensing chamber (40) located beneath the loading chamber, first and second openable covers (24, 34) for the loading chamber (38) and a dispensing chamber (40) and a gate means (32) mounted in the housing between the two chambers and forming a lower wall of the loading chamber (38). The gate means (32) is movable to allow selective communication of a loading chamber (38) and the dispensing chamber (40) to allow the contents of the loading chamber to fall into the dispensing chamber (40). Opening of the gate means (32) to an extent sufficient to allow the contents to fall into the dispensing chamber generates a signal from a limit switch (59) indicative that the loading chamber (38) is empty.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 15, 2002
    Date of Patent: December 5, 2006
    Inventor: Stephen William Clarke
  • Patent number: 7048142
    Abstract: A dispenser (10) for dispensing medical items (68, 70, 72) includes dispenser modules (28, 30) movably mounted thereon. The dispenser modules are selectively operative to dispense medical items therefrom into a path (54) which is connected to a delivery area (20) of the dispenser. The dispenser and the dispenser modules therein are configured to provide security against unauthorized access thereto. However an authorized user is enabled to readily access the dispenser modules and the medical items therein by unlocking a lock (22), opening a door (16) and extending the dispenser modules through an opening (18). With the dispenser modules in the extended position the medical items therein may be replenished. Alternatively, the dispenser modules may be disconnected from the dispenser and replaced with substitute dispenser modules.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 15, 2004
    Date of Patent: May 23, 2006
    Assignee: AutoMed Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: James A. Michael, David T. Frederick, H. Thomas Graef
  • Patent number: 6980887
    Abstract: Inventory maintenance is improved for a system of one or more vending machines by providing one or more vending machines with unique identifiers, and means for collecting and transmitting information concerning goods dispensed and other status to a remote location where processing means provide an efficient service schedule.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 31, 2001
    Date of Patent: December 27, 2005
  • Patent number: 6957125
    Abstract: An interactive vending machine which enables a consumer to view customized products before they are purchased and thereafter enables the consumer to purchase the customized products. The machine also keeps track of inventory so that if a particular item or accessory is out of stock, it will not be displayed on the screen for purchase.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 30, 2004
    Date of Patent: October 18, 2005
    Assignee: uWink, Inc.
    Inventor: Andrew Rifkin
  • Patent number: 6839775
    Abstract: An apparatus for selecting, monitoring, and controlling electrically powered devices is disclosed. In one embodiment, the apparatus includes an electrically powered device having a key operating line and switching control circuitry to control usage of the electrically powered device by interrupting continuity of the key operating line. In another embodiment, the apparatus monitors usage of an electrically powered device. The apparatus includes a circuit which is coupled to the device to provide a power output of the device, an analog to digital converter coupled to receive the power output and convert the same to digital form, and a controller to receive a user input, process the user input by establishing communication with a remotely located device to request approval of a financial transaction, and generate control signals in response to receiving approval. The controller receives the digital form of the power output and monitors the operation of the electrically powered device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 7, 2000
    Date of Patent: January 4, 2005
    Inventors: Kim Y. Kao, Bruce K. Sauer, Kent Kwan
  • Patent number: 6786354
    Abstract: A cassette (10) for storing media in sheet form is described. The cassette (10) has urging means (26) for urging a stack of media items (34) to one end (24) of the cassette (10), such as a media pick area (22). The cassette (10) also has sensing means (52) for determining the size of the stack of media items (34) remaining in the cassette (10). The cassette (10) includes display means (50) for displaying to an external viewer, such as a replenisher, an indication of the size of the stack of media items (34) remaining within the cassette (10).
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 6, 2002
    Date of Patent: September 7, 2004
    Assignee: NCR Corporation
    Inventors: Jonathan S. Black, Scott P. Mackenzie