MONITORING SYSTEM AND WATER FILTER MAINTENANCE METHOD
1. A water flow measuring device comprising:
- a) a main body provided with a water flow sensor through which water can flow when demand therefor is made by a water supply apparatus;
b) data collecting circuitry suitable to collect data generated by said water flow sensor;
wherein said water flow sensor is provided with a plugging element coupled with a spring constricting element, which is suitable to block the flow of water therethrough when the water pressure at the inlet of said sensor is smaller than the mechanical pressure applied by said spring constricting element.
A water flow measuring device comprises: a) a main body provided with a water flow sensor through which water can flow when demand therefor is made by a water supply system; and, b) data collecting circuitry suitable to collect data generated by said water flow sensor; said water flow sensor being provided with a plugging element coupled with a spring constricting element, which is suitable to block the flow of water therethrough when the water pressure at the inlet of said sensor is smaller than the mechanical pressure applied by said spring constricting element.
- 1. A water flow measuring device comprising:
a) a main body provided with a water flow sensor through which water can flow when demand therefor is made by a water supply apparatus; b) data collecting circuitry suitable to collect data generated by said water flow sensor; wherein said water flow sensor is provided with a plugging element coupled with a spring constricting element, which is suitable to block the flow of water therethrough when the water pressure at the inlet of said sensor is smaller than the mechanical pressure applied by said spring constricting element.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- 11. A method for maintaining a water dispensing system comprising
a) providing data storage means adapted to receive data representative of water usage of said system, said data being generated by a device coupled with, or provided in, said system; b) correlating said data with a system maintenance need; and c) providing to a user of said system data relative to said maintenance need.
- View Dependent Claims (12, 13, 14, 15, 16)
The present invention relates to the monitoring and maintenance of water supply systems. More particularly, the invention relates to devices and methods for determining an appropriate time for performing maintenance and/or disposable replacements in a system that dispenses and/or utilizes water.
Systems that utilizes water from an external water source are typically provided with elements adapted to improve the quality of the water employed and, in general, to result in water supply adapted to the intended use. Many kinds of equipment employs such water supply systems, such as drinking water bars, refrigerators that are adapted to dispense cool water and/or ice, washing machines, etc. All such equipment has its own requirement of the water employed, whether for health purposes or in order to maintain a proper functioning of the equipment, e.g., by avoiding excessive deposition of solids from the water. Drinking water bars are very common nowadays both in households and workplaces and, therefore, will be referred to hereinafter as an illustrative example of a system of the invention.
Drinking water bars are commonly provided with two water treatment elements: the first treatment element comprises one or more filters, often including both inner and active materials, such as activated carbon, which are used to remove solid particles as well as chemicals, e.g. chlorine, from the water. The second treatment element comprises means adapted to actively kill bacteria and other pathogens, and typically includes one or more UV lamps. Most drinking water bars are capable of dispensing both hot and cooled water.
Disposables used in a drinking water bar must be periodically replaced because of the decline in their efficacy with use. Filters become clogged and become an impediment to a free flow of water, and moreover they can become overloaded to an extent that they are no longer effective in capturing undesirable chemicals and other agents from the water. UV lamps, on the other hand, need to be replaced according to the number of ignitions.
The problem with which owners of drinking water bars are confronted is that to date there is no efficacious way of knowing what the appropriate time for replacing those disposables is. Since they have to be timely replaced for a correct functioning of the system employing them, manufacturers of such systems dictate replacement schedules that are based on average calculations. However, different users may have very different water usages, and since the need to replace the disposables is dependent on the actual amount of water flowing through the system, the outcome is that disposables are replaced typically too soon (although they may also be replaced too late if the owner is not reminded in time) particularly when additional precaution is practiced by the manufacturer. While this does not present a problem for the manufacturers—and in fact, they derive more profit from this situation since as it is well known profit is primarily made from the disposables—the user is harmed because it has to replace the disposables not according to his actual need and, therefore, must adhere to a wasteful replacement schedule.
There is therefore a need for an efficient way to allow users of systems of this kind to service said, perform maintenance and replace disposables at a time that is commensurate with the actual use made of the system. As stated above, while drinking water bars are good and widespread example of the problem, it exists also with systems such as, for example, refrigerators that are provided with filters that must be replaced, washing machines, etc.
It is an object of the present invention to provide devices that addresses the aforementioned problems. Another object of the present invention is to provide methods for conveniently and efficiently utilize the devices of the invention.
Another object of the invention is to provide devices that can be easily and quickly connected to existing water systems.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent as the description proceeds.
In one aspect the invention relates to a water flow measuring device comprising:
- a) a main body provided with a water flow sensor through which water can flow when demand therefor is made by a water supply system;
- b) data collecting circuitry suitable to collect data generated by said water flow sensor;
In an embodiment of the water flow measuring device the plugging element is suitable to actuate a proximity sensor. The proximity sensor can be of a variety of types known to the skilled person which, therefore, are not discussed herein for the sake of brevity. In one exemplary embodiment the proximity sensor is a reed switch and the plugging element is provided with a magnet. In one embodiment the reed switch is a step switch provided with individually identifiable locations suitable to determine the position of the plugging element relative to it.
An efficient embodiment of a water flow measuring device according to the invention is provided with peripheral slots the flow of water through which is blocked when the plugging element does not apply pressure against the spring constricting element. In this embodiment displacement of the plugging element determines the flow rate of water that passes through the sensor.
The device of the invention is designed to generate and output data relative to water usage. Accordingly, the water flow measuring device of the invention is provided with one or more communication components. Such components can be of any suitable type known to the skilled person, for instance, they can be selected from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and radio.
The invention also encompasses a system for performing maintenance of water dispensing system, comprising:
- (i) a water flow measuring device;
- (ii) a distance server located on a network; and
- (iii) a communication component suitable to transmit data to and from a user.
In one embodiment the network is the Internet. In another embodiment the communication component suitable to transmit data to and from a user includes a portable communication device. Any suitable portable communication device can be utilized in the context of the invention such as, for instance, a smartphone, a tablet, etc.
In another aspect the invention is directed to a method for maintaining a water dispensing system comprising
- a) providing data storage means adapted to receive data representative of water usage of said system, said data being generated by a device coupled with, or provided in, said system;
- b) correlating said data with a system maintenance need; and
- c) providing to a user of said system data relative to said maintenance need.
The invention can satisfy any relevant maintenance need, such as, for instance, the required time of replacement of a disposable. In such case the maintenance need may comprise data adapted to allow the user to select a disposable adapted to the user'"'"'s specific needs. The method also allows the user to obtain a connection to a supplier of disposables, through which a specific disposable selected according to the user'"'"'s specific maintenance needs can be obtained.
All the above will be better understood through the following description of exemplary devices, with reference to the appended drawings.
In the drawings:
As will be discussed in further detail says the description proceeds, device 10 of
The positioning of sensor element 30 within housing 21 of bottom casing portion 14 is also illustrated in this figure. The sensor itself will be described with reference to
Looking now at
The assembly of switch 50 within device 10 is schematically shown in
Since the replacement of disposables depends on the total amount of water that has passed through the system, the data processing according to the invention takes into account the significance of the location of magnet 53 under the appropriate step of reed switch 59, integrated over time. Typical water dispensing systems have a known factory flow rate, and accordingly the readings of sensor 50 can be automatically calibrated. In cases where such factory flow rate is not known, or where it is suspected that external factors may influence the actual flow rates at the various stages of reed switch 59, a simple calibration procedure can be carried out by dispensing known volumes of water and correlating them with the position of magnet 53 relative to reed switch 59.
If devices 73-75 are provided with a long-range component it may deliver the data collected during the use of the water dispensing system to a server 76 located on a network 77. Analysis of the data collected by devices 73-75 is analyzed and stored, according to one embodiment of the invention, in server 76. Such data is then accessible by the user of devices 73-75 via the network, for instance by connecting to server 76 via a portable communication device 78 provided with a suitable app. Server 76 may also actively interact with the user, for instance, by sending text messages, emails, instant messages, etc. to a user mobile communication device 79, as schematically illustrated in the figure. In the context of this description the terms “portable” and “mobile” are used interchangeably.
Other situations may exist in which long range connection is not possible either due to the location of devices 73-75, a malfunctioning of the long-range system, or any other reason. In one embodiment of the invention the device is provided with short-range communication components, such as a Bluetooth component. In such case, if an appropriate app is installed on a portable communication device carried by the user the data collected by devices 73-75 can be transmitted to portable communication device 78, either automatically or upon request by the user, and can then be transmitted by said app to server 76, where it can be stored and manipulated as desired. In a further embodiment of the invention some or all of the data can be analyzed on portable communication device 78 and can be further transmitted to server 76, if and when desired.
The data collected by devices 73-75 will result in the information needed by the user regarding the usage of his disposables and the time when such disposables must be replaced. Information concerning the above, as well as other relevant data pertaining to a monitoring device can be displayed on a portable communication device or on a PC. Such information may include, for instance, the level of water dispensing with time, as well as other information such as pressure drops in the monitored device as discussed above, all of which may assist the user to achieve a better and more efficient maintenance and performance of his monitored devices.
All the above description of embodiments of the invention has been provided for the purpose of illustration and is not meant to limit the invention in any way. As will be appreciated by the skilled person many variations can be performed invention. For instance, the water flow can be monitored by switches other than a reed, switch, data processing and storing components can be located outside the device and in communication there with, and additional sensors can be include, for instance to measure pH and any other parameter of interest, all without exceeding the scope of the invention.