US 20090057208 A1
Sorting table with sorter rolls eliminates foreign matter remaining mixed in with the products of the harvest of small fruit. The present invention features a sorting system constituted by a succession of rotating rolls of cylindrical shape arranged in parallel so as to form a mobile sorting plane, and a locomotion device, allowing the rotating drive of the rolls in the same direction, so as to allow transporting the grapes dumped on the upstream part of this sorting plane, in a direction that is perpendicular to the axis of the rotating cylindrical rolls and over the entire length of the sorting plane. The rotating cylindrical rolls are laid out so as to allow the passage and drop-off of only the small fruit to be sorted, whereas the foreign matter of a size larger than that of the latter remains on the surface of the mobile sorting plane and is evacuated at the downstream end of it.
1. Sorting table with sorter rolls for the elimination of foreign matter remaining mixed in with harvest of small fruit, the table comprising:
a plurality of rotating rolls of a general cylindrical shape, being adjacent and arranged in parallel so as to form a sorting plane;
a plurality of driving means for rotating movement of the rolls in a same direction, and lateral movement from an upstream part of said sorting plane, in a direction perpendicular to an axis of said rotating rolls, said lateral movement being over an entire length of said sorting plane, said rotating rolls being immobilized in translation and fitted with a number of openings between adjacent rolls.
2. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
3. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
4. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
5. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
6. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
a succession of rotating feeder-cleaner rolls of cylindrical shape, arranged in parallel upstream of the sorter rolls, the feeder-cleaner rolls being kept in rotation in the same direction as the sorter rolls and featuring a succession of circular reliefs separated by circular grooves, the rotating feeder cleaner rolls being immobilized in translation and positioned so that the corresponding circular reliefs are imbricated in the grooves of the adjacent roll, with a gap between interpenetrating parts of the adjacent rolls.
7. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
8. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
9. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
10. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
11. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
12. Sorting table with sorter rolls according to
13. Machine for harvesting small fruit, in particular a grape-picking machine, comprising:
a sorting table with rolls according to
14. Machine for harvesting small fruit, in particular a grape-picking machine, according to
a plurality of receiving bins, said sorting table with rolls being positioned above an upper opening of said or bins.
15. Machine for harvesting small fruit, in particular a grape-picking machine, according to
16. Machine for harvesting small fruit, in particular a grape-picking machine, according to
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention concerns a sorting table with sorter rolls for the elimination of foreign matter remaining mixed in with the products of the harvest of small fruit. It applies as well to harvesting machines, and in particular to grape-picking machines equipped with one or several sorting tables with sorter rolls.
According to a particularly interesting application, the sorting table with sorter rolls according to the invention is intended to ensure the elimination of foreign matter (leaf stalks, leaves, pieces of leaves or tendrils, splinters of posts or stakes, mineral debris, insects, small animals, etc. . . . ) remaining mixed in with grapes, after the de-stalking of the crop.
However, this advantageous application is not limited to a sorting table for grapes. According to the invention, the sorting table may also be used for extracting foreign matter from the products of the harvest of various small fruits, such as red currants, black currants, blackberries, raspberries, bilberries, cranberries, olives, etc.
Considering the particularly interesting application envisaged for the processing of grapes, the invention is nevertheless described hereafter in relation to this application.
2. Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 CFR 1.97 and 37 CFR 1.98
With the majority of applications of wine-making methods, grapes are first de-stalked prior to masking and/or pressing of the grapes. This de-stalking operation, which is performed by different methods and mechanical devices, is meant to detach the berries from the bunch of grapes and to separate said berries from the stalks to which they are still attached after the harvest and to avoid the presence of bitterness and herbal and vegetable tastes in the wine.
However, after this de-stalking operation, whether this may or may not have been preceded by a cleaning operation of the crop, a certain percentage of debris and foreign matter remains mixed in with the grapes, so that a sorting operation is necessary to extract these, if one does not want the presence of such foreign matter to alter the qualities of the wine and in particular its organoleptic qualities.
This sorting operation can be performed manually or automatically on a sorting table that has been set up for one of the other of these sorting modes.
Linear sorting tables intended for manual sorting feature a support on which the crop is spread out and persons charged with the sorting task are positioned on either side of it. This support may be static in its most rustic form, but it is most often provided either with some movement so the crop that is spread out in a thin layer can travel past these persons for sorting, or it consists of an inclined vibrating tray. The conveyor belt or vibrating tray may be equipped with perforations to allow the layer of grapes being cleaned and moving towards the crop receiving container. This sorting method requires the search for and the availability of seasonal labor, and it requires them to pay close attention to the task, its productivity being very mediocre. Also, the results tend to be quite uneven. Of course, such sorting tables cannot be placed on grape-picking machines.
Automatic vibrating tables feature a table formed by a perforated tray which is subjected to vibrations allowing a spreading and movement of the grapes. The berries pass across the tray perforations during their travel and are recovered under said vibrating, for example in a grape pump. The pieces of vegetable debris which are larger than the perforations advance under the effect of the vibrations and are evacuated by gravity at the downstream end of the table.
These automatic vibrating tables present these particular drawbacks:
In a different agricultural domain, olive or nut picking machines are known to include a sorting system consisting of a succession of identical, parallel rolls that are close to each other, and provided with grooves and helicoidal threading extending from one end of the rolls to the other. In this way, the number of openings are arranged between two adjacent helicoidal rolls, these openings being sized so allow the passage and drop-off of the small harvested fruit, whereas the foreign matter of sizes larger than the size of the fruit “float” on the rolls and are evacuated to one of the side edges of the sorting surface.
The drawbacks of these devices and their operation method are that they lead to the crushing of a more than negligible percentage of the fruit, that they let leaf stalks, twigs and other debris of an elongated shape pass through, and that they cause a skewed displacement of the treated products, thus leaving an unused area of screening and creating a disturbance in the operation. Nor do these devices allow the elimination of foreign matter of a size that is smaller than the dimensions of the openings made between the rolls, so that the cleaning of the crop remains very imperfect. To remedy this drawback, it is necessary to have a screening device consisting of an endless conveyor with fixed close bars that are separated by small size slots allowing the evacuation, by gravity, of small sized debris during the ascending travel of the crop towards the sorting system. Such an arrangement considerably lengthens the sorting device and excludes any possibility of mounting it on a harvesting machine such as a grape-picker.
Still in a different agricultural domain (sizing of potatoes), machines are known (German Patent No. 1965243) which include a number of profiled cylinders positioned parallel to each other in succession, these cylinders being constituted each by coaxial discs presenting conical ridges, so that each profiled cylinder delimits, together with the adjacent cylinders, a number of adjustable openings. The ends of the profiled cylinders are hooked on endless chains, the upper run of which is essentially horizontal, the rolls being driven in rotation by means of a rack during their upper horizontal travel. The profiled cylinders are thus driven in translation.
These machines are thus designed in the form of an endless calibrating conveyor belt with an upper calibrating side and a lower return side which has these particular drawbacks:
In the prior art document, European Patent 0951950, there is also described a potato sizing machine operating on the same principle and having the additional drawback of being more complex and more expensive.
Furthermore, the sizing machines for products such as potatoes, described in documents DE 1965243 and EP 0951950 cannot be used for the elimination of small foreign matter mixed in with the grape berries, after the de-stalking of the bunches of grapes. It becomes clear, in fact, that nothing has been provided to prevent any small foreign matter from passing through the openings in the endless calibrator conveyor belt, together with the sized products.
It is the particular aim of the invention to remedy these drawbacks or at least to significantly improve the results obtained in the operation of the known machinery.
The aforementioned objectives of the invention are achieved because of a sorting table of the present invention. The sorting table has a sorting system consisting of a succession of adjacent rotating sorter rolls of a generally cylindrical shape arranged in parallel so as to form a sorting plane, and means of locomotion allowing the rotating drive of said rolls in the same direction, so as to allow the grapes dumped on the upstream part of this sorting plane to be transported in a direction perpendicular to the axis of said rotating cylindrical rolls and over the entire length of said sorting plane. The rotating cylindrical rolls are arranged and located in such a manner as to provide a number of openings between two neighboring rotating cylindrical rolls and to allow only the passage and drop-off of the small fruit to be sorted whereas the foreign matter of a size larger than the latter remains on the surface of the mobile sorting plane and is evacuated at the downstream end of the latter. This sorting table is remarkable in that said rotating cylindrical rolls are immobilized in translation.
According to another characteristic arrangement, the sorter rolls present a succession of circular reliefs separated by circular grooves. These circular reliefs feature a median circular crest or ridge joining together at the root of the grooves by a concave, preferably arc-shaped surface. The rolls are so positioned that the circular grooves of these rolls form, together with the circular grooves of the adjacent roll or rolls, a number of sized openings to allow the passage of the fruit to be sorted.
According to an advantageous mode of execution, the circular reliefs of each sorter roll are slightly offset in relation to the circular reliefs of the adjacent roll or rolls and their adjacent edges are partially engaged in the grooves of the adjacent roll or rolls, so as to define the openings for passage of the berries.
According to another advantageous mode of production, the circular reliefs of the sorter rolls are peripherally provided with stubs, notches or humps that are angularly spaced.
According to another interesting mode of execution, the circular grooves are provided with angularly spaced flutes.
According to another important characteristic arrangement of the invention, the sorting system also features a succession of rotating feeder cleaner rolls of cylindrical shape that are positioned in parallel upstream of the sorter rolls. These feeder cleaner rolls are driven in rotation in the same direction as said sorter rolls and feature a succession of circular reliefs separated by circular grooves. These rotating feeder cleaner rolls are immobilized in translation and so positioned that their circular reliefs are imbricated in the grooves of the adjacent roll or rolls, with a gap or play or reduced size being fitted between the interpenetrating parts of the adjacent rolls. This gap represents a size in the order of 2 to 3 mm, so as to let pass only the debris or waste of very small size (pips, pieces of leaves or grape stalks, small mineral or plant debris, etc.). On the other hand, these feeder cleaner rolls allow positioning sprigs, twigs and other debris of elongated shape to perpendicularly stay on said rolls, so that they can be transported, in this position, to the downstream end of the sorting table and cannot get stuck between the rolls.
According to another characteristic arrangement, the circular reliefs of the feeder cleaner rolls are provided peripherally with spaced stubs, notches or humps.
According to an advantageous way of carrying out the invention, the rolls of the sorting table are mounted in a detachable and interchangeable manner of the bearing structure of said table.
According to another characteristic, arrangement the circular reliefs and the circular grooves of the feeder cleaner rolls and/or the sorting rolls is formed by rollers that are successively threaded on a support rail, each roller having a circular relief and a half groove placed on each side of said circular relief so that the circular grooves are constituted by the junction of two neighboring rollers.
The sorting table according to the invention provides several interesting advantages, in particular:
According to a preferred way of carrying out the invention, the rollers constituting the rolls of the sorting table are mounted in a detachable and interchangeable way on their support rail.
According to another preferred way, the rollers are simply threaded on their support rail and are coupled in rotation to each other by means of notches and complementary arc-shaped lateral slots and immobilized in translation on said support rail by shimming means which push against the alignment ends of the rollers.
According to another characteristic arrangement the feeder cleaner rolls and/or the sorter rolls are detachable and interchangeable.
According to an advantageous way of execution, one of the ends of the support rails of the feeder cleaner rolls and the sorter rolls is mounted on one of the sides of the bearing structure of the sorting table, by means of a cylindrical axis, axially mobile and engaged, in a retractable manner, in an axial bore of said end, this retractable axis being subjected to the action of a spring tightening to keep it engaged in said bore.
In this way, it is possible to remove each roll easily and quickly, for instance in order to replace its cleaning and/or sorting rollers with rollers presenting characteristics of shape and/or size that are well adapted to the characteristics of stains, or of shapes and/or dimensions of small fruit to be sorted, or to replace it by a different complete roll. In this way, it is possible to adapt the shape and the dimensions of the openings in the sorting table depending on the size of the berries to be processed.
The invention also concerns the small-fruit picking machines and in particular the grape-picking machines including at least one sorting table featuring the aforementioned characteristic arrangements.
According to a preferred way of carrying out the invention applied to machines equipped with one or several crop receiving bins, the sorting machine is positioned above the upper opening of the bin or bins.
Advantageously the sorting table is mounted in a tiltable fashion, through the intermediary of one of its sides, on the receiving bin, in order to allow the emptying of the latter. According to another interesting example of application, the sorting table is made of two parts, like an upstream part and a downstream part, and one of these parts is tiltably mounted, so as to allow its retraction and to free the upper opening of the receiving bin, in situations where the vine-grower wishes to keep a certain volume of grape stalks and leaves with the grapes for vinification. In this case the grapes may not be destalked previously.
The above aims, characteristics and advantages and still others will become clearer from the following description and the attached drawings.
Said drawings are referred to in order to describe interesting, although by no means limiting, examples of execution of the sorting table with sorter rolls according to the invention, as well as a grape-picking machine including such sorting tables.
According to the way of carrying out the invention illustrated in
These rotating rolls are fitted and arranged so as to allow, at the beginning and in the upstream part of the sorting plane (rolls 1), the passage and dropping of foreign matter of a size smaller than that of only small fruit, and then the passage and dropping of only small fruit, in the remaining part or the downstream part of said sorting plane (rolls 2). Foreign matter of a size larger than small fruit remaining at the surface of the mobile sorting plane and being evacuated at its downstream end.
In the description and the claims relative to the mode of production shown in
According to this mode of execution, the rotating feeder cleaner rolls 1 constituting the upstream part 3 of the sorter plane include a succession of circular reliefs 7 separated by circular grooves 8 and are positioned so that the circular grooves of these rolls are imbricated in the circular grooves 8 of the adjacent roll or rolls, a gap or play 5 of reduced size being placed between the parts that interpenetrate with the neighboring rolls. This gap presents, for example, a width in the order of 2 to 3 mm, so as to let pass only the debris and waste of very small size (pips, small mineral or plant debris, etc.).
On the other hand, the rotating sorter rolls 2, constituting the remaining part or downstream part of the sorting plane also present a succession of circular reliefs 9 separated by circular grooves 10. These circular reliefs have a median circular crest or ridge connecting at the root of the grooves by a concave, preferably arc-shaped surface. The rolls are positioned so that their circular grooves, together with the grooves of the neighboring roll or rolls, form a number of openings 6 of round or approximately round and dimensioned to allow the passage of only the small fruit to be sorted.
According to a preferred mode of execution, the circular reliefs 9 of each sorter roll 2 are slightly offset in relation to the circular reliefs 9 of the adjacent circular roll or rolls and their adjacent tapered edges are engaged in the grooves 10 of the adjacent roll or rolls while allowing the formation of openings 6, as shown particularly on
According to another important characteristic arrangement, the circular reliefs 7, 9 of the cleaner rolls 1 and of the sorter rolls 2 are peripherally equipped with stubs, notches or humps 11, 12, respectively, that are angularly spaced.
These stubs, or notches or humps contribute greatly to ensuring the proper orientation and the proper routing of foreign matter above the sorter plane, all the way to the downstream end for its ejection.
On the other hand, according to another interesting arrangement, the circular grooves 10 of the sorter rolls 2 are provided with angularly spaced flutes 12 a (
In this way, the crop products dumped on the upstream part 3 of the sorting table are shaking as they travel in the direction of the dumping end of the latter, and this shake favors their passing from one roll to another and ensures that foreign matter is kept above the sorting plane, while the berries pass through the openings in it.
Thanks to the arrangement described above, when the crop is dumped, after the destalking, on the upstream part 3 of the sorting plane, for example by sliding on an inclined plane or deflector D, it is at first transported in the direction of the downstream part of it, by the feeder cleaner rolls 1. During this first phase, small foreign matter P (pips, plant and mineral debris, . . . ) and the juice pass through the gaps 5 and drop into an open-worked tray 16 (
According to another characteristic arrangement the circular reliefs 7, 9 and the circular grooves 8, 10 of the cleaner rolls 1 and of the sorting rolls 2 are formed by a succession of rollers 13, 14 including a circular relief 7, 8 and a half-groove 8, 10 placed on each side of said circular relief, so that the circular grooves 8, 10 are formed by the association of two adjacent rollers.
According to a preferred mode of execution, the rollers 13, 14 are simply thread on a bar 15 and are coupled together in rotation among themselves by means of notches 17. The rollers are equipped with complementary lateral arc-shaped slots 18 laterally, being immobilized in translation on said bar.
This layout is shown in
Putting the assembly of rolls 1, 2 of the sorting table into rotation in the same direction can be achieved by means of a drive system that includes an in-line gearbox 19, shown in
Each drive gear 22 of this gearbox 19 is integral with an axis 24 through the intermediary of which it can be removably coupled with a bar 15. Each bar 15 is equipped, in one of its terminal parts, with a jaw clutch 25 through the intermediary of which it is assembled in rotation, removably, to roller 13 or 14 placed at the end of an alignment of rollers 13 or 14 coupled in rotation among themselves. The cluster gear 22-23 is driven in rotation by a drive gear 19 a which is itself driven by the motor 20. The drive pins 24 of the gears 22 include a flat 24 a engaged in an axial hole 25 a of complementary shape which presents the jaw clutch 25.
It is of course possible to achieve the rotating drive of the rolls 1 and 2, in other ways than through the intermediary of a gear, for example by means of a chain or a belt, either notched or not.
The opposite terminal portion of each shaft 15 is provided with a means, such as, for example, a system of screw nut and counter-nut screwed on a threading of said terminal portion, allowing to push the rollers 13, 14 against each other, in coupled position, so as to resist any axial movement and decoupling of said rollers.
The feeder cleaner rolls 1 and the sorter rolls 2 are mounted so they are removable and interchangeable on the bearing structure of the sorting table, this arrangement being particularly interesting as far as the installation of the sorter rolls is concerned. In fact, the quickly removable fastening of the latter, to replace them with rollers allowing to create openings 6 of different size, enables the sorting of fruit of different size, either according to the size of the berries, or to obtain berries sorted according to progressive size.
An example of execution of the removable installation of rolls 1 and 2 is shown in
According to this example, the side 27A of the bearing structure, as opposed to side 27B of it which supports the gearbox 19, bears a number of retractable axes 28 which are engaged in a bore 29 which represents the end of the bars 15. These retractable axes 29 are subjected to the action of an elastic feature which tends to push them back into the coupling position. This elastic feature is for example in the form of a helicoidal spring 30 acting in compression positioned around the axis 28 and jammed between a washer 31 attached to the internal portion of said axis and the side 27B of the bearing structure.
The invention covers also the small-fruit picking machines and more specifically the grape-picking machines with a sorting table with rolls presenting the previously described characteristics.
According to a preferred mode of execution that is applicable to harvesting machines equipped with one or several receiving bins for small fruit and berries, a sorting table with rolls is positioned above the upper opening of said receiving bin(s).
According to an advantageous mode of execution, the sorting tables 104 are tiltably installed, through the intermediary of one of their sides, on the receiving bins 105, so the upper opening 106 of said bins can be laid free and the latter can be emptied (
According to another interesting version, the sorting table 104 is made of two parts 104A, 104B, with one (104A) of its parts being installed as tiltable against the other (104B) so that when said sorting table is installed above the upper opening 106 of a receiving bin 105, it can be tilted in retracted position, so as to allow the direct dumping into said bin of grape berries together with leaves and stalks, when the nature of the grape varieties and the vinification methods make their non-separation desirable.