US 2353394 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
y 1, 1944. P. M. FARMER 2,353,394
PACKAGE FEEDING 0R DISPENSING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 20, 1941 5 Sheets-Sheet l INVENTOR PMJ armer July 11, 1944. p, FARMER 2,353,394
PACKAGE FEEDING OR DISPENSING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 20, 1941 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR rmer BY Z 41$. ATTORNEY July 11, 1944. P. M. FARMER PACKAGE FEEDING OR DISPENSING APPARATUS Filed Dec. 20, 1941 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 INVENTOR BY i 4:) 4A.; ATTOl QNEY Patented July 11, 1944 .UNlTED STATES PATENTOFFICE' PACKAGE FEEDING OR DISPENSING APPARATUS Paul M. Farmer, Maplewood, N. J. 7 Application December 20, 1941, Serial No. 423,823
This invention relates to package or article handling apparatus, and more particularly to mechanism and apparatus adapted to feed or dispense packages stored in stacked relation or in rows, for example, in a store or warehouse. A merchandising system to which the invention is particularly applicable is described in my patent, No. 2,276,294,"granted March 17, 1942, on the copending application, Serial No. 278,543, filed June 10, 1939, of which the present application is a continuation in part.
In general terms, the object of the invention is to provide improved apparatus of this character which is simpler, more reliable in operation, more compact and efllcient, and which comprises structural elements capable of being assembled to form dispensing units adapted to handle packages of widely difierent sizes and shapes.
Heretofore mechanical feeding or dispensing cabinets have usually been independent units, designed especially for dispensing a single size of package and incorporating relatively complicated ejecting and operating mechanism. The increasing use of dispensing units adapted to be arranged in large roups or banks and to handle many different packaged items and feed them to a single delivery point or conveyor introduces new factors and requirements hitherto of little importance, including compactness, accessibility for replenishing stock and capability of handling different packages. In accordance with the invention, a simple and reliable mechanism which is adapted to ,b operated by electromagnetic or other remote control devices is provided to meet these requirements.
From the standpoint of simplicity, dispensing elements which are constructed of the same component parts but which are adapted to handle a wide range of sizes and shapes of packages are desirable. It is another object of the invention, therefore, to provide mechanism to accomplish this result and preferably to obviate even the need for changes or adjustment in the ejecting means to handle different packages.
The earlier and more common forms of dispensing elements stored packages of a single variety in a vertical stack. Each stack was surrounded by a four-sided enclosure slightly larger in cross-section than the stack. The front side of the enclosure was provided with an opening near the bottom just large enough for a single package to pass through it, the size of such opening thus varying for different articles. An ejector element was usually arranged opposite the opening to push the lowermost package in the stack laterally through the opening. When the ejector element was retracted, the package which had rested on the lowermost package dropped down by gravity and then became the lowermost package to be dispensed on the next actuation. In this construction, it is'essential that the face of the ejector ram be nearly as large as the face of the package in order that the package will be moved out squarely.
For general application this form of dispensing mechanism is open to the objection that the enclosure, opening, ejector ram and other parts of each unit must be designed for each size and shape of package. Furthermore, where a large number of units are to be used in a group or bank, this unit is unecon'omical of space, inconvem'ent to get at for replenishing stock when closely spaced, and dispensed items are released over an unnecessarily large area. A further disadvantage of this construction is the amount of power required to actuate the ejector for the long stroke required to release the package and to overcome the added load of a retractile spring necpreferred embodiments thereof shown in the accompanying drawings, wherein:
Figs. 1 and 2 are plan and side views, respectively, of package feeding or dispensing apparatus embodying the invention;
Fig. 3 is a side view of a modification of the construction shown in Figs. 1 and 2;
Figs. 4, 5 and 6 are plan, side and front elevational views, respectively, of another -modification; and
Fig. 7 is a view illustrating the manner in which the dispensing units embodying the invention are assembled in a bank or tier.
Referring to Figs. 1 and 2 of the drawings, the mechanism or dispensing unit shown in these figures comprises an inclined trough or chute In in which the articles or packages II are arranged to slide to the lower end of the chute as successive articles are released from the lower end therelargest packages handled, and longitudinal separator strips employed to enable a single chute to guide two or more rows of smaller packages to separate releasing mechanisms, as will be exained ereinafter.
m The r ow or stack of package ii in the chute ll abuts against the stationary upstanding lug or abutment l2 provided with a flat contacting face substantially perpendicular to the axis of the chute and of sufllcient height above the bottom of the chute to obviate the possibility of the stacked packages sliding or being deflected as a result of their movement over the 'top thereof.
A preferred form of releasing or ejecting mechanism for dispensing packages from the chute It to the conveyor (see Fig. 7) or its equivalent comprises a bell-crank lever pivoted at the point l3 and having on'e'arm it thereof positioned. to engage the lower end of the underside of the lowermost package in the chute and the other arm l5 thereof connected to an oscillatory operating rod or link It. The rod or link It is arranged to be actuated by an electromagnet H or equivalent operating device. It will be apparent that, when the arm ll of the bell-crank lever is raised to the position shown in dotted lines in Fig. 2 by the movement of the operating rod it, the outer end of "the lowermost package H is raised above the face of the abutment i2, and when the package is canted in this manner it is forced over the abutment by the pressureof the packages behind it and thus ejected or released from the storage chute It. The next package engages the lateral extension of the arm ,ll, as indicated by the dotted line IS in Fig. 2,
and is thus prevented from moving further downward until the arm ll of the bell-crank lever is restored to its initial position, permitting all packages in that chute to move downward until the lowermost package is stopped by abutment l2. Thus, only one package is released during each cycle of operation. 'It will be apparent that the weight of the packages in the chute tends to restore the bell-cranklever as soon as the electromagnet I1 is deenergized, thus practically eliminating any necessity for providing restoring springs and the like. It will also be apparent that the arrangement of the arm I engaging the package H in such a manner as to merely lift the lower end thereof over the abutment l2, as shown, provides an ejecting or releasing means adapted to handle packages of various sizes without alteration. While it is contemplated that changes in the size and throw of the ejector mechanism would'be made in the case of exceedingly small (or large) packages, in actual practice it is found that asingle ejector unit of the character shown may be employed for handling pack-- ages of widely varying sizes,such as small packaged yeast cakes on the one hand and large boxes of soap flakes on the other. The fact that only the end of a package lying on a comparatively slight incline has to be lifted but a very short distance, coupled with the fact that there is no retractile spring stress added to the operating load, permits operation with very small power.
A further advantage of the construction proposed is that no element of the dispensing mechanism projects an appreciable distance beyond the crosssectional space required for the package carrying chute. This makes for maximum compactness with the several advantages explained elsewhere herein.
Other advantages of the construction shown, when the dispensing elements are arranged in a bank or large group, will be explained in connection with the description of Fig. 7. It will be understood that the usual installation in a store, stockroom or warehouse will comprise a large number of elements, and the floor space required is an important factor from a practical standpoint. The chute it may be provided with pro- ,iecting lugs 20 for supporting the same upon uprights orv supporting structure of any suitable character. Each chute may also be provided with a pivoted contact arm 22, as shown, having the end 23 thereof arranged in the path of the packages or articles H in the chute. The arm 22 is biased or weighted to engage a stationary contact 24, except when held open by the packages in the chute, and thus an electrically operated signal or alarm may be actuated when. the stock of packages in the chute i0 is almost exhausted.
In the modified construction shown in Fig. 3, the inclined chute i0 is provided with an abutment 21 corresponding to the abutment l2 in Fig. 2 and a bell-crank lever 28 arranged to raise the lower end of the lowermost package ll over the top of the abutment 21 when said lever is rocked by the operating rod or link 29. However, the bell-crank lever 28 is pivoted behind instead of in front of the end of the chute l0, and the operating rod 29 is at the side instead of underneath the chute, which might be a preferred arrangement in certain installations. The operation and advantages of this construction are generally the same as those described above in connection with Figs. 1 and 2.
, ages may be stocked in chutes of similar width and mounting as those utilized for larger packages. A modified construction embodying this feature is ilustrated in Figs. 4, 5 and '6. Referring to these figures of the drawings, a chute or trough 32 corresponding to the storage chute Ill,
described above, is assumed to be large enough to support three separate rows of packages 33. Longitudinal separator strips 34 are attached to the bottom of the chute 32, as by the bolts or screws 35, in such positions as to guide and confine the individual rows of packages. An ejector mechanism is provided for each row of packages, as shown most clearly in Figs. 5 and 6. Obviously more or fewer ejectors couldbe provided on a =particular chute, if desired, and one ejector mechanism could bridge two or more rows if two or more packages were to be released during each cycle of operation.
As shown for purposes of illustration, the ejector mechanism comprises a sheet-metal bracket 31 secured to the underside of the chute 32 and forming a, combined abutment for the packages in each of the individual rows (where more than one are provided) and a support for -the solenoid 39 of each ejector mechanism.
The core 4| of the solenoid is biased to the position shown, when the solenoid is deenergized, by a helical spring 42 when required and carries a crossbar or pin 43. The pin 43 engages the other dependent arms 44 of the bell-crank lever pivoted on a bar 45. The inner arms 45 of the bell-crank lever, which may be integral or fastened together, extend beneath the end of the lowermost package 33 so that, when the solenoid 39 is energized to attract the core 4|, the bell-crank lever raises the lower end of the lowermost package over the abutment formed by the bracket 31 and said package is released or ejected from the chute 32. Conductors 48 extend from each solenoid to suitable circuit-controlling mechanism for selectively operating the dispensing mechanism, as indicated diagrammatically in Fig. 7 and as described in detail in my above-identified copending application.
Other important advantages of the invention are realized when the dispensing elements are arranged in a compact group or bank. This is illustrated in Fig. 7 which shows how a multiplicity of the storage and dispensing units may be arranged in tiers. This arrangement has the advantage that a large number of units may release packages from tiers or banks (arranged side-by-side) upon a relatively short length of conveyor belt for example. Further condensing of space may be achieved by having separte groups or banks placed on opposite sides of the conveyor belt. It should be noted that this compactness is desirable not merely for saving space but also because with delivery systems, such as covered by my copending application, such compactness permits of saving time in the delivery of orders. It will also be noted that the upper ends of the respective units are accessible from an aisle paralleling the belt 5| for replenishing the stock of packages. The several chutes may be detachably mounted on notched uprights or standards 52. The notches 53 in the uprights engage the lugs 20 on the lower end of the chutes and permit assembly with varying spacing and inclination of the chutes to meet the conditions imposed by packages of different weights and sizes. In order to insure positive feeding of light packages under some conditions, a sliding weight 55 may be used. The weight 55 may be mounted on rollers to clear the low-stock signal switch and connected to a pull-cord 56 to facilitate withdrawal when new stock is placed in the chute. The cord 55, as shown, runs through a slot in the upper end of the chute and is attached to a ball 51, larger than the width of the slot, to prevent the weight 55 from reaching the ejector at the lower end of the chute. The remotecontrol means for operating the solenoids l1 forms no part of the present invention but may include a selector system 58 and a keyboard or selectively operable circuit-controlling mechanism 59, as described in detail in my copending applications, Serial Nos. 206,089 and 278,543.
It will be seen that in accordance with the invention a dispensing element is provided which is not only extremely simple but is particularly well adapted for its intended purpose. It is capable of handling packages of widely difierent shapes and sizes without any adjustment or modification. A large number of the units can be assembled in banks or groups with a minimum amount of waste space and with concentration of delivery in a small area while providing desirable accessibility for replenishing stock. Furthermore, the power required to operate each dispensing unit is reduced to a minimum, and the apparatus is therefore particularly suitable for electrical operation and for rapid remote control from a keyboard or the like. While several modifications have been shown and described in detail for the purpose of explaining the invention, the invention is not limited to the detailed construction shown but includes modifications coming within the scope of the appended claims.
1. In a package dispensing or handling apparatus of the class described, a support for a plurality of packages arranged in a row for sliding movement on said support, a fixed abutment at the end of said support for said row of packages, and means for lifting the edge of the package engaging said abutment to cant the package to a position in which the package rides over said abutment, said means comprising a movable lifting member extending underneath the edge of the package adjacent said abutment and arranged so that when actuated it lifts the last-mentioned edge of the package without lifting the edge at the end of the package opposite said abutment, and an operating member for actuating said lifting member.
2. In package dispensing or handling apparatus, a support. fixed abutment means for retaining packages in stacked relation on ,said
support, and means for releasing a packagetherefrom comprising a bell-crank lever having an arm adapted to engage the forward edge of the first package to cant the packageuntil said edge rides over said fixed retaining means, the
package-engaging portion of said arm being normally disposed out of the path of movement of said packages but movable into a position where it obstructs the movement of said packages.
3. In package dispensing or handling appa ratus of the class described, an inclined support agesbeing arranged in a row on said support, a fixed abutment at the lower end ofsaid support, and means for canting the package engaging said abutment to a position in which the package rides over said abutment, said means comprising a lifting member engaging said package only at the lower edge thereof. I
- 4. In package dispensing or handling apparatus of the class described, means for slidably supporting a row of packages for endwise linear movement when released from restraint, an abutment for the end of said row of packages, and means for lifting the abutment-engaging edge of the end package past said abutment to release said package, said lifting means comprising a pivoted member having a portion movable to engage the said edge of the end package and into a position to restain movement of the next succeeding package as-it lifts the edge of said end package.
5. In package dispensing or handling apparatus of the class described, an inclined chute for supporting a row of packages, and means at the lower end of said chute for normally retaining the packages thereon and for releasing packages from the chute, said means comprising a fixed abutment for the lowermost package in the chute and a movable ejector element arranged adjacent the abutment to lift the lower end of the lowermost package to cant said package to enable it to pass said abutment.
6. A package storing and dispensing structure comprising an inclined supporting element for a row of packages normally held in position by an abutment at the lower end of said inclined element, means for lifting the lower corner of the lowermost package to cant it to clear said abutment while the uppermost end of sair package rests on said supporting element and theretion of said support being merely suflficient to' insure positive downward movement of the line i of packages as the ones at the bottom are removed, a fixed abutment at the lower end of said support for normally retaining the packages thereon, and means for raising the lower end only of the lowermost package above said abutment while the uppermost end of the said package rests on said support to release said package for movement 'under the influence of gravity and the pressure of the next package.
8. In package dispensing apparatus of the class described, an inclined support for a plurality of packages arranged in line, a fixed abutment at the lower end of said support for normally retaining the packages thereon, a'movable member engaging the lower edge of the lowermost package and movable into the path of movement of the succeeding package, and means for actuating said member to raise the lower end of the lowermost package above said abutment to release it, said movable member being pivoted at such a point that the pressure of the line of packages tends to restore it to normal position.
9. In package dispensing apparatus of the class described, an inclined support for a. row of packages, an abutment at the lower end of said support for retaining said packages in position thereon, means including a movable ejector element arranged to lift the lower end of the lowermost package to cant the latter until it rides over said abutment and electromagnetic 10. In package dispensing apparatus of the class described, a series of chutes or supports for packages, said chutes or supports being mounted one above the other, an abutment at the lower end of each chute or support for retaining packages thereon and means including a movable ejector element at one end of each of said chutes or supports and arranged to lift the edge of the package engaging the abutment to cant the package until it rides over the abutment, said means further comprising a solenoid mounted underneath each abutment, each solenoid being provided with a movable magnetizable core, and an operative connection between the core of each solenoid and the adjacent ejector element whereby the latter is actuated to cause a package to be dispensed when the solenoid is energized.
11. In package dispensing apparatus of the class described, an inclined support for a row of packages, a fixed abutment at the lower end of .the support for retaining packages thereon,
means to lift the abutment-engaging edge of the lowermost package to cant the package over the abutment and thereby release it, said means including an upwardly movable ejector element positioned substantially against the face of the abutment to stop the downward movement of the succeeding package, when said ejector element has been moved upwards, stopping the package a. short distance from the abutment compared to the length of the packages, and means to actuate said ejector element.
12. In a package dispensing unit, an inclined chute for supporting a row of packages stacked in said chute, a fixed abutment at the lower end of the said chute to restrain said row of packages against movement, an electrically actuated lifter element so disposed with reference to said fixed abutment as to engage only the lower endv of the lowermost package, means whereby actuation of said lifter element lifts the lower end only of the lowermost package thereby canting said package and enabling it to slide past said fixed abutment and obstructs movement of the next succeeding package, means whereby restoration of said lifter element permits the then lowermost package to move downward into contact with said fixed abutment in position to be next released upon subsequent actuation of said lifter element. PAUL M. FARMER.