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Publication numberUS2756553 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 31, 1956
Filing dateApr 16, 1951
Priority dateApr 16, 1951
Publication numberUS 2756553 A, US 2756553A, US-A-2756553, US2756553 A, US2756553A
InventorsFerguson John L, Talbot Richard C
Original AssigneeJ L Ferguson Company
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for handling packages
US 2756553 A
Images(3)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

July 31, 1956 J. 1.. FERGUSON ETAL APPARATUS FOR HANDLING PACKAGES 3 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed April 16 1951 July 1956 J. FERGUSON ETAL 2,756,553

APPARATUS FOR HANDLING PACKAGES Filed April 16, 1951 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 l l l lll" "I y 1956 J. 1... FERGUSON EIAL 2,756,553

I APPARATUS FOR HANDLING PACKAGES Filed April 16, 1951 I 3 Sheets-Sheet 3 United States Patent APPARATUS FOR HANDLING PACKAGES John L. Ferguson and Richard C. Talbot, Joliet, Ill., assignors to J. L. Ferguson Company, Juliet, lll., a corporation of Illinois Application April 16, 1951, Serial No. 221,288

11 Claims. (Cl. 53159) This invention relates to a method and apparatus for handling packages and, more particularly for rearranging packages from a single file to a multiple file, converting a multiple file of packages of irregular spacing to a multiple file of uniform or predetermined formation, and inserting successive portions of such multiple file into successive empty cartons. It is an object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus of such character.

Conventionally packages in a single file are arranged into a multiple file by moving a predetermined number of consecutive packages laterally of such single file with an intermittent movement. Such apparatus for performing this operation involves a large number of moving parts and associated driving mechanism and must be rugged and powerful if such intermittent or reciprocatory movement is to be made at high speed. Furthermore, if the machine is to operate rapidly the packages must be subjected to very rapid acceleration and deceleration with resultant agitation of the contents of the packages and jarring of one package against another. It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for rearranging a single file of packages into a multiple file with a minimum number of moving parts.

In previously known machines for inserting packages into empty cartons a charge of packages is moved into a carton by a reciprocatory movement of a plunger or similar device, the charge being of one or more rows and/ or files of packages, or the entire quantity which the carton is to contain. During such an operation the carton is conventionally held stationary with the result that both the carton and the packages being inserted therein, are subjected to intermittent motion in connection with the carton filling operation. Such a method and apparatus necessarily cause rapid acceleration and deceleration of the packages and cartons and jarring of the packages against each other and against the cartons which receive them. In addition, a rugged and powerful and hence costly machine is required.

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for charging empty cartons with a desired number of packages with a minimum of change in speed and direction of the packages and cartons.

It is another object of the invention to provide an im proved method and apparatus for charging empty cartons with a desired number of packages continuously rather than in a batch process.

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for charging empty cartons with a desired quantity of packages while the cartons and packages are continuously in movement in substantially the same direction.

Methods and apparatus presently in use for arranging packages into a multiple file of uniform or predetermined formation from a multiple file of random or irregular formation have been based on interruption of the forward movement of the random multiple file in order that packages may accumulate in close formation, and subsequently carrying off the accumulated packages, usually in a direction at right angles to the original direction of movement. Such a method and apparatus subject the packages to rapid acceleration and deceleration, to the same disadvantages pointed out above.

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for arranging in a multiple file of uniform or predetermined formation packages which are presented in random or irregular formation, with a minimum of change in speed and direction of the packages.

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for arranging packages in a multiple file of uniform or predetermined formation from a multiple file of random or irregular formation continuously rather than in a batch process.

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for arranging packages in a close formation multiple file from a multiple file of random formation while the packages are continuously in movement in substantially the same direction.

In conventional apparatus of the character discussed above a desired number of packages are inserted into a carton in one or more rows and/ or files which are either parallel to or perpendicular to the various walls of the cartons. In some applications it is desired that the packages fit very tightly in the carton and, in fact, in their final arrangement, have overall dimensions slightly in excess of the original inner dimensions of the carton. Where the packages are cylindrical or spherical it is desirable that individual rows of packages enter a carton slightly askew of the sides of the carton whereby the packages are prevented from scraping and weakening the edges of the carton. It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for inserting packages into an empty carton wherein individual rows of packages enter the carton at an angle slightly removed from lines parallel to or perpendicular to the walls of the carton.

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for rearranging a single file of packages into a close formation multiple file and inserting portions of such multiple file into successive empty cartons while moving both the packagesand the cartons continuously and in substantially the same direction.

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for rearranging packages from a single file to a multiple file of close formation and for inserting portions of such multiple file into successive empty cartons with a minimum of jarring of such packages;

It is another object of the invention to provide an improved method and apparatus having the advantages indicated above while being reliable and relatively simple and inexpensive.

This invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, will best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, and its scope will be pointed out in the appended claims.

In the drawings, in which like parts are designated by like reference numerals,

Fig. 1 is a partial plan view of a machine constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the invention,

Fig. 1a is a continuation of Fig. 1, the right-hand edge of the portion of the machine shown in Fig. 1 being the same as the left-hand edge of the portion of the machine illustrated in Fig. 1a;

Fig. 2 is a partial plan view of the same machine showing apparatus for completing the insertion of packages in cartons and for closing certain flaps of the cartons;

Fig. 3 is an elevational view of the same apparatus shown in Fig. 2;

Fig. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 4 4 of Fig. 3 but showing the apparatus in a difierent operating position than that illustrated in Figs. 2 and 3;

Figs. 5 and 6 are partial elevational views of flap closing apparatus in other operating positions than those illustrated in Figs. 2 and 4; and

Fig, 7 is a Wiring diagram of suggested apparatus for controlling operation of certain parts of the machine.

The embodiment of the invention disclosed in the drawings is particularly adapted to handle cylindrical packages such as cans and is intended to rearrange cans of beer from a single file to a triple file and to insert groups of six cans into cartons. In this embodiment of the invention packages P are fed to the package handling machine proper in single file by a conveyor belt 13 having guide rails 19 a and 1% at the sides thereof.

The conveyor mechanism may be of any suitable form but is preferably an endless belt. The apparatus for driving and supporting the conveyor 18 as well as subsequently described operating portions of the machine may be of any form and since its particular construction does not form a part of the present invention it is not shown or described in detail herein. The packages P may be any articles which are to be handled whether or not they are actually contained in a wrapping or any form of container, and the term packages as employed herein is to be construed in this broad sense. The apparatus to be described however will work satisfactorily only if the packages to be handled are of substantially the same size and shape, at least to the extent that they have substantially the same cross section in plan view.

In the particular embodiment of the invention disclosed in the drawing the guide rails 19a and 19b diverge, as may be seen in Fig. 1, until they are so spaced as to define a path of sufficient width to accommodate a triple file of packages P. A second pair of guide rails or dividers 19c and 190! are provided Which in conjunction with the guide rails 19a and 19b define three files of packages and retain packages in those files.

Additional conveyors 2t and 21 are arranged alongside the conveyor 18, the three conveyors travelling preferably at the same linear speed. In the preferred embodiment, all these conveyors are in the form of endless belts and are arranged to carry packages as faras the line AA of Fig. 1. The conveyor belts 2t} and 21 are obviously intended to carry the packages P in the two outside files and accordingly, need extend upstream of the conveyor system only to a point underlying the diverging portions of the guide rails 19a and 1%, as shown.

As long as the center file remains unobstructed, all of the packages P would obviously be carried by the conveyor belt 18 along the center lane defined by the guide rails 19c and 12d. In operation, however, the center lane becomes filled and the packages therein are carried forward at approximately one-third the lineal speed of the conveyors 18, and 21, all as will subsequently become apparent. Under these conditions the packages P located in the center lane slip on the conveyor 18. The continuous supply of packages carried forward into the space defined by the diverging portions of the guide rails 19a and 19b strike the packages last deposited in the center lane and spill out laterally thereof onto the conveyors 20 and 21. Since the packages in the center lane proceed forwardly, or to the right in Fig. l, at a speed approximately equal to one-third of the speed of the incoming packages, approximately every third package will enter the center lane While the remaining packages tend to divide equally between the two outside lanes or files. This tendency may be observed by reference to Fig. 1 wherein it may be seen that the package designated P1 has been trapped by the guide rails 19c and 19d but has been forced slightly to the right by the pressure of succeeding packages behind and the relatively slow moving preceding packages in the center lane. The package designator P2 under the influence of the same forces has started to spill over onto the conveyor 20. On the other hand the package P3 receiving a lateral thrust from the package P2 tends to spill over laterally onto the con veyor 21. With the packages P2 and P3 removed from the conveyor 18 and with the package P1 advanced along the center lane, the next succeeding package P4 may continue on the conveyor 18 and enter the center lane defined by the guide rails 19c and 19d. in this manner the single file of packages entering the machine is automatically broken up into a triple file.

It is desirable, of course ,that the packages be relatively free to move laterally of the conveyor belt 18 onto the conveyors 20 and 21. To this purpose it is preferable, where the conveyor means comprises three separate belts 18, 2t) and 21, that the outer conveyor belts 20 and 21 be positioned slightly lower than the conveyor 18 in order that the lower portions of the packages may not strike the inner edges of the conveyors 20 and 21 and be restrained from lateral movement thereby.

As the packages cross the line designated AA in Fig. 1 they leave the respective conveyors 13, 20 and 21 and pass onto another conveyor 23 which is preferably a single belt but which may alternatively comprise three separate belts or other conveying means, one for each of the three files. Toward the right hand or downstream end of the conveyor 23 the four guide rails curve to the right (downwardly in Fig. 1) and continue at an acute angle to the direction of movement of the conveyor 23 until the left-hand guide rail 19a lies beyond the righthand edge of the conveyor 23 with the result that the packages are forced laterally ofii the conveyor belt 23 by the combined action of the conveyor belt and the guide rails and by pressure of succeeding packages.

Located alongside the conveyor 23 is another conveyor 24 preferably in the form of an endless belt. A series of cleats 25 are secured to the upper surface of the belt 24, these cleats extending perpendicular to the direction of the movement of the conveyor belt 24 and being spaced apart by such a distance that two rows of packages may be received between adjacent cleats. As the packages are edged off the conveyor belt 23 and onto the conveyor belt 24 the left-hand ends of the cleats 25 are in effect driven between successive pairs of packages in each file, whereby the packages are arranged on the conveyor belt 24 in groups of two rows and three files, each group being separated by the width of a cleat 25 from the next adjacent group.

The conveyor belt 24 is preferably driven with a lineal speed equal to one-third of the speed of the conveyor 18 which feeds packages to the machine. With these relative speeds and with a continuous supply of packages arranged on the conveyor 18, the conveyor 24 will carry off packages from the conveyor 23 at the same rate as they are fed thereto by the conveyor 18.

The conveyor 23 is preferably driven with a lineal speed appreciably greater than that of the conveyor 24 and has a package contacting surface of such character as to permit longitudinal slipping of the packages thereover when the forward progress of the packages is retarded. With this arrangement the conveyor 23 retains a reserve supply of packages at the downstream end thereof, each package being urged gently but firmly forwardly onto the conveyor 24 with the result that six packages will always be arranged between each pair of cleats 25 on the conveyor 24. In this manner the conveyor 23, cooperating with the conveyor belt 24, serves to take. up the slack in the various lanes of the triple file of packages and to produce a triple file of regular, predetermined formation.

The slack referred to in the triple file as it passes. the

line designated AA may result entirely from the irregular action of the apparatus which converts the single file of packages into a triple file. While that apparatus must necessarily feed packages to all three lanes of the triple file under proper working conditions, temporary irregularities in the feeding of packages to the three lanes are likely to result if packages are not in tight formation on the conveyor 18. In addition other factors may eifect the timing of the machine, such as, for example, the removal of one or more packages from the triple file by inspectors for various reasons. The maintenance of a reserve supply of packages at the point where they are fed onto the conveyor belt 24 automatically compensates for temporary deviations in the supply of packages to the machine or to any one or more of the various lanes, whatever the cause may be, without interrupting operation of the machine.

Additional means are provided for interrupting operation of the conveyor 24 and of other portions of the machine subsequently to be described when the reserve supply of packages at the downstream end of the conveyor 23 in either of the outer lanes falls below a pre determined minimum, and to recommence operation of those same operating ports of the machine when the reserve supply in both of the outer lanes has been built up to a predetermined maximum. The apparatus so controlling the machine includes package-actuatable switches 30 and 31 associated with the left-hand lane and similar switches 32 and 33 associated with the right-hand lane. The two switches 30 and 32 include respective feelers 34 and 35 which are pivotable into the path of the packages in the respective lanes. As long as the feelers 34 and 35 are maintained outwardly of the respective lanes by packages P passing thereby, the switches 30 and 32, which are operatively controlled by the respective feelers 34 and 35, permit continued operation of the machine. However, if the reserve supply of packages in either of the outer lanes should be so depleted that no package is located alongside the feeler 34 or 35, that feeler will swing inwardly of the associated package lane under the influence of a spring, for example (not shown in the drawings), and cause operation of the associated switch 30 or 32 to interrupt operation of the conveyor 24.

Operation of the conveyor 24 will not be started again until the reserve supply of packages in both of the outer lanes 'has been built up to such an extent that packages contact feelers 36 and 37 associated with the switches 31 and 33 respectively. The feelers 36 and 37 are similar to those associated with the switches 30 and 32 but are set in lateral recesses in the outer lanes, as shown, these recesses being designated 33 and 39, respectively. Opposite these recesses are protrusions 38a and 39a secured to the guide rails 19c and 19d, respectively. As will be noted in Fig. l the protrusions 38a and 39a are so arranged and located as to drive packages into the corresponding recesses 38 and 39 as they pass along the respective lanes. Each of the recesses, however, is of a depth in excess of the lateral dimension of the corresponding protrusion to the effect that a package in passing by will be thrust only part way into the recess and will not strike the corresponding feeler 36 or 37.

Accordingly, if the reserve supply of packages has been so depleted that one of the switches 30 or 32 has interrupted operation of the conveyor 24 and the reserve supply has been built up again such that both of the feelers 34 and 35 are again thrust outwardly by the pressure of packages thereagainst, succeeding packages will not reactuate the conveyor 24 as they pass the switches 31 and 33 since they are not thrust deeply enough into the recesses 38 and 39 by the corresponding protrusions 38a and 39a to depress the feelers 36 and 37.

The reserve supply will continue to build up, then, until the packages in each of the outer lanes are backed up to the location of the recesses 38 and 39. Under the latterconditions, a package in each of the outer lanes will be forced laterally into the corresponding recess 38 or 39 by pressure of succeeding packages and will operate the feelers 36 and 37. The conveyor 24 will then commence operation and will continue to operate until such time as the reserve supply in either of the outer lanes might again be depleted to a point where one of the feelers 34 or 35 is permitted to swing inwardly of the corresponding lane or file.

An electrical circuit through which the switches 30, 31, 32 and 33 may so control operation of the conveyor 24 and other portions of the machine is shown in Fig. 7. It will be seen that the four switches are arranged in series with each other and in series with the operating coil 41 of a relay. When packages accumulate in the two outer files on the conveyor 20 such that all four switches are closed, the relay coil 41 will be energized to raise the relay plunger 42. This closes two sets of contacts 43 and 44. Closing of the contacts 43 completes a circuit to permit energization of the power apparatus which drives the conveyor 24, while closing of the contacts 44 completes a hold-in circuit around the switches 31 and 33.

It will now be seen that if the reserve supply of packages in the outer files of the conveyor 20 falls short of the switches 31 or 33, the relay coil 41 will remain energized, since these two switches are short-circuited by the contacts 44. However, if the reserve supply falls short of the switch 30 or 32, the resulting opening of that switch will de-energize the circuit. When the reserve supply of packages again accumulates, the relay coil 41 will not be energized again until the switches 31 and 33, as Well as the switches 30 and 32, are closed, since the hold-in circuit around the switches 31 and 33 has been broken.

According to the feature of the invention just described a multiple file of irregularly spaced packages is converted to a multiple file in uniform, predetermined formation by a continuous process involving a minimum of acceleration and deceleration of packages. The system compensates for substantial temporary fluctuations in supply without interruption of the operation of the machine, and automatically interrupts operation of a portion of the machine in the event of accumulated deficiencies in the supply of packages until such deficiency may be made up by continued operation of the package supply apparatus.

In starting the machine a reserve supply of packages may be placed on the conveyor 23, or this can be accomplished automatically. If the machine is energized with no reserve supply established the conveyor 24 will, of course, not operate. The single file of packages will feed directly into the center lane until the back pressure of packages on the slower moving conveyor 23 causes packages to spill over into the outer lanes. It will be apparent that the center lane will quickly fill to capacity and will remain filled as long as an adequate supply of packages is forthcoming'from the supply conveyor 18. Accordingly, only the reserve supply in the two outer lanes is of concern.

As may be seen at the extreme right-hand end of Fig. 1 the guide rails 19a, 19b, 19c and 19d curve again over the conveyor 24 such that they extend along the direction of package movement and continue to maintain the packages in three separate files.

Referring now to Fig. la there is shown in the upper left-hand corner a hopper 50 containing a stack of folded cartons 51. Extending underneath the hopper 50 is a conveyor belt or other device 500 for successively removing the lowermost folded carton 51 at regularly spaced time intervals and for advancing such carton forwardly, or to the right in Fig. 1a. The cartons 51 are ultimately picked up by conveyor means 52 which comprises in the illustrated embodiment, two endless belts for engaging the top and bottom surfaces of the cartons fed therebetween. Preferably, the cartons are folded to an open position by suitable carton handling apparatus prior to the movement of the successive cartons onto this conveyor means. The apparatus for removing the cartons from the magazine and for opening the cartons may be similar to that di'sclosed and claimed in application Serial No. 192,780 entitled Case Handling Method and Apparatus, filed October 28, 1950 by the same inventors as the present invention and assigned to the same assignee. However this apparatus may be of any suitable form and since its particular form does not of itself form a part of the present invention such apparatus is not shown or described herein. It is believed to be sufiicient for the purposes of this application to state merely that the cartons are opened, the flaps at the left-hand side are at least partially closed, and at least the upper and lower flaps at the right-hand side preferably folded at a slight angle outwardly, as, for example, by the rails 52a seen in Figs. 2 and 3, to facilitate entrance of the packages P into the cartons.

The cartons 51 are maintained in definite positions and in slightly spaced relationship on the conveyor 52 by a plurality of lugs 53 secured to the upper surface of the lower conveyor belt and to the lower surface of the upper belt, Only a single conveyor belt need be employed if suitable means are provided for maintaining the cartons in their open condition.

As in previous instances herein the driving mechanism for the conveyor belt 52 as well as that for the conveyor belt 24 is not shown or described since it may be of any suitable form. It is preferable that these two conveyor belts be driven at the same speed, however, and in a definite phase relationship, that is, with the cleats aligned with the lugs 53 whereby each group of six packages travels alongside a carton which will ultimately receive that group of packages.

The guide rails 19a, 19c and 19d will be seen to terminate near the left center of Fig. la slightly to the rear of a point at which the guide rails 1% turn angularly to the left. As the packages P are forced back to the left by the guide rails 1912 they assume a closed formation with the forwardmost row of each pair of rows displaced to the left of the trailing row. The various groups of packages and the corresponding cartons proceed forwardly as the packages are edged farther to the left by the guide rails 19]) until the packages are ultimately eased at least partially into the corresponding carton.

As previously suggested, it is desirable, at least in certain instances, that packages be arranged in cartons very snugly in order to prevent movement of the packages within the carton after they have been enclosed therein. In some instances the normal inside dimensions of the cartons are actually made slightly smaller than the overall dimensions of the group of packages to be contained therein. In such cases an appreciable force is required to insert the packages into the cartons. If the packages are inserted in aligned orientation the first file or row of packages to be inserted are driven along the entire length or width of the carton and may weaken the corners of the carton at various points.

Where the packages are cylindrical as in the present case, or spherical, this diificulty can be substantially avoided by a slight misalignment of the rows or files of packages as they enter the carton, whereby the width of the group of packages as they are inserted into the carton is appreciably less than the width of the group in their aligned orientation. In the embodiment of the invention so far described this slight misalignment of the two packages in each file is obtained and remains effective until the packages are substantially in their final position within the respective cartons.

The embodiment of the invention so far described has the further advantage and the novel characteristic that the packages are fed into the cartons in a continuous process as opposed to a batch process and that the cartons and packages are brought together while moving substantially in the same direction and with a minimum of changes of speed or direction in the motions of either the packages or cartons.

As may be most readily observed in Fig. 2 the guide rails 19b necessarily terminate at the point at which they converge with the right-hand flaps of the cartons 51, as the guide rails would otherwise bend the forward flaps 54 rearwardly. As a result, the six packages P in each group are forced into a carton only to the edges of the right hand flaps of the cartons.

Alternatively, the vertical flaps 54 and 55 of each carton may be folded outwardly to an angle of 90 or more from their normal positions indicated in Fig. 2. The rails 1% might then extend to the right-hand end of the carton proper or to the folds of the right-hand flaps with the result that each group of packages would be forced completely into the carton proper by the rails 11%. While the present invention is intended to cover such an arrangement, the right-hand flaps, in accordance with a preferred method and apparatus, are allowed to remain substantially in their normal position and the last portion of the movement of each successive group of packages into the carton proper is accomplished in a separate operation.

A package inserter wheel 6t? is provided for this purpose (see Figs. 2, 3 and 4-), this wheel being secured to a shaft 61 which extends downwardly therefrom and is rotatably mounted in a suitable lower hearing or bearings not shown in the drawings. The wheel 66 includes a pair of plates 62 and 63, the plate 62 having six radially extending lobes 64 and the plate 63 having six similarly shaped radially extending lobes which are vertically aligned with the lobes 64 of the plate 62.

A package contacting plate 66 is pivotally mounted between each pair of lobes 6d and 65 by a spindle 67 on which the plate 66 is pivotally mounted. The spindle 67 is rigidly secured to each of the plates 62 and 63 and it is through this means only that the plate 62 is driven in a rotary motion since only the plate 63 is secured to the rotating spindle 61.

A, fixed sleeve 70% secured to the frame of the machine extends downwardly over the upper end of the spindle 61 and acts as a bearing therefor. The sleeve 79 extends through an opening 71 in the plate 62 and supports at its lower end a cam 72.

Secured to the back or radially inner surface of each plate 66 is a triangular shaped arm '73 having a pin 74 extending upwardly therefrom near its innermost portion. A cam following roller 75 is rotatably mounted at the upper end of each pin 74 and is supported at such a height that it may ride over the surface of the cam 72.

A spring 77 is secured to each arm '73 at a point radially inward of the spindle 67 upon which the corresponding arm 73 is rotatably mounted. The other end of each spring 77 is secured by any suitable device to the plate 63, each spring 77 being in tension whereby the corresponding roller 75 is urged resiliently against the surface of the cam 72. Accordingly as is readily seen in Figs. 2 and 3 the plates 66 are urged to pivot inwardly toward the spindle 61 and their positions are determined by the cam 72.

As the package inserter wheel 69 rotates, each successive plate 66 is brought to the position, illustrated in Fig. 2, of the plate designated R, the corresponding cam roller 75 being at that time in engagement with the highest or radially outwardmost point of the cam 72.

In this position the plate designated R is in a position to contact the right-hand file of a group of packages P which has just been forced into a carton 51 by the guide rails19b. In Fig. 4 it will be seen that the inserter wheel 60 has rotated through an angle of 30 from the position illustrated in Fig. 2. In this position the roller 75 corresponding to the plate R has moved off the high point of the cam 72 with the result that the plate R has been permitted to pivot inwardly toward the center of the package inserter wheel 60 under the influence of the corresponding spring 77. The shape of the cam 72 is such that the package contacting faces of the plates 66 remain substantially parallel to the direction of movement of the cartons 5 1 during the movement of the successive plates 66 from the position of the plate designated R illustrated in Fig. 2 to the position of the plate designated S illustrated in the same figure. Further, the package inserter wheel 60 is so located with respect to the conveyor belt 52 carrying the cartons 51 that when a plate 66 reaches the angular position assumed by the plate designated S in Fig. 2 it will have forced a group of six packages into the proper position within the body of a carton 51. It is of course necessary that the package inserter wheel 60 be synchronized with the conveyor belt 52 such that each plate 66 may engage the two packages comprising the right-hand file of successive groups of packages partially inserted in a carton and travel along with that carton and group of packages such that the plate 66 may complete the insertion of the group of packages into the carton, all as suggested in Figs. 2 and 4.

After the successive cartons 51 pass by the package inserter wheel 60 with a group of six packages properly located therein the forward and rearward side flaps 54 and 55, respectively, at the right-hand side of each carton are folded inwardly by a flap folding wheel 80. This wheel comprises a pair of plates 81 and 82 secured to a rotating spindle 83 by means of a spool-like device 84. The plates 81 and 82 are so spaced vertically that each engages the side flaps of the successive cartons 51 near the upper and lower edges thereof respectively.

Each plate 31 and 82 is in the form of a cam and has two pointed lobes 85 thereon for separating the rearward flap 55 of one carton from the forward flap 54 of the next succeeding carton and for folding both such flaps to their respective closed positions.

The operation of the flap folding wheel 80 is best seen in the fragmentary Figs. 5 and 6. In Fig. 5 the pointed lobes 85 at one side of the wheel are seen entering the small space between a forward flap 54 of one carton and the rearward flap 55 of the next preceding carton. In Fig. 6 the flap folding wheel is shown advanced to a position wherein it has folded the rearward flap 55 inwardly to an angle of approximately 45 while the forward flap 54 of the next succeeding carton has started to fold toward its closed position by virtue of the continued forward movement of the corresponding carton 51.

In Fig. 2 there is represented a more advanced position of the flap folding wheel 80 in which both of the flaps 54 and 55 have been substantially closed. When the flap 55 of the advanced carton reaches the position illustrated in Fig. 2 it is substantially beyond the effective control of the wheel 80 but has by this time been engaged by a resilient arm 86 which holds the rearward flap 55 in its closed position as well as the forward flap 54 of the same carton. Subsequently the upper and lower flaps at the right-hand end of the successive cartons are folded to their closed positions and secured by any suitable means whose particular form does not constitute a part of the present invention and accordingly is not disclosed or described herein.

As in the case of the package inserter wheel 60, the flap folding wheel 80 operates with a rotary motion thereby eliminating the necessity of heavy and costly reciprocating parts and the relatively powerful driving means necessary for operating such reciprocating parts.

Reference is now made to Fig. 1 and the previous explanation of the operation of the control switches 30, 31, 32 and 33. When the reserve supply of packages at the downstream end of conveyor 23 is so depleted that one of the switches 30 or 32 is actuated by inward movement of the associated feeler 34 or 35, that switch interrupts operation of the conveyor 24 as previously'explained, and, in addition, stops the package inserter Wheel 60, the conveyor 52 and associated carton handling apparatus, and the flap folding wheel 80. Similarly, when the reserve supply of packages is again built up in both outside lanes suchthat the switches 31 and 33 are actuated, operation of these same parts of the machine is recommenced-simultaneously. In this way the desired synchronism between these parts of themachine is maintained.

One of the principal advantages of the present invention in its entirety and in its various parts is the elimination of reciprocating parts which must necessarily be heavy and hence expensive. Such reciprocating parts also require a' greater amount of power to operate than the rotating and linearly moving apparatus forming a part of the invention.

The invention has the further advantage however that packages are handled gently, with no rapid changes in speed or direction of movement. This is a desirable feature in many applications as, for example, where cans of beer are being handled.

It will be apparent that the invention may be varied in its physical embodiments without departing from the spirit of the invention, and it is desired, therefore, that the invention be limited only by the scope of the appended claims.

We claim:

1. In a package handling machine apparatus for insert-- ing groups of packages, each including a plurality of rows and files, into successive empty cartons while said cartons and said packages are moving primarily in the same direction, said apparatus comprising conveyor means for advancing such empty cartons continuously in one direction, conveyor means urging a multiple file of such packages in the same direction and alongside the line of movement of such cartons, and stationary guide means for guiding said multiple file of packages toward said cartons along a line forming a sharply acute angle with the line of movement of said cartons and converging therewith.

2. In a package handling machine apparatus for inserting groups of packages, each including a plurality of rows and files, into successive empty cartons while said cartons and said packages are moving primarily in the same direction, said apparatus comprising conveyor means for advancing such empty cartons continuously in one direction, conveyor means urging a multiple file of such packages in the same direction and alongside the line of movement of such cartons, and stationary guide means for guiding said multiple file of packages toward said cartons along a line forming a sharply acute angle with the line of movement of said cartons, said last-mentioned means being effective to a point where the line of movement of said packages converges with said line of movement of said cartons whereby said packages are guided into said cartons.

3. In a package handling machine apparatus for inserting groups of packages, each including a plurality of rows and files, into successive empty cartons while said cartons and said packages are moving primarily in the same direction, said apparatus comprising conveyor means for advancing such empty cartons continuously in one direction, conveyor means urging a multiple file of such packages in the same direction and alongside the line of movement of such cartons, and a stationary guide rail extending angularly across said last-mentioned conveyor means for guiding said multiple file of packages off said last-mentioned conveyor means and into said cartons.

4. In a machine for operating upon a single file of packages and arranging said packages in a triple file of close formation, first conveyor means for advancing said triple file of close formation at a predetermined speed in one direction, second conveyor means for advancing a triple file of packages at a higher speed in the same direction, a pair of dividers overlying said second conveyor means for separating the center file of said lastmentioned triple file from the outer files thereof, said dividers terminating at substantially the same point along the effective length of said second conveyor means and extending downstream of said conveyor means therefrom, means for advancing a single file of packages onto said second conveyor means in line with said center file and upstream of said point at a linear speed substantially three times the speed of said first conveyor means, said second conveyor means being of such character as to ofier little resistance to lateral movement of said packages thereon, whereby said packages may readily be diverted into said outside files when said center file is filled, and stationary guide means for Wedging the packages in each file on said second conveyor means laterally thereof to a corresponding file on said first conveyor means, said second conveyor means being arranged to permit longitudinal slipping of packages thereon when advancement of packages onto said first conveyor means is retarded by packages already arranged thereon.

5. In a machine for operating upon a single file of packages and arranging said packages in a multiple file of close formation, first conveyor means for advancing said multiple file of close: formation at a predetermined speed in one direction, second conveyor means for advancing a multiple file of packages at a higher speed in the same direction, divider means for separating the files of said last-mentioned multiple file, said divider means terminating at a point along the effective length of said second conveyor means and extending downstream of.

said conveyor mean therefrom, means for advancing a single file of packages onto said second conveyor means in. line with One of said files and upstream of said point at approximately the same rate of packages per minute as the rate at which said packages may be conveyed by said first conveyor means, said second conveyor means being of such character as to offer little resistance to lateral movement of said packages thereon, whereby said packages may readily be diverted into another file when said one file is filled, and stationary guide means for wedging the packages in each file on said second conveyor means laterally thereof to a corresponding file on said first conveyor means, said second conveyor means being arranged to permit longitudinal slipping of packages thereon when advancement of packages onto said first conveyor means is retarded by packages already arranged thereon.

6. In a machine for inserting packages into cartons in groups having a plurality of rows and files of packages, conveyor means for advancing empty cartons continuously in one direction with the closing flaps at one side thereof extending laterally of the direction of movement of said cartons, conveyor means urging a multiple file of packages in the same direction and alongside the line of movement of such cartons, means for guiding said multiple file of packages toward said cartons along a line forming a sharply acute angle with the line of movement of said cartons, said last-mentioned means being effective to a point where the line of movement of said packages substantially converges with the line of movement of the free edges of the closing flaps at one end of said'cartons whereby said packages are guided partially into said cartons, a plurality of pusher members circumferentially spaced about a rotatable support and pivotally mounted thereon, each of said members having a surface for engaging one file of packages in regularly spaced non-- consecutive groups of packages, a cam for controlling the angular orientation of said surfaces with respect to said rotatable support, a cam follower device secured to each of said members, and means urging said devices against said cam, said members being movable by said' rotatable support along a common closed path, the line of movement of said one side of said cartons being substantially tangential to said closed path of movement of said pusher members whereby said pusher members may displace successive ones of said groups of packages laterally of said normal line of movement thereof in a direction to complete the movement of saidsuccessive groups of packages into successive cartons, said cam being so shaped that said surfaces of said pusher members remainsubstantially parallel'to' the open sidevof said 1'2 cartons during: such displacement of said group of packages.

7. In a machine for operating upon a single file of packages and inserting said packages in cartons in groups having a plurality of rows and files of packages, said machine comprising first conveyor means for advancing a multiple file of close formation at a predetermined speed in one direction, second conveyor means for advancing a multiple file of packages at a higher speed in the same direction, divider means for separating the files of said last-mentioned multiple file, said divider means terminating at a point along the efiective length of said second conveyor means and extending downstream of said conveyor means therefrom, means for advancing a single file of packagesonto said second conveyor means in line with one of said files and upstream of said point at approximately the same rate of packages per minute as the rate at which said packages may be conveyed by said first conveyor means, said second conveyor means being of such character as to offer little resistance to lateral movement of said packages thereon, whereby said packages may readily be diverted into another file when said one file is filled, stationary guide means for wedging the packages in each file on said second conveyor means laterally thereof to a corresponding file on said first conveyor means, said second conveyor means being arranged to permit longitudinal slipping of packages thereon when advancement of packages onto said first conveyor means is retarded by packages already arranged thereon, third conveyor means for advancing empty cartons continuously in the same direction as the direction of movement of said first conveyor means with the flaps of said cartons at one side thereof extending laterally of the direction of movement of said'cartons, means for guiding said multiple file of packages toward said cartons along a line forming a sharply acute angle with the line of movement of said orientation of said surfaces with respect to said rotatable support, a cam follower device secured to each of said members, and means urging said devices against said cam, said members'being movable by said rotatable support along a common closed path, the line of movement of said one side of said cartons being substantially tangential to said closed path of movement of said pusher members whereby said pusher members may displace successive ones of'said groups of packages laterally of said normal line of movement thereof in a direction to complete the movement of said successive groups of packages into successive cartons, said cam being so shaped that said surfaces of said pusher members remain substantially parallel to the open side of said cartons during such displacement ofsaid group of packages.

8. Inpackage handling apparatus for operating upon a single file of packages to insert said packages into cartons in groups having a plurality of rows and files of such packages, first conveyor means for advancing a multiple file of packages in close formation at a predetermined speed in one direction and having a plurality of transverse members thereon toseparate said multiple file into groups having a plurality of rows and files, second conveyor means for advancing said multiple file of packages at a greater speed in the same direction, divider means for separating the individual file of such a multiple file a'plurality, of rows and files,tmeans for advancing a" single file of packages onto said second conveyor means upstream of the terminus of said divider means in line with one of said individual files at approximately the same rate of packages per minute as the rate at which said packages may be conveyed by said first conveyor means, said second conveyor means being of such a character as to oifer little resistance to lateral movement of said packages thereon whereby said packages may readily be diverted into another file when said one individual file is filled, third conveyor means for advancing empty cartons continuously in the same direction as the direction of said first conveyor means, with the flaps of said cartons at one side thereof extending laterally of the direction of movement of said cartons, means for guiding said groups of packages toward said cartons along a line forming a sharp acute angle with the line of movement of said cartons, said last-mentioned means being effective to a point lying substantially on the line of movement of the free edges of the closing flaps at one end of said cartons whereby said groups of packages are guided partially into said cartons, a plurality of pusher members circumferentially spaced about a rotatable support and pivotally mounted thereon, each of said members having a surface for engaging one file in regularly spaced groups, a cam for controlling the angular orientation of said surfaces with respect to said rotatable support, a cam follower device secured to each of said members, and means urging said devices against said cam, said members being movable by said rotatable support along a common closed path, the line of movement of said one side of said cartons being substantially tangential to said closed path of movement of said pusher members whereby said pusher members may displace successive ones of said groups of packages laterally of said normal line of movement thereof in a direction to complete the movement of said successive groups of packages into successive cartons, said cam being so shaped that said surfaces of said pusher members remain substantially parallel to the open side of said cartons during such displacement of said groups of packages.

9. In a package handling machine for operating upon a single file of packages and inserting said packages in cartons in groups having a plurality of rows and files, conveyor means for forming a multiple file from such a single file, speed controlled means to assure that successive packages in said multiple file are in juxtaposition, grouping means to form said multiple file into groups having a plurality of rows and files of such packages, wedging means to force such groups of packages a predetermined distance into such cartons, and a plurality of pusher members circumferentially spaced about a rotatable support and pivotally mounted thereon to force such packages into said cartons.

10. In a package handling machine, apparatus for converting a multiple file of packages of irregular spacing to a multiple file of uniform formation, said apparatus comprising a first conveyor belt advancing at a predetermined speed and carrying said multiple file of uniform formation, a second conveyor belt advancing, at a higher speed, and carrying said mulitple file of irregular formation, and stationary guide walls arranged above said second conveyor belt for wedging the packages in each file on said second conveyor belt laterally thereof to a corresponding file on said first conveyor belt, said first conveyor belt having cleats secured to the upper surface thereof and extending transversely thereof, successive cleats being spaced apart such that they may snugly receive therebetween an integral number of rows of packages.

11. In a package handling machine, apparatus for converting a multiple file of packages of irregular spacing to a multiple file of close formation, said apparatus comprising a first conveyor belt advancing at a predetermined speed and carrying said multiple file of close formation in one direction, a second conveyor belt for advancing, at a higher speed, and carrying said multiple file of irregular formation in the same direction, and stationary guide walls arranged above said second conveyor belt for wedging the packages in each file on said second conveyor belt laterally thereof to a corresponding file on said first conveyor belt, said second conveyor belt being arranged to permit longitudinal slipping of packages thereon when advancement of packages onto said first conveyor belt is retarded by packages already arranged thereon, said first conveyor belt having cleats secured to the upper surface thereof and extending transversely thereof, successive cleats being spaced apart such that they may snugly receive therebetween an integral number of rows of packages.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification53/48.1, 53/171, 198/441, 198/419.3, 53/251, 53/377.2, 53/543
International ClassificationB65B5/10, B65G47/68, B65G47/71
Cooperative ClassificationB65B5/10, B65G47/71
European ClassificationB65B5/10, B65G47/71