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Publication numberUS2768756 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 30, 1956
Filing dateJun 12, 1953
Priority dateJun 12, 1953
Publication numberUS 2768756 A, US 2768756A, US-A-2768756, US2768756 A, US2768756A
InventorsAlfred E Horman
Original AssigneeAlfred E Horman
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Pallet loading machine
US 2768756 A
Abstract  available in
Images(5)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

OGL 30, 1956 A. E. HORMAN 2,768,756

PALLET LOADING MACHINE Filed June 12, 1953 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 00000000000000000000 000000000 00000000 0000000000000 000000 000000000000 O0 OOOOO 00000 00000000 00000 OOOOO 00000000 OOOOO O 00000000 OOOOO INVENTOR. ALFRED E. Hom/mw QTTOENEY OC- 30, 1956 A. E. HoRMAN PALLET LOADINGMACHINE 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed June 12, 1955 INVENTOR. @Lf-*RED E. Hom/IAN HTTORNEY 011 30, 1956 A. E. HoRMAN PALLET LOADING MACHINE 5 sheets-sheet s Filed June 12, 1953 fvfmfwwwmf .N MH TM N ER V NO IH E. D EL D F L nh Oct. 30, 1956 A. E. HoRMAN PALLET LOADING MACHINE 5 Sheets-Sheet 4 Filed June 12, 1953 HTTO F2 N EY A. E. HORMAN PALLET LOADING MACHINE Oct 30, 1956 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed June 12,' 1953 INVENTOR. I FEED E Hom/IAN BY ATTORNEY United States Patent O PALLET LOADING MACHINE Alfred E. Harman, New York, N. Y.

Application June 12, 195B, Serial No. 3611,347

8 Claims. (Cl. 214-6) The invention relates in general to an improved technique in the art of stacking units in assembled relation on pallets for subsequent transportation, and the invention specifically relates to a method and apparatus for counting, compactly assembling and stacking units of the type in which bottles, such as beverage-containing bottles, are contained in open-top cases or boxes, with the bottle projecting in exposed condition above the open tops of the cases. More specifically defined, the invention relates to a method and apparatus for repeatedly assembling a preset number of such bottle-containing cases in pre-xed identical superposed relation on pallets, with the cases supported each directly on the bottles of a case therebelow.

ln this art the units as they come from the bottling machine comprise at, rectangular wooden boxes open at their tops and internally partitioned to form checkerboard compartments, usually two dozen to a unit, one for each compartment, and in which compartments the iilled and capped bottles are loosely seated with the upper portions of the bottles projecting above the open tops of the cases. In this disclosure advantage is taken of the fact that by reason of the internal partitions the wooden cases now in general use are strong, resist deformation, especially in their horizontal dimension, and are thus capable of resisting any tendency to deformation when subjected to the method herein featured. It is also a condition contributory to the effectiveness and operation of the machine herein featured that the assembly of thebottles in their checkerboard relation in the wooden bases collectively form a multiple column support capable of supporting the rather heavy loads which develop when several of the units are supported on each other as herein featured.

It is a known practice in palletizing bottle-containing cases of the type here under consideration to have an operator move the cases one after the other as` they come down the so-called customers conveyor from the bottling machine and to stack them as best he can in more or less close order on a pallet or other support for transferring them away from the conveyor and onto delivery trucks. Bottle-containing cases of the type under discussion. are provided at their narrow ends with hand-gripping holes intoV which the fingers of the operator protrude in lifting the cases. Clearances between adjacent cases at least in endwise stacking must be provided to accommodate the operators hands and this, of course, spaces the cases apart, thus using Vup valuable space on the pallets, and prevents or at least renders diiiicult any attempt to provide for a highly desirable mutual contacting of the cases as they are stacked.

So handling the cases by manual manipulation becomes hard work and despite the interposition of frequent rest periods, the operator becomes fatigued -towards the ,end of his stretch, with the result that he inevitably becomes more and more careless in whatever may have been his initial carefulness in assembly the lunits vstacked on the pallets. Under these conditions interspaces and gapsv be- 2,768,756 Patented ocr. 3o, 1956 ice come formed between the adjacent units, thus developing undesirable irregularities in the dimensions of the finally finished block on the pallet. Further, carelessness in the required vertical assembling of the units by any such manual action is quite apt to develop offsets from the desired vertical relation which may result in a toppling over of the stacks under jarring effects incidental to the subsequent transporting of the stacked cases.

The primary object of the invention is to assemble economically a large number of box-like units of merchandise into a compact block of preset dimensions, free of interspaces, so that every block shall have the same all-over dimensions as every other block and thus can be subsequently transported on a standard form of lift truck.

Broadly, this objective is obtained by assembling the units of each tier in contact under horizontally directed pressure in two directions at right angles to each other to force each unit against its adjacent unit with equality of pressures, which pressures can be regulated as desired to meet the instant requirement to supply the requisite degree of pressure contact between the several cases in each instance.

Diierently expressed, the invention features the assembling of the units by accurately preset mechanical means, with each step identical with every other corresponding step, in distinction from the inevitable variations in any horizontal assembly of the units by manual action, leaving the contacts when considered vertically to be governed by gravitational pressure.

A secondary object of the invention when considered with reference to the device illustrated is to provide a simplified technique for assembling the units as they are discharged, perhaps irregularly from the bottling machine and to arrange them on the pallet in a compacted, closeorder, three dimensional block formation, and thus without intervening gaps or breaks between units of each tier, and to'superpose the tiers each gently and disposed in true vertical relation on the bottles therebelow in such way as to avoid danger or" breaking the bottles and to avoid accidental vertical disalignment of the several units.

Broadly, this objective is obtained by forming the units as they are received one after the other into a horizontal extending line, each formed of a prescribed number of the units, and with the units in contacting sidewise engagement transversely to the length direction of the line; then the line so formed is bodily shifted While in a horizontal plane in the direction transversely of the line onto an elevator-controlled pallet prelocated in elevated position to receive the line of units as they are successively located thereon. Preferably, but not necessarily, each two succeeding lines form a tier, the first tier being formed on the pallet, and each succeeding tier being formed on the tier next below.

In the form of the invention illustrated the rst line of each tier is advanced to a far position on the pallet, as illustrated in Fig. 4, leaving the near position on the pallet temporarily vacant and into which near space the next succeeding line is located in bearing contact with the rst line.

The pallet with its first tier thereon is lowered on the elevator to bring the tops of the bottles in this first tier to a level slightly below the horizontal plane along which the lines are advanced to thus form a support for the next succeeding or second tier similarly formed. The two lines of unitsV forming the second tier are laid gently, the first tier on the pallet and each succeeding tier on the next below, until the desired depth of stack or block has been formed.

Denitions In this application the several terms listed below are to be understood as having the ,following Adenitions:

Unit: A preformed object with its bottom portion rectangular in a horizontal plane and specifically an opentop tray, box or case, each containing two dozen bottles with the tops of the bottles projecting above the cases.

Line: An assembly of units (specifically five) arranged in close column, with similar sides contacting under pressure.

Tier: An assembly of at least two lines (specifically ten units) in a horizontal plane, with the long sides of the lines in contact under pressure and in side-by-side relation.

Stack: An assembly of lines considered vertically (specifically tive) with the lowermost line on the pallet or other support and each other line disposed on the line next below.

Block: The end product consisting of a massed assembly of units formed of a plurality of at least two vertical stacks (specically, five tiers with a total of fifty units), with the stacks in contacting side-by-side relation.

Various other objects and advantages of the invention will be part obvious from a consideration of the method features of the disclosure and from a consideration of the apparatus herein disclosed for practicing the invention, and the invention also consists in certain new and novel features of construction and combination of parts of the machine hereinafter set forth and claimed.

In the accompanying drawings:

Fig. 1 is a plan view of a palletizing machine shown somewhat diagrammatically, constituting a preferred embodiment of the apparatus aspect of the disclosure and illustrating one means for performing the method aspect of the disclosure and showing a loaded pallet with a completely formed block of units -thereon and about to be removed from the machine;

Fig. 2 is a vertical sectional view taken on the line 2-2 of Fig. l, showing one of a line of units in position on the transfer carriage and about to be transferred to the currently empty pallet shown in its maximum elevated position;

Fig. 3 shows the parts of Fig. 2 in position when the transfer carriage has shifted the line of units from the position shown in Fig. 2 into the far position on the elevated pallet and showing in vertical section parts of the transfer carriage operating cylinders;

Fig. 4 is a view similar to Fig. 3 with the transfer carriage partly in retracted position and with the stripper bar operative to hold the line on the pallet from retreating with the carriage;

Fig. 5 is a view similar to Figs. 3 and 4 at the pallet station wherein a bottom tier is on the lowered pallet at its second location and a top tier has its far and most advance line resting on the far line of the tier therebelow and the near line of the upper tier in position still supported on the fingers of the transfer carriage and about to be dropped onto the near line of the lower tier on the retreat of the fingers toward their retracted Fig. 1 position;

Fig. 6 is a vertical sectional view taken on the line 6-6 of Fig. 1 with no units shown;

Fig. 7 is a vertical sectional view taken on the line 7--7 of Fig. l at the change-direction platform and showing the adjacent portion of the incoming or customers conveyor with a unit on the platform and a unit on the conveyor;

Figs. 8 and 9 are each a view of the completed block inally assembled on a pallet and removed from the elevator for subsequent transportation, with Fig. 8 showing the block in end elevation in its narrow width as viewed from the bottom of Fig. l, and Fig. 9 showing the block in side elevation as viewed from the right side of Fig. 1;

Fig. 10 is a diagrammatic view of one form of electrlc control for regulating the operation of the several timers, counters, limit switches and pneumatic pressure COIltrOl valves of the several movable elements of the machine;

and

Fig. l1 is a view of the elevator in its normal collapsed position, with one-half shown in side elevation and the other half shown in section.

In the several views of the drawings the units to be palletized each includes a at, open-top wooden case or box A having relatively long sides B and narrow or short sides C, which short sides are provided with hand-grip holes D. The interior of the case is divided by long partitions E and intersecting relatively short partitions F, forming in the instant case twenty-four open-top and closed-bottom compartments G, arranged in checkerboard fashion, each containing the lower wide bottom end of a filled bottle H with its upper end closed by a cap I. The bottles are identical, especially in their height dimension, which brings the caps in the same horizontal plane a-b hereinafter referred to as a supporting plane for the tier neft above in theinished block.

The units are discharged one after the other and in spaced-apart relation as by reference to Figs. 1 and 7, with their narrow ends C in advance, from the bottling machine (not shown), down an inclined conveyor 11 which is provided with conveyor rollers 12 and sometimes referred to as the incoming or customers conveyor. The palletizing machine 13 particularly forming the apparatus feature of the disclosure is preferably formed separate from the conveyor 11 and includes a supporting framework 14 fixed to the plant floor J. The framework includes a pair of long, parallel sills 15 and 16 mounted on braced standards 17 to elevate the movable parts conveniently accessible breast high from the iioor J. The conveyor 11 discharges at its lower end onto a horizontally extending extension 18 hereinafter referred to as the receivingor change-direction platform likewise provided with platform rollers 19 paralleling the rollers 12. Preferably, the platform 18 forms a structural part of the machine 13 rather than of the conveyor for convenience in adjusting one relative to the other to suit environmental factory conditions. It is suggested that in place of the rollers 19 a better form of platform would be formed wherein a layer of spaced-apart spherical balls set in the platform replace the rollers 19 to form a ball conveyor, as this form of platform would more easily facilitate the change of direction of the units as they are moved off the conveyor onto the table as hereinafter described.

On the side of the platform 18 opposite the discharge end of the conveyor 11 there is provided a conveyor stop wall 20 (see Figs. 1 and 7) for stopping the units as they are discharged from the conveyor 11, and for locating them one after the other exactly in the proper transverse position to align them for the succeeding step-by-step line-forming operation to form the line of units as indicated by the five rectangular and crossed ghost outlines of the units in Fig. 1.

The wall 20 is provided with a spring-biased, normally open circuit closer or limiting switch 21 from which leads a cable 22 (see Fig. 10) leading to a suitable counting switch and through which an electric current is closed by the contacting therewith of each unit as it arrives on the platform to operate a line-forming mechanism 23.

The mechanism 23 includes a long table 24 (see Figs. l and 6) for receiving the units discharged from the platform 18, which table is formed mainly of a series of table rollers 25 extending in parallel relation transversely of the length of the table and provides an assembly path along which the units travel as each unit drscharged from the platform 18 pushes the one in advance thereof, until the most advanced unit of the line is stopped, and thus the line as a Whole is stopped by the advanced unit contacting a line stop wall 26. In the instant case the table has a length to accommodate thereon the ve umts with their long sides B in side-by-side relation to form the line of the units when contact is made by the line engaging the wall 26 (see Fig. 1).

It is understood that the device can function as described even inthe absence of the stop wall 26,` because the most' advanced unit can movev only so far as the succeeding units are able to push it. Despite the presence'oftherollers 25 tovmake easy the movement of the units along the table, there is present sufcient frictional resistance to the movement of the units to avoid any separating of the same, but the presence of the stop wall is preferred as it insures a xed abutment to measure the preset desired all-over length of the line and insures closed joints between the contacting sides of the adjacent units, as indicated in Fig. 1,(by the five ghost crosses.

In order to form the line so indicated on the table 24 a line-'forming pusherV 27 is located on the side of the platform 18 opposite the table 24. The pusher 27 as shown in Fig. 1 isv of a three-sided, squared U-'shape in plan and is mounted to traverse the platform slightly above the' same as shown in Fig. 6 and transversely of the same as shown by `comparing Figs. l and 10 for a distance slightly greater than the'narrow Width of the units defined by their narrow sides C. The pusher includes two parallel arms of which the arm 28 nearest the discharge end of the convey`or 11 acts to hold back the next succeeding unit on the conveyor from moving on the platform 18 while the unit currently on the platform is being shifted onto the table 24. The other arm 29 as it advances with the unit currently being pushed olf the platform 18 maintains the circuit closer 21 in its closed position until the pusher in its retreat toy its Fig. 1 position clears the circuit closer and thus permits it to open automatically to break the cir-cuit therethrough. A pneumatically actuated power cylinder 30 is hung between the crotch-forming portion 31 of the pusher 27 and a post 32 forming part of the framework 14 asV shown in Fig. 6. The plunger 33 of the cylinder operates to advance and then automatically to retreat the pusher 27 by the action of an electrically operated valve 34 carried by the post 32 and operating as hereinafter described until the five units to form the currently produced line have been pushed off the platform 18 to form the solid line of units on the table 24, preferably with the advanced unit bearing on the line stop wall 26. v In one form of the machine the cylinder 30 is powered to impose a squeeze pressure across the joints formed bythe adjacent units in the line of about one-half pound per square inch of contacting surface of the long sides B and this squeeze pressure so imposed continues to be existent in the finished blocks shown in Figs. 8 and 9 on the pallet;

As viewed in Fig. 1 the conveyor 11 and the table 24 form a structure L-shaped in plan. The space between the conveyor 11 and the table 24 is open to receive a pallet K when mounted' on an elevator 35, hereinafter described, which open space will be referred to as a pallet station.

The pallet K is of conventional design and includes a pallet platform L supported at opposite ends on a pair of edge beams M and organized to have prongs N (see Fig. 9) of a lift vehicle (not shown) underlap the pallet platform in transporting the empty and loaded pallets to and from the pallet station. At its small ends the pallet is provided with a pair of upstanding wire bails O of inverted U- form which limit the space in which the blocks may be received considered lengthwise of the block as shown in Fig. 9.

Each line of units so formed on `the table by pusher 27 is moved bodily, horizontally and transversely of the length of the line, lrst olf the table onto the empty pallet while the pallet platform is substantially on a level with the table as shown in Figs. 2 and 3, and subsequently off the table into the space above the partially loaded pallet. This sequential shifting of the line from the table into the pal- Iet station is done by mechanism 36 collectively referred to hereinafter as a transfer carriage designed to move from a'position. substantiallywithin the outlines of the table 24' intoa position' largely within the pallet station. The carriage includes an upstanding'channel member or pusher bar 37 which extendsl the lengt-h of the ve uni-ts'on table 24. The vbar 37Y is provided at the end remote from its end nearest the receiving end of the table 24 with a bar projecting at right angles to the channel member 37 andof limited depth, horizontally disposed in parallel and.

spaced-apart relation and which project forwardly from the lower edge of the channel member 37 as shown in Figs. l and 2 to form a line-supporting layer of fingers. The layer of fingers provides a shiftable support for each line of units as the line is moved from the place where it is formed on the table 24 onto the pallet or into position over the previously formed tier on the pallet as hereinafter described.

The ngers as shown in Fig. 6 are inverted channels and are normally located between the table rollers 25 with their tops slightly below the table top and have their length as shown in Figs. 2 and 3 sucient to underlap the units in theirv long side dimension as defined by the long sides B of the units.

The transfer carriage 36 considered as a whole includes a stripper 39 for holding the line of units in place on and over the pallet when advanced by the carriage and while the carriage is retreating to its initial position as indicated in Fig. 4. The stripper includes a long stripper rod 4u whose forward end is guided in a hole 41 formed in the channel member 37. The forward end of the rod 4@ is provided with a long stripper holding bar 42 for bearing on the line as shown in Figs. 3 and 4. The carriage is supported to ride on an overhead trolley 43 forming part of the framework 14. An L-shaped hanger 44 is provided at its upper end with a roller 45 running on the trolley and has its lower end secured to the channel member 37.

The carriage 36 is moved back and forth and the stripper is advanced to the right by means of a two-throw, two-plunger, pneumatically actuated power cylinder of any conventional type capable on its long stroke to ad- Vance a line from the table onto the far side of the pallet and on its short stroke to advance the next line from the table onto the near side of the pallet. For a showing of one form of powered motor capable of advance the line from the table 24 onto the pallet reference is made to the system of two stroke cylinders 46 shown in Fig. 3.

There is disclosed a relatively long stroke cylinder 47 carried by an upright 48 forming part of the framework 14 and in which cylinder the plunger end 49 of a smaller cylinder 5u reciprocates. A vent 51 in the end 49 provides a restricted fluid communication between the two cylinders. A plunger rod 52 forming part of the cylinder Sti has at one end a plunger 53 operating in the cylinder 54.1 and has its other end secured to the hanger 44 supported from the trolley 43 (Fig. 4). Air under pressure is admitted to cylinder 47 and exhausted therefrom through port 54 controlled by an electrically operated valve 55. Between the plunger-forming end 49 of the smaller cylinder 5) and the adjacent end of the larger cylinder 47 there is provided an air inlet 56 controlled by an electric valve 57. The smaller cylinder 50 is provided at its outer end with an air port 58 controlled by an electric valve 59. The valves 55, 57 and 59 are of the type which are designed to be connected through a hose connection 66 with a common source of compressed air (not shown) usually found in bottling plants. The fluid controlling elements of the valves are moved by a solenoid or similar form of electric motor included within each valve casing. The several solenoids are included in one or more electric circuits and are all controlled either individually from a masterswitch (Fig. l) or', as suggested in Fig. 10, from an automatic control hereinafter described.

The stripper rod 40is p'rovided'atv one, endwith 'a plunger 61 operating in a stripper cylinder 62. Cylinder 62 is provided at its right end (Fig. 3) with a pressure inlet and bleeder port 63 controlled by an electrically operated valve 64 operative when opened to the air pressure for retreating the stripper 39 from its line-holding position. A tie plate 65 hung from the cylinder 47 supports the rear end of the stripper cylinder 62. Positioned in the path of the retreating movement of the stripper bar 42 as it nears its initial position at the table is a limiting switch 66 for closing the circuit through an elevator-controlling timer and counter 67.

Located on the oor J of the pallet station is the elevator 35 which, as best shown in Fig. l1, is of the multiple cylinder telescopic type, and in the instant case comprises five concentric cylinders marked successively 68-72, with the lower end 73 of each inner cylinder forming a plunger slidable in the cylinder next below.

Each of the live elevator cylinders 68-72 has a length of movement equal to the depth of the units measured from the bottom of the cases to the plane a-b defined by the bottle caps, whereby with the elevator in its fully depressed position shown in Fig. ll there will be room to accommodate ve tiers of units measured vertically between the pallet on the elevator and the level at which the uppermost tier is forrned. The cylinders 68-72 are provided with head plates 74 and with gaskets 75 between each cylinder and its associated head.

Each cylinder except the innermost cylinder is provided with an air pressure inlet and exhaust port 76, with each port controlled by an electrically-actuated valve 77 connected to its associated port 76 through a iiexible hose connection 78. The walls of cylinders 71, 70 and 69 are each provided with a vertically extending passageway 79 which leads downwardly from its port 76 to its discharge opening 80, leading into the next adjacent inner cylinder. The outermost cylinder 72 is provided at its port 76 with a short passageway 81 opening directly into the next adjacent cylinder 71 to lift the same when pressure is admitted by its associated valve 77. The valves 77 are each provided with a compressed air inlet 82 and the control element of the valve is electrically operated to open and close the passages of compressed air through the hose connection 78 leading to the several elevator cylinders.

The innermost cylinder 68 is provided at its top with a wide head 83 on which is supported a pallet-receiving platform 84 dimensioned to tit within the beams M of the pallet, as shown in Fig. 3, to defeat horizontal shifting of the pallet when located on the elevator.

The several electrically actuated valves 34, 55, 59 and 64 above mentioned, when in the semi-automatic form of the machine, may be controlled to operate selectively as hereinafter described by push buttons at a single manually operated control station 85 (see Fig. 1). ln this case it is suggested that the successive depressions of the elevator to lower the support to the proper level to receive the lines as discharged from the fingers may be had by the operation of a foot treadle (not shown) for controlling the several valves 77 as desired.

It is preferable, however, that the operation be entirely automatic and for this purpose the several electric circuits controlling the valves are organized so as to be opened and closed as required by a multiple contact switch form of circuit closer embodying timing and counting features. For an extremely simplified scheme of control for all of the valves reference is made to Fig. in which the previously described movable parts are shown diagrammatically and the showing additionally includes a main timer and counter 86. The controller 86 is intended to be any suitable form of electrically actuated governing instrument for timing the opening and closing conditions of the electric switches and thus to obtain the sequential operation of the several valves in the prefixed order of operations necessary to cause the machine to operate as herein described.

A contact 87 in the path of the arm 29 when retreating; is connected to the timer 86 through a limiting switch 88 operative Ias the pusher returns from its Fig. 10 position to its normal retracted position shown in Fig. 1 to inter-l cept the current controlling the valve 34 regulating the pusher.

Current to the machine may be controlled manually by a main switch 89 as shown, or the machine may be rendered idle Iautomatically by the timer 86 opening the switch 89 after the transfer carriage 36 has operated ten times to complete the formation of the ten lines which make up the final block shown in Figs. 8 and 9. The mafchine is put in operation for the next complete cycle to form another block on a fresh pallet by again closing the main switch 89.

Assuming that the units are coming down the conveyor 11, as in Fig. 7, in regular or more likely in their usual irregularly spaced-apart relation and with their narrow ends in advance, and yassuming that an empty pallet is in position on the elevator with the elevator in its most raised position, as indicated in Fig. 2, and the parts are otherwise in their normfal inoperative position shown in Fig. 1, the machine is ready for operation.

The first unit lcontacting lthe switch 21 closes the circuit through the valve 34 admitting air pressure to cylinder 30 and acting on its piston 33 to move the crotchforming portion 31 of the pusher 27 from its olf position, `shown in Fig. l transversely across the platform 18, as shown in Fig. 10. In this way the first unit is shifted off the platform 18 and 'onto the table 24 at the right end thereof as viewed in Fig. l. Timer 86 then acts on the valve 34 to reverse the direction of pressure on the piston 33 to shift the pusher from its 'advanced position shown in Fig. l() and return the pusher to its initial Fig. 1 position. As the arm 29 reaches its retracted position it engages the contact 87 which operates the limiting switch 88 to cause timer 86 to shut off air pressure to the cylinder 30. In the meantime the near leg 28 has blocked the next succeeding unit on the conveyor from prematurely reaching the platform 18. The air pressure is shut off from the cylinder 30 until the next unit to engage the switch 21 causes la repetition of the action, with the second unit advanced by the pusher to take the place on the table just previously occupied by the first unit and advancing the first unit to the left along the table to the second space on the table.

The operation is repeated until live units are on the table and form a line of such units, with each unit pressed against the next preceding unit with the full mechanical pressure inherent in the powerful line-forming pusher :cylinder 30. Cylinder 30 is powered to be capable of shifting the entire line of units on the table and to overcome such resistance as may be imposed thereon by the rollers 25 forming the top of the table. The counting of the number of units shifted off the platform 18 for each cycle forming the five-unit line may be done by the operator controlling the buttons of the control station 85, or, -in the fully automatic form of the machine, is done as above indicated by the timing mechanism 86 included in the circuit between the cincuit closer 21 and the valve 34. After live units have been thus advanced on the table the counter 86 puts the pusher out of commission until the line currently on the table has been shifted by the mechanism 36 onto the pallet as herein described. In this way the line of units in their long side-by-side abutting relation are mechanically and forcibly set in exact alignment on the table and this pre-compression between the units persists even in the finally formed block shown in Figs. 8 and 9. After each line is formed there is a timed delay controlled by the timer 86 sufficient to permit the line currently on the table to clear the same before the next succeeding line begins to form.

With a line of units so assembled on the table as indicated in-Fig. 2, the line transfer carriage 36 is moved -bodily to the right from the position shown in Fig. 2 into messes 9 the far position on the pallet shown in Fig. 3'by a fullstroke operation of both parts of the two-throw set of cylinders 46.

The timer 86 is so set that alternately the circuit is closed first to actuate valve 55 to open port 54 to the source of pressure supply, with valves 57 and 59 closing their respective ports 56 and 5S, Iand then to actuate valve S with valve 57 inv position to open its port 5.6 to the source of pressure supply. In the first case, air pressure on pistons 47 4and 53 operates to advance the transfer carriage a full stroke from the position shown in Fig. 2 into the far position on the pallet shown in Fig. 3. In the second casethe cylinder 50 'alone is shifted to cause a short stroke of the transfer carriage to position the next line on the Vacant near space on the pallet (Fig. 3).

As the channel member 37 is shifted forwardly by the actuation of the set of cylinders 46 it drags the stripper bar 42 with it forwardly so that actually it is the bar 42 which is bearing on the line supported on the fingers 38, as shown in Figs. 3 and 4. The bar 42 drags the piston 61 with it along the length of the cylinder 62.

Friction between the piston 61 and its cylinder wall is sufficient to hold the bar 42 in its advanced position and if not pressure may be applied to the left end of stripper cylinder 62 simultaneously with the application of pressure through port S4. In any case the bar 42 when in its advanced position acts to hold the line over the pallet from retreating with the fingers 38 `as they withdraw themselves from under the line as they retreat towards their initial position interleaved inthe rollers forming the table 24.

As each line is deposited in either its near or fiar posiltion the timer 86 opens Valves 57 and 59 to the same pressure supply which retracts the carriage as Ia whole from either of its advanced positions baick into its initial position on table 24. The timer 86 then opens the valve 64 which causes cylinder 62 to act on plunger 61 to withdraw the stripper from the position shown in Fig. 4 and return it to its initial position as in Fig. 2.

As the fingers are withdrawn from their position supporting the line Iabove the pallet, the line is permitted to fall la distance equal to the depth of the fingers onto the top surface of the pallet as indicated in Fig. 4. In order to minimize this distance of free fall the fingers are formed of the least possible depth and only of sufficient depth to be capable of supporting the Weight of the lines of units as they are suspended from the trolley in a counterlever effect.

With the stripper 39 withdrawn back to its initial position shown in Fig. l, the transfer carriage as a whole is in position to be again actuated. In the case illustrated in Fig. 4, with the first line already in position on the far side of the pallet, the cylinders 46 are operated at their half strokes which locates the second line over the vacant near space on the pallet, and the second lineV is then dropped onto this near space as was indicated for the line first deposited in the far space.

As each full stroke of the transfer carriage is 'equal to every other full stroke, and as. each short stroke thereof is equal, both in linear dimensions and in pressure therein, to every other short stroke, it follows that each long stroke deposits its line `of units inthe far 'position and wit-h the units each disposed 'in exactvertical alignment with the Vcorresponding Aunits of the line below and with each line onl the near side of the block4 bearing on-the line at the far side of the block with equal pressure. In thisway the units are deposited mechanically and exactly in vertical alignment as shown in Figs. 8 and 9 and the pressures across the joints formed by the meeting sides of-adjacent units are all of equal intensity andthus no intervening gaps are visible. Counter 86 times the renewed activity of the line-forming mechanism 23 and will again form the next line on the table 24 after the preceding line has been removed from the table.

With the elevator in its highest position necessary to 10 bring the pallet at the elevation to receive the first two lines of units, as indicated in Fig. 2, it is understood that all of the valves 77 are open and the several elevator cylinders are held each in its maximumly distended position by the air pressure inthe cylinders 724-68.

As soon as the first two lines are positioned side-byside on the pallet the timer 86 operates to open the'valve 77 controlling the innermost cylinder 68 and the supporting air escaping therefrom through its associated valve 77 permits this inner cylinder to drop gently into engagement with the bottom of the next cylinder 69. This lowers the platform 84 and with it the pallet with its first tier of two lines of units a depth equal to the height of the units and into position to have the second tier located on top of the first tier, as indicated in Fig. 5. The retreat of the pusher in its contact with limiting switch 66 closes the circuit through the timer 67 which is set to operate the valves 77 in succession after each two actuations of the transfer carriage 36.

The operation is repeated as previously described, first, two lines are formed and advanced onto the pallet to form the lowermost tier; the elevator lowered one step, as indicated in Fig. 5; then two more lines are formed; advanced one after the other into position over the lowermost tier and deposited thereon to form the tier next to the bottom. The operation is continued until five tiers are formed and Vdeposited one on the other with successive lowering of the elevator step-by-step .until the desired five tiers are all stacked on the pallet, and this completes the operation.

Differently considered, it is understood that the pusher 27 operates five times to form each line on the table, while all other mechanism lies idle; the transfer carriage operates twice to shift two succeeding lines off the table onto the pallet, while the pusher lies idle during the operation of the carriage and the elevator lowers one step after the placing of each tier thereon until five tiers are on the pallet.

When the blocks of units have been removed from the machine, usually by manual action of a lift truck, the palletizing space thus left vacant is replaced by a new empty pallet, the main switch 8S closed, and this automatically causes the timer 86 to again start a cycle of operations, with the timer 67 tripping the timer 87 to open all :of the valves 77 to bring the pallet again into its elevated position to receive the first tier of units.

The machine illustrated has been designed to meet operating conditions at one bottling plant where the trucking conditions have been already set for transporting blocks of fifty units. Weight conditions render the handling of more than fifty units not economical. it is obviously within the scope of the disclosure to form the finished blocks of some number other than fiftyfirst, by yresetting the timer S6 to cause the line-forming mechanism 23 to operate to form the desired number of units in the line; to reset the timer 36 to cause the transfer carriage to operate at any desired number of times to increase or decrease the number of lines in each tier; and to reset the timer 86 and the counter 67 to obtain lthe desired number of tiers in the finished block.

With different size bottles the elevator 35 may be replaced by an elevato-r designed to handle units with such different size bottles.

With the units arranged as in Fig. 1, the block may be engaged by the lift vehicle engaging the same either at the long right side in side loading, or by the lift vehicle engaging the same at the short side at the bottom of Fig. 1 in end loading.

The finished block as viewed in plan in Fig. l, in side elevation in Fig. 9, and in end elevation in Fig. 8, shows the units in checkerboard design, that is, with each superposed unitin exactly vertical alignment with its corresponding unit, and with each unit, when viewed in plan, located exactly in two lines at right angles to each other as shown in Fig. 1. This, of course, means that the 1 1 hand-grip holes D on the inner sides of the units as viewed in Fig. 8 are not exposed. However, in actual practice it has been found possible when breaking up the blocks into their component units to rock the units suiiicient to separate them and permit the operator to get his hand between the units to reach the holes D.

I claim:

1. A machine for assembling units fed to the machine in line one after the other in spaced-apart relation into mutual abutting relation to form a solid block of such units free of interspaces, including a table having a long discharge edge and defining an assembly path having a stop at its advance end, line-forming mechanism including a reciprocating pusher at the receiving end of the table for causing a prefixed number of the initially spacedapart units to close on themselves in column formation with the most advanced unit engaging the stop to form a line of units on the table free of spaces therebetween and centered relative to said discharge edge, means extending lengthwise of the table close thereto and offset therefrom forming a pallet station adapted to receive a pallet on which to form the block, and an elevator in said station for supporting and for locating a rectangular pallet in position to receive through one of its long sides the closed line of units discharged from the table, lineshifting mechanism for bodily shifting the line transversely thereof from the table onto the pallet and said elevator being operable to be lowered successively a distance equal to the depth of the units to lower the previously located line of units into position to receive the next succeeding line of units discharged thereon from the table and thus form a block of at least two superposed tiers of units located on the pallet; the pallet being of sutiicient horizontal width dimension to receive thereon a layer of two lines of units in side-by-side lengthwise contacting relation, and said line-shifting mechanism having three operating positions including a position at the table and two positions advanced from the table over the pallet and provided with control means operable successively on the mechanism to cause it to shift a first line of units from the r table into one of said advanced positions forming a far position on the pallet and then to advance the mechanism to the other of its advanced positions to shift a second line of units to a near line position on the pallet without changing the position on the pallet of the first line and with the two lines in abutting relation.

2. In a pallet loading machine, the combination in parallel relation of a loading platform and a pallet having two line-receiving stations, a near station adjacent the platform and a far station beyond the near station, means for forming units on the platform in line, one line after the other and parallel to the stations on the pallet, a pusher for shifting each line as formed transversely off the platform and onto the pallet, two-stroke power-actuated means for shifting the pusher selectively to deposit the lines at either station, and a control for said lastnamed means operating to cause the pusher to deposit a line first at the far station and then at the near station.

3. In a pallet loading machine, the combination of means for forming successive lines of units to be palletized, a pallet having a near receiving station adjacent the line formed by said means and a far receiving station remote from said line, said stations being both parallel to said line as formed by said means, reciprocating pusher mechanism having a path of movement transversely of said line and including a support for receiving the line as formed and for shifting the line from the place where so formed to a position overlapping the pallet, said mechanism having two discharge positions and a control for the mechanism operative when the support is overlapping the pallet in position to discharge the line over the far receiving station to discharge the line at one operative stroke of the mechanism, and said control operative when the support is in its other position overlapping the pallet to discharge the line vover the near receiving station at the next succeeding operative stroke of said mechanism.

4. The machine defined in claim 3, in which the pusher mechanism includes a stripper with a stripper bar located between each line as formed on the support and the reciprocating mechanism, said stripper bar movable idly therewith on the actuating stroke of the pusher mechanism and operable to resist the retreat of the line currently on the support as the support is removed therefrom.

5,. The machine defined in claim 4, wherein the stripper includes power means for withdrawing the stripper bar into its initial position in timed relation between the depositing of any one line on the pallet and the forming ofthe next succeeding line on the support by the firstnamed line-forming means.

6. In a pallet-loading machine, means for forming, on a pallet, a layer of units consisting of plural lines of units, said means comprising a table supported in a unit-receiving position at one side of a pallet and being adapted to receivea line of units thereonto in a first direction of movement parallel to said one side of the pallet and having a line-shifting mechanism which is horizontally reciprocable, transversely of said first direction of movement, between said unit-receiving position and plural positions above the pallet for discharge separately of lines of units thereto, and means for reciprocating said line-shifting mechanism between said unit-receiving position and said plural positions above the pallet, first to that one of said plural positions which is most distant from said one side of the pallet and successively to the position at said one side of the pallet.

7. Means according to claim 6 for forming a layer of units on a pallet, further including a stationary platform at one end of the unit-receiving position of said table, a conveyor for conveying units to said platform in a direction transverse to said first direction of movement of the units onto said table, and a pusher, reciprocable in said first direction of movement, to push units separately from said platform to said table; said pusher having an arm in position to block the conveyor against movement of any unit therefrom to said platform during reciprocation of the pusher.

8. Means according to claim 6 for forming a layer of units on a pallet, further including a horizontal stripper bar supported in a retracted position by said line-shifting mechanism adjacent to that side of a line of units, being received upon the table, which is distal from the pallet, and being movable by said line-shifting mechanism in back of said line of units to any one of said plural positions above the pallet and being adapted to remain adjacent to said line of units to hold the latter against horizontal movement while the line-shifting mechanism moves back to said unit-receiving position; and the stripper bar, further, being responsive to the arrival of the line-shifting mechanism back at said unit-receiving position to move back to its retracted position.

References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 814,454 Keyes Mar. 6, 1906 1,526,993 Luce Feb. 17, 1925 2,234,990 Todhunter Mar. 18, 1941 2,234,991 Todhunter Mar. 18, 1941 2,633,251 Bruce Mar. 31, 1953 2,655,271 Cole et al Oct. 13, 1953 FOREIGN PATENTS 356,874 Great Britain Sept. 17, 1931

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Classifications
U.S. Classification414/792.6, 100/218, 100/215, 414/794.3, 414/794.7
International ClassificationB65G57/00, B66F7/18, B66F3/25
Cooperative ClassificationB66F7/18, B65G57/035, B65G57/06, B65G57/005
European ClassificationB65G57/00, B66F7/18