US 2806614 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
B. J. BUTZ Sept. 17, 1957 METHOD AND DEVICE FOR INSPECTING AND EMPTYING ENVELOPES Filed June 21, 1955 I .2 Sheets-Sheet 1 B.- J. BUTZ Sept. 17, 1957 METHOD AND DEVICE FOR INSPECTING AND EMPTYING ENVELOPES Filed June 21, 1955 .2 Sheets-Sheet 2 United States Patent 9 METHQD AND DEVICE FOR INSPECTING AND EMPTYING ENVELOPES Bruno 'J. Butz, Chicago, Ill.
Application June 21, 1955, Serial No. 516,853 11 Claims. (Cl. 214-310) My invention relates to an envelope inspecting and emptying device, and more specifically to a device adapted to be used in conjunction with an automatic letter opener for insuring that all of the contents of the envelopes passing through the opener are removed therefrom.
In businesses handling a large volume of mail, such as banks, mortgage companies, savings and loan associations, mail order houses, and the like, an automatic letter opener is a necessity.
A common form of opener provides a table on which a pile of unopened envelopes are placed. The table has a back wall against which a longitudinal edge of the envelopes is aligned. Thereafter, friction means on the surface of the table draws the bottommost envelope from under the stack, passes it through the opening mechanism proper, which usually is a knife which shears off a thin skim of the aligned envelope edge, and delivers the opened envelope into a receiver on the other side of the knife. The contents of the envelopes are then removed before or after distribution to the proper section.
It has been known for a long time that a surprisingly large amount of mail is overlooked in the envelope. Many organizations, recognizing this, have organized a scavenging procedure wherein the envelopes, prior to destruction, are rechecked to insure complete emptying. A procedure often followed is to open two other sides of the envelopes to assure that the envelopes are completely emptied. Even having been so opened, however, much mail is still lost and such scavenging procedures call for the expenditure of considerable man-hours, both in opening the envelopes on three sides and going through the envelopes so opened.
In my own experience, I know of an organization which receives a large number of checks daily in the course of their ordinary mail wherein an accidental examination was made of the envelopes discarded. The envelopes checked were only a portion of one days mail. In these envelopes, many checks were found totaling several thousand dollars in amount. lem is substantial.
The device of my invention is intended to scavenge completely automatically once-opened envelopes. It is designed for use in conjunction with one of the envelope openers of the type described above. It is compatible in appearance and size with the envelope opener and may be driven by the same motor. present in the opener. The scavenger operates to receive the envelopes directly fromv the opener and eject the residual contents therefrom.
Other objects and advantages of my invention will be apparent from the following description and drawings, of which:
Fig. 1 is an elevation of an embodiment of my invention shown in conjunction with a letter opener and having the near housing wall broken away to show the interior arrangements thereof;
Fig. 2 is atop plan view of the device of Fig. 1 with the top of the housing broken away in part;
Fig. 3 is a section through the working mechanism of' It is evident that the probtaken substantially along the line 66 of Fig. 5 looking in the direction of the arrows; and
Fig. 7 is an elevation of the drive mechanism of the modification illustrated in Fig. 5 and may be regarded as being taken substantially along the line 7--7 of Fig. 6 looking in the direction of the arrows.
In Fig. 1 is illustrated an envelope scavenging assembly embodying my invention. It consists of a letter opener 10, a scavenger 12 and a receiver 14.
As stated above, there is a particular type of letter opener in conjunction with which my scavenger may be most efliciently employed. It will be understood that it is capable of employment with any kind of letter opener which operates to open one edge of an envelope, but the combination of the power sourse contained within the preferred opener, the way in which the envelopes are opened, and the way in which the envelopes, after opening, are delivered from the opener provides a particularly successful degree of cooperation between the opener and the scavenger.
This particular type of opener is made by Pitney- Bowes, Inc. and is identified as their Automatic opener. A pile of unopened letters with aligned longitudinal edges is placed on a table 16. The back wall 17 assures the proper alignment of the edges. An end wall 18 terminates at its lower edge 19 above the level of the table 16 so as to leave a horizontal slot between the end wall 18 and the table 16. A continuously moving belt 20 draws the bottommost letter 21 from under the stacked mail. A pair of upper rollers 22 hold the letter firmly against the belt 20 and a knife (not shown) shears a thin skim j lope through the opener slits open just one of the longitudinal edges of the envelope. Normal mail handling may call for a removal of the contents from the envelope at this time, either by the mail clerk or by the distribution of the opened envelopes to the appropriate department handling the contents thereof.
My scavenger is intended to be used in conjunction with the letter opener upon a second passage of the envelope through the opener- For this second passage, the envelopes are reversed on the table 16 so that the unopened v longitudinal edges thereof abut against the wall 1'7. Operation of the opener then results in that edge being opened. After this second slitting of the envelopes, they are delivered to the scavenger unit 12.
For economy of construction, I contemplate that the motor 24 of the letter opener 10 be used to power the scavenger unit. Therefore a slight modification of the letter opener is required in that the shaft of the motor should be extended through the housing of the opener and a pulley 26 affixed thereto exterior of the housing to provide a drive for the scavenger unit.
an enclosed gear housing 31 with well-spaced outer and inner walls 32 and 34 so as to provide appreciable space within the housing 31. The inner wall 34 has as'eries of Y three holes arranged vertically in about the center thereof.
The-upper and lower holes contain rotatable tubular shafts 36.and 37. Exteriorly-of the gear box, the shafts mount in spaced relation upper and lower drums 38 and 39 having a plurality of perforations 4i) about the cylindrical,
surfaces thereof. ln-side theigear box, the shafts BSa-nd that sh'eft} Appropriatefittingssecure the, tube ends in 'airitigh't relation to. permit rotathe respective shafts in tion of the two shafts.
A fsm'all air purnp I59 I is likewise mounted within the. gear'housin'g 31. 'The tube 51 extends to the intake port.
61 thereof. A tube.6 3:isconnected to thedischarge port 64 thereof and extendstoa positionbehindthe central. hole 66,1 above r'eferred to,jiri .the, inner. wallof the gear 1 housing 31. From this point, .the tube extends .for wardly through a passage 66 in the wall 47 and is conneeted to anair jet nozzle 70 mounted in thehole 66.,
The shaft 72 of the pump 59 extends through the inner wall 32 of the housing. and has a first pulley 74 mounted thereon outside the hou's'ingSII In the embodiment illus; tratedla belt 76 extends'between the pulley 74 and a pulley on the shaft of the motor 24 in the letteropener 10 toprovide power for .the. scavenger.. An idler 78 may be providedon theinner wall to direct the belt to avoid A theflower drum .39.;
Ifilth'e. eventthatthe scavenger unit is to be self-powere d,' the belt of course will notbehandled in this fashion. In such ,case the motor maybe directly connected to the shaft of the'pump or may be mounted separately to be enclosed within the gear hoiisingand .connectedby belting to the" pump.
A'fg'earj SO ism untedpna shaft SLWhich is journaled at its' endsin the walls 32 and .34 of the housing 31, the.
gear meshing with gear43 .on the; lower shaft 37. A gear,
83. isYn-iountedon a shaft -84 -which is journaledjn the. walls ,32- and 34-of thehousing thisgear meshingwith s esa 's a 42. on t upper shaft .36. ,The. pump shaft 72 has .a second pulley 86 thereon inside. the housing 31 which is connected by-a belt 88. to a pulley.
90 mounted on the lowertubularshaft37.,
Themotorof the letter openerthusldrivesthepump shaft 72 by belt 76 which operates, thepumpiandlikewise deli'gers, power; to the drums 38 and; 39-to rotate them. in j opposite directions as indicatedbytheen-ows.in Fig? 1.
The-,rnajor part. of, the circumference. .of each of the drums is closely covered by upper andlowershrouds92 1 and;j9. 4 connected to the innerjwall 34. to extendoutwardly therefrom. Theshrouding of both drums is open in the area Wherethe drums mostclos'ely approach each other;
that is,on the bottom side of the top drum'38 and the top side .of the bottom drum 39. The shrouding terminates in these regions so that a line constructed across the bottom Q edges of the shrouding would at least touch and preferably extend slightly into the exposed surfaces of the drum.
The ends .of the bottom shroud 94 meet table segments 96, 98 which are horizontal plate members also secured .to the inner wall 34 of thehousing 3lyse'gmenti 96 extending to the receiving edge of the scavenger and segment 98 extending to the deliveryedgeofthe seavieng er. Additional deliveryr'olls IOU-and 101 mayalso be housing 31.
provided to extend out from theinn'er wall 3J4; of'the These rollsare arranged to touch each other, the point of touching lying in the plane of the 7 surface of the segment 98. These rolls are secured to shafts 103 and 1-04-which span the housing 31 and are T joufnaled in-the walls thereoh' shaft 104 liasfa thereon and the belt 88 is entrained also about this pulley so that the delivery rolls are driven simultaneously with the drum 39. The pulley 106 is of substantially smaller diameter than the pulley on shaft 37 so that the roller 101 travels at a greater peripheral velocity than the drums 39. Meshing gears 108 and 199 on the shafts 1G3, 104 transmit the movement of the roller 101 to the roller 100.
The entire mechanismrnay be covered by a hood 111 which wedges down tightly over the edges of the foot 29. The hood should have .a continuous horizontal slot immediately above the general plane of the table segments 96, 98, the slotbeginningat thereceiving edge of the gear housing, extendingaway therefrom around the side opposite the gear housing, and returning to the gear housing on the delivery side. The hood should also be appropriately perforated to permit the connection of belt 76 to ,the motor 24 of thel letter opener.
The operati n of, my. device will be readily understood .fromthe foregoing description. It is assumed that each of the'envelopes in which the. days mail was received has been put lthrough a letter opener once so that one.
longitudinaledgef ofnlhe, envelope .has been opened. It
is alsorassumed that the envelopes havebeen distributed tothe. appropriate ,departrnents and that presumablyv the contents thereof have been manually removed. Parenthetically, it should be noted. that my scavenger is entirely capahleof an initial emp tying of, the envelopes, but in the event .that the envelopesmay contain two or more enel osures which it is desirable to keep together, themanual .emptyi ng procedure will probably be the one lw tiei The presumably, emptied, envelopes having one longitudinaledgeopened are placed on the table 16 of the letter ene w th t es ssi e-u spened e of the envelope.
againstlthe wall, 17;of. the ,lett er opener l0. Thereafter, the letter opene r reprocesses the envelopes soas to open this opposite-edge The; letter .opener then delivers to the ,seavengerunit insteadpf to the receiver 14.
The envelopes are driven, by; the rollers 22 of the opener intotheslot,113 of thehood 111 .of the scavenger unit. 12 The envelopesslidein on the receiving. table 1 segment 96guntil:theyeorne to the end of that table segment. an. enter; between .the' unshrouded areas of the drums,38,- -39.-;.. The; suct ion, developed by the pump. 59
Within the .drurn s. 38,- 3 9 ser.vesto separatethe sides of the envelopes; and bring them .up into. contact with the exposed,. surfa ces rof the:drum.. The air jet from nozzle 70, blowing between the spread envelope sides, serves to.
blow-gut ,any, contents; of the envelope vwhich might have been-,missedtbefore, the,slot1.in the hood permittingv the.
mplete..eiectionof.,saidcontents from the scavenger unit.
Asflescribedaabove, thee-shroudingv of the drums termimate-such thQl l6 .envelopw sides. are. brought into direct contact, with; thedrums and the :drums therefore engage the envelope to drive itthrollgh the scavenger unit. To make this drive more certain, however, and to effect a final breaking away of ,theengelopes from the suction developed on the surfaces of the ,drums, the envelopes enterbetweendelivery ro-lls100,101 which positively draw them from between .the drums anddeliver them into the receiver 14.'.;
An alternative .embodirnent of my invention is illus-,; trated.in.Figs..,5, 6 and7. In thisembodiment, the same" sinvolved. An air pump is used to create sucti nontwo, spaced moving surfaces to spread the sides'lofanenvelope The pump also delivers air to an an nozzle, "blowing between the surfaces, and the rincipe or spen surfaces ove. the envelopes .eontinuouslvpast the air fIn islseei the end .of the letter opener 10, the r eive The spatter 5g envelopes through the scavenger In thismodification, the
ealternative form of the scavenger ain contains the motor 24 and a belt H 76 is qonn ct qis reat ibsth. t pu and to drive The shaft 72 of the pump extends through the inner wall 34 of the housing and has a pulley 122 thereon exterior of the housing, which is connected to belt 76 to be driven thereby. Interior of the gear housing, the shaft has a second pulley 124 thereon.
In this modification, the inner wall 34 has four shafts 126, 127, 128 and 129 which mount respectively a receiving upper roller 131, a delivery upper roller 132, a receiving lower roller 133, and a delivery lower roller 134. The shafts span the housing 31 and are journaled for rotation in the inner 34 and outer 32 walls thereof. The shaft 129 of the lower delivery roller has a pulley 136 thereon, and a belt 138 interconnects the pulley 124 on the pump and pulley 136. The shafts 127 and 128 of the two delivery rollers likewise have gears 140 and 142 thereon to integrate the movement of the two rollers.
A pair of wide belts 144 and 146 interconnect respectively the two upper rollers and the two lower rollers. The belts should be somewhat slack on the rollers. They should be made of a semi-permeable fabric for purposes to be made clear subsequently. It is desirable that the surfaces of the rollers 131, 132, 133, 134 be rough so that the rollers 132, 134 drive positively the belts and the rollers 131, 133 be driven positively, in turn, by the belts. The upper and lower rollers in both positions should be spaced so that the upper and lower belts touch'each other lightly between the two sets of rollers.
A pair of suction chambers, 148, 150 are formed on the inner wall 34 to extend outwardly therefrom for at least the width of the belts 144, 146. Chamber 148 is situated to lie within the loop of belt 144 between the rollers 131 and 132. Chamber 150 is situated to lie within the loop of the belt 146 between the rollers 133 and 134. The facing surfaces 152 of the chambers are concave so as to leave a lenticular space 153 between them and are perforated 154 for the passage of air therethro-ugh. The edges 156 of the concave surfaces nearest the rollers should approach each other closely enough so that the belts are very near each other or touch each other with light pressure and the perforations 154 should extend to these edges and particularly, to those edges which are nearest the receiving rollers 131, 133.
The wall 34 of the housing 31 has ports 158 therein which are connected by a tube 160 to the intake side of the pump 59. A tube 162 extends from the discharge side of the pump to an air jet nozzle 164 mounted in wall 34 which is directed to blow transversely in the lenticular space between the surfaces 152 of the chambers 148, 150.
The scavenger unit again may be covered by a hood 164 which has a slot 166 therein around three sides thereof in the plane of the lenticular space 153, the slot stopping on the receiving and discharging ends ofthe scavenger at the gear housing 31.
In the case of this form of my invention, the onceopened envelopes are again introduced into the letteropening machine as described above in which the uncut longitudinal edge of the envelope is opened. The letter opener delivers the envelopes to the belts 144, 146 between the rollers 131, 133. The belts thereupon seize the envelope and draw it through the scavenger. As the leading edge of the envelope passes between the rollers 131, 133 and to the edges 156 of the suction chambers 14%, 159 nearest rollers 131, 133, the perforations on these edges immediately apply suction to the two sides of the envelope while the envelope is in positive contact with both the belts and indirectly with both of the chambers.
The semi-permeable nature of the fabric of which the belts are made permits a fairly free air flow through the fabric. However, it is desirable that the belts offer sufficient resistance to the flow of air therethrough so that they themselves will be drawn against the surfaces 150, 152 and follow this contour as they move. Materials meeting such requirements, of course, are well known and require no further specification.
Each side of the envelope thus being firmly attached by suction to the belts, the envelope will be drawn into the lenticularspace between the rollers as the belts move, the sides of the envelope being separated to follow the contours of the surfaces 150. In the meantime of course, a jet of air is blowing out through the nozzle 164. Should any contents remain in the envelopes, the jet will effectively blow them out of the envelopes as they pass in front of the nozzle 164, and through the slot 166 to the front of the scavenger as illustrated in Fig. 5 or Fig. 1. The envelopes not being exposed to the force of the jet and being anchored firmly against the surfaces 152' by the suction therebehind, will proceed through rollers 132, 134 and be delivered into the receiver 14.
'From the two alternatives described in detail above, it will be appreciated that there are many ways of effectuating my invention, and, additionally, many structural a'l-' ternatives are possible in the embodiments described. I therefore desire that my invention be regarded as being limited only as set forth in the following claims.
1. A method for removing the contents from envelopes which comprises opening the longitudinal edges of said envelope, separating the sides of said envelope by the application of suction thereto and blowing an air jet transversely of said envelope between said separated sides to eject said contents.
2. A device for removing the contents from envelopes, said envelopes having opposite open edges, comprising an air pump, means providing a pair of endless, air-perrneable, movable surfaces, the paths of travel of said surfaces including a region of close approach to one another, means operable to move said surfaces in the same lineal direction and speed at a point in said region, means connecting the intake side of said pump to draw air through said surfaces and to create suction thereon in said region, and means connected to the output side of said pump to deliver a jet of air between said surfaces in said region transversely of the direction of movement of said surfaces.
3. A device for removing the contents from envelopes, said envelopes having opposite open edges, comprising a pair of perforated drums, means mounting said drums in slightly spaced relation for rotation, a pump, means connecting the intake side of said pump to said drums to draw air through said drums to create suction on the surface thereof, means for driving said drums in opposite rotational directions, shrouds slightly spaced from each other substantially covering the periphery of said drums to localize the suction to the surface portions of the drums closest to each other, an air nozzle mounted to deliver a blast of air through the separation between said drums and parallel to the axes of said drums and means connecting said nozzle to the exhaust side of said pump.
4. A device for removing the contents from envelopes,-
said envelopes having opposite open edges, comprising a pair of drums having perforated cylindrical surfaces, means mounting said drums in slightly spaced parallel relation for rotation, means for drawing air through said drums to create suction on the surface thereof, means for driving said drums in opposite rotational directions so that the facing portions of said drums travel in the same linear direction, slightly spaced shrouding means substantially covering the periphery of said drums to localize the suction to the surface portions of the drums closest to each other and means for delivering a blast of air centrally through the space between said drums.
5. A device for removing the contents from envelopes, said envelopes having opposite open edges, comprising a pair of drums having perforated cylindrical surfaces, means mounting said drums in slightly spaced parallel relation for rotation, means for drawing air through said drums to create suction on the surface thereof, means for driving said drums in opposite rotational directions so that the facing portions of said drums travel in the same linear direction, slightly spaced shrouding means a substantially covering the periphery of, said drums. to localize the suction to the surface portions of the drums closest to each other and means in the vicinity of .one end of said drums for deliveringia blast of air lengthwise of said drums centrally through the space between said drums.
6. An envelope inspecting and emptying device for removing the contents from envelopes, said envelopes having opposite longitudinal edges opened, comprising a base member including an upstanding housing having vertical wall, a pair of drums perforated about the cylindrical surfaces thereof mounted to extend out from said wall in slightly spaced relation on tubular shafts journaled in said wall for rotation, means in said housing connected to said shafts to draw air throughsaid perforations to v create a suction on the exterior of said drums, slightly spaced shrouding means covering the periphery of said drums except in the area where the drums are nearest each other to localize the suction to said area, means for driving said drums in opposite rotational directions and means in said wall for delivering a blast of air transversely centrally between said drums;
7. An envelope inspecting-and emptying, device for removing the contents from envelopes adapted to be employed in conjunction with an automatic letter opener of the type described, said letter opener being further characterized by having a motor therein and an external pulley connect-e to said motor, said opener delivering envelopes consecutively with two opposite edges opened and an unopened edge leading, comprising a base member including an upstanding housing having a vertical wall, a pair of drums perforated about the cylindrical surfaces thereof extending outward from said wall and mounted horizontally in slightly spaced relation on tubular shafts journaled in said wall, means connected to said shafts for drawing air through said drums to create suction on the surfaces thereof, shrouds connected to said wall substantially covering the periphery of said drums to localize the suction to the surface portions of the drums closest each'other, means mounted in said wall for delivering a jet of air between said drums parallel to said shafts and means for powering the rotation of said drums, the creation of said suction and the delivery of said air jet from said external power source on said opener;
8. A device for removing the contents from envelopes, said envelopes having open longitudinal edges comprising a pair of air permeable, endless belts, means for guiding said belts to approach each other closely and thereafter diverge gradually, means including rollers in engagement with said belts for driving said belts in the direction of, first, said close approach and then said divergence, means for drawing air through said belts in said regions of close approach and divergence, and meansproviding a jet of air between saiddiverged belts transversely: with re-' gradual separation therefter so that the suction created on the surface portion of each of' saidbelts by the said withdrawal of air first engages positively the two sides of one of said envelopes and. thereafter separates said sides, and meansifor delivering a jet of air transversely of said belts in the area of said separation.
10. An envelope inspecting and emptying device for removing the contents fromenvelopes, said envelopes having opposite longitudinal edges-opened, comprising a base member including an upstanding housing having a vertical wall, a pair of upper rollers and a pair of lower rollers journaled for rotation in said wall-and extending outward therefrom, the rollers of each pair being substantially spaced from each other and the lower rollers being only slightly spaced from the upper rollers, slack, air-permeable belts entrained over said upper rollers and over said lower rollers, a pair of chambers mounted to said wall within each of said belts between the rollers of said belts, said chambers extending out from said wall the width of said belt and having concave, perforated,
facing surfaces, means in said housing for drawing air from said chambers, means for blowing air transversely of said belts approximately centrally between'said concave surfaces, and means for drivingone of the rollers of each of said belts in oppositerotational directions to move said belts across said concave'surfaces'in the same direction.
l1. A method for removing the contents from envelopes which comprises opening two opposite edges of said envelopes and moving said envelopes consecutively and continuously through a zone wherein suction is applied to the sides of said envelopes to separate said sides and past an air jet in said zone arranged to blow a stream of air continuously transversely of and between said separated sides as said envelopes pass said jet to eject said contents.
No references cited;