US 2838896 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
June 17, 1958 J. F. CURRIVAN ET AL 2,838,896
CASE LOADER Filed Sept. 21. 1954 6 Sheets-Sheet 1 1 d1 250' J I CF INVENTORS Jo/m F C arr/Md n (A/i/fidm CJKer/ Q Any.
June 17, 1958 I .J. cuRRlv N ET AL 2,838,896
CASE LOADER Filed Sept. 21, 1954 6 Sheets-Sheet 2 /02 ms 2e /25 I N VEN TOR.
June 17, 1958 J. F. CURRIVAN EIAL CASE LOADER Filed Spt. 21, 1954' 6 Sheets-Sheet 3 June 17, 1958 J. F. CURRIVAN ET AL 2,838,896
CASE LOADER Filed Sept. 21, 1954 6 Sheets-Sheet 5 IN VEN TORS June 17, 1958 J. F. CURRIVAN ET AL CASE LOADER 6 Sheets-Sheet 6 Filed Sept. 21, 1954 map-M IUFDJU mm a OFZO
ZOFUwEO 85 m. mmwmm 8 MNN IVEN TORS & WZ%%Z? Em; IUkDJU omwm mmdO Z0721 mEO ATTORNEYS.
United States CASE LOADER John F. Currivan', East Hampton, and William C. Kerher,
Hopatcong, N. J., assignors to Lynch Corporation, Anderson, Ind, a corporation of Indiana Application September 21, 1954, Serial No. 457,386
2 Claims. (Cl. 53-466) This invention relates generally to a case loader, and more particularly to a novel machine for loading groups of liquid-filled bottles into cases in a continuous series of consecutive groups.
in loading bottles having liquid contents of the elfervcscent type, such as carbonated beverages and malt liquors, the problem of rough handling is an important one. in order tomaintain efficient production operation in a continuous manner, it is necessary to load bottles into cases immediately following the filling, capping, and labeling operations. The bottles at this stage of production are customarily relatively warm, and it is' of extreme importance to avoid unnecessary shock to the bottles at such time. It is well-known that shaking or jarring of the bottles during the case loading operation will result in extreme foaming or violent etfervescence upon subsequent opening of the bottle by the ultimate consumer.
in the past, it has been customary practice to load bottles into cases by allowing them to drop or fall from a position above an open case onto the bottom of the case. The height of such a drop is quite considerable, and is usually equal to at least the height of the bottles or the depth of the case. In order to assure proper positioning of each of the bottles of the group, guide means of one form or another have formerly been employed during the dropping of the bottles into the case. Although such guide means have somewhat minimized the rate of fall into the case, it has not been heretofore possible to wholly prevent severe jarring impact of the bottles against the bottom of the case. a
it is a primary object of the present invention, therefore, to provide a novel case loading machine wherein a predetermined loading pattern of bottles is positioned and held stationary at a loading station by means of a bottle gripping head, and an empty case is elevated upwardly around the pattern in close surrounding relation by means of a case elevator, whereby upon release of the bottles by the gripping head there .will be little I or no remaining height for the bottles to fall onto the case bottom in order to complete the loading of the bottles within the case.
it is another object of this invention to provide a case loader having a novel conveyor and bottle guide section for feeding a continuous flow of bottles in adjacent rows, and cooperating means for separating a predetermined bottle pattern or grouping from the forward end of the bottle rows preparatory to loading the bottle pattern into a case.
it is a further object of this invention to provide a case loader having a bottle lift assembly cooperating with V the discharge end or a bottle feed conveyor for elevating a predetermined bottlepattern or grouping from the forward end of a continuously-fed series of adjacent rows of bottles, thereby effecting separation of the bottle pattern from the main flow of bottle rows forengagement by a bottle gripping head preparatory to moving the Patented June 17, 1958 bottle pattern to a loading station for suspension above a case elevating platform.
It is still another object of this invention to provide a novel bottle transfer head for carrying a bottle pattern by gripping the bottles at their upper neck portions, whereby the bottles'may be moved to a loading station for suspension above a case elevating platform, preparatory to being simultaneously released at that point for loading into a surrounding case elevated around the bottles by the elevating platform.
It is still a further object of this invention to provide a case loader having novel case elevating means operative to raise an empty case about a stationary, suspended bottle pattern for effecting positioning of the bottles Within the case with a minimum of vertical fall of the bottles to the bottom of the case.
It is yet another object of this invention to provide a novel bottle-gripping jaw assembly operative to securely grasp a multiplicity of bottles, in a predetermined symmetrical grouping comprising aplurality of spaced rows of contactingly-engaged consecutive bottles, by engaging the respective bottle necks between pairs of gripping members, thereby permitting the main portion of the bottles and their bottoms to be freely suspended, and then moving the grouping forwardly while simultaneously effecting spacing of the contactingly-engaged bottles.
It is yet a further object of this invention to provide a case loader which is completely automatic in its operation, and which is of adjustable construction to permit operation with various size bottles for loading into cases in patterns of various bottle-multiples.
Further objects and advantages of this invention'will become apparent as the following description proceeds and the features of novelty which characterize this invention will be pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming part of this specification.
A preferred embodiment of the invention is shown in the accompanying drawing, in which:
Figure 1 is a diagrammatic layout view showing the case loader of the present invention in operative installation at the end of a bottling production line, and illustrating the course of flow of bottles through the case loading operation;
Figure 2 is a side elevational view of a case loader constructed in accordance with the present invention, partly broken away and with parts omitted to show details of internal construction;
Figure 2A is a fragmentary view taken substantiallyas indicated by the line 2A-2A on Figure 2;
Figure 3 is a top plan view of the case loader shown in Figure 2;
Figures 4 and 5 are fragmentary views in side elevation at the forward end of the case loader of Figure 2, taken in the directions indicated by the arrows 4-4 and 5-5, broken away and with various parts omitted to show details of internal construction;
Figure 6 is another fragmentary view in side elevation, taken in the direction indicated by the arrows 6 6 on Figure 2;. i
Figure 7 is an end elevational view, partly broken away, showing the case feeding and loading end of the case loader of Figure 2;.
Figure 8 is a fragmentary detail view, partly broken away and in vertical cross section, showing the fullpattern trip assembly of Figure 4 in detail;
Figure'9 is a fragmentary detail view, partly broken away and in vertical cross section, as indicated by the line 99 on Figure 2, showing a bottle-gripping unit of the transfer head;
Figures 10 and 11 are side elevational and vertical cross-sectional views, taken substantially as indicated by 3 the lines 10 and 1111 on Figure 9, showing the bottle gripping jaws of the case loader;
Figures 12 and 13 are additional fragmentary views in top plan, showing the operation of the actuating mechanism for effecting opening and closing of the bottle gripping jaws; and
Figure 14 is a chart showing the relative operating sequences of the various mechanical functions of the case loading cycle of the machine disclosed.
Referring now more particularly to Figure l of the drawing, we have shown a more or less diagrammatic layout of the case loader of the present invention in operative installation at the end of a production line. The bottles which are to be loaded into cases or cartons are first filled with their liquid contents and capped. The filled bottles are then labeled and discharged onto a suitable conveyor or the like in vertically upright position preparatory to the final loading of the filled bottles in suitable containers. We have indicated a discharge conveyor on which the filled, capped, and labeled bottles are received. It will be understood that a plurality of such conveyors may carry the product from a plurality of parallel or alternately operating production lines. For simplicity of illustration, we have shown the single conveyor 20 carrying a single line output of product bottles B.
The conveyor 20 carries the bottles B in the direction indicated by the arrow toward a conventional turn guide 22 for discharge onto a lead-in conveyor 24 which serves to deliver the bottles B onto the case loader 26 of this invention.
As best seen in Figures 2 and 3 of the drawing, the case loader 26 provides a continuously driven platform conveyor 28 of sufficient width to support and carry a plurality of vertically upright bottles B in a side-by-side pattern of multiple rows. The platform conveyor is made up of a plurality of link plates 30 which form a horizontal conveyor traveling level. As shown in'Figure 2, the link plates 30 are supported by a rotatable conveyor end shaft 32 and a rotatably driven conveyor drive shaft 34, in conventional manner. The shafts 32 and 34 are rotatively received in suitable bearings carried by pairs of supporting brackets 36 and 38. The shafts 32 and 34 carry suitable drive wheels 40 and 42 which engage and support the link plates 30. The conveyor traveling level moves forwardly in the clockwise direction of rotation shown by the arrows in Figure 3.
The brackets 36 and 38 are rigidly secured to a machine frame and housing structure indicated generally at 44 (see Figure 2). a plurality of vertical support members 46 having adjustable floor mounting legs 48. Upper side panel members 50 and lower side brace members 52 extend horizontally at the upper and lower ends, respectively, of the frame structure 44.
A pair of vertical brackets 54 are secured to the frame structure 44 at opposite sides of the width of the traveling level of conveyor 28 at a point adjacent the bottle receiving end of the conveyor. Horizontal rods 56 and 58 are carried by the brackets 54 (see Figure 4), and are axially slidable within the brackets 54 for adjusting their opposed inner ends toward and away from each other to fixed positions of spaced adjustment.
The inner ends of the rods 56 and 58 are secured to a pair of side guide plates 60 and 62, respectively. It will be apparent that the rods 56 and 58 serve to rigidly support the plates 60 and 62' in a position of transverse adjustment relative to the width of the traveling level of conveyor 28.
A second pair of vertical brackets 64 are carried by the frame structure 44' at a medial point along the length of the conveyor 28'. The brackets 64' are provided with lower rods 66 corresponding substantially to rods 56 and 58 of the brackets 54. The respective rods 66 are'axially adjustable within the brackets 64, and are rigidly secured The frame structure 44 includes to the side plates 60 and 62 to provide further fixed support therefor. The brackets 64 carry a horizontal upper rod 68 which extends transversely across the width of the conveyor 28. An additional assembly of vertical brackets 70, a pair of lower horizontal rods 72, and an upper horizontal rod 74, similar to the assembly 6 6668 is provided at the forward end of the conveyor 28.
The horizontal rods 68 and 74 of the pairs of brackets 64 and 70, each carry a plurality of connector blocks 76 and 78, respectively. The connector blocks 76 and 78 are axially slidable to fixed positions of adjustment along the rods 68 and 74, and are rigidly secured to a plurality of pattern guide plates 80 to 84 in desired posi' tions of transverse adjustment relative to the width of the traveling level of conveyor 28. The pattern guide plates include outer plates 80' and 84, which are the longest of the group, a center plate 82, which is somewhat shorter than the plates 88 and 84, and a pair of intermediate plates 81 and 83, which are the shortest of the group. The outer and center plates 80, 82, and 84 are preferably provided with vertical elongated abutment roller members 86.
It will be apparent that as the bottles B are fed onto the receiving end of the platform conveyor, they will be carried forwardly along the traveling level of the con veyor 28, and between the side guide plates 6-8 and 62, toward the bottle pattern guide plates 80 to 84. The bottles B will distribute themselves between the pattern guide plates 88 to 84, as shown in Figure 4 of the drawing, in an obvious manner. By selecting the desired number of pattern guide plates and appropriately positioning them transversely with respect to the width of the traveling level of the conveyor 28, any desired pattern of bottle distribution for subsequent case loading may be provided. As illustrated, the bottles B will be divided into rows of 6. It will be apparent that larger bottles may be handled in a like manner and divided into rows of four.
Referring again to Figure l of the drawing, an enlarge housing portion 88 of the frame structure 44 is provided at the forward end of the platform conveyor and serves to enclose various power drive mechanisms which will hereinafter be described in detail.
As best seen in Figure 2, the housing 88 encloses a motor 90 suitably supported on the frame 44 and having manual speed adjusting means 92 of the type which varies the position of the motor 90 relative to a variable cone pulley. The motor 90 provides an output drive shaft 94 carrying a pulley wheel 96 connected by means of a drive belt 98 with a cooperating pulley wheel 100 carried by an input shaft 102 of a gear reducer 104. The gear reducer 104 provides an output shaft 106 carrying a sprocket wheel 108 and a drive gear 110. A onc revolution clutch 109 (see Figure 2A) is interposed be tween the sprocket wheel 108 and drive gear 110, and includes a control element 111 which is normally biased to effect clutch disengagement and prevent driving rotation of the gear 110. A solenoid 113 eifects regulation of the control 111, and permits clutch engagement and drive of the gear when energized.
A link chain 112 serves to connect the sprocket wheel 108 with a cooperating sprocket wheel 114 carried by the conveyor drive shaft 34. An intermediate sprocket wheel 116 is provided for maintaining vertical alignment of the link chain 112 adjacent the conveyor drive shaft 34. Power will be transmitted from the motor 90, gear reducer 104, and elements 103, 112, and 114, to the conveyor drive shaft 34 for etfecting driving rotation of the drive wheel 42 and thereby the link plates 30 of the conveyor 28. Although the conveyor 28 will be continuously driven by the motor 90, the clutch 109 serves to transmit driving power to the drive gear 118 only when engaged by the solenoid 111.
A horizontal power shaft 120 is rotatably supported in suitable bearing means carried by the frame structure 44, and is positioned in parallel relation to the gear reducer output shaft 106. A large drive gear 122 is carried by the power shaft 120 and meshes with the drive gear 110 carried by the gear reducer output shaft 106.
In this manner, power will be transmitted from the motor 90, through the gear reducer 104 and the drive gears 110 and 122, to the power shaft 120.
The power shaft 120 carries a case elevator actuating cam 124 which cooperatingly engages a cam follower 125 carried by a rocker arm 126. Although a simple surface cam is shown in Figure 3, it will be understood that a barrel cam cooperating with a-rol ler carried by the rocker arm 126 is to be preferred. The rocker arm 126 is secured to a fixed horizontal pivot shaft 128 at its lower end. The shaft 128 may be suitably carried by hearing means secured to the frame structure 44. The swinging upper end of the rocker arm 126 provides a pivotal connection 130 attached to one end of a link arm 132. The other end of the link arm 132 is pivotally connected to a rack 134 which is carried by guide means 136 for horizontal reciprocation.
- A small pinion wheel 138 is carried by a horizontal shaft 140 for cooperation with the rack 134. It will be understood that the shaft 140 is suitably carried by bearing means secured to the frame structure 44. A pair of large pinion wheels 142 are also carried by the shaft 140 and cooperate with a pair of racks 144 having suitable guide means supported by the frame structure 44 for vertical reciprocation.
Horizontal reciprocation of the rack 134 will effect rotation of the small pinion 138 and the shaft 140. In turn, the large pinions 142 will be rotated, and will effect vertical reciprocation of the racks 144. The racks 144 are rigidly secured at their upper ends to a case .elevator platform 146, having suitable guide means supported by the frame structure 44 for up and down movement.
It will be apparent that power will be transmitted from the motor 90, through the gear reducer 104 and output shaft 106, drive gears 110 and 122, power shaft 120, actuating earn 124, rocker arm 126, and connector arm 132, to effect horizontal reciprocation of the rack 134. Movement of the rack 134 will be transmitted through parts 138, 140i, and 142 to effect vertical reciprocation of the rack 144, thereby effecting raising and lowering of the case elevator platform 146. In this manner, an empty case C positioned on the elevator platform 146 may be elevated to receive a pattern of bottles in a manner to be hereinafter described in de tail, and the full case thereafter lowered and carried away. 7
Referring now to Figure 4 of the drawing, the power shaft 120 carries a bottle-lift actuating cam 150 which cooperatingly engages a cam follower 151 carried by a rocker arm 152 at its one end. The rocker arm 152 is s taining the bottle rows received on the platform in spaced parallel rows.
In this manner, power will be transmitted from the motor 90, through the gear reducer 104, gears and 122, power shaft 120, cam 150, and linkages 152 and 158 to the pedestal bracket 160, thereby effecting its vertical reciprocation. In this way, the bottle-lift elevator platform 164 will be raised and lowered to move a bottle pattern, when disposed thereon, upwardly toward the transfer head and bottle-gripping assembly 166.
Referring now to Figure 5 of the drawing, the power shaft carries a small drive gear which meshes with a cooperating gear 172 carried by a vertical shaft 174. The shaft 174 is received within a thrust bearing support 176 at its lower end, and within a rotary bearing sleeve 178 at its upperend. The bearings 176 and 178 are suitably secured to the frame structure 44. The ver tical shaft 174 carries a bevel gear 180 at its upper end, which meshes with a bevel gear 182 carried by a horizontal power shaft 184. It will be understood that the shaft 134 may be suitably supported for rotation within bearing means attached to the frame structure 44.
The power shaft 184 carries a transfer head actuating cam 186, which cooperatingly engages a cam follower 188 carried by a rocker arm 190 at a point intermediate its ends. The rocker arm 190 is provided with a fixed horizontal pivot shaft 192 at its one end, suitably carried by bearing means secured to the frame structure 44. The other end of the rocker arm 190 provides a swinging pivot 194 to which the lower end of a connector arm 196 is pivotally secured. The upper end of the connector arm is pivotally connected by means of an extensible linkage 198 to the lower end of a vertical rack 200. Suitable guide means 202, attached to .the frame structure 44, provides a guide for vertical reciprocation of the rack 20%.
A pinion 204 is mounted on a horizontal shaft for cooperation with the rack. 200, and meshes with a gear 206 carried by a horizontal shaft 208. The shaft 208 also carries a pinion 210 which meshes with a horizontal rack 212. Suitable guide means 214 are provided for hori zontal reciprocation of the rack 212. The rack 212 is secured to the transfer head and bottle-gripping assembly 166, and thereby effects its forward and back movement when actuated.
It will be apparent that power will be transmitted from the motor 90 through the gear reducer 104, gears 110 and 122, power shaft 120, gears 170 and 172,vertical shaft 174, gears 180 and 182, shaft 184, cam 186, and linkages 190, 196 and 198, to the vertical rack 200, thereby effectsecured to fixed horizontal pivot shaft 154 intermediate its ends. The shaft 154 may be suitabl carried by bearing means secured to the frame structure 44. The other end of the rocker arm 152 provides a swinging pivot 156 to which the lower end of a connector arm 158 is pivotally secured. The upper end of the connector arm 158 is pivotally attached to the lower end portion of a pedestal bracket 160. Suitable guide means 162 are carried by the frame structure 44 to assist vertical reciprocation of the pedestal bracket 160.
A bottle-lift elevator platform 164 is secured to the upper end of the pedestal bracket 160 for up and down movement thereby. The bottle-lift elevator platform 164 is positioned beyond the forward end of the bottle conveyor 28 and directly below a transfer head and bottlegripping assembly, indicated generally at 166 and hereinafter to be described in detail. A plurality of bottle guides 165 are provided on the platform 164 in longitudinal alignment with the conveyor guides 80-434 for maining its vertical reciprocation. As the vertical rack 200 is'vertically reciprocated, the pinions and gears 204, 206, and 210 will effect horizontal reciprocation of the h0rizontal rack 212, thereby causing forward and back movement of the transfer head and bottle-gripping assembly 166.
Referring now to Figure 7 of the drawing, a case feed conveyor is indicated generally at 220. A rotatable conveyor end shaft 222 and a rotatably driven conveyor drive shaft 224 are provided in spaced relation to each other, and are suitably mounted in bearing means carried by the frame structure 44. Pairs of sprocket wheels 226 and 228 are carried by the conveyor shafts 222 and 224, and cooperate with a pair of continuous link chains 230 to effect their driving movement in the direction indicated by the arrows.
A motor 232 is suitably mounted on the frame structure 44, and has its output shaft connected to a horizontal shaft 233 which is rotatably mounted in suitable bearing means attached to the frame, and carries a drive gear 234. The gear 234 meshes with a cooperating gear 235 carried by the conveyor drive shaft 224. In this manner, power will be transmitted from the motor 232, gears 234 and 235, to the conveyor drive shaft 224 for effecting rotation of the continuous link chains 230.
one-revolution clutch is indicated at 236, and includes a control element 238 which is normally biased to effect clutch and prevent rotation of the shaft 233 by the motor 232. A solenoid 240 is connected to the slidable element 238 to effect its movement and thereby permit clutch engagement for rotation of the shaft 233 by the motor 232, when energized. In this way, the conveyor 220 may be intermittently rotated in response to manual control regulation, as by a suitable switch or push button for energizing the solenoid 240.
The case feed conveyor 220 provides a horizontal travcling level made up of a plurality of adjacent small-diameter traveling rollers 242. A pair of large-diameter abutment rollers 244 are carried at diametrically spaced points on the conveyor link chains 230. The abutment rollers 244 serve to engage the lower edge of an empty case when disposed on the conveyor traveling level and effect its positive forward movement onto the case elevator platform 146 as the conveyor 220 is driven.
Referring again to Figure 1 of the drawing, an empty case C will be fed by the case feeding conveyor 220 onto veyor 250 by the movement of a subsequent empty case from the conveyor 220 onto the elevator platform 146. If desired, a supplemental carry off conveyor, as indicated by dot-dash lines at 250, may be provided for automatic discharge operation. In this way, empty cases are fed onto the case elevator, and discharged therefrom when full, by means of the case feed conveyor 220.
The case carry-olf conveyor 250 is positioned at the side of the elevator platform 146 opposite from the case feed conveyor 220. The case carry-off conveyor 250 is secured by means of a braced frame structure 252 to the main machine frame structure 44, and is shown as comprising a plurality of adjacent rollers 254 arranged to provide a downwardly inclined traveling level.
As best seen in Figure 3 of the drawing, the transfer head and bottle-gripping assembly 166 includes front and rear carriage members 260 and 262, which are interconnected as a unitary assembly by means of cross rods 264-. A plurality of rollers 266 are provided below the carriages 26-0 and 262 for cooperation with a pair of elongated guide members 268 to permit forward and back movement of the transfer head by means of the rack 212. A plurality of bottle-gripping units 270, 272, 274, and 276 are suspended from the cross rods 264 in an axially slidable manner thereon. A top plate 278 is fixedly secured to the carriages 260 and 262 and provides a plurality of slots 280 through which glide pins 282 carried by each of the bottle-gripping units 270276 extend. The lengths and predetermined locations of the slots 280 cooperate with the glide pins 282 to effect a relatively wide spacing between the bottle-gripping units upon forward movement of the head 166.
t will be apparent that by locking the foremost bottlegripping unit in a fixed position on the head assembly to prevent any sliding movement thereof on the cross rods 264, the other bottle-gripping units will, slide so as to automatically effect an increased spacing between units as thehead 166 is moved forwardly to a case loading position overlying the case elevator platform 146. As the head 166 is moved back to its rear position, the bottlegripping units will again slide into positions of close adjacent relation by engagement of the foremost bottlegripping unit with its adjacent unit, and such units with the remaining units until all are in close adjacent relation. The conveyor 28 moves a loading pattern of bottles onto the bottle-lift platform 1-64 beneath the transfer head 166 in spaced rows of consecutive contacting bottles. In order to effect efiicient case loading, it is desirable to separate the consecutive contacting bottles of each of the bottle rows to provide a spacing similar to that which exists between each row because of the bottle guides. This is automatically accomplished by means of our slotted top plate 278 and the axially slidable mounting of the bottle-gripping units.
Referring now to Figures 9 to 13 of the drawing, each of the bottle-gripping units 270276 comprises a housing 284 which is internally recessed to form a pair of spaced slide chambers 286. The chambers 286 serve to receive the enlarged head portions 288 of a block slide member 290. The head portions 288 are each formed witha pair of cam slots 292 and 294. A pair of slide blocks 296 and 298 provide cam followers 300 and 302, respectively, which cooperate with the slots 292 and 294. The slide blocks 296 and 298 are received within lateral slide chambers 303 and 304 formed in the housing 284. The slide blocks 296 and 298 carry a pair of gripping jaws 306 and 308, each having a resilient gripper element 310 adapted to engage and firmly grasp the neck of a bottle.
The block slide member 290 carries a roller 312 at its actuator end. The roller 312 cooperates with an elongated roller track formed by a jaw operating bar 314. In this manner, a positive interconnection is provided between the block slide member 290 and the jaw operating bar 314, while permitting horizontal reciprocation of the transfer head 166. The bar 314 is mounted on suitable guide shafts 316 for support by and transverse movement relative to the machine frame. An actuator knob 318 extends upwardly from the bar 314 and engages an actuator lever 320 which is pivotally mounted on a rock shaft 322. A power lever 324 is rigidly connected to the rock shaft 322 and extends outwardly therefrom, terminating in a roller 326 which is received within a gripping head 328 of an operating member 330, mounted for vertical reciprocation in suitable guide means 332.
As shown in Figure 6 of the drawing, the power shaft 184 carries a barrelcam 340 which cooperates with a follower 342 carried at one end of a bell crank lever 344. The lever 344 is pivoted at a fixed point 346, and provides a free pivot end 348 which is secured to the operating member 330 by means of a connector rod 349. It will be apparent that driving rotation of the shaft 184 by the motor 90, as heretofore described in connection with the operation of the bottle pattern elevating platform 164, will be transmitted through the cam 340 and the lever 344 to effect vertical reciprocation of the operating member 330. Up and down movement of the operating member 330 will, in turn, effect simultaneous horizontal reciprocation of the block slide members 290 of all the bottle-gripping units 270276.
As best seen in Figures 12 and l3 of the drawing, movement of the block slide member 290 causes movement of the cam slots 292 and 294 of each head portion relative to the axially fixed slide blocks 2% and 298. The cam followers 300 and 302 cooperate with the cam slots 292 and 294 to effect transverse sliding movement of the slide blocks within the slide chambers 303 and 304. In this manner, the gripping jaws 396 and 368 will be moved toward and awayfrom each other by reciprocation of the block slide member 2%, thereby permitting simultaneous opening and closing of the gripping jaws of each of the bottle clamp units 270276.
As best seen in Figures 10 and ll, the resilient grippers 310 cooperate to positively engage the necks of each of the bottles of the loading pattern and tightly hold the bottles therebetween. In this way, the bottles of the loading pattern may be firmly supported in suspended relation from the transfer head 166 and moved forwardly to the loading station where an empty case may then be elevated upwardly in surrounding relation about the loading pattern.
For the purpose of assuring the presence of a full load ing pattern of bottles on the bottle lift platform 164 prior to its raising and actuation if the bottle gripping units of the transfer head, we provide a plurality of stop fingers 350 each positioned at the forward terminal end of the path of movement of each of the conveyor-fed bottle rows. Each stop finger 356 is freely rotatable about a pivot pin 352, which is fixedly mounted on a suitable support bracket 354 rigidly secured to the machine frame. Spring 356 served to bias each of the stop fingers in a vertically upward position for contacting engagement with the sides of the foremost bottles of each of the adjacent rows, when such bottles have reached a predetermined forward position. A feeler bar 358 is pivotally carried by a horizontal rock shaft 360, and serves to provide a contact bracket 362 which cooperatingly engages a limit switch 364 fixedly mounted on the machine frame. The limit switch 364 provides a pair of contacts 366 which are normally spring biased to a closed position, but which are separated for switch opening by means of an actuator rod 368. V
In the normal arrangement of the parts, Without the presence of a full loading pattern of bottles on the bottle lift assembly, the feeler bar 358 is in contacting engagement with the stop fingers 350 and the feeler contact bracket 362 engages the switch actuator rod 368, thereby preventing its outward movement and holding the contacts 366 open. As long as any one of the stop fingers 356 is held in its vertical position'by its spring 356, the
spring bias of the limit switch 364 is insufficient to permit an opposing movement by the actuator rod 368. The switch 364, therefore, will be maintained open. When, however, a full multiplicity of bottle rows are present on the bottle lift platform 164, with the foremost bottles in a predetermined forward position, all of the stop fingers 350 will be engaged and pivoted forwardly (in the direction indicated by the arrow in Figure 8) by the for-' ward feeding pressure of the bottle rows. Such pivoting of the stop fingers 350 provides a clearance with respect to the feeler bar 358, and permits the spring bias of the limit switch 364 to be transmitted through the contact bracket 362 to the feeler bar 358, resulting in a forward pivoting movement of the feeler bar 358 about its rock shaft 360. By relieving the holding force exerted against the actuator rod 368 by the feeler bar 358 and its contact bracket 362, the limit switch 364 is free to effect a normal closing of its contacts 366. In this way, the switch 365 will automatically close when a full bottle pattern is present on the bottle lift elevator platform 164.
In order to facilitate orderly positioning of the bottles of the loading group within the case immediately prior to their release by the gripping units of the transfer head 166, we provide a funnel plate 370 (see Figure The plate 370 is centrally cut away to provide an oversize peripheral outline conforming to the external contour of the bottle pattern. A plurality of spring fingers 372 depend downwardly from the plate 379 and provide resilient guide means for properly positioning each bottle relative to the interior of the case. The plate 370 is mounted on glide rods 374 for vertical up and down sliding movement. As the case is elevated by the platform 146, the spring fingers will enter the case to define the loaded positions of the bottles. When the top edges of the case engage the plate 370, the entire guide plate will slide upwardly thereon and the bottles of the loading group will move downwardly therethrough in contacting engagement with the spring fingers 372 into the case. Upon release of the bottles by the transfer head 166 and lowering of the platform 146, the plate will fall to its initial lower position as the bottles slide completely through the fingers 372. In this manner the loading pattern is resiliently guided during each loading operation.
A loading station guard housing 376 is provided in surrounding relation about the area of case loading as a protective means in the event of accidental bottle break- 7 age or machine malfunctioning. The housing is provided with transparent side plates to permit visual inspection of each loading by the operator of the machine.
PRACTICAL OPERATION The practical operation of the present invention may' be best described by outlining the course of flow of aplurality of bottles from their introduction onto the ma-- chine to their removal in a fully loaded case. The bottles will be received by the bottle-feed conveyor 28 and carried forwardly thereon between the guide plates -84 so as to provide a plurality of spaced rows of vertically supported bottles in consecutively contacting. or abutting series. The foremost bottles of the rows will be discharged from the conveyor by the forward feeding pressure of the bottles therebchind onto the bottle lift platform 164. The foremost bottles will be held in limiting forward positions upon the bottle lift platform by means of the stop fingers 350. The area of the bottle lift platform is predetermined so as to accommodate the desired number of bottles which form the loading pattern. I
When the presence of a full pattern on the bottle lift platform is detected by the stop fingers 350, the limit switch 364 will be allowed to close, thereby energizing the control solenoid of the one-revolution clutch 109, and transmitting power from the motor to the power shaft 120. The power shaft serves, in turn, to transmit driving power for actuating the various mechanical operations of a loading cycle.
The cooperative relation between the various mechanical operations of a loading cycle will be clearly apparent from the operating chart presented by Figure 14 of the drawing. Assuming the presence of a full loading pattern on the bottle lift platform, the power shaft 120 will be rotated, causing the cam to effect elevating movement of the bottle lift platform 164. Such raising movement will serve to separate the loading pattern upwardly relative to the conveyor-fed rows of bottles immediately therebehind. The elevation of the loading pattern in this manner also serves to raise the bottles upwardly to a predetermined position which permits the necks of the bottles to be grasped by the bottle-gripping units of the transfer head 166.
The bottle-gripping jaws of each of the units 270-276 of the bottle-gripping head will be in open, spaced relation above the loading pattern as it is elevated. The gripping jaws will be actuated to their closed positions of tight gripping contact about the bottle necks by the cam 340 which is driven by the shaft 184 through suitable mechanical linkages with the power shaft 120.
Following closure of the bottle gripping jaws, the entire head assembly 166 will be moved forwardly to a position over-lying the case elevator platform 146. This movement of the head is actuated through suitable mechanical linkages by the cam 186 carried by the shaft 184 which is driven by the power shaft 120. Prior to this point in the operation of the machine, the operator will have placed an empty case on the case feed conveyor 220. The operator will then manually close an operating switch for energizing the solenoid 240 which regulates the clutch 236 and controls the transmission of driving power from the motor 232 to the conveyor 220. Upon actuation of the case feed conveyor 220, an
empty case will be fed onto the case elevator platform The case elevator platform 146 will next be actuated so as to raise the empty case upwardly to a position of surrounding relation about the loading pattern of bottles suspended from the transfer head 166. The case elevator 146 is elevated by suitable mechanical linkages actuated by the cam 124 which is driven by the power shaft 120.
When the case has been elevated, the bottle gripping jaws will again be actuated by the cam 340 to effect their opening for simultaneously releasing all of the 11 bottles. At this point, the case bottom will be located in a plane closely adjacent the bottoms of the bottles of the loading group so that upon their release from the bottle-gripping units the height through which the bottles must fall to complete the case loading will be extremely small. In practice, the bottles will be dropped a maximum height of only 1 to 2 inches. Such a minor drop represents a great advance over the prior art practice of permitting the bottle to fall the full height of the carton during the loading.
The loaded case will next be lowered by the case elevator platform 146 and moved off of the elevator onto the full case discharge or carry-off conveyor 250 by the feeding of the next empty case onto the case elevator.
The transfer head will be moved rearwardly to its initial position for receiving and grasping the next loading pattern when elevated by the bottle lift.
This cycle of operations for performing case loading in the novel manner of the present invention, wherein the bottles are suspended and the case is elevated upwardly therearound, may be continuously repeated as long as the bottles are provided in a loading pattern by the bottle feed conveyor. ,It will be apparent that all of the operations of the machine disclosed in performing a case loading cycle are entirely mechanical and fully automatic.
Changes may be made in the construction and arrangement of the parts of our case loader without departing from the real spirit and purpose of our invention, and it is our intention to cover by the claims any modified forms of structure or use of mechanical improvementswhich may be reasonably included within their scope.
1. A case loader comprising a continuously driven bottle feed conveyor having guide means for orienting bottles carried thereon into spaced parallel rows, a bottle lift platform. positioned at the discharge end of said conveyor for receiving bottles and defining thereon a loading pattern, means for raising said platform above the traveling level of said conveyor to elevate the loading pattern in separated relation from the forward feeding pressure exerted by the conveyor-fed bottles therebehind, a transfer head overlying said platform and having bottle-gripping means operative to grasp the top portions of the bottles of said loading pattern when elevated by said platform and to hold them as a unitary group in downwardly suspending relation therefrom, means for moving said transfer head to a case loading station for suspending said loading pattern in fixed position thereover, and elevator means at said case loading station for raising an empty case upwardly in surrounding relation about said loading pattern, the height of travel of said elevator being predetermined so as to position the case bottom closely adjacent the bottoms of the bottles of said loading pattern.
2. In a case loader, bottle handling means comprising a transfer head for carrying a predetermined loading pattern of laterally spaced parallel rows of bottles in freely suspended relation, said transfer head having a plurality of bottle-gripping units each operative when closed at a bottle-gripping station to grasp the upper portions of the bottles of said loading pattern and hold them in downwardly suspending relation, said bottlegripping units each operative when opened at a bottle releasing station to simultaneously release all of the bottles of said loading group to effect a loading operation, means for moving said head longitudinally forwardly in a fixed horizontal plane between said stations, said units of each bottle row being longitudinally closely spaced relative to each other when at the said bottlegripping station for grasping a longitudinally closely spaced loading pattern, and means for automatically increasing the longitudinal spacing between said units as the head is moved forwardly from said bottle-gripping station to said bottle-releasing station.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,243,200 Moore Oct. 16, 1917 1,247,722 Rogers et al. Nov. 27, 1917' 2,176,246 Coleman et al Oct. 17, l939 2,277,828 Morgan Mar. 31, 1942 2,452,927 Hammer Nov. 2, 1948 2,678,151 Geisler May 11, 1954 2,727,664 Ardell Dec. 20, 1955 2,730,279 Enock Jan. 10, 1956 2,760,316 Okulitch et a1. Aug. 28, 1956