|Publication number||US2919790 A|
|Publication date||Jan 5, 1960|
|Filing date||Jan 21, 1958|
|Priority date||Jan 22, 1957|
|Publication number||US 2919790 A, US 2919790A, US-A-2919790, US2919790 A, US2919790A|
|Inventors||Erich Wrase, Karl Winz|
|Original Assignee||Pfaff Ag G M|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (2), Referenced by (13), Classifications (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
Jan. 5, 1960 K. WlNZ ETAL 2 CONVEYER Filed Jan. 21, 1958 4 Sheets-Sheet l ERIC/l WRA ifuff a A TTOP/VEY K. WINZ ET AL Jan. 5, 1960 CONVEYER Filed Jan. 21, 1958 4 Sheets-Sheet 2 //v vex 70R 5 Karl I w/vz 5191c WPASE A TTOR/VE) K. WINZ ETAL Jan. 5, 1960 CONVEYEIR 4 Sheets-Sheet 3 Filed Jan. 21, 1958 s m W W N, MW N,
Irv/4a A Tram E y United States Patent CONVEYER Karl Winz and Erich Wrase, Kaiserslautern, Germany,
assignors to G. M. Pfaif A.G., Kaiserslautern, Germany, a corporation of Germany Application January 21, 1958, Serial No. 710,234 Claims priority, application Germany January 22, 1957 17 Claims. (Cl. 198-38) The present invention relates to a conveyer which is primarily intended to be used for an assembly line and which consists of a conveyer chain which travels around vertical shafts and is provided with a plurality of pickup members, to each of which a container may be attached which is then taken along by one of the pickup members to move along a laterally inclined track until it is released from the pickup member, when it will separate by its own gravity from the line of moving containers, allowing the latter to continue their movement along the track.
The known conveyers of this type have the disadvantage that it is relatively difficult to attach the containers on the horizontal track to the traveling conveyer chain and to disconnect the same therefrom, and also to insert a container into a gap in the line of moving containers and to separate the same therefrom after it has been detached from the conveyer chain. In the known conveyers these operations either required considerable attention and experience of the operators or they could be simplified only by the provision of relatively complicated and expensive mechanisms.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a conveyer which is particularly intended to be used as an assembly line for mass production and which is of an extremely simple design and construction enabling the operators to place the containers without any difficulty into a certain position on the laterally inclined track in which they will then be picked up automatically by the pickup members on the continuously traveling conveyer chain.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a pickup member and a control mechanism therefor which are of a very simple construction, wherein each container which is to travel along a stationary. track is provided with means for preselecting any one or several of a large number of operators positions where such container is to be automatically disconnected from the pickup member on the conveyer chain and to be removed from the line of traveling containers for work to be carried out on the contents of such container.
Another object of the present invention is to provide very simple but highly efiicient means which permit'the operators to place the containers without any difiiculty or particular attention into the proper position on the stationary track from which they will be taken along automatically by the pickup members on the traveling conveyer chain.
A further object vof the present invention is to provide very simple and efiicient safety means for insuring that the containers, after they have been placed by the operators into the proper pickup position, will remain in such position until they have actually been picked up by and are securely connected to the traveling conveyer chain.
A further object of the invention is to provide simple means for preventing any container which has beendisconnected from the: traveling conveyer chain from interfering with the continued movement of the other containers on the chain and for coming into contact therewith.
An essential feature of the present invention for attaining these objects consists in the provision of a statlonary track which extends substantially horizontally in its longitudinal direction, that is, in the direction of movement of the conveyer chain, but which is downwardly inclined in a direction at right angles to such conveying direction, thatis, toward the outer edge of the track along which the operators are seated or standing. The in-' clination of the stationary track is made at such an angle as to permit the containers which are preferably provided with rollers or the like, to slide of their own accord to ward the outer edge of the track after being disconnected from the traveling conveyer chain. To prevent any in-' terference between the disconnected containers and the following containers which continue their travel along the track, the latter is made of a width exceeding the width of two containers. This stationary track not only serves as the support of the containers when they are separated from the traveling conveyer chain and are.
being removed from the line of moving containers, but also as a direct support of the containers during their movement while being attached to the conveyer chain.
Another feature of the invention for attaining the aforementioned objects consists in the simple, strong and efli-- cient design and construction of the pickup members which are secured to the conveyer chain. It essentially consists of a frame which is provided with flanged roll-' ers which are guided by and ride between a pair of rails, and a cover which is pivotably connected at one side to the frame and normally held in a closed position by a spring. The front part of the cover which projects beyond the frame is bent downwardly so as to form a claw, while the lower edge of the frame is extended to form a' rection. This aperture is intended to receive the free end of a hook which is secured to a side wall 'of each container and extends in the direction opposite to the direction of movement of the conveyer chain. After the free end of the hook has passed into this aperture, the other end of the hook which is secured to the container engages with the downwardly projecting claw which thus takes along the container during the continuous movement of the conveyer chain until the cover with the claw thereon is tilted upwardly and the hook on the container is thus disengaged from the claw and thus also from the traveling conveyer chain so that the containerwill then separate from the line of moving containers and slidedown the inclined surface of the track to come to a rest against its outer ledge.
According to another feature of the present invention,
a separate release switch is provided at each operators position or stop for actuating a tripping pin which is mounted underneath the path of travel of the pickup members on the conveyor hook of the container. According to a further feature of the invention, a safety switch is provided at each stop near the lower outer edge of the track. Thissafety switch is electrically connected to the mentioned release switch and prevents the actuation of the tripping pin and Another important feature of the invention consists in the provision of a plurality of preselector keys or the like on each container and disposed in a row extending Patented Jan. 5, 1960' chain and adapted to lift thecover of the respective pickup member to release the position is transversely to the direction of movement of the conveyor chain. Each of the mentioned release switches is mounted at each stop on the track at a different distance from the conveyor chain, and the location of the individual keys on each container when connected to the pickup member coincides with the location of the different release switches and is indicative of the various operators positions or stops. Thus, if a certain key is depressed on a container, and the container then moves along the track, this key will engage with the particular release switch at the desired stop and thus release this container at such stop.
A further feature of the invention consists in the provision of two rows of such keys on each container and spaced at a certain distance from each other, for example, by being mounted on the front and rear walls of the container. Each operators position or stop on the stationary track is then provided with a second re lease switch which is spaced from the first at a distance corresponding to the distance between the two rows of keys on each container. Each key of the second row of keys on the containers and the second release switch at each stop on the track may then be used to preselect a group of stops, while each key of the first row may be used to preselect the particular stop within such group. The second release switches within each group are disposed at the same distance from the conveyor chain. By connecting the two release switches of each stop in series to each other, a container will be released from the pickup member on the conveyor chain only if a key has been depressed in both rows on this container to engage simultaneously with both release switches of the desired stop. Therefore, if a key in only one row has been depressed, the respective container will not be released. By thus providing the containers with a set of group-selecting keys and another set of individual stop-selecting keys, it is possible to direct the containers to a very large number of different operators positions or stops.
Finally, the invention provides a central control panel which may be equipped with suitable signal means to indicate which operators positions or stops are free of released containers and which of them are occupied thereby. In order to provide for the event that one or another stop might not be occupied by an operator, this control panel may also be equipped with a separate holding key for each stop for disconnecting the release switches thereof so that no container can be released at such a stop even though the proper keys pertaining to the stop have been depressed on the container.
Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description thereof, particularly when read with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which- 'Fig. 1 shows a perspective view of a part of the conveying apparatus at the place of reversal of the conveyer chain;
Fig. 2 shows a perspective view of another part of theconveyer as seen in the longitudinal direction thereof;
Fig. 3 shows a perspective view of a pickup member;
Fig. 4 shows a partial cross section of the conveyer, with a pickup member seen in side view;
Fig. 5 shows a perspective view of the lower side of a container; while Fig. 6 shows a circuit diagram of the electric equipment of one operators position or stop and of the signal means therefor on the control panel.
Referring to the drawings, the conveyer according to the invention essentially comprises a continuous runway 1 which consists of two parallel tracks on which a plurality of containers 3 are movable in opposite directions. Thus, as illustrated in Fig. 2, containers 3 are movable at.the right side toward the front, and at the left side toward the rear. As illustrated in Fig. 1, the two parallel tracks of runway 1 are connected to each other at their ends by reversing tracks 2. The two tracks of runway 1 and reversing tracks 2 are downwardly inclined toward their outer edges, that is, ina directiontransverse to the conveying direction. Fig. 2 also illustrates that runway l is slightly more than twice as wide as each of the containers 3, and that its outer edges carry supporting ledges 4.
At the reversing tracks 2, a conveyer chain 5 is supported by and runs over sprocket wheels 6, one of which, as illustrated in Fig. l is connected to and driven by a motor 7. Conveyor chain 5 carries a plurality of pickup members 8, each of which consists of a frame member 9 which is connected to chain 5 and a cover member 11 which is mounted on frame member 9 so as to be pivotable about a shaft 1%. Each frame member 9 carries a pair of flanged rollers 12 and 13 which are interposed between a pair of rails 14 and 15 so as to be guided thereby during the movement of pickup mem ber 8 by the conveyer chain 5. By being connected to frame member 9, conveyer chain 5 is likewise guided by rails 14 and 15 along the straight sections thereof. As shown in Figs. 3 and 4, the free outer end of cover member 11 which extends slightly beyond frame member 9 is bent over downwardly to form a claw 16 which together with a liplike extension 17 of the lower edge of frame member 9 forms a continuous aperture 18 which extends in the conveying direction. Cover member 11 also carries on its lower side a bracket 19, the side Walls 26 of which extend parallel to the vertical side walls 21 of frame 9. Bracket 1% thus projects downwardly through frame 9 and forms a contact surface 22 at its lower end. Shaft 10 carries a coil spring 23, one end 24 of which acts upon the rear wall of frame 9, while the other end 25 acts upon bracket 19 and exerts a downward pressure thereon. Thus, spring 23 normally tends to maintain cover if. of pickup member 8 in the closed position, as shown in full lines in Fig. 4.
At certain points underneath the path of movement of brackets 19, the horizontal part of the conveyor adjacent to the inclined runway 1 is provided with tripping pins or plungers 26 which, when not being operated, are in a retracted position, as likewise shown in full lines in Fig. 4, so that the contact surfaces 22 of brackets 19 can pass over them without coming into contact with them so that cover 11 of pickup member 8 will then remain closed. Each tripping pin 26 may be pushed upwardly by the operation of a solenoid 27 to the posi tion as indicated in Fig. 4 in dotted lines. If at such particular time a pickup member 3 is disposed above one of tripping pins 26, the latter will push upwardly against the contact surface 22 of such pickup member and thereby lift cover 11 thereof against the action of spring 23 to the dotted-line position as indicated in Fig. 4.
As illustrated in Fig. 5, containers 3 are provided at their lower sides with ball bearings 28 which permit the containers to be easily moved in any direction along the upper surface of runway 1. In place of ball bearings 28, containers 3 may also be equipped with rollers or the like,provided they will allow the containers to be moved in any direction. Each container 3 further carries on at least one side wall a rodshaped hook 29 at the same level above runway 1 as the apertures 18 of pickup member 8. The free end 36 of this book 29 extends in the direction opposite to that of the movement of the conveyer chain, and it is slightly curved toward the inner side of each track of runway 1. If the free end of one of hooks 29 passes into aperture 18 in one of pickup members 8, it will engage with claw 16 of the latter, and respective container 3 will thus be connected to the pickup member and be carried thereby along runway 1.
Each container 3 further carries on each end wall a control strip 31 and 32, in each of which a set of key bars 33 or 34 is vertically slidable. and 34 may be individually depressed by pushbuttons 35 so that their lower ends project beyond the lower side These key bars 33' of .the container, as illustrated in Fig. 5. Suitable means, not shown, are provided to release one key automatically to its normal retracted position when the next key is depressed. If desired, several keys may also be depressed simultaneously to preselect several stops or perators positions.
At each stop which may be identified by a number plate 38 marked with symbols from A to D runway 1 is provided with a pair of release switches 26 and 37 which are spaced from each other in the longitudinal direction of the runway at a distance corresponding to that between the two sets of keys 33 and 34 on each container. Each individual switch 36 and 37 is spaced laterally at a certain distance from conveyerchain so that its position vertically coincides with the position of one of the eight keys 33 or 34 on each of control strips 32 and 31 when the respective container 3 is connected to one of pickup members 8. Thus, the lateral position of each release switch 36 is specific for one particular group of the four groups of stops A, B, C, and D, while the position of each release switch 37 is specific for one particular stop of the eight stops within each group. Each control strip 32 also carries a roW of numerals 39 which denote the respective key 34 therein, while four keys 33 of each control strip 31 carry letters A to D denoting the respective groups of stops. Since in the particular embodiment of the invention as illustrated in the drawings, there are only '32 individual stops divided into four groups each with eight stops, each control strip 31 only has to be provided with four keys 33 or the additional keys on these strips may be left unused. Thus, for example, on the container illustrated in Fig. 5, the fourth key 33 in control strip 31 which corresponds to the group sign D has been depressed, while in control strip 32 the fifth key 34 has been depressed which corresponds to the fifth stop within any group. Therefore, the container is set to be released from the conveyer chain at the stop D Release switches 36 and 37 of each stop are connected to each other and to the respective solenoid 27 so that the latter will be energized only if both release switches 36 and 37 are simultaneously actuated by keys 33 and 34. These switches are disposed in such a position relative to tripping pin 26 that at the moment when keys 33 and 34 coincide with the position of the switches, pickup members 8 will also be disposed directly above tripping pins 26.
If in the operation of the conveyer, a container 3 which is attached to a pickup member 8 and on which those keys 33 and 34 are depressed which correspond to switches 36 and 37 of the desired stop, is moved to the area of such stop, switches 36 and 37 will be simultaneously actuated whereby solenoid 27 will be energized and tripping pin 26 will be pushed upwardly and against contact surface 22 of bracket 19 which is then moving over pin 26, so that cover 11 will be tilted upwardly. Hook 29, which until this time has been retained in aperture 18 by claw 16, is then released, permitting the container 3 by its own gravity to slide downwardly along the incline of runway 1 until it comes to rest against the outer ledge 4. At that point, this container 3 will not interfere with any of the following moving containers since, as previously stated, each track of runway 1 is more than twice as wide as container 3. This may also be clearly seen in Fig. 2, in which such a container 3 has come to rest at the stop D If only one key 33 or 34 has been depressed on the two sets of keys on one container 3, only one of the two switches 36 and 37 will be actuated. Therefore, the respective solenoid 27 will not be energized and the container will not disengage from the respective pickup member 8.
Near its lower outer ledge 4, runway 1 is further provided within the area of each stop with a safety switch 40; which is actuatedby being depressed by the weight of acontainer 3. Each of these safety switches 40 is electrically connected to the respective release switches 36 and 37 so that a container 3 can be released from its pickup member 8 only if the particular stop is not occupied by another container and the respective safety switch 40 is not actuated. For this purpose, the operating contacts of release switches 36 and 37 and solenoid 27 may be connected in series with a normally closed first operating contact of safety switch 40, al-' though a similar result may also be attained by other types of circuits.
Preferably at one end of the entire conveyer or even at a position separately therefrom, a control panel 41 may be mounted which is provided with signal means 42 to indicate which stops on runway 1 are free and which are occupied. These signal means 42 may, for example, consist of small light bulbs which are connected in series with a second operating contact of safety switch 40 and will light up if no container occupies the respective stop. In the event that certain stops are not to be supplied with any containers, for example, because there are no' operators to occupy these positions, the invention provides the following arrangement:
Aside from signals 42, control panel 41 also contains,
holding keys 43, which when operated render the release switches 36 and 37 inactive and also cause busy signals if a container occupies the respective stops.
A circuit diagram for this purpose is .illustrated in Fig. 6. The main power supply is connected to a main switch 44 which is mounted on control panel 41. The
terminals of switch 44 are, on the one hand, connected to motor 7 and, on the other hand, to a step-down transformer 45 with a plurality of secondary windings 46, each of which reduces the mains voltage to a lower voltage suitable for the operation of release switches,
36 and 37 and safety switches 40. The release circuit and the signal circuit for each separate stop is prefer-' ably supplied with current from a separate winding 46 of the transformer. The release circuit extends from winding 46 through a line 47 to the holding key 43, then through a line 48 to release switches 36 and 37 and solenoid 27, and then through the normally closed contact 49 of safety switch 40 and line 5i} back to the transformer winding 46. The signal circuit extends from transformer winding 46 through line 47, holding key 43, signal device 42, line 51, contact 52 of safety switch 40, and line 50 back to transformer winding 46. If holding key 43 is opened, both the release circuit and the signal circuit will be interrupted so that no container 3 can be released from its pickup member at this particular stop and light bulb 42 will not light up even though there is no container occupying this stop. Consequently, as long as this holding key 43 is opened, this stop will always be indicated as being busy, just as if it were occupied by a container.
Between the individual stops, runway 1 is further pro-- vided with flaplike supporting strips 53 of wedge-shaped cross section which are normally held in a raised position by a spring 55, as illustrated in Fig. 2, and which are pivotable about a hinge 54 at their pointed lower end so that, when depressed, their flat upper surface will at least be flush with the upper surface of runway '1. These supporting flaps 53 are provided to facilitate passed over the inner edge of flap 53, when the flap will again be pushed upwardly by the action of spring 55 and then prevent the container from sliding downwardly. Supporting flaps 53 are disposed at such a distance from conveyer chain 5 so that, when a container is placed upon the raised inner edge of one of flaps 53 the free end 30 of hook 29 on the wall of this container will then be in the line of travel of claws 16 of pickups 8. An unoccupied pickup traveling along conveyer chain and approaching hook 29 will then slide behind the inclined inner side of the free end 30 of hook 29 so that the hook will engage into aperture 1?). The inclined portion of the hook will then act as a cam to draw con tainer 3 slightly closer toward conveyer chain 5 so that the container will thereafter no longer come into contact with the following supporting flaps 53. However, to prevent any possible accident, the front and rear ends of the inner edges of flaps 53 are beveled, as shown in Fig. 2.
In order to prevent any interference of containers 3 with flaps 53, it is furthermore of importance that, when the inclined free ends 30 of hooks 29 engage with claws 16, the containers will not cant, but their upper side walls facing toward conveyer chain 5 will extend parallel to the chain and remain parallel thereto when taken along by pickup member 8. For this purpose, another ledge 56 is mounted on the horizontal part of runway 1 and all along the outer edge thereof adjacent to the upper or inner edge of the inclined part. This ledge 56 has the effect of straightening the position of the containers relative to conveyer chain 5 and of insuring that they will extend perfectly parallel thereto even though hook 29 on one or another container might be slightly deformed.
Fig. 2 illustrates containers 3 in the three possible positions in which they may be disposed during the operation of the conveyer. The rear container is attached to a pickup member 8 and has just passed the stop or operators position D Without energizing solenoid 27 and actuating the tripping pin 26 thereof. The central container 3 has just been manually pushed upwardly from the outer ledge 4 and then over flap 53 against the inner ledge 56, and rests upon the raised edge of flap 53 ready to be picked up and taken along by the next pickup member 8, which is' shown as just being in the position of stop D Finally, the front container 3 has just been released at stop D from its pickup 8, and has rolled by gravity down the incline of runway 1 and come to rest against the outer ledge 4 due to the fact that its keys 33 and 34 had been preset as illustrated in Fig. 5 in accordance with the position of release switches 36 and 37 at the stop D whereby solenoid 27 was energized and tripping pin 26 had lifted claw 16 and thereby released hook 29 on the container to allow the same to roll downwardly.
Although our invention has been illustrated and described with reference to the preferred embodiments thereof, we wish to have it understood that it is in no way limited to the details of such embodiments, but is capable of numerous modifications within the scope of the appended claims.
Having thus fully disclosed our invention, what we claim is:
l. A conveyer for moving containers comprising a conveyer chain having means thereon for releasably connecting thereto a plurality of containers at predeterminedly spaced points of said conveyer, means for moving said chain continuously in a horizontal direction, a stationary runway supporting said containers, said runway extending parallel to said chain and being downwardly inclined in a lateral direction transverse to the direction of movement of said chain, said runway having a width at least twice as large as the width of each of said containers, and means at predeterminedly spaced points of said runway for releasing said containers from said chain said containers provided with rollers on their lower surface for permitting said containers to move along said runway parallel to said chain when connected thereto and to move by gravity downwardly along said runway in said inclined lateral direction after being released from said chain.
2. A conveyer as defined in claim 1, further comprising at least one guide rail, each of said connecting means comprising a pair of rollers movable along and guided by said rail and secured to said chain, a frame-like member secured at one end to said rollers and having a projecting lip at the other end, a cover member pivotably mounted on said frame member near said first end thereof, and having a downwardly extending claw at the other end, said claw and said lip together enclosing an aperture extending through said frame and cover members in a direction parallel to said chain, spring means for normally maintaining said cover member in the closed position, and a hooklike member mounted on each of said containers and having a free end extending in a direction opposite to the direction of movement of said frame and cover members on said chain, said free end bein adapted to enter into said aperture for connecting said container to said frame and cover members and to be released from said aperture when said cover member is lifted.
3. A conveyer as defined in claim 2, further comprising a projection on said cover member extending downwardly through said frame member, and means disposed in a stationary position underneath the path of travel of said connecting means at certain points equally spaced from each other in the longitudinal direction of said runway, each of said means being adapted to lift said cover member and thus release said container at one of said points forming a stopping point of said container.
4. A conveyer as defined in claim 2, further comprising an upper ledge on said runway extending along the length thereof parallel to said chain, the free end portion of said hooklike member having an inclined surface at the side facing toward said container and serving as a cam for drawing said container against said upper ledge so as to extend parallel to said chain after the free end of said hooklike member has entered into said aperture.
5. A conveyer as defined in claim 3, further comprising a plurality of supporting ledges, each of said supporting ledges being disposed on said runway intermediate two adjacent stopping points for supporting a container thereon at such a distance from said chain that said hooklike members are disposed within the path of travel of said claws and said free end of said hooklike member is in line with said aperture to permit said container to be picked up from said supporting ledges and to be taken along by said connecting means on said chain.
6. A conveyer as defined in claim 5, further comprising an upper ledge on said runway extending along the length thereof parallel to said chain, the free end portion of said hooklike member having an inclined surface at the side facing toward said container and serving as a cam for withdrawing said container from said intermediate ledge after the free end of said hooklike member has entered into said aperture and for drawing said container against said upper ledge so as to extend parallel to said chain whereby said intermediate ledges will not interfere with the travel of said container along said runway.
7. A conveyer as defined in claim 5, further comprising means for pivotably mounting each of said supporting ledges on said runway at one side facing toward the lower edge of said runway, and spring means for normally maintaining said supporting ledge at an inclined angle relative to the upper surface of said runway so that the opposite side of said ledge facing toward said chain is raised above said runway and forms a surface for supporting a container, said supporting ledge being pivotable downwardly by the weight of a container when said container is moved upwardly on said runway from the lower edge thereof toward said chain, said supporting ledge being adapted again to pivot upwardly when said container has passed over it so as then to support said container and prevent it from sliding downwardly.
8. A conveyer as defined in claim 3, further comprising at least one control member at each of said stopping points on said runway adapted to be engaged by one of said containers for actuating said lifting means.
9. A conveyer as defined in claim 3, wherein said lifting means comprise a solenoid having a core adapted to be projected through said runway for lifting said cover member, and at least one electric release switch at each of said stopping points on said runway adapted to be engaged by one of said containers traveling longitudinally along said runway and connected to said solenoid for energizing the same.
10. A conveyer as defined in claim 9, further comprising a safety switch at each of said stopping points near the lower edge of said runway and adapted to be engaged by one of said containers after being released from said connecting means, and electrically connected to said release switch for rendering said solenoid inoperative to prevent another container from being released at said stopping point.
11. A conveyer as defined in claim 8, wherein said control member for each of the stopping points is disposed on said runway at a lateral distance from said chain dilferent from the lateral distance of the adjacent control members for other stopping points, and further comprising preselecting means on each of said containers and adapted to be preset to engage with the control member for one of said stopping points.
12. A conveyer as defined in claim 9, wherein said release switch at each of said stopping points is disposed on said runway at a lateral distance from said chain different from the lateral distance of the adjacent release switches for other stopping points, and a row of keys on each of said containers and laterally spaced from each other in a direction transverse to themovement of said chain, at least one of said keys being adapted to be preset in accordance with the position of the release switch at one of said stopping points to engage with said switch to release said container at said stopping point from said connecting means on said chain;
13. A conveyer as defined in claim 12, further comprising a second release switch at each of said stopping points and disposed on said runway at a certain distance 'from said first release switch in the longitudinal direction of said runway, a plurality of said second release switches at adjacent stopping points forming a group and being disposed at the same lateral distance from said chain but at a lateral distance therefrom different from the lateral distance of the adjacent group, and a second row of. keys on each of said containers and at a distance from said first row of keys thereon corresponding to the distance between said two release switches at each stopping point,
one of said keys of said second row being adapted to be I preset in accordance with the position of one of said groups of second release switches while one of said keys of said first row is adapted to be preset in accordance with the position of one of said first release switches atone of saidstopping points Within the selected group.
14. A conveyer as defined in claim 13, wherein said first and second release switches at each stopping point are connected in Series with each other so that, if a key or only one of said two rows on one container is preset, said solenoid will not be energized and said container will not be released from said connecting means on said chain. I
15. A conveyer as defined in claim 12, further comprising a control panel, signal means on said panel for indicating which of the stopping points on said runway is occupied by a released container and which of said stopping points is free of a released container, and a plurality of switches on said control panel, each of said last switches being adapted to render said release switch at one of said stopping points inefiective and also connected to said signal means so that the latter will indicate the respective stopping point to be occupied by a container even though actually it may be free thereof.
16. In combination, a conveyer having a plurality of coupling means for connecting thereto a plurality of containers at predeterminedly spaced points of said conveyer, means for continuously moving said conveyer in a horizontal direction, a stationary runway moveably supporting said containers and having a width being at least twice the width of said containers, said runway extending parallel to said conveyer and being inclined downwardly in a direction transverse thereto, and a plurality of release means for said coupling means located at predeterminedly spaced points upon said runway and selectively operable by and upon engagement with said containers, to discon nect the respective containers from said conveyer, said containers adapted to move along said runway when connected to said conveyer and to move downwardly by gravity in said inclined direction upon disconnection from said conveyer by said release means.
17. In a system as claimed in claim 16, said release means comprising cooperating switch and relatively presettable actuating means therefor mounted upon said runway and said containers, respectively, to actuate said switch means by a preselected container, and further electrically controlled actuating means to release said coupling means upon actuation of the respective switch means.
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