US 2970836 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Feb. '7, 1961 J. G. SMITH 2,970,836
ITEM HANDLING APPARATUS Filed Maron 11, 1959 AGENT United States Patent-" ITEM HANDLING APPARATUS John G.S mith, Philadelphia, Pa., assigner to Burroughs Corporation, Detroit, Mich., a corporation of Michigan Filed Mar. 11, 1959, Ser. N0. 798,744
4 Claims. (Cl. 271-71) This invention relates to item handling apparatus and, more particularly, to high speed means for automatically stacking and edge aligning sheet items such as bank checks or documents.
In moving documents of relatively thin material at extremely high speeds such as in business machine document sorting apparatus, thin paper checks which are of less width than length generally require considerable guidance during their movement otherwise there is a tendency for them to deect, bend, weave or buckle due` Vtothe turbulences of air across their surfaces. Furthermore, when it is desired to stack such items in a receiving `hopper or bin it has been found extremely diicult, after they leave the guide means, to prevent the bottom portion 'of each item from bending slightly outwardly causing the item to slide or slip back toward the path of the next incoming item. As the items are piled up in the hopper the foregoing condition causes a considerable thickening of the bottom portion of the pile of items interfering with and eventually blocking the ingress of succeeding items into the hopper.
It is an important object therefore of the present invention to provide apparatus which solves the foregoing problems in a novel, simple, eiiicient and economical manner.
It is further an important object of the present inven- Vtion to provide an efficient means for use with a sheet item stacker which moves the items laterally within the hopper and out of the path of succeeding items being fed thereinto.
' VAnother important object of the invention is to proavide automatic apparatus for accurately. and efficiently 'transversely aligning the items during stacking in the hopper.
1 A still further object of the invention is to provide a novel apparatus for moving items entering a hopper at -a high rate of speed in a manner preventing items from sliding backwardly into the path of the succeeding items lbeing stacked.
In accordance with the foregoing objects and rst briefly described the invention comprises means disposed in the path of travel of an item for moving said item transversely of its path of movement out of the path of move- .ment of succeeding items.
Y Other objects and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed descrip- -tion of the preferred embodiment of the invention when -taken in conjunction with the drawings which accompany and form part of the specification; and wherein:
Fig. 1 is a top plan view of the apparatus embodying the preferred form of the present invention;
Fig. 2 is an enlarged view of a portion of the apparatus of Fig. 1;
. Fig. 3 is a view taken along line 3-3 of Fig. 2;
Fig. 4 is a view illustrating the problem solved by the invention; and
Fig. 5 is a greatly enlarged view of the area enveloped -by the circle in Fig. 4.
r2,976,836 Patented Feb. 7, 1961 The present invention finds application, for example,
checks, deposit slips, etc. and, as is well known in the sorter art, such apparatus generally includes a plurality of item receiving hoppers, bins or pockets into which the documents are delivered at a relatively high rate of speed. Each bin or pocket is adapted to receive the items in a predetermined order or sequence and under suicient momentum so that items will terminate their travel well within the hopper.
Documents such as paper checks, for example, have little dimensional stability or body rigidity. They are for the most part flexible, easily deformed or crumpled, and with all but the most careful handling, tend to Waver, flutter and buckle due to air turbulence during transport. As illustrated the preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown incorporated in apparatus for'use in document sorters wherein items are moved edgewise from a loading magazine, not shown, into an aligning hopper or stacker. The transport apparatus for so moving the items although not shown preferably provides means for supporting the upper and lower parallel edge portions of the item throughout its edgewise path of travel and may be of the type described and claimed in a copending U.S. patent application of Walter Hanstein, Serial No. 732,920, filed May 5, 1958, entitled Magnetic Selection Apparatus, and assigned to the same assignee as the present invention.
Referring first to Fig. l of the drawings items or documents to be stacked and aligned, e.g., checks 10, are transported at an extremely high rate of speed, by means not shown, into a turnout station 12. Arcuately shaped guide member I4 together with similarly arcuately shaped guide member 16, disposed in parallel confronting relationship thereto together form a narrow, constricted passageway 1S into which the checks I0 are received. Drive roller 20 is disposed in peripheral contact with idler roller 22 adjacent the passageway and is rotated by suitable means not shown. Rotation of roller 20 moves the checks through the turnout station thereby diverting the check arcuately out of its otherwise straight line path of movement.
Adjacent the aforementioned drive and idler rollers 20 and 22. in the turnout station, is located a check curv.- ing and rigidifying means 24 comprising two curver members 26 and 2S angularly disposed with respect to each other. Each curver member is provided with an aperture intermediate its ends through which peripheral portions of drive and idler rollers 30 and 32 respectively, extend into contact with each other. Each curver member is inwardly bowed, concave or trough-shaped from side to side throughout its longest dimension. The two curver members are angularly offset with respect to each other so as to form a funnel-shaped throat 34 adjacent the turnout station l2, into which the checks are received and through which they are obliged to pass. Deformed, torn, or dog-eared checks leaving the turnout station are by means of this funnel-shaped throat arrangement prevented from being caught or jammed up on the edge of either of the members 26 or 28.
Idler rollers 22 and 32 are jointly pivotally rockable on arms 36 and 38 about a xed stud 40 and are biased into engagement with their respective drive rollers by means of spring i2--42, the opposite ends of which are secured to xed stud 44. By means of these drive and idler rollers positive control is thus exerted over the checks as they leave the straight line transport apparatus earlier referred to herein. v
Checks entering the relatively narrow constricted passageway between the curved members 26 and 28 are transversely inwardly bowed in a concave shape so that the lengthwise edges thereof are placed in tension. The
checks thus cannot buckle or bend lengthwise as a result of their high speed passage through the ambient air. The rightward curver member 2S extends fora short distance beyond the leftward curver member 26 in order to provide means for preventing the check from being accidentally deflected sideways out of its straight line path of movement.
The moving checks are stacked in sequence by means described and claimed in a copending application of John G. Smith, filed November 13, 1958, Serial No. 773,592, now Patent No. 2,944,8l3, entitled Document Handling Apparatus, and assigned to the same assignee as the present invention. In advancing toward the stacking apparatus each check must follow the previously transported check in correct order or sequence. Since the checks may be moving at approximately 400" per second, it is necessary, in order to prevent missorting, to move each check quickly to one side and out of the way of the next incoming check.
To this end, as each check leaves the stiiening and ri- Vgdifying members 26 and 23 it is caused to be directed across a plurality of air nozzles 46, 48 and 5t) arranged in a row parallel to the check path so as to project outwardly toward the inwardly bowed side of each incoming check. The nozzles, shown in Fig. l, as a unitary assembly may of course comprise other and different forms within the purview of the invention. Each nozzle may be adjustable by means not shown so that the jets of air issuing therefrom can be caused to strike the upper, lower or middle portion of each check, as desired. It is apparent that other and different arrangements and construction may be substituted for those shown for directing air into the check transport pathway all within the inventive concept here set forth. The present arrangement is shown simply as one example of such means.
As the checks are forwarded across the area dominated by the nozzles, air under pressure is directed thereagainst so that the document which has been stiffened and substantially rigidied throughout its length by its concave shape aforementioned, is deflected away from the nozzles and out of its straight line path of movement with a minimum amount of utter or weaving.
Short narrow checks have so little inertia that if a relatively strong blast of air were to strike their surfaces they would be driven completely out of their line of movement toward the receiving hopper. Long wide checks are quite heavy by comparison and require a strong blast of air to move each one out of the path of the next succeeding check. Air pressure regulation for controlling the jets in such fashion that a low velocity of air stream is directed toward the small size checks while a high velocity of air stream is diverted toward the large size checks is provided in a relatively simple, efficient and inexpensive fashion, by arranging the three nozzles in substantially parallel alignment as shown in Fig. l, wherein the leading nozzle t6 is vertically displaced above the other two, as shown in Fig. 4, and described in the copending application of John G. Smith earlier referred to here-in. Air from all three nozzles thus blows against the larger checks due to their extensive width whereas the lower two nozzles are effective to displace the shorter narrow checks. The trailing nozzle is provided with an orifice, not shown, adapted to produce the highest volume of air thus moving the trailing edges of the heaviest check out of the way or" the incoming checks, while the other two nozzles 46 and 4S produce a lower volume of air so as to deflect the trailing edge of the smaller size checks.
The checks in their bowed condition are thus adapted to be blown out of their normal path of movement by the jets of air.
it is apparent from the foregoing that each incoming check is thus presented to the stacking bin or hopper 5l with a concave hend crosswise. This concave geometry prevents the air blasts from dipping the leading edge of a check into the trailing edge of previously stacked checks.
This is a result of having the lengthwise edges of the incoming checks in tension as earlier mentioned. Thus they cannot buckle. The initial contact of the incoming check with the previously stacked checks or with the back up plate 52, if no checks have previously been sorted, takes place substantially at the lower forward edge thereof which upon contact with other checks for example, can buckle. Since the air jets push the trailing edge of each check out of the way of the next incoming check, it is apparent that the contact point of the incoming check with other checks or the back up plate is well forward of the trailing edge of any previously Stacked checks.
As the checks pile up in the stacker 51, however, the lower or bottom edges 53 thereof, due to their inherent lack of rigidity and/0r stiffness, tend to slide away from the stack 54, rightwardly as seen in Fig. 4, so that as the size of the item stack increases, the last few checks by their own weight, slide into the path of succeeding incoming checks and, as shown in exaggerated scale in Fig. 5, block the ingress of these items into the stacking area.
1t is apparent from the foregoing that if the checks or other items being sorted or handled are permitted to pile up loosely and to Slide into the path of other incoming items, pile ups, jams and similar sorting problems inevitably occur resulting in mutilation of Some of the items.
The present invention provides novel means for solving these problems. As illustrated in Figs. l, 2 and 3 there is shown a pair of rotatable members 56 and 58. These members are shown in Fig. 2 drawn to an exaggerated scale, to more clearly delineate the inventive concept.
Each member 56 and 58 is or may be of dielectric plastic material such for example, as nylon or. Teon which is generally considered to be self-lubricating. While each of the two members may have the same configuration in the illustrated embodiment they differ from one another, as shown, in that member 56 partakes of a conical-helix or helicoidal shape while member 58 has a cylindrical-helix shape.
Each of the members 56 and 58 includes a substantially cylindrical shank 57 which is formed throughout the major portion of its length to provide a longitudinally progressive upstanding peripheral land or thread 60 separated by a longitudinally progressive groove 62 for a purpose to be explained later on. The thread 60 of member S6 is tapered progressively radially lengthwise for a short distance as clearly seen in'Figs. 2 and 3, while the radius of the thread 60 of the member 58 remains substantially constant throughout its length.
The members 56 and 58 are rotatably mounted by means of shafts 59 and 61 journalled in frame 64 which is or may be integral with the environmental apparatus within which it is incorporated. The shank 57 includes hub portions 66 and 68 operatively engaged by an individual power transfer wheel 70. Each power transfer wheel is coupled to a central drive shaft 72 by peripheral engagement therewith. The rim of each 0f the wheels 70-70 is or may be provided with an annulus or band 74, Fig. 3, of resilient material, for example, neoprene or tempered rubber, whose coelcient of friction is such as to prevent undue wear between the drive shaft 72 and the wheels. Rotative torque is supplied to the shaft 72 by means of a motor 76 through pulleys 78 and 80 and the driving belt 82.
ln order to keep the diameter of wheels 70-70 as small as possible and to reduce the number of moving elements required in the drive mechanism While at the same time maintaining a constant frictional engagement between driving and driven parts, each wheel is independently supported adjacent its respective member 56 or 58,
as described hereinafter.
Referring to Fig. 3, particularly, it is seen that oppositely` disposed substantially U-shaped members 84-:86 are secured to the frame 64 adjacent the drive shaft 72.
The parallel arms of each U-shaped member proect angularly outwardly away from the frame. Each such member is positioned intermediate the drive shaft 72 and the respective member 56-58 with which it is operatively associated. Mounted between the parallel arms of each of the members 84-86 by means of the fixed pivot studs 88 are inverted U-shaped hangers 90 and 92. Each hanger is movable longitudinally on its stud 88 by means of a respective slot 94 therein. Each power transfer wheel is rotatably mounted on one of the arms 90-92 on independent axles 96 each one of which is secured between the open ends of a respective arm. Springs 98-98 secured at one of their ends to the pivots 88 and at their opposite ends to the terminal portion 100 of each hanger member bias the hangers and thus the wheels 70 associated therewith toward the frame 64 so that the periphery of each wheel engages the shaft 72 as well as the hub of its helical or helicoidal member as the case may be. In the present instance the thread pitch Fig. 2, is made relatively wide in order to move the checks transversely at a reasonably high rate of speed.
However, an even wider or narrower thread pitch could be employed depending on the design choice and the desired speed of rotation of the members 56.-58.
This novel suspension arrangement, together with a relatively low spring tension on springs 98-98, enables the operator to remove the stack of items from the hopper without fear of injury due to the rotation of the member 56-58 since each of these members will stop rotating upon contact with a stationary member, e.g., the operators hands. Also, since the members 56-58 are fabricated of plastic material rather than metal, they do not abrasively mark the paper items as they rotate thereagainst as metal rollers would do. Additionally, each of the wheels is permitted to be arcuately movable about its pivot member permitting easy removal or replacement of parts or easy adjustment of spring tension, for example, by insertion of heavier springs or the use of thicker bands 74.
The overall operation of the present invention generally is as follows: checks 10 of the same size or of varying widths, lengths and thicknesses are transported one at a time to the turnout station 12 where each check is deflected at an angle into the funnel-shaped throat opening formed between the two curfer members 26 and 28. These trough-shaped members deform and bow the check inwardly about its longer dimension so as to give it a concave bend. This structural configuration stilfens and rigidifies the check throughout its length. The check is then driven forwardly by means of the rollers 30 and 32, along the rod guide members 102 into the hopper area where due to its crosswise concave shape it is easily moved out of its normal straight line path of movement. The plurality of air jets 46-48 and S0 located in the area to which the check is advanced detiect the trailing edge of the check so that the check in its forward travel toward an aligning mechanism 103 is moved out of the path of the next succeeding item. At the aligner 103 the leading edge of the check is caused to slidingly contact the surface of the last stacked item. This contact tends to Hatten the check against the surface of the already stacked items and to place' the sides of the check in compression so it is easily deformed out of its concave bent shape into a at condition. The problem hereinbefore referred to of the bottom edges of the checks slipping back into the path of succeeding checks to block the ingress of the latter into the hopper is solved by rotation of the shaft 72 by means of the motor 76, in the direction of the arrow 104 causing the members 56 and 58 to rotate counterclockwise as indicated by the arrows 106 and 108 (Fig. 3) carrying the items 10, 10' and l0" (Fig. 2) transversely across the floor or bottom 110 of the stacker 51 to terminate their travel against the back up plate 52. The check is of course, decelerated by the stationary aligning wheels 112. How- .each member.
ever, the forward movement is of sufficient force tocause ,the normally restrained aligning wheels slowly to 'rotate after which. as described and claimed in the earlier men'- tioned Smith application, the wheels rotate and drive the check further into the hopper until the leading edges thereof bottom against an end wall constituted by the lower plate 114 thus aligning the check with other similarly stacked items. In this manner, the items thus terminate their transverse movement flush or perpendicular with the back plate 52. The members 56 and 58 may be axially displaced or canted angularly with respect to each other as shown in Fig. 2.
It can be seen from the foregoing that as the checks leave the curver members 26-28 and pass into the area adjacent the air nozzles, the lower edge of each item is caused to engage the groove or space between landsof each member 56-58 in succession. The check is thus trapped between the upstanding lands or threads 60 of Rotation of the latter as aforedescribed moves the item transversely, leftwardly (Fig. 2) out of the way of the next succeeding item. In this fashion, the bottom edges of the items are prevented from slipping back into the path of movement of the incoming items and are held by the leftward end 116-118 of each helical member in a parallel stack. As seen in Fig. 3, the end portions 116-118 are of sufficient radial extent to positively restrain the checks once they are moved left- Wardly Fig. 2, into a position therebehind.
There has thus been described a novel apparatus for moving an item transversely of its path of movement out of the path of movement of succeeding items.
What is claimed is:
1. Document handling apparatus of the class described comprising, a hopper having a fixed bottom wall, means for feeding documents into said hopper at high speeds, means in said hopper to decelerate each document and move it slowly against the bottom wall of said hopper, means to deliect the trailing portion of said document from its path of movement in said hopper and out of the path of the leading portion of subsequent documents fed into the hopper, said last means including a plurality of spaced members each of which is provided with a plurality of upstanding ridges and complementary grooves for engaging the edge of the documents, the ridges of said members being helically shaped, means to mount said members with their axes of rotation transverse to the said one path of movement whereby said documents are caused to engage spaced portions of one of their edges in the grooves between said ridges in both members, and a source of constant torque operably coupled to said members for rotating the same at constant speed.
2. Document handling apparatus comprising a document receiving hopper, means forming a throat for curvilinearly rigidifying a document as it is moved into said hopper, means adjacent said throat adapted .to transport the document through said throat, means for deflecting said document out of its path of movement after it leaves said throat, arresting means in said hopper for arresting said document, said arresting means including a fixed member for decelerating said document and rotatable means for subsequently moving it slowly against said fixed member, a plurality of rotatable screw means positioned across said hopper with their axes lying in a transverse direction to said path of movement whereby the threads of each of said screw means are effective to engage a bottom edge portion of said document therebetween, the threads of said screw means being formed as a helix, and means to rotate said screw means thus to move each document in said transverse direction and out of the path of movement of the next succeeding document being fed into said hopper.
3. Document handling apparatus of the class described comprising, means forming a throat through which documents can be passed, said throat forming means including a plurality of trough-shaped members disposed in parallel side by side arrangement, means adjacent said troughshaped members adapted to transport documents therebetween, a receiving hopper for said documents, a plurality of rotatable members located adjacent said hopper and being frictionally engageable with the surface portion of the documents, said rotatable members being adapted upon rotation thereof to move said documents into said receiving hopper, a first cylindrical member disposed in the path of movement of said documents, said member including a helicoidal upstanding ridge encircling said member and extending throughout a major portion of its length and engageable with lthe edge portion of each of said documents, a second cylindrical member disposed in parallel spaced apart relation to said first cylindrical member, a helical upstanding ridge encircling said second member and extending throughout a major portion of its length and likewise engageable with the same edge portion of each of said documents, drive means adjacent said first and second members, and means coupling said drive means to said rst and second members for rotation in the same direction whereby each document is moved on its edge axially of said members out of the path of movement of succeeding documents.
4. Document handling apparatus comprising, a document receiving hopper having an end wall and a frame wall, means forming a throat for curvilinearly rigidifying each document as it is moved into said hopper, means for transporting each document through the throat and into the hopper at a relatively high speed and with an edge of the document in close proximity to said frame wall, each said document having a leading portion and a trailing portion relative to its movement into said hopper, arresting means in said hopper for arresting the movement of each document therein, said arresting means being effective to hold the leading portion of each document in a substantially xed condition while the trailing portion thereof is free to be deected about said iixed portion as an axis. and means to deflect said trailing portion of each document out ot the path of movement of the leading portion of the subsequent document fed into said hopper, said last means including a rotatable member having a plurality of coaxial helieally shaped upstanding ridges separated by complementary grooves, means mounting said rotatable member with its axis of rotation transverse to the path ot movement of the documents into said hopper and with portions of the helical ridges extending through the frame wall into the hopper for receiving said edge of each document in the grooves between the ridges whereby the edge of the document is contacted by one or both of a pair of successive ridges on the member, the ridges of said member when rotating in one direction acting to deflect the trailing portion of each document received in the hopper out of the path of the succeeding document entering the hopper, and means operatively coupled to said member for so rotating the same.
References Cited in the le of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,576,152 Stimson et al Nov. V27, 1951 2,661,946 Chambon Dec. 8, 1953 2,895,858 Hayes Sept. 10, 1957 2,843,378 Faeber July 15, 1958